Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates cook up important lessons during free Bike Kitchen
The Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates, which is a not-for-profit organization, hosted three free bike workshops during the past two weekends in Gore Bay, M'Chigeeng and Mindemoya. The events were well attended by all ages and Rebecca Laurenti, a local bike mechanic, provided instructions on how to perform regular maintenance on bicycles.
Ms. Laurenti shared important information on how to check proper tire pressure and seat height, keep chains and gears clean and fix a flat tire. She also covered helmet fitting and basic bike anatomy while also providing assistance in servicing bicycles that attendees brought with them. Bike Kitchens like these help raise awareness of safe cycling practices and enable cyclists by teaching them the necessary skills to care for their bicycles.
Bike Kitchens, or bicycle cooperatives, are some of the most historical and long standing co-ops, with origins dating back many decades to places like Edinburgh, Scotland where the longest established worker co-op still currently exists. Bike co-ops originally developed out of commercial businesses where services were provided to those in need of bike repairs, but many have evolved into community bike shops where cyclists have access to knowledge and shared resources to learn how to fix bicycles and work together. One such example is the AMS Bike Co-op in Vancouver that founded The Bike Kitchen and inspired use of the name which has been widely adopted.
One of the main goals and objectives of Bike Kitchens is to provide education and promote responsible consumption through the repairing, recycling and reusing of bicycles. After all, if you take good care of your bike and environment, it will take good care of you.
Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates share busy year at annual general meeting
Published by the Manitoulin Expositor - June 14, 2023
MANITOULIN—Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) met on June 7 for its annual general meeting. Before the meeting itself, there were several presentations to bring members up-to-date on the many projects and behind-the-scenes happenings the organization is involved in.
Matthew Redmond gave a summary of the Manitoulin Passage Ride, which had taken place only days before. He really didn’t need to tell those in attendance that the event was a huge success, they had all been there—they saw for themselves. The ride was sold out at 250 cyclists registered and in the end there were 240 who took part. “There were smiles and much happiness all weekend long,” Mr. Redmond said. “Last year’s event brought in over $100,000 to the community and the total amount will definitely be higher than that this year.” He was thankful for all the volunteers who helped in so many ways.
“He’s so right,” Maja Mielonen, president of MICA, said, following Mr. Redmond’s report. “Volunteers are so important to our organization.”
Ms. Mielonen then introduced everyone to Ashley Whyte, MICA’s new intern. Ms. Whyte was not physically present, but appeared on a screen set up in front of the others. She spoke of her main objective: building membership, and was proud to report that several businesses have recently joined the group. Education and promotion are two of Ms. Whyte’s other objectives as she works on expanding the MICA website.
Both Ms. Whyte and Ms. Mielonen spoke about MODEM—Manitoulin Outdoor Digital Experience Museum—narrated stories, available through an app, while one is touring, preferably cycling, but one can enjoy these narrated stories while driving in their car, or in the comfort of their home, sitting at their computer. These stories are available in English and French, and can be downloaded from MICA’s website.
Rebecca Laurenti spoke next, explaining the goal of the Bike Kitchens that have been set up to instruct cyclists on repairing minor problems incurred along the roadside. Two of these Bike Kitchens have already taken place, in Gore Bay and M’Chigeeng, but there’s another planned for Sunday, June 18 in Mindemoya, at Maja’s Garden, 6152 Hwy 542, from 2 to 4 pm. Ms. Laurenti will show you how to fix a flat, instruct you on the proper tire pressure, bike fitting, helmet fittings, etc. Ms. Laurenti was the volunteer providing road assistance to the cyclists throughout the recent Passage Ride.
A new service has recently been provided for cyclists coming to the Island without a vehicle. Matt Bontje informed the group of his bike luggage service, available during the run of the Chi-Cheemaun from May to October. He will transport heavy packs and other paraphernalia to wherever the cyclist is heading. The cost to various locations is on the MICA website.
Next, Guy Nielen talked about the ebike system and how it works. In the next few weeks, 20 ebikes will be set up in various parts of the Island, roughly 30 to 50 kilometres apart (the bikes have a range of about 70 km on a charge). One will be able to rent a bike and take it to another station and leave it there, or ride it back to the station from which they came.
Gary spoke next on maps—MICA’s self-guided maps—of which he’s sent 244 in the past year to just about everywhere in Ontario, various cities and towns in Quebec and the United States.
Michelle Campbell and Ms. Whyte spoke about membership. Ms. Campbell is looking after individual memberships and Ms. Whyte is concentrating on businesses. They spoke of the advantages of becoming a MICA member. With regard to businesses, membership gives one’s business the opportunity to be seen on MICA’s website pages, with a live link to their business on the promotional pages of their choice. MICA map advertisements are available to MICA business members. MICA eatery business members are often chosen to provide food for Tour and Ride participants. Further information on all of MICA’s projects and activities can be found on their website: manitoulincycling.com.
The business portion of the meeting followed these presentations and the main focus was elections. All of the existing board members’ terms had come to an end. It was time to nominate and vote on a new slate of officers. Since the board can consist of as few as three and as many as seven members, the six people who were nominated and accepted these positions were all acclaimed, making short work of the process. The new board members are as follows: Maja Mielonen, Matthew Redmond, Peter Ford, Michelle Campbell, Nicole Pepper and Rebecca Laurenti. MICA board members are elected for a two year term. The meeting was adjourned shortly after, before the mosquitoes got too aggressive.
Manitoulin Passage Ride returns to original form
Published by the Manitoulin Expositor - June 7, 2023
MANITOULIN—A sea of cyclists gathered at South Baymouth’s Chi-Cheemaun ferry terminal on June 3, waiting for the ferry to bring even more cyclists to their event—the Manitoulin Passage Ride. A cheer went up from the crowd when the ferry arrived. Once the vehicles had been discharged, the flow of riders wheeling their bikes off the ship seemed endless. Cyclists from all over Ontario and some from Quebec were present. Participants sported T-shirts from Oakville, Thunder Bay; there were riders from Toronto, Port Perry, Sault Ste. Marie, Ottawa, Sarnia and Windsor.
While the Chi-Cheemaun loaded its cargo of vehicles heading back to Tobermory, the cyclists registered, got their t-shirts and gathered en masse. As the ship glided off behind them, a photo was captured of all the cyclists—an annual photo op tradition, an important part of the experience. This year’s event was sold out once again, though the final tally at the end of registration was more like 220. Still, a formidable sight as they set out on Highway 6.
“The Manitoulin Passage Ride started in 2011,” explained Maya Mielonen, organizer of the event, and president of MICA. “(First) we celebrated the paved shoulders on Highway 6, then we kept on celebrating—the Georgian Bay Cycle Route, the paved shoulders on 540, the paved shoulders on 551,” she explained with a laugh, “And we kept celebrating…”
This is the eleventh event, COVID preventing it from happening for two consecutive years in 2020 and 2021.
Ms. Mielonen is very proud, and rightly so, of the work Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) does for the Island. “We attract cyclists,” she stated. “We offer five to six weeks of all-inclusive cycle tours in June and September, to make sure that our accommodations and eateries have a good season; bringing shoulder season tourism to the island.” The Passage Ride also brings much in the way of financial support to Island businesses.
“My wife and I did one of the cycling tours last September,” said Glenn Johnson of Thunder Bay. “We wanted to come back to the Island, but we didn’t want to do another tour, so we decided to try this, and we brought four other couples with us,” he added.
The ride consists of three routes: short, medium and long. “But they don’t have to commit to that,” Ms. Mielonen explained, “they can switch and change and do whichever they feel like. There are support stations every 35 kilometres, the first one being in Mindemoya. And a vehicle sweeps them, making sure they get to point B. The routes are all flagged and the support stations have water and fruit and some power bars and things like that. And on Sunday they have a choice again short, medium and long and they get lunch at the Tehkummah hall catered by the Triangle Club. That’s their fundraiser, so we bring money in to all the communities.”
It was a windy ride, the sun, shrouded with the smoke of distant forest fires, did not seem intense by the water’s edge, but inland, climbing endless hills, the humidity crept in and the temperature climbed. Still, the cyclists gathered at Maja’s Garden in Mindemoya, where there were refreshments and live music, were buoyant and energetic. There was much laughter and the enthusiasm as strong as it had been hours before, with many ready to carry on to Providence Bay.
While the Chi-Cheemaun was once free for the event cyclists, Brenda Sawyers said, “I totally understand—(the ferry) has lost a lot of revenue these last few years. But that did not deter me in the least.” Brenda is from Toronto, arriving in Tobermory on Friday, leaving her vehicle there to cross to the Island with her bicycle. “Tomorrow’s going to be a very long day,” she said with a sigh, “but it’s totally worth it.”
Published by the Manitoulin Expositor - May 3, 2023
Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) is partnering with app developer Driftscape to offer new and innovative ways for visitors to discover the Island through a series of story driven tours called the Manitoulin Outdoor Digital Experience Museum, or MODEM for short.
MICA tours have primarily provided experiences for cyclists during the non-profits' 10+ years of operation, however, these new excursions will expand their offerings to all visitors including hikers and motorists alike.
The tours are an in depth collection of writing, images and videos, comprising over 180 points of interest (also called "stops") that can be instantly accessed on a smartphone through the app. Even better, the tours boast audio recordings that auto play after starting a tour and when you are near a stop, which allows cyclists and motorists to safely enjoy a hands-free experience while exploring Manitoulin. The routes highlight the Island's multicultural history, local stories, its wide variety of fauna and flora as well as geological facts and quirky anecdotes. MODEM tours are currently available in English and French, both in written and audio format, and will eventually be translated into other languages to provide inclusivity to the broad range of visitors that MICA attracts to the Island each year.
There are currently 11 cycling tours of varying distance that start in 7 different Island locations, with some more suitable for leisurely riders and others ideal for hard-core adventurers. There are also 2 vehicular itineraries that make for perfect cross-island road trips. Future plans and expansions to MODEM include walking tours and scavenger hunts, as well as opportunities for local businesses and organizations to put themselves on the map.
MODEM tours can be accessed by downloading the Driftscape app, which is free and available on Android and iOS devices, but they can also be browsed on www.manitoulincycling.com. However, the app is highly recommended for the best possible experience as it is intended to be your guide while exploring Manitoulin.
"We (Manitoulin) are known for being the largest freshwater island in the world, but I think we are probably also going to be the largest tours in the digital world as well!" says Maja Mielonen, President of MICA. "MODEM will continually evolve and grow and we will be able to maximize its potential by adding more to it, ideally the stories that you want us to tell."
Ms. Mielonen will be reaching out and seeking new opportunities to work with more groups such as municipalities to further highlight and promote the region of Manitoulin and the Islands. MODEM is and will continue to be free for all to access for the next two years while developing a sustainable strategy that can be inclusive and beneficial to those it serves. This project was made possible with funds from FedNor's Covid Tourism Recovery Fund, Destination Northern Ontario and MICA.
MICA would like to thank the many diligent story tellers and collectors, translation team and data entry folks for all their hard work.
For more information, or if you have a story you would like to tell, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) was the recipient of the 2019 Wheels of Change Organization of the Year award at the two day Share the Road Bike Summit April 1 -2 2019 in Toronto.
MICA’s President Maja Mielonen says that she felt very honoured to receive this award on behalf of the not for profit organization she has presided over since 2010. “It is an honour to get recognition from peer organizations that we have been working with for nearly a decade”.
Together we have now successfully connected the cycle world from the north to the south with safe road infrastructure for all road users. MICA’s intense lobby efforts have resulted in safety infrastructure in the form of paved shoulders along Hwy 6 2010, Hwy 551 2015, Hwy 6 Ten Mile Point to Little Current in 2018, Little Current to Honora Bay 2018 and Honora Bay to Kagawong 2019. MICA’s 2012 vision for the 1000 km Georgian Bay Cycle Route concept is now finished signed by The Waterfront Regeneration Trust as part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail from Parry Sound to Midland to Owen Sound all the way to Espanola and west to Sault St Marie as well as east to Sudbury. Partnering with Destination Northern Ontario and FedNor made erecting 8 Trailhead kiosks along with 60 information signs possible in spring of 2018.
The 4th edition of MICA’s beloved Cycle and Road map has sold over 11,000 copies so far and is available on line on our bilingual MICA website www.manitoulincycling.com We have increased the cycle count on the ferry from 1200 in 2012 to well over 5400 cycles counted each year in the past 5 years. Our Manitoulin Passage Ride event draws folks from all over Ontario, Quebec and the USA and our 4 All Inclusive 5 day cycling four night stay at lake side cottages Alvar tours packages are filling up quickly for 2019. Manitoulin is now well known as one of the best Cycling Destinations in Canada. The March 2, 2019 Globe and Mail article called, “Five Provinces, Two Wheels” featured Manitoulin alongside side the company of the well known trails like P’tit train Du North, QC, On and Off The Trail in the Okanagan Valley, BC, The Viking Trail, NL., Prince Edward County, ON, and the Ice Fields Parkway, AB.
It is very good to see our efforts attracting this NEW Cycle Tourism to the Island as they leave no trace other than economic stimuli often in the shoulder season. Seeing so many cyclists along the roadways over the years has resulted in local residents picking up cycling as well. We are very happy to see that more and more children are cycling to school as well. MICA encouraged all Municipalities to include Mobility Plans into their strategic planning that consider the safety for all road users to make the road safe for people between 8-80 years of age. Please join us at MICA’s AGM, Monday May 6, 7:00pm at the CMPS library. Find out how you can make your business cycling friendly and benefit from Cycle Tourism this coming season and many more to come.
For more info see www.manitoulincycling.com.
GEORGIAN BAY CYCLING ROUTE FEASIBILITY STUDY
12 May 2014 Implementation Plan
Acknowledgements The Georgian Bay Cycling Route (GBCyR) Feasibility Study was made possible by funding from FedNor, the Ontario Government and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
It was administered by the LaCloche Manitoulin Business Assistance Corporation (LAMBAC) & Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates
and overseen by the GBCyR Steering Committee:
LAMBAC John Foster, Chair; Adam Hayden, Secretary; Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates, President Maja Mielonen; Peter Ford, Guy Nielen, Regional Tourism Organization 7, Paul Crysler; Regional Tourism Organization 12, Peter Daleman; Sudbury Cyclists Union, Rachelle Niemela, Waterfront Regeneration Trust, Marlaine Koehler; Route Planner, Denis Baldwin.
Spring of 2018 Ribbon cutting of 8 Way finding Trailheads
This Island wide project was possible with funding from FedNor, Destination Northern Ontario and the Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates.
Assisting thousands of visitors to navigate the largest fresh water Island in the world.
2010 Paved Shoulders on Highway 6
After intense lobby efforts we received a pilot project in fall of 2010 from MTO Minister Kathleen Wynne. Paved Shoulders on Hwy 6, between South Baymouth and Ten Mile Point on Manitoulin Island.
2013 Paved Shoulders on Highway 551
July 13, 2013 Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) received word from Minister of Transportation Glen Murray that their lobbying efforts had once again paid off, as Islanders will see the portion of road connecting Highway 540 at M’Chigeeng to the intersection in downtown Mindemoya at Highway 542 paved (11.8 kilometres) along Highway 551.
2018 Paved Shoulders on Highway 540
Honourable Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca announced that Hwy 540 will receive paved shoulders between Little Current and Kagawong, one of the busiest roads with great vistas over the North Channel
MICA was very happy to hear that our lobby efforts had paid off again. The safety of all road users is now dramatically improved on 3 of 4 provincial Highways on Manitoulin Island.