MANITOULIN— “We are sold out,” enthused Manitoulin Island Cycling Associates spokesperson Maja Mielonen, noting that the Manitoulin Passage Ride cycling partnership with the Chi-Cheemaun ferry has been growing by leaps and bounds with each passing year. “There will be 165 cyclists arriving by ferry, with over 230 riders taking part in the ride.”
Ms. Mielonen said that the Manitoulin Passage Ride success is thanks in large part to a “wagonload of volunteers” and the positive buy in by local businesses.
“We are very happy that the Manitoulin North Shore Dairy Producers have donated 250 chocolate milks,” she said. “That is a tremendous boost to us in terms of support.”
The Manitoulin Passage Ride will be focussing on the two Manitoulin legs of the Georgian Bay Cycle Route. “We will be highlighting the Manitoulin Core A and Core B legs of the route,” said Ms. Mielonen. “These are now recognized by the province as an official route and part of the Georgian Bay Cycle Route.”
The cyclists will be arriving on the 10:50 am ferry on June 6 and travelling across Manitoulin to arrive for 6 pm at a celebration dinner and entertainment at Batman’s Tent and Trailer Park in Sheguiandah. “There will be a pork roast from Burt Farm (from Ice Lake) and Garden’s Gate (restaurant in Tehkummah) will be providing the salad,” she said. “The Uppers will be performing live at the park as well. That is Peter Nelson and Jamie Mohammed and they are great entertainers.”
“We have a beautiful new T-shirt showcasing our brand,” said the cycling advocate.
Ms. Mielonen said that MICA was “absolutely thrilled” with the response to the Passage to Manitoulin program, a feeling shared by the ferry operators as well.
“It has been a great program and we are very pleased to be a part of it,” said Owen Sound Transportation Company President Susan Schrempf. “We really only provide transportation for the cyclists and their bikes on the Passage to Manitoulin cycling program, but this is the kind of program that we can work with.”
With a defined start and stop date and number of participants, the Passage to Manitoulin program can be fit into the ferry’s operations. “We really want to support that kind of program,” said Ms. Schrempf. “It focusses on the Island and that is a key part of our marketing strategy going forward.”
The Chi-Cheemaun is currently embarking on a marketing campaign focussed on making the ferry a travel destination (in conjunction with Manitoulin Island) in its own right as part of Destination Manitoulin.