Rider GuideWhat to expect on the Great Lakes Mac & Cheese 1200k
The Days Before the Ride
While technically a point-to-point ride, you are encouraged to begin your adventure at the finish in Mantiowoc, Wisconsin. Manitowoc is an easy trip from Chicago, Madison or Milwaukee and rooms will be available for the night of August 28th. You will be able to store a bike box and/or luggage and ship your bike directly to the hotel in advance if you so choose.
On the morning of Wednesday August 29, the day before the ride actually starts, those choosing to base in Manitowoc will hand over 2 drop sacks:one for the night before the ride and overnight #1 and the other for overnights 2 & 3. Rider will then ride their bicycles a very short distance to the ferry terminal of the SS Badger where they will pull directly onto the Badger in an area reserved for our ride. During the 4 hour ride across Lake Michigan, we will complete waivers and sign in procedures and hand out brevet cards as well as check reflective gear and lights. Dinner will be provided on the ship.
Once you arrive in Ludington at approximately 7:00 pm, it is a very short ride to our starting hotel, the Ludington Pier House Hotel. Your drop sacks will be waiting and you will likely retire early as the ride start is 5:00 am the next morning.
Those choosing to arrive directly in Ludington will hand over their drop sacks at the Ludington Pier House Hotel where you will have your lights and reflective gear checked and sign the same paperwork as others will on the Badger.
The Start, August 30th, 2018 5:00 am
The morning of the ride, breakfast will be available starting at 3:30 am. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate will be available along with a selection of quick foods to get you going. Breakfast will be served on the patio outside the hotel.
Drop sacks will be collected for transport to St Ignace at overnight #1. Anyone who has not had light and reflective gear inspections must have this done before the start as sunrise is not until 7 am.
The ride starts at 5:00 am sharp!
St Ignace (Aug 30) – Manistique (Aug 31) – Green Bay (Sept 1)
Except for the start at the Ludington Pier House, rooms will be filled as riders arrive to minimize disturbances to those already sleeping. Rooms will, in general, hold 2 people. Genders will be kept separate unless specifically requested and you will not be asked to share a bed with another person. When you arrive at the overnight, a volunteer will be sitting close to the entrance and will check you in and give you the key to the room you will be sleeping in. Riders arriving together will likely be paired up in rooms. It is your responsibility to wake yourself up! Overnights in Manistique and Green Bay are also controls and volunteers will stamp your brevet card.
Hot dinner will be provided at all overnights. Expect hot dish (that’s northern-speak for casserole), pasta, or rice with a sauce/protein. Vegetarian options will be provided and we will try to accommodate up to a point. Dinner will be at the overnight with the exception of overnight #1 in Mackinaw City where it will be provided at the control before you are ferried to the actual overnight in St Ignace.
Hot breakfast will also be provided starting at approximately 4:00 am. Before then, cold options will be available. Except an oatmeal bar with cereals and pastries as well as fruit for breakfast. We will have staples for sandwiches should you wish to pack “second breakfast”.
We will ask you to check out of the overnight so that we can be certain everyone has left by control close and so that we can plan staffing on the course for the day.
Manitowoc (Sept 2)
We will finish in Manitowoc, where most riders will have left their luggage and bike boxes. At the end, you will receive your commemorative medal and there will be a celebration to all those that successfully complete the ride. This will be Sunday night and we will assign you to a room to rest up for your departure the following day. Monday is Labor Day.
Should you wish, Manitowoc is famed for its maritime museum. Many of the submarines of World War II were built here and you can tour one a short distance from the start if you have time before you leave.
Challenges for this ride
With less climbing, it might be tempting to think that this is an “easier” 1200k. We can assure you first that there is no such thing! This ride has some specific challenges that are unique.
- Wind! The wind off the Great Lakes can be very strong and the Upper Peninsula is very susceptible to westerly winds. While we designed the route to provide at least some cover, there will be long stretches with significant wind.
- Lack of services! The Upper Peninsula is NOT 24 hour. Towns are very few and far between. You should be prepared to ride up to 50 miles without services. This also means no houses, farms, or anything else. If you are out very late, controls may not be open and while we will make sure that you can get your card stamped and at least a snack, there will not be places to warm up. The route is best enjoyed if you time manage to avoid 12:00 am to 5:00 am and we highly recommend you follow this. One of the most awesome parts of the ride is the scenery and history you will pass through. Maximize your time to enjoy it!
- Don’t count on your cell phone working! This area is remote in the extreme – cell towers are few and far between. You will likely not be able to call out for assistance. There will be a sweep vehicle but that may take time to reach you. If you have a SPOT tracker, we will be happy to have it, but be aware that services like Wahoo’s rider tracking frequently time out and if they require cell towers, they will not work well.
- Weather: This time was specifically chosen to have the best chance of good weather, but storms do come up so be prepared for rain, cold, hot, the works. This past year, the low at Whitefish Point was 36 degrees at night on September 1.