On the … MOVE

Start the Cycle gets mobile unit, kicks off first outdoor ride of year

Start the Cycle’s new mobile unit arrives at Mattson Lower Harbor Park Thursday. The day also marked the group’s first outdoor ride this year. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — The Start the Cycle youth movement got a “big reveal” Thursday night at Mattson Lower Harbor Park.

Laura MacDonald, board president and lead director, was jubilant over the new mobile unit that was driven to the park — to the delight of the many participants as well.

“Six years ago, we were working out of a storage unit,” MacDonald said. “Then we were working out of a big semi-truck trailer that Midway Rentals donated, and then we were at the Y.

“But the goal was always to get a mobile unit so we could be out at the trails.”

That big yellow truck, which will carry equipment for the rides, has arrived.

MacDonald said the local group became a nonprofit in 2017, and this year, the members range from 13 to 19.

“The whole idea is to build community through biking,” MacDonald said.

What probably makes the effort easier for participants is that Start the Cycle provides the bicycles.

That’s possible, she said, through fundraising, writing grants and collecting donations.

It’s not just bicycles that are being purchased.

“We buy the new fleet of bikes every year with the helmets and hydration packs and practice jerseys and race jerseys,” MacDonald said.

And when they finish the 28-mile Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic with the group, they get to keep all their equipment.

Aside from the mobile unit’s arrival, there was another reason to be excited Thursday.

“This is our first outdoor ride,” MacDonald said. “We have been indoors for four weeks. Tonight, we are going to issue all of the new equipment to our 13 new members.”

Seventeen returning members and about 35 mentors also planned to go on the ride, she said.

One of those mentors was Max Barrett, 15, of Marquette, who has been a member of Start the Cycle for two years, although he rides his own bicycle.

“I’m a biker,” Barrett said. “It’s a really good group of people. It’s fun biking with other people and exploring trails.”

The exercise also helps keep him in shape.

He acknowledged bicycles have changed over the years and are becoming more high-tech.

“These are starting to look like motorcycles,” Barrett said, referring to the bikes lined up and ready for riders to use.

However, Start the Cycle riders still have to pedal them.

Getting in shape by focusing on that peddling — and building confidence — undoubtedly will come about through the organization’s many events planned for this summer.

The events include a May 17 ride that begins at the picnic area at Tourist Park in the city of Marquette; an Aug. 2 ride that begins at Negaunee Old Town/Pioneer Park and runs to the Ishpeming Elks Club; and, of course, the Aug. 11 Ore to Shore race.

According to its Facebook page, donations may be sent to Start the Cycle,

P.O. Box 815, Marquette, MI 49855.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.