THE SPIRIT OF THE CHALLENGE
There are many ways to describe the Mishigami Bicycle Challenge. Yes, it’s a bike ride. It’s a physical test. But, it's also about so much more than any of that. It's real spirit stems directly from the unique character of Lake Michigan.
A MAGICAL PLACE
Those of us who are blessed to live near the Great Lakes understand how lucky we are to reside in such a magical region. And among these magical areas, Lake Michigan stands out as an extra-special place. For one, it is the only Great Lake that can be fully circumnavigated without leaving the United States.
The name for Lake Michigan derives from the Ojibwe (aka Chippewa) word “Mishigami,” which translates to “big water.” It is the second-largest Great Lake by volume (after Superior). But, Lakes Michigan and Huron are actually one body of water connected through the Straits of Mackinac. Together, they make up (by area) the second-largest body of fresh water in the world – second only to the Caspian Sea.
The area is rich in Native American history with later influences from French explorers and missionaries, such as Pere Marquette, which eventually gave rise to modern trade routes and the shipping industry that now drives large portions of the local economies.
The lake itself has so much character. One minute, it can be remarkably tranquil and placid. The next, it can be blustery and angry. From gentle waves washing ashore to surging whitecaps capable of sinking massive freighters. And, in its moments of anger, one can just begin to appreciate its awesome power.
The communities along Lake Michigan have so many varied personalities – from the rolling farmlands of eastern Wisconsin to the fishing and hunting camps located throughout the Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Then, there are the many shipping ports around the lake – such as Green Bay, Manitowac, Luddington, and Muskegon – which have yet another character, similar but still unlike the many small tourist communities located along the west coast of Michigan and northern Indiana. Lastly, there’s the crown jewel of Chicago, which has miles upon miles of trail that enable everyone to enjoy the splendor of both Lake Michigan and the city's skyline.
The true sprit of the Mishigami Bicycle Challenge is about the personality, power, and scale of Lake Michigan; it's about the richness of its history and cultures; and it's about the diversity of this lake's many distinct communities. It is all of this that I hope you will experience during your odyssey around Lake Michigan. It is all of this that will, I hope, leave you as a different and better human being.