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Bike da Yoop

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a phenomenal place to ride a bike… a road bike, that is

When many people think of biking in the U.P, they think of mountain biking, but Tour da Yoop Eh is inviting all Yoopers and Yoop lovers to bike on safe road routes that run alongside three Great Lakes, pass hundreds of waterfalls, and have miles of wide open roads. They can ride on pavement and stay off main highways over 95% of the time, with just a little hard-packed gravel travel that is ride-able with a road bike.

Tour da Yoop Eh starts on Friday, Aug. 6 in St. Ignace. Riders can select all or part of a 1,200-mile loop that touches all 15 UP counties and countless small towns. The full tour is composed of 10 sections, averaging 120 miles per section. Cyclists stay in each city for one night and in the morning, it’s off to the next city. The full UP tour is the 10-day challenge, which circles the UP and ends in St. Ignace on Aug. 15. Shorter rides are also available. The three-day Lakeshore Option includes the tour’s easiest sections, covering St. Ignace to Manistique, Manistique to Escanaba, and Escanaba to Iron Mountain. Two other three-day options cover Iron Mountain to Copper Harbor on Aug. 9 to 11, and Houghton to Copper Harbor to Grand Marais on Aug. 11 to 13. Additional options include two-day and one-day rides. Everyone who participates in any length ride, or who volunteers along the way, is invited to celebrate at the conclusion of the tour on Aug. 15 in St. Ignace.

More details including costs and registration materials are at www.tourdayoopeh.com.

The tour group provides support along each route, but basically, riders ride however they want to. Fast or slow. Solo or group. The riders stay on track with turn-by-turn directions and directional signs at important intersections. A support vehicle stays with the last rider until they have completed a section. Hydration and aid stations along the way allow riders to stretch, refuel and relax.

Tour Da Yoop Eh was founded by James Studinger to help people reconnect with nature. Studinger grew up in Manistique, but now lives in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He returns to his UP roots whenever possible, either hiking or biking on his own, with his family, or with groups. He enjoys the serenity of the wilderness and the friendly folks along the way. After informally advising friends and acquaintances about things to explore in the UP, he set up a website, www.calloftheyooper.com, describing some possible UP adventures.

The Tour da Yoop biking adventure began in 2018, when Studinger went beyond the woods of the UP and set out to showcase its forgotten pavement. A triathlete, he knows first-hand how crowded roads can endanger athletes, and says that the UP has about 1% of the bike travel accidents that are reported in the Lower Peninsula. He describes severe collisions and even the death of another biker in the Lower Peninsula. Whenever he would ride the backroads in the UP, however, he saw that there were not many cars and he also noticed that there weren’t many other bikers. So, he outlined thousands of miles of safe biking routes in the UP and brought attention to it by biking 10 days and 1,200 miles around the entire Upper Peninsula, establishing the first Tour Da Yoop Eh.

The tour has become an annual event. Last year, 38 riders rode 18,064 miles. Riders came from as far as Florida and as close as Marquette. This year, the group is on target for 80 riders.

Studinger isn’t limiting his UP time to biking this year. In May, he led a group of seven high school seniors on a camping, kayaking, and hiking trip in Luce and Western Mackinac counties and Pictured Rocks. These students had been enrolled in a high school course, Man in Nature, which had planned a wilderness trip to Canada for the capstone event. When COVID-19 closed the border, Studinger stepped up and invited the students to join him on a UP adventure. The exploration on state and federal land and in the Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club opened the eyes of the students to the exhilaration of exploring the natural world in the UP. Studinger says that one of the students told him that he was glad the Canadian trek had been cancelled–calling the UP trip the best experience he had ever had.

Studinger is looking forward to seeing what his bike tour can do to help the UP. The Tour da Yoop encourages communities along the route to cheer on the riders. Volunteers who staff the event can raise money for their organizations. Some local groups are volunteering to staff hydration stations, to driving the support vehicle, and to help place directional signs. Volunteers include Lions clubs, Boy Scouts, and others.

Studinger says that he was inspired by Chris Smith of Engadine, the UP Lions Childhood Cancer Chairman, whose efforts on behalf of UP families with childhood cancer have raised over $25,000 from a variety of efforts. Smith created I Trekked the UP, uplionsserve.org, which encourages donors to get out and walk, ride, ski, or snowshoe and donate to the Upper Peninsula Lions Childhood Cancer Program. This year’s bike Tour is partnering with the Trek and a portion of the fees for the ride will be donated to the Childhood Cancer Program. Smith explains that the Childhood Cancer Program has worked to identify UP families in need. To date, 39 families are benefitting from the Lions help and resources. To find out more about the UP Lions Childhood Cancer Program, visit uplionsserve.org.

For more additional information on this press release, contact Ann Wood, 1-517-881-1119 or annie.engadine@gmail.com

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