Is this a race or a tour?
It’s a Century tour from Grayling to Oscoda, Michigan that runs in conjunction with the AuSable Canoe Marathon. The tour is timed so you will have an accurate record of your ride time. If you want to take your time, you can do that. This is not a closed course event and everyone is expected to ride accordingly, stopping for stop signs, staying below the speed limit and mindful of everyone's safety. The route has many wide, open spaces along the way.
How long is the tour?
100 miles (a Century event)
Do I need to train for the event?
Yup, riding at least 50 and up to 75 miles is recommended.
What bicycle types are appropriate for this event?
Road bikes, tandem bikes and recumbent bikes all have successful runs at the Black Bear. We discourage those attempting to ride a mountain bike in this event.
Do all riders pay the same registration fee regardless of whether riding the McKinley class or a tandem cycle?
Yes, each individual rider, regardless of class or type of bicycle pays the individual registration fee.
Directions to Grayling
Grayling is located just north of the junction of I-75 and M-27. The event will start in the center of downtown Grayling at The (former) Bicycle Shop, 200 E. Michigan Ave., Grayling, MI 49738.
The best places to park in downtown Grayling near the Tour start:
- the parking lot behind Bear’s Den Pizza
- the parking lot behind First Merit Bank.
Directions to Oscoda
Oscoda is on the east side of the state off US-23. The timing area will be at the former Ace Lumber store, just past the railroad tracks on River Road. Riders will then travel 2 miles to the AuSable River Store, 680 W. River Rd., Oscoda, MI 48750 for the raffle drawing (top prize a new bicycle) and pizza. Watch paddlers in the last stretch of the Canoe Marathon. Please Park across the street in the park.
Parking in Oscoda can be divided into four areas. Three of the areas are open to participants and fans of the tour and the fourth area is not.
Timing area - there is parking around the timing area and around the corner from the timing area. We ask that if you are waiting to see your rider or riders be timed in that you continue down the road to the River Store Finish Area as soon as possible so there will be room for others to park.
River Park - across the road from the River Store is a nice park with plenty of parking spaces. It is a short walk across the road to the River Store where we have our raffle drawing and food and drink. The River Park is absolutely the best place for you to park and help the event and allow shuttle buses easy access to the River Store for rider pick up.
River Store - The parking here is quite tight and only includes the space before the gate to the Canoe Rental. Some parking is available. Please do not park up close to the store as that they will have customers that need to come and go from the parking lot near the store entrance. The Canoe Rental parking area behind the store is not open to the bicycle event parking.
Canoe Rental Area - Beyond the gate to the canoe rental facility is the parking area for their customers. Please do not enter their parking area as they are very sensitive to this and are concerned that prospective customers may turn away.
Using the River Park parking lot really makes the best sense for all concerned.
Thank you for your thoughtful cooperation.
Where can I park my bike?
There are a few parking stands downtown and there are parking rings adjacent to all of the light poles in the three block downtown area. There is no designated area at the finish.
Rules of the Road
Riders must obey the stop signs along the way. Course workers will be at all of the corners and the course workers will work with you to get you quickly and safely on your way.
Are there directional signs along the route?
Yes, there are directional signs, we attempt to have corner marshals with flags at each corner where a turn is made.
How are the riders started?
In groups of 10 each minute starting at 8:00 AM. This reduces congestion and increases safety. Rider starting wave minutes are handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis through the registration process. The event director reserves the right to make changes in the starting order. When you start your ride, the canoe racers already will have been paddling 11 hours throughout the night J
How good are the riding surfaces?
Overall, most are very good; but a few areas require you to mind your wheels. The surface on North Down River Road right after the start is the worse. It only lasts for a few miles.
The two toughest hills are going up the hill in Alcona and up the hill past the Five Channels Dam to River Road. Heartbreak and Block and Tackle Hill on panel 3 of the map are the two biggest hills.
How does the shuttle from Oscoda to Grayling work?
Our trailer and bus program make the return ride comfortable for you and safe for your bike. It is our goal to have you scored out quickly so you can be on your way home at a reasonable hour. Please take note: Oscoda and Grayling are equal in drive times to many southern state locations. It is advisable to bring someone to shuttle your vehicle to Oscoda so you don’t have to take the 2-hour bus back to Grayling and then drive south.
What is the McKinley Class?
We love McKinley. You may want to live there someday. You and a partner can split the 100 miles by having someone waiting in McKinley (at the 56 mile mark) to ride the last 44 miles and have your vehicle ready for you. If you ride this class, please remember that you should not stay in McKinley forever – go home – or go to Oscoda and pick up your partner. Don’t even ask about the secret McKinley Loop. THERE IS NO SHUTTLE FOR THE MCKINLEY CLASS.
Cut-off time for new registrants?
The cutoff time for new registrants is 8:00 AM on the day of the Black Bear. We start 10 riders per minute up until around 8:45.
What happens if a rider starts late, misses their assigned starting time?
If someone misses their start time, they are started where we can fit them in. The timers will be notified of the change.
When do the shuttles leave?
We try for 1:30 and 3:30 PM, but frequently we have to adjust due to last minute changes on tour day when riders want to add to or be taken off the shuttle. We have raised the price for shuttles as we get closer to event day to encourage early registration and to avoid last minute surprises we cannot properly arrange transport for. Reserve early – save money – help us plan.
If you don’t like waiting around, the best option is to get a car to Oscoda the night before and when you complete the tour, you’ll have no waiting, you can just jump in your own car and drive to your final destination.
There is a group of fast recumbent riders who would like to ride as a group. Is this possible?
We want to accommodate everyone we can in groups, but each minute needs to release ten riders. If groups are larger than ten and we let them start together, it opens the door to others expecting the same. We limit it to ten to maintain an acceptable level of safety. If a group has more than ten, we suggest signing the slower riders upon an earlier minute. Our Oscoda riders have asked to have more than ten riders, but they split them between a couple of minutes. We appreciate their cooperation in making this not only a fun but safe event for everyone.
How late is the finish line open?
We have been open as late as 7:00 PM. We wait until the last rider comes in.
How do I get a certificate with my time?
For $5.00 we will mail you a certificate with your name and time and a window sticker that has your individual time.
How does a spouse/friend get to the end?
They get to the end with their own transportation. They should use the map and take the Curtisville Road shortcut. Some of the best high bank river vistas in the state can be taken in while the ride is going on.
What about shirt availability?
We order enough shirts to cover our pre-orders and a few extra. The extras are available on a first-come, first-served basis. $15.00 each.
Where best can spouses/friends watch along the way?
M-72 East, Heartbreak Hill, and Block & Tackle Hill on the map. Take the Curtisville Road shortcut to get there and not be caught up behind all the riders.
Where is the Curtisville shortcut?
On the route map it is shown south of Mio. It is 7.2 miles south of the M-72/M-33 stop light in Mio. Curtisville Road is also marked as County Highway 604. Do not plan on seeing many structures or drivers for 20 miles. The road surface is paved and the terrain scenic. The route dead ends at a stop sign that is just a short drive (to your right) to 1.7 mile long Heartbreak Hill. To your left by 1/8 of a mile is a scenic high bank overlook that you may want to take in. Have your camera. When pulling out watch for bicycles.
Where does the tour start and how are they timed leaving?
Bikes leave from in front of “The (former) Bicycle Shop” at ten bikes per minute (riding minute is assigned before the start). “The (former) Bicycle Shop” is located at the corner of East Michigan Avenue and North James Street in Grayling - one of the four traffic lights in Crawford County.
Where do I pick-up my packet?
Packet pick-up is downtown at or near The (former) Bicycle Shop on Saturday from 6:00-8:00 PM and Sunday at 6:00 AM.
NOTE: The Number 1 Canoe Marathon in North America starts at 9:00 PM on Saturday night from downtown Grayling. Pick up your packet and see the 4-block running LeMans start. The Canoe event start will not disappoint – it’s the Indy 500 of canoe races drawing contestants from all over the U.S. and Canada.
Where do they put the chips?
Chips are wrapped around the lower fork of the bike adjacent to the axel.
Where do they put my bags?
They are loaded in a van and will be at the River Store in Oscoda.
Is there food?
There are 5 food and water stations with snacks (muffins, fruit, Gatorade). Stations are at 26 miles, 46 miles, 57 miles 73 miles, and 93 miles.
Where are the bathrooms in Grayling?
There are port-a-johns downtown in the gazebo area between the House of Jerky and Radio Shack three buildings from “The (former) Bicycle Shop”.
Where can I purchase cycling gear on tour weekend?
Bob Smith and others dedicated to meeting your cycling needs are now located at Northbound Outfitters on M-72 West (just outside of town on the way to Traverse City), right here in Grayling. Check them out – it’s an awesome store! They will be open late on Saturday and early prior to the Tour start on Sunday morning.
Where can we find overnight accomodations in Grayling?
Please check out our “Travel and Lodging” tab on our website. We have also made special arrangements for rustic camping as follows:
$5 RUSTIC TENT CAMPING FOR BLACK BEAR TOUR REGISTRANTS: Diane Tomlinson at the Woodland Motor Lodge (a few minutes north of Grayling on Old 27 North) is offering $5 tent camping on Saturday night only, July 25, 2015 for the first 50 who register by calling Diane at 348-9094. Rustic camping only with porta-john access.