Island escapades made effortless with MICA’s easy e-bike rentals

Installation of the first of seven e-bike charging stations on the Island - at the Gore Bay Marina - is overseen by MICA’s president, Maja Mielonen, on an e-bike. Photo by Isobel Harry.

by Isobel Harry

As always, MICA (Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates) is on the move – and making it easier for you to move too!

During the past year, MICA’s new electric bicycles program got off to a fast start with the installation of seven e-bike charging stations around the Island.  “In 2023,” says Maja Mielonen, MICA’s passionate president, “active living enthusiasts who reside here or visit can choose from our current fleet of twenty e-bikes to tour Manitoulin, run errands or go to work with ease from May to October.”

Booking an e-bike is straightforward with the Ryde app that can be downloaded onto an iPhone or an Android phone right from MICA’s website ( The app lets you find your ride’s charging station on a map, reserve your time slot and, once there, allows you to wave your phone at the QR code on the bike and you’re good to go. E-bikes may be left at any charging station after your ride. 

“Enthusiastic” barely describes Ms Mielonen’s zeal for e-bikes. “Their range is 65 kilometres, they have non-puncture tires, a wide seat and a basket,” she explains, with ‘what more could you ask for?’ being implied. “You just pedal and the assist kicks in. You get up to speed right away and quickly learn how to brake or just stop pedaling; there’s no shifting. The learning curve is short

“Immediately you go, go, go. The battery takes over the bike. It goes 32 km an hour and when you pedal the motor gives you a boost so you can keep going without tiring yourself out. E-bikes are allowed on trails because of their top speed and you only need a helmet if you’re under 18.” Pedaling is also more fun, extends the range of your battery and the life of your motor and is good exercise too.

Look for the signs: MICA e-bike rental locations (listed on the MICA website) are found near bright green signs like this one at 
the Gore Bay Marina. Photo by Isobel Harry.
Look for the signs: MICA e-bike rental locations (listed on the MICA website) are found near bright green signs like this one at the Gore Bay Marina. Photo by Isobel Harry.

The charging station locations on Manitoulin Island are at the Marina in South Baymouth, the Assiginack Township office at 156 Arthur St. in Manitowaning, the Town of NEMI office at 14 Water Street in Little Current, Kagawong Marina, Gore Bay Marina, the Information Centre, 2207 Hwy. 551 in Mindemoya, and at the Community Centre at 11 Mutchmor St. in Providence Bay.

As of this writing, exact fees had yet to be determined but are anticipated to be in the range of $15/hour and $90/full day.

Also new and exciting on the MICA menu this year are three ‘Accompanied E-Bike Adventures,’ each for five days and four nights in June and September that include e-bike rental, accommodation, guide accompaniment and support, four breakfasts, lunches and dinners, roadside snacks, entrance fees to many pre-planned, cool cultural experiences, and gratuities. Full details are at

MICA works hard to cover all the bicycling bases on the Island, from their tireless advocacy efforts on behalf of paved highway shoulders, ‘Bicycle Route’ signs on municipal roads along with cycle racks in choice locations and eight trailhead installations for route mapping, to their Manitoulin Cycling Map with fourteen routes over 850 kilometres available for downloading or to order for $2 from the website. Further encouraging self-guided touring, their website listings under ‘Eat, Sleep, See’ enhance the experience.

Never content to rest on a heap of successful achievements, MICA had yet another initiative up their sleeve for a Spring, 2023 launch: the Manitoulin Outdoor Digital Experience Museum (MODEM).

With the backing of Fednor’s Tourism Recovery Fund and Destination Northern Ontario, MICA hired ‘story collectors’ to compile anecdotes, photos and film and video clips from all over the Island to be integrated on an app, similar to ones now common in museums around the world.

 “MODEM is a digital tour guide at your fingertips,” Ms. Mielonen explains. 

Booking an e-bike is straightforward with the Ryde app 
that can be downloaded onto an iPhone or an Android phone from MICA’s website. Photo by Isobel Harry.
Booking an e-bike is straightforward with the Ryde app that can be downloaded onto an iPhone or an Android phone from MICA’s website. Photo by Isobel Harry.

“Using the app at the seven MICA e-bike locations, riders are guided past points of interest and at certain GPS locations one can read, listen and view the story attached to that location in English and French.

“MODEM is a tool that increases the knowledge of our Island’s diverse history, environment, fauna, flora and the stories of the people living here; it will create a deep sense of place, a healthy sense of pride and the will to protect them,” said MICA’s president in an interview with the Manitoulin Expositor when funding was announced last year. Plans include free distribution to the Rainbow District School Board for use on student field trips.

The Ryde app lets you aim your phone at the QR code on the 
bike and be on your way. Photo by Isobel Harry.
The Ryde app lets you aim your phone at the QR code on the bike and be on your way. Photo by Isobel Harry.

And so MICA rolls on, initiating and refining their cycling programs and fueling the noticeable increase in riders on Manitoulin.

Bookings were open last fall for the annual (and free) Passage Ride for cyclists (June 3-4, 2023); sold out last year, 250 riders boarded the Chi Cheemaun ferry with their bikes for two days of Island touring, including lunch and a dinner-dance. 

MICA’s popular guided Alvar Cycle Tours of the Island continue to be offered, with five dates in June and September, 2023, including accompanying car escort for pannier-free riding. 

Maja Mielonen delights in telling of “the two single riders who met on an Alvar tour in 2021 and are now a love story to be told!”

This is what’s really important, she says: “MICA brings joy!”

Easy Breezing on Manitoulin’s Bucolic Bike Routes

Ten Mile Point provides a spectacular backdrop for a well deserved rest stop.

By Isobel Harry, This is Manitoulin April 2020

The indefatigable cheerleader of all things healthy, fun and affordable on two wheels, Maja Mielonen, president of Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA), has three words for the previous season of MICA’s curated bicycling activities: “Best summer ever!” 

Based in Central Manitoulin on Mindemoya’s main street (along with Maja’s little bistro, home of Gourmet Garden Gigs in summer) and supported by member-owners of Island businesses of all types and by many volunteers, MICA has expanded and refined its menu of cycling offerings over 10 years as a non-profit organization. 

Riders can choose the annual Passage Ride (June 6-7, 2020) – free ferry, three Island bike routes, two nights’ accommodation (pre-booked by the participants), luggage shuttle, mechanical breakdown assistance, aid and snack stations, dinner and entertainment on Saturday and lunch on Sunday – or head out on a self-guided tour with MICA’s handy Cycling Routes and Road Map, now in its fifth edition, available for $2 on the website.

“The Passage Ride travelled to Little Current last year for the first time using the paved shoulders of Highway 6,” says Ms. Mielonen. “The tour was a hit with the 240 cyclists – the hotels were sold out in town, we featured local foods and drinks to showcase Manitoulin and involved as many MICA members as possible.” MICA members are Island businesses and institutions that are ‘bike-friendly’ – welcoming riders with bike racks, for example, at their accommodations, restaurants, shops and cultural spaces.

New since 2016 are MICA’s Alvar Cycle Tours, five days of riding and four nights in lakeside accommodations in June and September. “We were sold out, all four Alvar tours with 12 riders each, touring galleries, farms, museums, fisheries, cultural sites. Everything’s pre-paid, accommodations, meals, it’s an all-inclusive vacation – riding, eating and sleeping is all you have to do.” Thirty spots were already booked last fall for this year’s Alvar Cycle Tours.

Expositor file photo.

A large part of MICA’s mandate is to raise awareness of the benefits of all those quiet cyclists pedaling through Island communities while visiting shops and restaurants and staying in campgrounds, motels and cottages. MICA received unanimous support from all Island municipalities to its proposal for them to consider including a mobility plan in their strategies for roads, parks and buildings: “Often,” says Ms. Mielonen, “pedestrian safety is not sufficiently included. Good planning is making streets safe for all road users between eight and 80.” Since there are now more safe routes for cyclists, Ms. Mielonen has noticed an increase in Island residents and schoolchildren using bicycles to get around.

In 2018, after research into the Island’s most peaceful, scenic back roads, MICA, in partnership with Destination Northern Ontario and FedNor, distributed 60 ‘Bike Route’ signs, posts and a small fee for each installation to all municipalities (except Dawson at the western end of the Island), and erected eight trailhead kiosks. A ninth was announced in the fall – located in Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula. It gives a sneak preview to cyclists, hikers and other tourists of what to expect when they make the ferry crossing to the Island. The new trailheads allow people to park their cars and ride off on their bikes along routes clearly marked on the large trailhead maps and the Bike Route signs, in their simple green and white splendour, invite riders to explore some of the loveliest land- and waterscapes in Northern Ontario.

MICA’s tireless networking, promotion and activism since their founding in 2010 are the pillars of the organization, encompassing working for better road conditions for cyclists, including MICA’s spectacular impetus in convincing the Ontario government to pave the shoulders of three out of the four Island highways. It involves linking with other regional bike routes, such as the Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay routes that now cross Manitoulin, eventually with the potential to connect internationally to US bike routes. MICA’s lobbying, community outreach and regional and provincial networks are intrinsic to its holistic vision for cycling tourism on the Island. 

Expositor file photo. This is Manitoulin 2020.

MICA’s original dream for the 1,000 km Georgian Bay Cycle Route concept to include Manitoulin is complete (and nearing completion between Sudbury and Muskoka), signed by the Waterfront Regeneration Trust as part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail (GLWT).

Recently recognized by peer organizations at the Share the Road Cycling Coalition’s Share the Road Bike Summit in Toronto, MICA was presented with the 2019 Wheels of Change ‘Organization of the Year’ Award. The GLWT also praised MICA for establishing a loop through Manitoulin, thus becoming part of the 3,000-km cycling network, and for their many accomplishments on behalf of better cycling.

MICA’s efforts have brought back an old pastime to the Island, one custom-made for tranquil enjoyment of its natural, historical and cultural attractions, friendly folk and of Manitoulin’s undeniable magic. And for getting from A to B. Celebrate the summer season and saddle up! 

Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates
6152 Hwy. 542, Mindemoya