August 27, 2019

The Baroudeur shakes things up, continues to roll in fifth year

In a year marked by changes to many aspects of the event, Wayne State University's fifth annual Baroudeur brought together cyclists and the campus community for a day of fun in support of students.

More than 700 cyclists — ranging in age from 19 to 84 years and hailing from 12 states (plus Washington, D.C., and Ontario, Canada) — rolled onto campus Aug. 17. In the post-ride survey, 96% of riders rated the event as “excellent” or “very good.” Among the most commonly cited reasons for participating were the opportunity to see Detroit along an urban route, the ability to support Wayne State students and the chance to complete a physical challenge.

Year after year, the Baroudeur continues to exceed expectations,” said WSU President M. Roy Wilson, an avid cyclist. “I’ve received nothing but positive feedback about our friendly volunteers, our police, how nice campus looked, the course, the post-ride party and the overall event organization.”

This year, Wilson opted to ride the 62-mile route, rather than his usual 100-mile route, to spend more time connecting with volunteers and other cyclists. The Baroudeur was marked by several other changes, including updated routes — such as the addition of the scenic Hines Drive to the 100-mile route — and new rest stop locations. The post-ride party was relocated to the area near the McGregor Memorial Conference Center Reflecting Pool, allowing participants to enjoy a new part of campus.

Every year, the Baroudeur relies on dedicated volunteers from across campus and the community.

We made a lot of changes this year, so there was some anxiety about how they would be received,” said Matt Lockwood, ride director. “Fortunately, our survey results indicate they were very popular. We’ll continue to explore ways to enhance the event.”  

In addition to generating more than $14,000 for student scholarships and the HIGH Program through WarriorFunder, the Baroudeur also contributed $1 per rider to the League of Michigan Bicyclists to support bicycle education and advocacy.

This year’s fundraising efforts were led by the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the College of Education, the School of Social Work, and the School of Medicine.

Joe Vadnais, pictured here with President Wilson, was recognized with the Spirit of the Baroudeur Award. 

Each year, the event relies heavily on close to 300 volunteers, who check in riders, pass out food and refreshments at rest stops, ensure cyclists stay on course, and cheer on participants, among other duties.  

“This event would not be possible without our volunteers – many of whom were on campus by 5:30 in the morning on a Saturday,” said Brittani Hobbs, assistant ride director. “I can’t say enough great things about our volunteers’ willingness to help and the positive energy they brought to the day.”

Joe Vadnais, campus community officer with the Wayne State University Police Department, was given this year’s Spirit of the Baroudeur Award for his commitment to the event. Vadnais helps mark the routes each year and provides ride support to ensure the safety of the riders. Vadnais also supports the annual Road Warrior cycling tour, in addition to running a non-profit dedicated to providing refurbished bicycles to local children in need.

Plans for the 2020 Baroudeur are in the works.