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2017 M22 Challenge

2017 M22 Challenge


Nearly 900 athletes came out to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to participate in the 9th Annual M22 Challenge. Nicholas Amato, 20, of Suttons Bay, MI was the first in the men’s group to cross the finish line at a time of 1:15:06, with Jamie Endicott, 24, of Traverse City, MI securing the top honor among the women with a time of 1:26:46.

“I started competing in the M22 Challenge when I was 13. This is my fifth time. I was shooting for top three this year but to win overall, I’m just at a loss for words,” said Nicholas Amato overall winner. “This is the most beautiful course in the world. The energy is what keeps bringing me back, it’s unreal.”



Athletes took off from the start line on M-109 in Glen Arbor in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, with the infamous “Dune Climb” on the Sleeping Bear Dunes, kicking off the start to the 22 mile race. From there, athletes jumped on their bikes for a 17 mile race up Inspiration Point and around Big and Little Glen Lake, and finish with a 2.5 mile paddle on kayaks or on stand up paddle boards in Little Glen Lake.



Jamie Endicott is no amateur when it comes to the race. “This is my fourth time competing. My third win. I did a lot of biking to train but nothing can prepare you for the dune climb.” When asked why she keeps coming back to compete year after year, she replied, “because I keep winning.”

The M22 Challenge attracts competitive athletes from all over the country. For some, it’s just about having fun and enjoying the event in such a beautiful location.

“I took six dunks, so I think I might hold the record for the most times being in the water today. It’s not a race, it’s just fun! Running up the dunes, biking around the lake, everyone is happy and cheering you on. It’s just a great event”, said Jason Millership of Portage, MI, who participated in the race for his second time.

FLOW (For Love of Water), a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the common waters of the Great Lakes, was the presenting sponsor of the event this year.

“The energy and the passion of these athletes is absolutely as inspiring as the location of where the M22 Challenge takes place. With a mission to protect the Great Lakes, I can’t think of better champions than these athletes. Serving as the presenting sponsor was a great way to reinforce our mutual mission”, said Liz Kirkwood of FLOW.

Keegan Myers, Co-Owner of M22 says “every year, the energy is so high It brings together such a great group of people from all over for a fun morning of competition.”



Jerry Pearson, 58 of Empire, MI has competed every year in the M22 Challenge. For him he says, “It’s a right of passage into summer. Being a local, I come back every year to continue to defend my turf.”

Third time competitor, Jacqueline Killmer of Portage, MI, and overall female winner in age group 40-44, when asked why she comes back year after year said, “this is the most well run event I’ve ever completed in, the most fun event, most beautiful and the people from the athletes to the volunteers are just absolutely amazing.”

This year, M22 acknowledged the significance of the waters surrounding the Challenge course through the title sponsorship of Traverse City-based FLOW (For Love of Water).

The race allows for 900 participants, most of which registered the day prior at the M22 retail store in Glen Arbor. As a part of this partnership, M22 generously donated ten percent of all sales from the Glen Arbor store on Friday to FLOW to help protect the Great Lakes waters.  



In addition to the athletes, many volunteers were present, and the Challenge would not have been possible without them. They provided everything from setting up the race course on Friday to efficiently removing the kayaks near the finish line. 

Among the volunteers was Miss Michigan Earth United States, Allie Graziano, who assisted with awards and helped distribute information about FLOW. “I love volunteering with FLOW,” Allie said. “This organization advocates and educates everyone on some of the biggest issues facing our state.”

Founded in 2011, FLOW, a nonprofit organization, works to empower citizens and leaders and to protect the Great Lakes through use of public trust principles and an underpinning of strong science and technical analysis. Dating back to the Roman Empire, the public trust is a doctrine of common law holding that certain natural resources, including waters like the Great Lakes and their lakebeds, belong to the public and that government has an affirmative duty to protect them.

“This race is a perfect example of the Public Trust in action,” said FLOW’s Nayt Boyt. The greatest stewards of our water are the citizens, which is why this is such a natural partnership. Right here, you can see so many people who deeply care about our water. We all must fiercely protect that to make sure we can continue to enjoy days like this.”

M22 emphasizes the importance of preserving the natural environment and conducts business in a sustainable way. This year’s M22 Challenge was a zero-waste event, and they were meticulous about not introducing invasive species into the local waters. Similar to FLOW, they recognize the value of the Great Lakes. 

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FLOW + M22

FLOW + M22


M22 is teaming with Traverse City-based FLOW (For Love of Water) as title sponsor for this year’s M22 Challenge, a nationally recognized annual run-bike-paddle event that takes place June 10.  It’s considered “the most beautiful race in America” because of its site, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.



The partnership makes sense because FLOW is all about protecting the jewels known as the Great Lakes, a commitment shared by M22.  FLOW’s founder, legendary environmental attorney Jim Olson, commended M22 for its emphasis on the positive connection between a sustainable environment and sustainable business success.

“M22 is a leader in practicing principles that are consistent with a healthy environment,” he said.  

Founded in 2011, FLOW, a nonprofit organization, works to protect the Great Lakes through use of public trust principles and an underpinning of strong science and technical analysis.  Dating back to the Roman Empire, the public trust is a doctrine of common law holding that certain natural resources, including waters like the Great Lakes and their lakebeds, belong to the public and that government has an affirmative duty to protect them.


 Photo: Joe Potter


Public trust,” Olson says, “provides citizens surrounding the Great Lakes a legal right to defend these common waters and their protected uses from harm for current and future generations.”

FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood says the combination of climate change, petroleum pipelines crossing the Straits of Mackinac, private extraction and sale of Great Lakes Basin water, legacy chemicals, harmful algae blooms, government funding cutbacks, and the threat of Asian carp put the Lakes at risk. “The advantage of the public trust doctrine is that it provides a potential systemic answer to all of these threats,” she said.

FLOW has built key partnerships with state and regional Great Lakes groups, leveraged its expertise to influence agencies and impact state and federal legislation, and grown to be a trusted source of current information on issues affecting our freshwater seas.



Holding approximately 20% of the world’s surface freshwater, the Lakes have over 10,000 miles of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada, border eight states and Ontario, and provide drinking water for 40 milllion people.

M22 believes caring for the planet should not be in conflict with making a profit. Because we all benefit from a healthy environment, sustainability makes economic sense and should be at the forefront of every business, big or small.

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Photo: M22 Advocate Jaclyn Delyon


In celebration of Earth Day this Saturday, April 22nd, lifestyle brand M22 will donate 100 percent of all in-store and online sales to the Leelanau Conservancy — a non profit organization committed to protecting the land and waters of Leelanau Penninsula. Whether buying a t-shirt, sticker, hat or hoodie, customers can feel good about knowing their purchase is directly helping protect the very land and water they love.*

“My brother and I believe business can be used as a force for good,” says co-founder Matt Myers. “For M22 and our customers the environment comes first- it is the root of everything we love about the Great Lakes. We believe giving back to efforts that help preserve this special place and lifestyle is our way of saying thank you to our supporters.”

Every dollar donated to the Conservancy helps to ensure that the outdoor spaces we enjoy will stay beautiful, wild and free for generations to come. Since it’s inception, the Leelanau Conservancy has preserved more than 11,500 acres and created 25 natural areas for public enjoyment with more than 15 miles of hiking trails and 65,000 feet of water frontage. These protected areas are enjoyed regularly by M22 fans, northern Michigan residents and visitors from around the world.

In addition to the Earth Day promotion, M22’s donations to date to the Leelanau Conservancy have surpassed $50,000. Since opening their doors, the company has committed to donating one percent of all its gross sales annually to the Conservancy, even if no profit was made.

“Matt and Keegan Myers have built a business centered on getting folks out in nature, and celebrating and enjoying the places we protect,” said Conservancy Director Tom Nelson. “M22 and the Leelanau Conservancy are perfect partners because we both value the same things.”

M22 believes caring for the planet should not be in conflict with making a profit. Because we all benefit from a healthy environment, sustainability makes economic sense and should be at the forefront of every business, big or small.



*Earth Day purchases can be made online at and in-store at both the Traverse City (125 E. Front St.) and Glen Arbor (6298 W. Western Ave.) locations. For more information on the Leelanau Conservancy, visit

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From Cotton to Customer: The Life of an M22 Shirt

From Cotton to Customer: The Life of an M22 Shirt

Photo: Chris Klau


In every t-shirt lies the story of a hundred people or more. For many, it’s a fashion statement, a quick fix on a late morning, a treasured piece of band nostalgia from years gone past. For M22 fans, it’s a testament to a way of life. 

For others, the very shirts we take for granted are a livelihood, putting food on the tables of families across the globe.

Since we started, M22 has committed to sourcing products as locally as possible. Until we’re able to create a 100% sustainable Michigan-made shirt (more on that later!), we’re on a mission to uncover and improve the life cycle of every product. While we’ve found—and those big box stores would agree—that it’s nearly impossible to trace the exact path of any t-shirt, we did find that most garments share a similar journey. 

That journey starts right here. The US has perfected cotton by treating it as a high tech product, and that’s exactly why everyone wants it. We’re the world’s third largest cotton producer and largest exporter. On a typical southern farm, self-driving machines twist off cotton puffs automatically, producing enough cotton to make a million shirts in a single harvest.


 Photo: Chris Klau


Cotton then begins its trip thousands of miles overseas. Bales are shipped to a textile mill, most likely in China or India, to be spun, twisted, or woven into sheets. Few humans are seen in these massive factories. Instead, rows of machines fill warehouses with the hum of precision automation. Once prepared, the fabric travels great distances again to a sewing facility such as those in Bangladesh, one of the world’s largest garment producers. It’s here that material is shaped and sewn into apparel by the work of thousands of human hands. 

At M22, all apparel partners and producers are carefully selected to represent environmental and social responsibility. All of our clothing suppliers are WRAP certified (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production), committed to respecting the rights of all individuals, caring for the environment, and are completely sweat shop free and child labor free.  

“We may be a very small piece of the global puzzle, but we’re able to work with suppliers that share similar values,” says M22 Co-Founder Matt Myers. “The people who make our products make our company.”

Once a shirt is sewn, it lands in our warehouse at SunFrog in Gaylord, keeping as much of the production process in northern Michigan as possible. It’s here that the magic happens—silkscreen printing, embellishments, tags, and labels—all by skilled people we know and trust. As Gaylord’s largest manufacturing company, SunFrog is the perfect choice for a partner while supporting the local economy. 

“It’s great to be able to work with M22 on such a large scale production operation and keep so much of the embellishment process that happens to a garment here in northern Michigan.” says SunFrog founder Josh Kent. “Creating jobs, keeping revenue local and having our two companies work side by side is great for the Michigan economy.”

Like SunFrog, our approach is pretty simple: if we can make it here in Michigan, we do. If we can’t, we source as ethically and sustainably as possible. Every design is created here by northern Michigan artists. Our glassware, patches, signage, and magnets are produced in Traverse City and we work with local companies to source reusable and recyclable products like our compostable shopping bags. We’ve even begun working on a 100% sustainable shirt to debut later this year: all organic, naturally-dyed, and Michigan-made.


  Photo: Chris Klau


“Even though it costs us more, we’d rather bring as much into Michigan as possible and have it all done here.” says Myers. 

Still, we have a long way to go. We know that growing enough cotton for one t-shirt requires hundreds of gallons of water. We know that textile mill processes use harmful chemicals. Until these industries improve, we’ll keep pushing for sustainability in our global supply chain and making production choices that positively impact our community.

“Business can be used as a force to create good. If we don’t make an effort to create change, then who will?” says Myers. 

At the end of the day, you’re not just buying a t-shirt. You’re investing in every human being who helped to create that product from start to finish, and also in the future of the Great Lakes region. 


For more information, visit:

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Fighting for Freshwater: M22 + Great Lakes Business Network

Fighting for Freshwater: M22 + Great Lakes Business Network

Photo: M22 Advocate Connor Gagne @gagneconnor17


The Great Lakes, pulse of our land. Fresh and cold and clear, it carries life to us in waves. Here in the north, our days seem punctuated by water. It is the backdrop of our cities, our playground in the summer sun, the prize at the end of our weekend wandering down some muddy two-track, the cure-all that fills our cups and kitchen sinks.

It is the reason we are here at all.

But imagine if it weren’t here for us.


 Photo: Jason Hamelin

Imagine uninterrupted miles of sparkling blue turned deep black, peppered in rainbow colored chemicals resting on its surface. Imagine that beach you drove to in August—that rugged shoreline where you dipped your toes inside the cool lake water—as black sands littered with dead gulls, terns, perch, and walleye. Imagine dunegrass, weighed down in oil, sinking instead of swaying in the wind; Petoskey stones once prized by beachcombers hidden under tarballs.

It might sound like a doomsday scenario, but here in northern Michigan, we live with this invisible possibility everyday. Fortunately, it is entirely preventable.

As part of our commitment to preserve the Great Lakes area for generations to come, M22 now joins Great Lakes Business Network—alongside Patagonia, Bell’s Brewery, Shepler’s Ferry, Cherry Republic and more—in the fight to protect our freshwater from environmental threats, primarily oil pipeline Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. A recent study by the U-M Water Center shows that if Enbridge’s Line 5 were to break, oil could potentially reach close to home, as far as the shores of Leland and North Manitou Island. As members of GLBN, we believe that the economic risks posed by the pipeline are far greater than any short-term benefits, and wish to find financially responsible alternatives that work for everyone’s interests. *1



“We are putting the largest known source of fresh water in the galaxy at risk. The Great Lakes are liquid gold for human existence. If you stop and look at the big picture, there is no reason we can’t accomplish oil transport another way.”
– Keegan Myers, Co-founder, M22


For M22 and GLBN, it’s not just personal, it’s business: an oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac could impact northern Michigan’s entire economy. We know by studying past oil spills like Exxon Valdez in Alaska and the BP Deepwater spill in the Gulf that the environment and economies of these areas were impacted permanently. Some have never fully recovered since vacationers still think of the area as contaminated.

The entire Great Lakes region supports a $16 billion tourism economy, $7 billion fishing industry, and provides 30 million people with drinking water.  If our drinking water was compromised, it could negatively affect our breweries, coffee houses, and restaurants. Sailing, swimming, surfing, fishing—nearly every freshwater activity would come to a standstill, and along with the lake, the people who vacation around it. *2



Many experts agree that it’s not a matter of if, but when. Operated by the company responsible for the country’s largest inland oil spill in the Kalamazoo River, the 63 year old pipeline crosses one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the world. According to Dave Schwab, highly respected University of Michigan authority on hydrodynamics, “There is no worse place for a crude oil spill.” Should the line break, it is estimated more than 700 miles of shoreline could be oiled, and clean up costs would reach $1 billion. *3


“I grew up on Lake Michigan and it’s been a huge aspect of my life, but it’s also what keeps our local economy strong. People are drawn here because of the beauty of the lake. It’s why they visit. If anything happened, it would end our business.”
– Keegan Myers, Co-founder, M22


Over 100 years ago, before the National Park Service existed, John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt camped high above Yosemite Valley, discussing the importance of an unpopular subject: conservation. Though at the time Muir was met with fierce opposition from loggers and those who viewed parks as a waste of natural resources, his famous meeting with Roosevelt set in motion conservation efforts that changed our country forever, resulting in 58 national parks and millions of acres of preserved land today. *4

If yesterday’s battle was land, today’s is water. It is with John Muir’s vision in mind that we look to the next 100 years, hoping that our business can help provide future generations with the same benefits we enjoy today: fresh, clear, pure water, miles of gorgeous beach shoreline, and thriving communities centered around the mighty Great Lakes.


Photo: M22 Ambassador John Hill @johnhillphotos


"We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune."
– Theodore Roosevelt


Author: Maria Kinney 



      Additional listed sources:

      *1. Line 5 Straits of Mackinac Pipeline

      *2. The Underwater Pipeline That Could Break the Great Lakes


      *3. More than 700 miles of Great Lakes shoreline potentially vulnerable to Straits of Mackinac oil spills


      *4. John Muir, National Park Service


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      Why We're Here

      Why We're Here

      M-22, the road that is, would not be nearly as beautiful without the Leelanau Conservancy. Our friends at this organization have protected more land along our beloved highway than you can imagine—preserving the fantastic landscapes and views we see from our bikes, running shoes and standup paddleboards. The Conservancy gives us access to amazing places like Clay Cliffs, Houdek Dunes, and Whaleback Natural Areas—all located along M-22. They have also made sure that Sonny Swanson’s farm and its iconic yellow stand along M-22 endures, and that the vineyards and orchards we cruise past will continue to be farmed. Over 11,500 acres—all over Leelanau—have been forever protected.

      From our perspective, these special places are only going to grow in importance for our children as population increases and our daily lives become more and more consumed with technology. Spending time at the Conservancy’s natural areas will become our way of unplugging, helping to reset our minds and bring us back to nature.

      Since the very beginnings of M22, we have given back to the Leelanau Conservancy by donating one percent of our gross sales. Over time, that contribution has added up to help them protect working farms and spectacular natural lands. Why do we donate? Because the work they are doing reflects our values too.

      If you are a fan of M22 and believe in the Leelanau Conservancy, we hope you will become a member. The Conservancy will keep you up-to-date on all the work they are doing. But the best thing you’ll receive is the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to protect a place we all love.

      For more information on the Leelanau Conservancy and how to become a member click here. 

      Matt and Keegan Myers
      M22 Founders


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      Veterans Day: Local Vets Share Their Experience

      Veterans Day: Local Vets Share Their Experience

      November 11th is Veterans Day and M22 is flooded with gratitude for the men and woman who have gone above and beyond to protect our freedom. With less than .5% of our population serving in the military we were honored to reach out to some of our local Veteran neighbors and friends.   

      We found it extremely difficult to summarize what these local veterans shared with us and therefore we asked our store manager, Liz Belt, to give us some insight on what it’s like to be in the military.  


      Name: Liz Belt
      Branch of Service: Army Reserve
      Years Served: 12
      Combat tours:
      Military Job: Bridge Engineer

      “I remember finally getting a chance to call home from Iraq in 2003 and hearing my mom cry on the other end.  She kept asking about the explosions she could hear and I kept trying to tell her it was us and not them.  I wanted to talk about normal life and she could barely breath.  I think I took that for granted.  The big picture is different though.  Imagine winning the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup without spectators.  You walk away from a large training or combat mission with feelings that can only be shared with your team.  There’s no way to relive or explain them to someone who hasn’t been there, and that’s ok.  Unless you were drafted for a war, you chose to do it, and you are most likely proud of the unexplainable stories you walk away with.  Sometimes things are horrific and sometimes it’s a level of brotherhood that you wouldn’t trade for anything else. It’s just like any other extraordinary life experience; there is a let down when you realize that what you did, and the people you did it with, can never be relived.  You kind of had to be there.” 

      Name: Craig Webb
      Branch of Service: Marine Corp
      Years Served: 3
      Military Job: Force Recon
      Current Job: Professional Cyclist 

      “It was expected that we could out run, out train and outsmart anyone that we encountered. We spent the bulk of our time on physical fitness training, military history education/tactics, and of course, weapons training. Force recon has one of the largest assemblies of weaponry known to any organized military group and we were expected to be able to disassemble, assemble and fire any weapon in that armory.”

      “We did so many insane things in Force Recon!  A halo jump into a snowball near the Arctic Circle from 17,000 feet in the middle of the night or locking out of a nuclear submarine while it's underway in the ocean at night. These were the days before GPS and if you got separated it was just understood that you were going to die; because no one can find you in an ocean at night let alone in the daytime.” 

      Name: Lisa Groleau
      Branch of Service: Navy
      Years Served: 10
      Combat tours: 2
      Military Job: Aviation Electrician on F-18’s and EA-6B’s
      Current Job: Sales Manager at Bill Marsh Automotive 

      “For me, the surreal everyday life of the Blue Angels was a lot to take in.  That was my last duty station and from a standing ovation at the Grand Ole Opry to being on the practice field with the Baltimore Ravens, or Seattle Seahawks, being on the mound at a Detroit Tigers game….it was just a crazy world.  You go to work to do your job in front of a couple hundred thousand people every day.  People are always asking for your picture or autograph and it didn’t matter that I wasn’t a pilot because I was a Blue Angel.  After that, and all of my previous experiences, I knew I had to get out of the military because it couldn’t get any better.  I felt like I had done it all and it was time to go home.” 

      Name: Brian Barsheff
      Branch of Service: Navy
      Years Served: 4
      Deployments: 5 Different Support Missions
      Military Job: Aviation Support Technician 
      Current Job: Owner/Operator at Modified Metals LLC

      “The memories I have over the four years are weird. Some are good and some I want to erase from my mind. I always felt like I wanted to do more.  When we sent our Special Forces off to shore I wanted to go so bad.  I dreaded when they came back; when you looked in their eyes you saw a sense of emptiness.” 

      “I also have funny memories too, like the time one of our guys showed up for a command uniform inspection and he made it clear to all of us that he was wearing the woman’s version of dress pants.  We could barely keep our junk together but he made it through the inspection without them even noticing.  Every moment in the military is different and it’s an entirely differing world than the one I currently live in.”  

      Name: Jeff Brooks
      Branch of Service: Navy/Army
      Years Served: 10
      Combat Tours: 1 Navy, 1 Army
      Military Job: Navy: Flight Deck Coordinator Army: Explosive Ordinance Disposal
      Current Job: Retired

      “I have so many memories but this one stands out: I quit smoking in Iraq. One night I was sitting out on some sandbags back at our headquarters. We were allowed 15 minutes of phone time on a satellite phone every week and it was my turn. As the phone rang back home and I was waiting for my wife to pick up, I lit a cigarette and looked up at the quiet, starry sky. When she answered, I puffed on the cigarette and we talked about how she and our kids were doing. As we talked, I went through one cigarette and was on my second when she said told me my 3 year old daughter, Ally, wanted to talk to me. As she handed the phone to my daughter, the base started receiving mortar fire; explosions were going off around me about 100 meters away. But there was NO WAY I was getting off the phone before I heard my daughters voice. When she came on she simply said “Daddy, I don’t want you to die from smoking.” Just then, everything went silent. I couldn’t hear the explosions, I couldn’t hear my daughter; I was in my own little reality check. I looked at the cigarette and looked around at the explosions and replied back to her “no problem, honey, I just quit”… and haven’t smoked since.”

      “Although our experiences may be different and somewhat dreadful at times it’s important for people to understand that veteran’s are normal people, with normal dreams and ambitions who voluntarily give up a part of themselves to do an extraordinary thing.  That thing regardless of the reason, is to serve their country.”

      Name: Bonny Hall
      Branch of Service: Air Force
      Years Served: 8
      Military Job: Security Police Specialist
      Current Job: VP Operations at Monarch Home Health Services

      “I suppose I like to think and feel that since it is a CHOICE we make to serve (many other countries have mandatory service requirements, which I also think has merits) that it is not entirely selfless, as we do get things in return for that service. However,  it is a choice that can have many different outcomes. Some of those come with losses of life and limb. I do not think I actually had the where with all to entirely understand that concept as a young adult. Life is precious, and when someone loses their life in the defense of others....well, it is almost incomprehensible. I mean, as a mother, no question. But, as a young service member it's a leap of faith. It should be honored and recognized. It’s hard to explain that we aren’t looking for recognition yet there is still something special that stands out about it.”


      Name: John Edingfield
      Branch of Service: Army
      Years Served: 5
      Military Job: Military Police
      Current Job: Sales Associate at Genes Auto Parts

      “I don’t have any sad or bad memories.  I thought that basic training was a blast.  I was 20 years old at the time so I was a little bit older than everyone else.  The first day that the Drill Sergeants were yelling at us was interesting.  They went into their office and were laughing at all of the stupid things they were making us do while we stood in formation.  I think that is when it dawned on me that they were just as human as the rest of us.  There was one guy who was always late for formation, which meant we got our butts kicked for it. One day we tied him to his bunk to teach him a lesson but when the Drill Sergeants found out we just ended up doing a million more pushups.  The military is just a different world.” 

      M22 is thankful for everyone who was willing to share a small part of their experience and for all of the men and woman who have served. 

      Thank you. 

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      Iceman Fever: Cowbell Increases the Symptoms

      Iceman Fever: Cowbell Increases the Symptoms

      It’s no secret that M22 lives and breathes outdoor activity and athletic competition, so it’s difficult for us to ignore the fact that Traverse City hosts the largest point-to-point mountain bike race in the nation. With over 4,000 racers, the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge is a mountain bike race that offers a platform for cyclists to compete from every level to a loaded pro category. 

      Rather than talk about the specifics of the event, we went looking for an explanation behind this so-called “Iceman Fever.” What is it that inspires, drives and excites these humans to compete? Is it for the carb load? The stomach aches? Why would you want to get out of bed on a cold Saturday morning and spend hours in the woods suffering, when you could stay home? Is the lost sleep and anxiety worth it?

      In an effort to get to the bottom of this, we caught up with some of Traverse City’s finest to get a taste of what inspires them to compete in the most anticipated race of the year. 

      Tom White, a local celebrity and all around amazing human, races for City Bike in Traverse City. Although there is no way to sum up Tom’s inspiration, he did a great job of describing what he feels on race day: 

      “I think the motivation behind the number plate is very personal for each racer. At the start line, all I see are my cycling brothers and sisters; because we love bikes. I am out to do my very best, but a part of me is rooting for them too because the closer the competition, the sweeter the victory. The best races I have ever done came down to the final minutes; and even though winning is the immediate goal, the battle at the end is what we train for.” 

      Micah Clanton, a rookie to the cycling scene and an Iceman virgin, strolled into the store today in his Team Bob’s cycling kit. When asked if he had the Iceman Fever, he shot a look of distress and said this:

      “Oh, the fever is real. I can’t talk about it or I will throw up. I’m excited and nervous.” 

      With a contagious smile and a heart of gold, one of TC’s top cyclists is Rob Goepfrich who races for Hagerty Cycling. Rob clearly understands the Iceman hype:

      “I guess you have to understand that Iceman is like Christmas to a lot of people. It happens every year. You desperately look forward to it. You lose sleep over it. The anticipation just about kills you. You train and train for that one big dance.” 

      Shannon Kochis, loves to hate the pressure of Iceman. Although she is a free agent, she will be racing this years’ Iceman in an M22 kit:

      “It's weird to be so excited about hitting the woods knowing that you are going to suffer for a couple of hours, but in my mind, if you aren't first, you're last- so there’s that. I plan to go out and do my best and then take in the extraordinary atmosphere that this event brings.”  

      Finally, the guy who everyone loves to be around and who prefers to keep his bike rides under 3.7 miles at a time, stopped by HQ today for a little chat. Tim Wharton is basically one of our favorite people so when asked if he was racing Iceman, we were surprised by his in-depth response:

      “Nope. But I have a cowbell.” 

      Thanks, Tim. 

      Unfortunately, we didn’t find anything in our research that offers a consistent remedy for this fever. Every athlete has their own ritual to fight through this pre-event anxiety and torture. Remember this: simply finding the courage to sign up for any event makes a person extraordinary; training and completing the event automatically sets you apart. 

      This Saturday, November 5th, over 4000 people will line up for the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge. Each participant will start the race with their own internal battle but they will finish with a personal story that will follow them for the rest of their life. The question should never be whether or not you will finish, but rather, how will you make sure to walk away from this race knowing you couldn’t have done any better? 

      Good luck racers. 

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      Cut-off Jeans, Cat Emojis and Flannel Shirts; According to Jorden Wakeley

      Cut-off Jeans, Cat Emojis and Flannel Shirts; According to Jorden Wakeley

      It’s that time of year, you know, when the air is cooler, the leaves are falling off the trees and Jorden Wakeley is in a constant state of “flannel.” With Iceman right around the corner, I decided that today was a great day to sit down at Brew TC for a nice chat with Jorden; mostly to see what all of the fuss is about.   

      Wakeley is a proud member of the M22 race team and is also sponsored by Cannondale.  He is well known for his 6 foot 3.5 inch build and his outrageous power on a bike.  Although he is an amazing athlete, he also maintains a normal livelihood. In the summer, he works on the Ausable River doing restoration and building trout beds; while in the fall, he cuts and splits firewood for a living. He enjoys spending time with his family, hanging with good friends and eating cereal.  

      I heard through the grapevine that you like to ride bikes. What's your favorite emoji? "Wait. What? Oh, I really like that cat with the heart eyes and that monkey who is covering his mouth.”

      Interesting. So, you look like a normal dude but people talk about you like you are a local celebrity. Is that weird when you are out shopping for groceries? "Honestly, it makes me a little nervous because I don’t view myself as anything special. I'm very honored that people know my name. Any place I go in Grayling people say hi. I don’t know if everyone understands what this sport is all about and that’s ok. Sometimes I wonder if maybe they assume I ride a bike everywhere because I don't have a driver's license or something.”

      That's actually a funny way to look at it. You do have a drivers license, right? “Yes.”

      Earlier when we were chatting you mentioned how much you love flannel shirts.  What would you wear every single day if you could only pick one thing? “I would wear flannel shirts with blue jeans.”

       What about on your bike? “I’d just wear cut-off blue jeans…with my flannel shirt.”

      That makes sense. So in all seriousness, being a professional athlete isn't something that everyone can do. I don't mean just the physical aspect, I mean the psychological part too.  You keep getting better and faster and you seem to be under a magnifying glass; how do you feel about that? “It’s really hard to explain this part.  In TC everyone knows me and they expect me to do well.  This is probably where most of my drive comes from when I train.  If I was going to a different state, no one would know me, so it would be different.  I’m very humbled by the cycling community in TC and I always appreciate it.  I think there will always be pressure when racing at any level, but I always try to turn it into something good.”

      You’ve made it very clear that you love riding for M22; what makes it so special? “It’s really just about being in the woods with your friends and people who have the drive to go fast. The guys on the team want to ride hard and push each other. M22 takes really good care of its athletes and I’m very appreciative of that. What’s even more fun is watching the banter between Matt and Keegan (Myers) on Strava after a good ride.  A perfect day would be a 100 mile ride through the woods with a beer stop halfway with the team (as long as Sean Kickbush didn’t come).”

      Ha ha ha, “Sean Kickbush.” He sounds nice.  You do a lot of different races every year.  Which two are your favorite and why? “I love Ore to Shore in Marquette, Michigan.  Marquette is one of the greatest towns and that race has awesome competition.  I also love Iceman.  You can’t beat the atmosphere, the competition is crazy, and when it’s over, the pressure is off for a bit. 

      What and who inspired you to get into this sport and who helps keep you in it? “When I was first starting to race it was Brian Matter and Ron Sanborn.  Those two were my inspiration and they pushed me more than I can put into words. I’m also lucky because my parents come to all of my races and have sacrificed so much to get me across the Country to different races. My Dad does my hand-ups and as most racers know, this can make or break a race. I’m lucky in all aspects of support.” 

      I hear you will be signing autographs at the Iceman Expo this year.  Any words of advice for those aspiring athletes out there who want to get into the sport?  “I’m signing autographs? Wow. That’s pretty neat. As far as this sport goes, you have to have fun. There’s no point in getting into bicycle racing if you are not going to have fun. Also, be patient. It takes a lot of time to get fast, it won’t happen overnight.”

      Okay, one last question: what is this bicycle that you ride and what do you like the most about it?  “I ride a Cannondale FSI.  My favorite thing about it is the fork and that it has not broken.” 




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      Pauly's coming home!

      Pauly's coming home!

       Pauly Hurlbert as he crosses the Michigan border on his way back home.


      6000 miles. 200 days on the road. 100 nights in a tent. 17 states. 3 countries. And he's finally coming home to Traverse City.

      Last September, when we heard our friend Pauly Hurlbert (follow his Instagram here) had started his solo cross-country bike tour, we couldn't resist featuring his trip in our fall catalog. M22 fans have been following him ever since. Though he started with no real goal or destination in mind, Pauly ended up circling the southern part of the country and eventually headed back north, towing a heap of noteworthy adventures with him.

      Like you, we can't wait to hear his stories and give him a high five. So we're holding a welcome home event at the M22 store on the day Pauly rides in—everyone is invited! 

      JOIN US! Pauly will be riding into Traverse City at 6pm Friday, April 1st. Meet us in front of the M22 store (125 E. Front Street) to celebrate his return with a group bike ride along Union and State streets, ending at The Little Fleet for drinks and stories. Bikes are encouraged but not required—bring your wheels or just bring yourself. Either way, get here!




      “...The beauty is, after this long period of touring I've realized this. All of these amplified challenges become very comfortable. It really becomes normal life. I don't seem to worry at all about finding a place to sleep, because I've always found one. I don't worry about my bike breaking down because I've fixed it so many times. I don't worry about being helpless and alone, because the kindness of strangers has always been there... Every single challenge has made me stronger. When I finish and return to "normal life" that confidence will carry over to my every day life, for the rest of my life. So, my advice is this. Get the hell out of your comfort zones! Just go!” –Pauly Hurlbert


      Below is Pauly's original article as featured in the 2015 M22 Fall/Winter Catalog:

      THE DIRECTION IS SOUTH and although he knows he’ll at least ride to Tijuana, he’s leaving the end open. And he’s heading out alone. 

      His official name is Paul Hurlbert, but everyone calls him Pauly. This summer, he put his belongings in storage, quit two great jobs, and decided to spend the next few months on his bicycle traveling the west side of the country from Canada to Mexico. 

      A flight instructor, a bartender, a musician, Pauly’s always been the adventurous type. He jumps out of airplanes as often as possible. At a bar last March back home in Traverse City, Pauly met a guy from Delaware. This guy would tell him about a bike ride from New York to San Francisco. It blew his mind. “To be honest, I had never heard of bike touring before. The seed had definitely been planted and I said that night, ‘I will absolutely do that, someday.’” 

      Someday quickly turned into September. 

      When often asked why he chose a bicycle, he affirms that it offers him a thrilling amount of freedom. “The ability to create whatever pace you’d like. Fast enough to see cities, states, and countries. Slow enough to experience every moment in between. Constantly alternating between extreme challenges and incredible rewards.” Every grueling hill, every difficult stretch is contrasted by a gorgeous view or pleasant coast downward—and totally worth it.”

      While planning this trip, the most common questions he was asked were about fear. If he was afraid of being alone, traveling unknown territories, or trekking congested roads on a bike. “The truth is, these are all challenges I embrace on a daily basis. People tend to not do things because they are afraid of them, but in my experience every day is overcoming challenges. You always come out of the tip of the hill stronger. Now, instead of fear, I choose to put myself in challenging situations because I can’t wait to see what’s on the other side.” 

      Pauly understands fear Two years ago, his wife, Kelly, died in a traffic accident while riding her bike only a quarter of a block from home. She was 29, and the love of his life. 

      “We both rode our bikes every day.”

      For her memorial only days later, Paul led 1,500 bicyclists on a one-mile ride through several Traverse City streets. “She was a very strong person. She wouldn’t have wanted us to stop riding our bikes.”

      Pauly doesn’t really attribute his trip to the death of his wife, but says she is always on his mind. “I do have some tough moments when I’m on a small shoulder or when a car passes me, only inches away. It’s impossible not to think about what happened to her, but I just keep riding. It’s what she would have wanted. She was the best, hands down—living to the fullest and loving as much as possible. I feel like doing anything less would be the greatest injustice to her legacy.”

      HIGHS AND LOWS When we were interviewing Pauly for this article, he got a flat tire and had to call us back. When we finally caught up with him, we learned his forced break caused him to stop into a random diner where he discovered the best French toast of his life. “Homemade bread and jam,” he said. He seemed happy, and he told us about his other adventures since hitting the road.

      He’s enjoyed stretches of sunshine and seemingly endless days of rain. He’s spent nights in hammocks, tents, and on the couch of strangers. He’s had days where his legs gave out after only 35 miles, quickly finding a place to sleep off the side of the road. He’s had days where 80 miles felt like a mere warm-up, only stopping because a friend offered him a comfortable place to rest. Once he walked into a bar in the middle of a precarious scene—bikers dressed in leather and rave wear dancing to electronic beats—only to end up joining them and making a few new friends. Another night he stayed with a family in Astoria, Oregon. He vividly remembers watching as the father, a burly ship carpenter, gently sang his 6-month old child to sleep in an armchair. Both of their arms slowly fell to their sides and their eyes shut.

      One kind stranger Pauly met on (a resource for long-distance bikers much like had a bike accident years ago. In a coma for 16 months—complete with a scar to prove it—he had spent years relearning how to talk and eat. He now hosted other cyclists as a way to stay connected and be reminded of his gratitude. 

      Pauly’s adventures have taken him along the rugged coastline of the Pacific Northwest, among the tall redwoods, and the winding scenery of California. No matter how gorgeous it is, he still misses the fresh water of home. “101 reminds me of 22. It hugs the coastline. People take pride in it. But it’s not nearly as beautiful as back home. I don’t know why. It just isn’t the same.”

      He’s not entirely sure when he’ll finish, or where he’ll end up. “Ultimately, I’m spending each day as it comes. If I like a town, maybe I’ll stay for a while. I’ve traveled alone many times before, and have realized that the fewer plans you make, the more you open yourself up to spontaneous encounters that become unforgettable.”

      NO PLACE LIKE HOME No matter how far he is from home, Pauly’s heart remains here in northern Michigan. “I know this is something Kelly would want me doing. If she were here today, she would give me a huge high five for doing this. That’s all the comfort I need.” 

      To pay tribute to Kelly Hurlbert or donate to the benefit fund, visit her memorial website at

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