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Who’s up for a ride with Patrick?

Support the 2021 Patrick’s Heavy Riders with a donation today!

On Saturday, July 31, a few dozen riders will set off for the Mackinaw Bridge. Some will leave Traverse City for a 140-mile tour, while others depart from Charlevoix for an 80-mile spin. They’ll share the goal of raising funds and awareness for Norte, but they’ll also share in the experience of testing oneself. It’ll be hot. There’s likely to be a headwind. It’s all part of the thrill for Patrick’s Heavy Ride with Friends.

Riders will also share the encouragement of riding with others, including the man who kicked off Patrick’s Heavy in 2017, Patrick Cotant. He’s a kind and humble man, not wanting attention, and we’re thankful he sat down with us recently to talk about the upcoming ride.

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Norte: Thank you again for hosting the annual Patrick’s Heavy. To start, please tell us a little about you and your family? 

Patrick: We moved here about ten years ago from Gaylord. My wife, Polly, and I celebrate 13 years of marriage this week, and we have an 8-year-old son named Fletcher. We moved here for work, and we wanted to live in a more family-friendly, walkable, and bikeable community.

N: When did you discover Norte?

In 2015, Polly heard Ty speak at Fulfillament, a storytelling event here in Traverse City. He talked about his passion for getting kids on bikes and the beginnings of Norte. At the time, they were just a group of bike trains connecting kids to area schools. When Norte started balance bike meetups at F&M Park, we brought Fletcher, and his love of bikes took off. Polly soon started on the board, and we have both continued to participate and volunteer when we can.

N: What is Patrick’s Heavy Ride with Friends? 

I wanted to figure out a way to raise money for Norte in a way that was more than one person writing a check. I thought about it and put it out there to see if there was interest. If there was, then that could be an avenue to introduce others to Norte. I like riding bikes, and there are many groups in the area doing great things to raise money and awareness for causes like Kolo t.c. and fundraiser rides that have been around for years, such as Less Cancer. Those were my inspiration for doing a bigger bike ride for the fundraiser. I wanted something that would be challenging so that people would be like, ‘yeah, I’d donate to that cause, I think it’s a worthy endeavor,’ but also something that could bring more people in was the goal.

N: This ride will be your fourth. How has it evolved? 

The first year was solo and the hardest. I hadn’t ridden that far before. I didn’t know what to eat and drink along the way. I didn’t know how to pace myself. It was a good learning opportunity. I was motivated and excited to do it. And, I had to at that point—people had donated money.

I remember coming back into town along the TART Trail, and Ty was on one of the benches there. He started clapping. It was fun. We road the rest of the way. I got a little boost of energy the last few miles.

The last two years have been the most fun with other cyclists. Some of them I knew, but it is also a great way to meet people. I like the adventure, the challenge, and being out there being self-sufficient on a bike is liberating. It’s enjoyable.

N: What have you learned from the rides? 

You learn a lot about yourself and other things when you’re up to your max. For anyone, even if they ride a lot, it can be a lot of miles. Once you get past that 80-90 mile mark, things kind of change. I’ve learned to face adversity. Are you going to just fold up and stop? Or, are you going to summon the courage and the strength you need to do well and finish strong? To set a good example for your kids or whatever the case may be. That’s what I’ve taken from it. Focus on what you’re doing. You can do anything for a little bit. Set your sights on what’s ahead. The literal and figurative horizon.

N: You get a little philosophical talking about it. How does Patrick’s Heavy reflect on the goals of Norte‘s Youth Bike Programs? 

I saw a post today from the after-school Mountain Bike programs where one of the kids said, “Maybe our growth in our skills is a sign of success on its own.” That’s perfect. The after-school programs, with the coaches Norte has, I can’t speak for all of them, but they seem to be great people. Great motivators. They teach the kids to do the best they can and to give it their all. That in and of itself will make you feel successful and empower you to have confidence going forward. It’s a great thing for them to have as a lifelong skill.

N: How has Norte impacted your son? 

I think it has created independence. Fletcher is 8, and we have started to give him the freedom to range around and see his friends on the block. Yesterday we got home from soccer practice, and he wanted to go to the book store. He just went out to the garage; there was no, ‘are we driving or riding?’ If the weather is decent, he knows that riding is a good choice. He wants to ride his bike now. When he started, it could be a challenge. Now it’s what he loves to do.

N: What do you hope to get out of the fourth year?

There are already some people signed up. We have a more scenic route. Hopefully, now with more people vaccinated, we see more people participating. It would be great to raise $20–$25,000. Going forward, it’s somehting I look forward to continuing for years. Some people have said it is their favorite ride they’ve done. Again probably because it is a long ride and a big accomplishment for anyone; if you ride 140 miles, you should be proud of that. And, hopefully, enjoy it because that’s what it’s all about. Hopefully, we have the participation needed to continue to keep raising funds for Norte.

N: Why you? 

I just wanted to do something for an organization that meant something for Polly and me. Norte has helped many young people. Specifically, because Norte got our kid involved in his first group activity with other kids in a lifelong sport, that’s my motivation.


Registration for Patrick’s Heavy with Friends is $35, requiring $200 from pledges. The sooner you register, the sooner you start training. Group training is held every Saturday at 7:00 am, leaving Darrow Park in Traverse City.


COVID POLICY: Norte is committed to the safety and well-being of our community. We confidently deliver programs and events because our staff and families follow preventive measures and monitoring protocols for COVID-19. We also generally look out for each other and stay outside as much as possible. If you are unvaccinated, please wear a mask. We encourage everyone eligible to vaccinate as soon as possible. If you are not feeling well, please join us the next time when you feel better. Let’s work together and #stopthespread.