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Detroit — The inaugural urban bike ride Saturday to raise scholarships at Wayne State University was less Tour de France and more tour de force.

It even had a cool French name: “The Baroudeur,” a French word meaning warrior — which is the nickname of the university’s sports teams.

More than 1,100 cyclists signed up for the event, the brainchild of WSU President M. Roy Wilson. It’s the first urban bike ride event the university has organized.

“It was a bigger turnout than we expected,” said Wilson. “We were hoping for close to 1,000.”

Riders at the event chose one of four open road courses: a 20-, 50-, 62- or 100-mile ride, also called century. Wilson, an avid cyclist, was doing a century Saturday.

All of the courses were designed with staggered start times to begin in the center of Wayne State’s campus and wind their way through Detroit’s streets. The 100-mile course ended in Grosse Ile.

There was also no competition, unlike the famous French bike race.

“I wanted to bring this to Downtown Detroit and have people experience the university and the city,” Wilson said. “I’m hoping this is something we can do every year. We’re off to a good start.”

Wilson said Saturday’s event was open to all and future Baroudeur rides will be, too.

Tearey Simpson, 50, of Detroit, said he heard about the event from people he rides with. Simpson was riding the 50-mile course Saturday.

“I thought this would be nice ride to take,” he said. “And it’s for a good cause.”

Like Wayne State’s president, Katie Mathieu, 41, of Sterling Heights, was tackling the 100-mile course. She was joined by her sister, Elizabeth Riser, 35, of Marshall. Unlike Wilson, however, the Baroudeur was the sisters’ first century ride.

“It’s a sister-thing,” Riser said. “We just enjoy cycling.”

Mathieu added: “It’s pretty exciting. Hopefully, I can still walk at the end.”

Proceeds from the event will help fund scholarships for students at the university. Officials didn’t yet have figures on how much the event raised Saturday.

Wayne State’s Baroudeur is one of the many ways Michigan’s universities are trying to raise funds for scholarships.

For instance earlier this month, Michigan State University held its first MSU Black alumni scholarship fundraiser with Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the NBA legend who led the Spartans to the 1979 NCAA basketball title.

Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan University last month hosted a TRUEMU night for a Tigers game at Comerica Park that raised $4,000 for student scholarships.

kkozlowski@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2024

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