Getting to Know: Breaking away with Rob MacGregor

December 18, 2017

It’s no secret that Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson has an enduring passion for cycling.

After all, he launched The Baroudeur, now entering its fourth year as a fundraising event to benefit student scholarships, and took to the state’s roads during last summer’s debut Road Warrior Tour.

On any given day, you might spot Wilson cycling around the city — and you’ll likely see Rob MacGregor, senior director of philanthropy of the Law School, pedaling alongside him.

“Working inside during the weekdays, I always look forward to getting out and riding as much as I possibly can,” said MacGregor, who discovered his passion for cycling in his 20s. “I ride all spring and summer and try to continue into the fall as long as the weather holds out.”

What had once begun as a casual interest in mountain biking evolved into a passion for road cycling when MacGregor was enlisted to participate in Wayne State’s inaugural Baroudeur in 2015. He began cycling with Wilson during the Tuesday night training rides that had been designed to help participants prepare for the first–annual event. Training rides typically consist of 80 to 90 cyclists who meet on WSU’s campus and ride 20 to 30 miles before going out for a post-ride beer.

“During these Tuesday rides, I realized that President Wilson is an extremely strong rider,” said MacGregor, who was inspired by Wilson’s skill and love for the sport. “I attempted to keep up with him during the first Baroudeur but had to stop and rest a lot more than he did. He is a great person to ride with because he is encouraging and pushes everyone to ride their hardest.”

MacGregor not only participated in the inaugural Baroudeur, but he has also played a critical role in the planning of the annual event by mapping cycling routes and sharing his insight as an experienced rider. At this year’s Baroudeur, he was presented with the first Spirit of the Baroudeur Award for exemplifying what it means to be a baroudeur — someone who is not afraid to lead and carve his own path.

MacGregor also rode alongside President Wilson in this summer’s Road Warrior Tour, a four-day, 400-mile trek through Michigan’s byways with stops in St. Clair, Midland and Dewitt. Each stop included a reception at which Wilson spoke to alumni, donors, prospective students and local dignitaries about higher education issues and Wayne State in particular — all after a grueling 100-mile bike ride over sometimes unforgiving terrain that included rain and almost always a head wind.

“Other university presidents do bus tours, but the Road Warrior Tour was unique because President Wilson rode his bike more than 400 miles to destinations where we have Wayne State students and alumni,” MacGregor said. “It showed his dedication to cycling, but more importantly his dedication to our students. It meant a lot to them to have him come to their town to meet them and see where they live.”