2014 Bike Benzie Tour and Fondo


One of the premier rides in Benzie County, this year’s timed Fondo added a little more incentive to finish. There was also pie. 

On a jam-packed weekend that included the M-22 Challenge, Michigan Mountain Mayhem, West Branch, Father’s Day, and general hustle and bustle, the Bike Benzie Tour and Grand Fondo may have slipped through a few people’s schedules. For the riders who did make it, however, there was ample reward for their time and efforts. The Tour has been going on for a number of years, drawing clubs and riders from all over the Midwest to take on 30, 60 and 100 mile routes in Benzie and Leelanau Counties. The route takes advantage of quiet, rural roads and some climbs, as well as a picturesque jaunt around Platte Lake and through Frankfort.

The proceeds of the race go the Benzie Sunrise Rotary, and it’s an organization and ride that brings out a lot of support from Crystal Mountain, The Cherry Hut and other local businesses. The fundraiser brings a great atmosphere to the start/finish area, and a lot of camaraderie out on the roads as well.

This year, ride organizers added a timed 100 mile category for those looking to test their legs. Endurance Evolution provided the chips and plates, and 40 riders were on hand to ride as guinea pigs to see how tough the 102 mile route would be, especially with its 4,200 feet of climbing.

The route was, frankly, brilliant. Miles and miles of smooth back roads with little to now traffic, the course wound its way west of Lake Ann to Maple City before hitting Hlavka. The lead group had already been established, but the adventures were really going on behind Jorden Wakeley (on a 29+), Cody Sovis and Jon Throop. Misinterpreting a road arrow, a gang of four riders rode an extra 9 miles total, ending up in Cedar. Stacy Smith and Pieter Sherdian brought the group back onto course, only for Pieter to take a pretty serious gash on his rear tire. A team flat-fix and a short while later, the group was back to Crystal Mountain for food, music, beer and fun.

Bike Benzie has to be one of the most well-run fondos around. Great food stops with encouraging volunteers, and the ride staff stopped and thanked every rider for coming as they crossed the line. Almost everyone left with pie, which is worth a lot of points, and Crystal Mountain is one of the best venues for any activity, period. After a great first Fondo, the ride is looking to make sure it has a more open date next year. This ride, combined with the world-famous Michigan Mountain Mayhem, give Northern Michigan two great, challenging events that will certainly make a lot of people’s calendars.

You can see Jon Throop’s Strava file here.

All the Fondo times are available here from Endurance Evolution. 

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