Few events allow for riders of disparate levels of ability and fitness to throw a leg over their various forms of bicycles and ride together. It’s truly a wonderful sight to behold; a gentleman astride a $5,000 Specialized Mid-Life Crisis next to a lady from my cycling class at Yen on a beach cruiser from Walmart. It’s the complete spectrum of the cycling experience all at once, and it’s truly evidence that anyone who enjoys a spin on two wheels is 100% a cyclist, the details of age, sex, and income level be damned. I absolutely love it, and so do many of you. After all, this is maybe the 27th, 28th, or 29th edition of this fundraising event, and it only seems to be growing. Much of its success comes from a day riding in the stunning beauty of Leelanau County, while others are clearly there for the pancakes. But behind the climbs and gluten is a great reason for the ride.
We’ll be collecting donations that will go to buying snacks and prizes for the dozens of kids who show up to the Junior and Mini SOL rides on Thursday nights at the VASA 25K. If you recall being a teenager, or have one in your home, you know that these kids are in a perpetual state of hunger due their growth spurts, high-metabolism, and frequent bike riding. Snacks, then, are crucial to keeping them happy and flying while they’re out there shredding gnar.
Want to help Norte out but can’t make the ride on Saturday? Consider throwing in a few bucks here. If you’d like to learn more about what Norte does throughout northern Michigan, you should check out their wide range of programs that are designed to get kids off the couch, on, bikes, and become active and healthy participants in their community from a young age. From 3-18, Norte is helping kids build character, self-dependancy, and healthy lifestyles that will ensure the next generation is just a bit healthier and smarter than the one that came before it.
Show up around 7:30-7:45 to Cherry Bend Park to chat with your buds, air up those tires, and get ready for one heck of a morning on a bike. You can find complete route options here. To cut some miles off the 60-mile route (and get back to the pancakes faster) simply don’t go around Glen Lake and take Dunns Farm Road instead. Please note that the 60-miler is a quasi-race, so expect to get dropped by men and women who are skinny to the point of looking emaciated and weak. But don’t say they look skinny and sick – they sort of take it as a compliment.
There are just a few things to note. The ride is neutral from the Park until we cross Bugai Road. It really is a sight to see, with up to 200 riders lined out! After that, expect things to get snappy. We will NOT be stopping to regroup in Glen Arbor this year; it’s only 60 miles and the regroup makes the bunch get really big as we roll through Glen Arbor and into the second half of the ride. We’d rather have smaller groups out on the roads. It also makes it easier on our pancake flippers to have a more steady stream of riders show up, rather than a few dozen at a time.
If that’s not your cup of tea, ride your own pace! Go fast, go slow, just show up and have fun. Wes will be leading a contingent on the TART trail that are newer, or new-ish, to cycling and want to participate, but at way more chill pace. Wes will lead this group up to the TART trail and head north for ten or so miles before turning around and getting stuck in on some fluffy flapjacks. You’ll see a lot of indoor cyclists from Wes’s classes at Yen in this group, which I’m stoked to see. We just hope they know how to steer, because that’s not something we do much of on our stationary bikes.