The Michigander Bicycle Tour begins this weekend, and Guest Blogger Gretchen Mensing shares her experience on the tour. It’s not a race, it’s an experience!
Michigan has more miles of trails than any other state in the U.S. My favorite way to enjoy them is by riding the Michigander Bicycle Tour. I am not an avid cyclist, but the Michigander is a ride for all ages, abilities and bicycle types. The atmosphere is not race-like or competitive in any way, which suits me well. It’s more like a big group of friends and family getting together to enjoy beautiful Michigan scenery on two wheels.
I rode my first Michigander two years ago, but there are a few folks who have participated in every ride. This year marks the 20th ride, from July 16 – 22. When the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance (MTGA), the hosts of the event, entered into a joint operating agreement with my employer, the Michigan Fitness Foundation, I was able to learn more about MTGA and the Michigander, and became excited about their mission. MTGA promotes the health, community, and cultural benefits of a connected system of trails. The Michigander Bicycle Tour helps to fund their work, while simultaneously showcasing the trails that are their focus.
A cautious person by nature, I appreciate that the Michigander takes place almost solely on multi-use trails of Michigan, for the most part away from the noise and risk of riding with automobile traffic. Knowing I am probably only going to get passed by other cyclists, (and I might pass a critter or two), is comforting and appealing to me.
The family-friendly atmosphere of the ride is evident along the trail as you pass, or are passed by, adults with kids on trail-a-bikes, couples your parents’ age speeding along on a tandem, 20-somethings interested in adventure, and families interested in a low-cost getaway close to their own back yard. Each and every person will say, “Enjoying the ride?”, “Beautiful scenery!” or “Great day for a ride!” etc. The Michigander is not a race – it is truly about the journey.
In the evenings, event organizers provide dinner, entertainment and information about the next day’s trip. Hundreds of tents cover the grounds of local schools or community buildings and everyone sits outside in their camp chairs to socialize until the sun sets. After a good night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast, the trip begins all over again, and you can enjoy another unique and striking piece of Pure Michigan outdoors.