They will have seen 335 miles of beautiful Michigan scenery by the time their seven day son the road are done. On Thursday, July 16, an approximated 600 bike riders will roll into our town for a camp out at North Rockford Middle School before finishing their ride.
Barry Culham, organizer for the 18th annual Michigander Bicycle Tour, said he expects many of the riders to start coming in to Rockford between 1 to 4 p.m. They would be wise to head downtown to enjoy sidewalk sales before having dinner at the school.
Friday morning, after breakfast at the school, they will hit their last leg of the journey.
This is the second year in a row the tour has included a stop in Rockford. For long-time Rockford teacher Bonnie Lindke, now retired, it will be her first time on the long ride.
Lindke is an avid cyclist who has gone on other long rides, including hitting the carriage roads in Maine’s Acadia National Park. She is a former Rockford tennis and gymnastic coach and said she started the school’s gymnastic program. Lindke has been training for the tour and averages 200 miles a week on her bike. She advises bike riding can be a wonderful sport, but helmets need to be worn by children and adults alike. “You never know what can happen,” she said, using a cantaloupe on the sidewalk analogy for a bike crash.
“I’m very excited and looking forward to being in a big group, although we all have our own speeds. It isn’t a race, it’s a tour.”
Culham said that the tour started when Rails to Trails was in its infancy and was a way to promote Michigan’s trails. Now the state has a nice network of recreational trails and improvements continue. The tour provides meals for the bikers and transports supplies to each daily destination. Highlighting different trails is a priority each year. The camping tour costs between $290 to $300 per participant.
Culham said those interested in next year’s tour can visit online at Michigantrails.org. Send the organization a self-addressed, stamped envelope and they will provide a map of Michigan trails.