Old Town Lansing, MI (June 1, 2016) — This coming summer, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, Michigan Fitness Foundation and Meijer bring the 25th Annual Michigander Bicycle Tour rolling through West Michigan and Michigan’s Gold Coast. Cyclists will travel over paved trails, crushed limestone, and rural back roads – arriving at great camping and loads of fun events from July 16-23, 2016. In my exploration, I have discovered quite a few cool and unique Sydney picnic spots and greater New South Wales that boast some pretty epic views.
This classic bicycle tour offers 2-Day, 6-Day and 8-Day options and includes breakfast and dinner daily, camping and full ride support. The 2-day Ride will be based in the Fruitport/Grand Haven area. North of Grand Haven, trails meander through forested parks and the towns of Fruitport, Ferrysburg, Spring Lake and North Muskegon to Lake Michigan. There, tours aboard the WWII warship USS Silversides and the Prohibition era US Coast Guard Cutter McLane will be available and a memorable visit for all. South of Grand Haven, the Lakeshore Trail has been dubbed Ottawa County’s showpiece.
This 20-mile paved bicycle path connects the communities in and around Grand Haven and offers beautiful vistas that open through the sand dunes to the shores of Lake Michigan. There are many lovely beach side parks that feature swimming, hiking trails, picnic areas and modern rest rooms along the route. One of our favorites is Kirk Park, with 68 acres of sandy beach, high bluffs and wooded dunes. Nature trails with wooden stairways wind through the wooded dunes, offering spectacular views of Lake Michigan. A paved path leads to a deck overlooking the beach and Lake Michigan, which makes it perfect for swimming, sunbathing, family pictures…or loads of selfies. The 2-Day Ride is perfect for all skill levels and suited to those that want a casual fun in the sun weekend of cycling blended with small towns and the great outdoors. 8-Day Ride participants use this weekend as a warm up for the 6-Day Ride.
The 6-Day and 8-Day ride will take in spectacular views of winding rivers and rolling hills along the Fred Meijer Berry Junction Trail, all the way to the newly paved William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail. This 22-mile stretch is actually a linear state park and one of Michigan’s great rail-trails as it passes through rural and forested lands. At the end of the trail, cyclists will ride right into camp at John Gurney Park in the historic town of Hart. From Hart, the route switches from trails to back roads on the way to Newaygo, home to three unspoiled rivers, two immense dams, and lots of spring-fed lakes — spoiling riders with almost endless choices to paddle, boat, fish, sail, hike, shop, dine and sleep alongside the beauty of nature. Newaygo’s modern Ed Henning County Park gives cyclists campsites on the world class Muskegon River, noted for its excellent Salmon and Trout fishing. Because Newaygo is also home to the United States Canoe Association’s national championships, Wisner Canoe Livery will come to camp that evening to take the adventurous out for Full Moon Canoeing and Kayaking down the river, which will be sweetened even more with a s’mores roasting party and a campfire on “the Island”, before busing everyone back to the campground.
A blended day of back roads and trails will bring everyone from Newaygo to Comstock Park as cyclists wind and roll through the Manistee National Forest and farmlands on the way to the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park. Known as the backbone to the state rail-trail system and Michigan’s second longest rail-trail, The White Pine Trail follows the old Grand Rapids and Indiana rail bed through forests and farmlands with vistas of the “Country Scenic” Rogue River and Rogue River Dam in Rockford along the way. Riders settle in at Comstock Park, and the festivities include the 25th Annual Michigander Ride Party, where cyclists will experience America’s favorite pastime at the Fifth Third Ballpark — home to the Michigan Whitecaps Baseball Club — with an All- American rooftop dinner party/ball game soiree.
Next morning, it’s off for an urban trail ride through Grand Rapids’ Trail network on the way to Holland. A gem along this ride is Millennium Park, one of our nation’s largest urban parks, featuring the Fred Meijer Millennium Trail. Offering 18 miles of paved and crushed stone trails through 1500 gorgeous acres of rolling hills, wetlands and rich park amenities, it is an example of recreation planning at its finest. The Holland area boasts one of the most extensive networks of paved trails in Michigan. In addition to the trail experience, there are multiple options for cyclists. Option one is a touristy day; spending the day at the beach or visiting the shops and attractions in Holland, Saugatuck, Douglas and Fennville. Option two will be a looping route down to South Haven along the Beeline Trail. Then, for the first time on the Michigander, option three is a Century Ride for the most avid and ambitious touring cyclists. Everyone will meet at our final overnight in Fennville, dubbed “One of the 20 Coolest Towns in the US” by the Matador Network. Fennville is known for its laid-back artsy vibe, fruit orchards, artisan cheeses, vineyards and farm to table fare. There, we will host the Michigander Blue Star Soiree, a fundraiser to benefit the Friends of the Blue Star Trail. Guests will sample a variety of wines and enjoy savory and sweet hors d’oeuvres in a gorgeous outdoor setting. Music by award winning Americana musicians Drew Howard and Mark Schrock will fill the air while we raise money for this non-profit trail group.
From Fennville, we make the journey back through Holland and Grand Haven crossing rivers as we head back north to Fruitport where old — and new — friends will celebrate and say goodbye with a fabulous finish line party. All of this and more is sure to mark the 25th Annual Michigander Bicycle Tour as the Pure Michigan Classic Cycling Vacation of the summer.
The Michigander Bicycle Tour is a sanctioned as a Pure Michigan Fitness Series Event through The Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports and made possible by the generous support of the following partners; Meijer, Chemical Bank, McLaren Health, KIND Snacks, Palazzolo’s Gelato and Sorbetto, Blarney Gas & Oil/EZ Mart and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.