By Dana Hollowell/Bridge Magazine
For seven days last summer, James Jeske, 66, bicycled along Michigan’s western shore. The 500-mile-long trek took him from New Buffalo at the base of the Mitten to Mackinaw City at the tip of the Lower Peninsula.
Jeske did not cycle the peninsula alone, though. He was with 400 other cyclists on the Shoreline West Bike Tour who wound their way through towns like Ludington, Charlevoix and Harbor Springs — averaging nearly 60 miles each day. Undaunted by the distances, the event planner and U.S. Air Force veteran from. St. Louis, Mo., keeps coming back for more. In fact, Jeske has cycled his way around Michigan for the past 25 years.
“I come to Michigan,” he said, “because of the friendly atmosphere, the lakes, and the beautiful scenery. I love the wonderful farmers who have their fresh cherries and produce along the roadside. It has all the aspects to make bicycling and vacationing great.”
Michigan boasts more than 300 bike tours that criss-cross the state, said Rich Moeller, executive director of the League of Michigan Bicyclists, with approximately 45,000-50,000 cyclists who participate in them. Of the 300 tours offered, five are a week-long; of those, two sell out every year. The rest are at near capacity.
The booming bike tours means big business for Michigan and it may keep getting bigger. Michigan is ranked No. 1 in the country for the largest rail-trail system with more than 2,400 miles of bike trails, according to Josh DeBruyn, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the Michigan Department of Transportation. Read More: State attracts visitors