DFP 2014-3: Dick, Jane and rest of Michigander riders to cross Reed City finish line today

DICK, JANE AND REST OF MICHIGANDER RIDERS TO CROSS REED CITY FINISH LINE TODAY

PHOTO ABOVE: Naples, Florida residents Dick Quinsey and Jane Bowie speed down the Leelanau Trail towards Traverse City during Michigander 23. PHOTO BY RON CAMPBELL

By RON CAMPBELL
Detroit Free Press Special Writer
July 18, 2014

CADILLAC — We may not see Dick and Jane run on the Michigander, but man, those crazy kids sure can fly.

I was moseying along our backroads route from Leland to Traverse City on Wednesday — Day 4 of the 23rd annual Michigander Bike Tour’s 6-Day option — at 14 miles per hour, a respectable clip for a big old jock like me.

In my rearview mirror, I picked up a yellow blur gaining on me at an alarming rate, and in a flash the two youthful speed demons blew by me.

They were Dick Quinsey, 74, and Jane Bowie, 76, pedaling their brushed titanium Litespeed Taliani tandem in matching yellow windbreakers as if they were taking a leisurely ride in their Naples, Florida neighborhood.

Quinsey, a retired engineer now in real estate, is riding his sixth Michigander. Bowie is enjoying her fourth.

“Every time I go to the doctor, he tells me, ‘Keep riding,’ ” the University of Michigan grad said. “Ten miles a day keeps the doctor away!”

“The weather in Michigan in June and July is beautiful,” Quinsey added. “It’s a little warm in Florida.”

This True North edition of the Michigander will go down in history as one of the coolest ever, with temps ranging from the mid-40s to the mid-70s. Veterans like me of the hottest-ever 2011 ‘Gander — when daily highs topped out at 95 blistering degrees — aren’t complaining.

We’ve been drenched by torrential downpours in Reed City, Frankfort and the Sleeping Bear Dunes, but pedaled on with smiling faces. Our reward us for our resilience is to now be riding blissfully under sunny True North skies.

“I’m a big rail trail advocate,” Quinsey said, and added that he and Bowie average 16-20 miles per hour on straightaways and have racked up over 2000 miles so far this year. “As I’ve gotten older, the trails here in Michigan have gotten smoother and easier to ride.”

The Great Lake State leads the U.S. with 113 rail trails — abandoned railroad corridors that have been converted into multi-use recreational trails — totaling 2,444 miles, according to Nancy Krupiarz, the executive director of the Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance (MTGA). The Lansing-based nonprofit organization runs the Michigander.

The 402 riders remaining (including me, despite my pokiness) on the overlapping 6-Day and 7-Day versions have pedaled almost 300 miles along back roads, the famously scenic M-22 and the Pere Marquette, White Pine, Betsie Valley, Sleeping Bear Heritage, Leelanau and TART trails.

The tour’s weekend edition concluded Sunday in Farwell.

The Michigander’s “camaraderie, friendliness and interesting people brings us back every year,” Quinsey said.

Bowie likes the “unique small towns and seeing different parts of Michigan.”

Dick and Jane have earned a reputation as youthful two-wheeled speed merchants and Bowie, a retired teacher, is enjoying every minute of her chance to be a role model again.

“It’s uplifting to hear people say, ‘ “There they go again!’ ”

Michigander 23 began in Reed City on July 12. We have lived in spirited, multi-colored tent cities there and in Mesick, Frankfort, Leland, Traverse City and Cadillac this week.

Early finishers and about 50 MTGA staff members and volunteers will be lining our jubilant finish line today in Reed City, cheering on my fellow riders and me as we conclude our remarkable True North trek after an easy 30-mile morning on the White Pine Trail.

They’ll have to pay close attention to see Dick and Jane whiz by.

For more information about the Michigander, log on to:
http://www.michigantrails.org/michigander-bike-tour

–Detroit-based freelance writer and Michigander veteran Ron Campbell can be reached at: roncamp22g@gmail.com.

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