“LIFE IS GOOD, INDEED. And on the Michigander – a sun-kissed, rain-soaked, sweat-streaked, aerobic laughter-filled, triumphant tear-stained, thigh-burning, soul-enriching, gloriously scenic two-wheeled journey all the way back to those carefree summer days when the only thing that mattered was that school was out until September and riding your bike to the ice cream store with your friends was just about the best feeling in the whole wide world – life is even better. Enjoy the ride? We LIVE for the ride.”
–An excerpt from “Resilient Michigander riders cross jubilent finish line in Harbor Springs” (article DFP 2013-3), which was published on the Detroit Free Press website, http://www.Freep.com, in July, 2013. Scroll down for newly-edited and expanded versions of all the Michigander articles I’ve written for Freep.com.
Those who signed up for the 2011 ‘Gander — our last West Michigan route — will never forget the ride, or the weather. I cranked out seven Michigander stories for the Grand Rapids Press that week (nine overall), the hardest I’ve ever worked as a writer. My task of gathering info, quotes and pictures, pounding them all into a coherent story and getting the finished product to an editor by my 6:30 p.m. deadline (yeah, right) every day for seven straight days — on top of repeatedly breaking down and setting up camp and actually riding when I could (it soon became painfully obvious I would not have time to ride the entire route each day) — was made all the more challenging by the fact that with average daily highs well over 90 degrees, the 2011 edition turned out to be the hottest in ‘Gander history.
But as a communications and journalism major (Go Green! Go Grizzlies!) who happens to love biking and camping, it was also thrilling to follow in the footseps — and tire marks — of legendary Detroit Free Press Michigander writers of yore such as Neely Tucker, a highly-acclaimed novelist currently with the Washington Post, New York Times op ed columnist Frank Bruni and retired Free Press outdoors columnist Eric Sharp. And in the midst of that searing July heat, I met some pretty cool people and heard some pretty fascinating stories.
Below are links to the published versions of those GRP articles, which are accompanied by dozens of photos but unfortunately include several errors inserted by misguided editors. You will also find links to the online versions of the three 2015 Free Press stories. As this blog is a work in progress, please check back for older articles that have appeared elsewhere, and stay tuned for a nostalgic ‘Gander 25 preview story for Freep.com.
If you are a Michigander veteran like me, you just might find yourself in here somewhere!
MICHIGANDER ARTICLES AND PHOTOS ONLINE:
GRP 2011-1: Bike Tour comes to West Michigan; 20th annual ride will hit trails surrounding Grand Rapids
GRP 2011-2: Get on your bike and ride: If you’ve ever wanted to do a long bike tour, here’s what you need to know
GRP 2011-3: 7-Day Michigander Bicycle Tour begins as old friends, rookies start journey
GRP 2011-4: Taking it easy on Day 1; Michigander Bike Tour participants brave heat, humidity
GRP 2011-5: Exotic themes, heat mark third day of Michigander Bicycle Tour
GRP 2011-6: How volunteers make Michigander Bike Tour possible
GRP 2011-7: Michigander Bicycle Tour, Day 5: When it comes to heat, it’s all relative
GRP 2011-8: End in sight for heat-and-road-weary Michigander Bike Tour riders
GRP 2011-9: Resilient riders complete 7-day, 340-mile Michigander Bike Tour
DFP 2015-1: Michigander Bike Tour: Registration deadline today
DFP 2015-2: Cyclist takes new heart out for spin on Michigander
DFP 2015-3: A little Hemingway, lot of love on Michigander Bike Tour
–For more information about the Michigander, log on to:
–Detroit-based freelance writer and Michigander veteran Ron Campbell can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.