Bike tour 2016 pedals to success
By Emma Palova
Fallasburg, MI- Bicycle riders from all over Michigan flocked to the historic village of Fallasburg nestled on the banks of the Flat River three miles northeast of Lowell on Sunday last week.
It was a perfect day. Not too hot, not too cold. A mild breeze curled the water in the Flat River. The trees bowed their crowns over the Fallasburg museum buildings and the banks of the river. The sun, already high up at 8:30 am, cast its golden rays in between the leaves of oaks and maples.
Several bikers ahead of me pedaled through the Fallasburg Covered Bridge much like the early settlers rode on their horses and in coaches.
The atmosphere hasn’t changed. You hear the wheels hitting the wooden deck of the bridge and rolling slowly, no more than five miles an hour, over the planks.
You emerge on the other side of the river in full morning light. And a new day is born.
The bikers registered for the 22nd annual Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour (CBBT) at the one-room schoolhouse museum. The bike tour is the signature fundraising event for the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS).
Registrar Tina Siciliano Cadwallader with niece Devon Siciliano were ready sitting behind the school teacher’s desk with an antique lamp.
They had already launched 62 riders with more streaming in by the minute.Outside the schoolhouse, FHS treasurer Alan Rumbaugh handed out route maps.
According to Rumbaugh, the most popular ride was the 50-mile route.
“Yes, I am the map guy,” he said. “You might as well go 50 rather than just 28. It’s a pretty day to do this.”
For Lisa Pohlad of Grand Rapids this was the third year on the Fallasburg CBBT. Pohlad, who was riding solo, decided for the 50-mile route to Coldwater and back to Fallasburg. However, even some tandem bikers picked the 50 route.
“I am doing the 50 route again,” she said. “It’s a great ride.”
Pohlad didn’t think anything needed to be improved with the event.
“It’s good as it is,” she said.
Most registering bikers asked about root beer which was the paired beverage to the Italian lunch. According to volunteers, the root beer is the jewel of the ride.
“Come early or we run out,” said FHS president Ken Tamke.
Tamke said he was worried about how many riders will participate.
“It’s like having a party and nobody shows up,” he joked.
Tamke along with Frank Brechbiel do the SAG (Support and Gear) aka broom wagon ride assisting bikers who need help en route. They sweep the routes for riders who are unable to continue or those who have technical difficulties.
Back at the Misner House museum it started getting busy around noon with hungry bikers flocking to the porch. FHS volunteer Dottie Blain was manning the buffet station. Blain made her excellent meatballs that are also served at the annual Christmas party on the second Saturday in December.
FHS volunteer Patty Brechbiel was in charge of catering the meal for some 120 riders. This included 10 gallons of pasta sauce doctored up for taste with herbs and spices.
“That’s unacceptable to leave it just from the jars,” she said.
Brechbiel was stationed with her grill by the famous Sprecker’s root beer keg from Wisconsin.
“One year we didn’t have it and it was a big disappointment for riders,” she said.
Typically, the crew serves food until 4 p.m.
Enjoying his meatball & spaghetti meal after a 62-mile ride, Jim Steenwyk of Dorr was no newcomer to the tour. Steenwyk, 74, is a member of the Rapid Wheelman biking group. He’s been riding bicycles since he turned three.
“What about your knees,” I asked. “I had to stop riding because of my knees.”
Steenwyk shook his head and sighed.
“Most people are not trained properly to ride a bike,” he said. “You put torque on your knees. It’s all in shifting.”
Steenwyk has 27 gears on his Camden road bicycle.
And what’s the future for the tour?
According to Tamke, some routes may get revamped while staying local. The organizers are considering a new route to Whites Bridge with a kayaking option.
“We attract a niche of riders every year,” Tamke said. “Come and join us for the 23rd annual bike tour.”
The 23rd Fallasburg Covered Bridge bike tour will be held on Sunday, July 9th with registration from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the one-room schoolhouse museum.
Note: Help the FHS improve the bike tour. We are looking for your feedback. Fill out our survey. Thank you.
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