Northern Michigan Attractions: Find Your Spring Sport

Northern Michigan Attractions: The Northern Michigan summer awaits. Time to pick your sport:

RunningThink of running as a long-term project, suggests Lisa Taylor, running coach at Traverse City Central High. Start by alternating one to three minutes of running with a minute of walking. If the running is too strenuous for you to carry on a conversation, slow down or stop. Allow yourself to build strength over time.

For gear, visit a specialty store like Running Fit in Traverse City, where the sales people can check your footprint to determine whether you need shoes that emphasize cushion, stability or motion control. Expect to spend $70 to $120. (Don’t skimp on the shoe!)

Bonus: you can pretty much run wherever you are. And definitely run on your travels, Taylor advises. “I’ve seen places running that I never could have seen on a tour bus.” Meet running compadres in The Traverse City Track Club, which holds group runs Wednesdays on summer evenings:—D.W.

GolfSounds obvious, but let’s start here anyway: In golf, you need to get the ball up in the air. “And if you haven’t played, you have no idea how to do that,” says Rodger Jabara, PGA professional at Bay Meadows Golf Course in Traverse City, a course renowned for its teaching. Even one lesson can get you there, he says. Also good to know, you can stave off investment till you know if you like the game. Most good golf courses rent golf clubs. And as for spikes, “You don’t need them to start,” Jabara says. Key benefits: Assuming you walk the course … legs and torso strengthening, fresh air and sunshine (always wear a hat, advises Jabara). And, not to be discounted, the social aspect. Once you can get the ball up in the air, golf in a league (cheaper greens fees) and join the 19th hole bonding.—J.S.

Road Cycling
Rolling topography, lakes to admire and miles of paved but quiet back roads conspire to make Northern Michigan a road cyclist’s fever dream. But getting a taste for the road before dropping $800 (or more) on a new road bike is a good idea, says Chris McKay, sales manager at Latitude 45 in Petoskey. So find a shop that rents bikes and helmets and find a paved trail where you don’t have to worry about car traffic, such as the Little Traverse Wheelway or TART. If you’re fretting about the purchase after that, consider a used bike or take the long view: some shops offer no-interest payment plans (as Latitude 45 does). The M-119 Tunnel of Trees beckons, as does a healthier heart and happier mindset. Connect to routes and fellow cyclists at various skill levels at—D.W.

You’ve been enchanted by A River Runs Through It. Now, how to put yourself in the story? Check out to find a local meeting of Trout Unlimited, says Brian Kozminski (Koz), the Petoskey chapter TU president. Once there, find someone friendly, like Koz himself, who makes a point of encouraging newcomers, and start learning to cast. Mastery comes later, but luckily the fun begins at the get go. Start-up equipment includes waders for $75 to $100 and a rod-reel combo for about $100—a pretty low entry price for sports these days. Or find an experienced fly fisher to go with you and lend the gear, so you can sample in the wet and rightful context.

Upshot: “You will get hooked,” Kozminski says.—D.W.

Paddle BoardingFirst, know that just because boards look sorta all the same, they aren’t. Fit matters. So, Rule No. 1: demo several boards, says Josh Baker, of The Outfitter of Harbor Springs. Luckily shops make this easy at demo days, where they haul several boards to the shore and hand you a paddle. Choose your board based on how you intend to use it, advises Baker. Most families like bigger boards with a planing bottom and padding on top—stable and great for flatwater paddling. The balancing and paddling is not as daunting as it looks Baker insists. But if you get the wrong board, “all bets are off,” he says. The fitness benefit: strengthens legs, glutes and core. Decent beginner board with paddle: $800–$1,800.—J.S.