Bikers in Benzie County and throughout the Midwest are gearing up for the eighth annual Bike Benzie event. Organized by the Benzie Sunrise Rotary Club of Beulah and hosted by Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa in Thompsonville, Bike Benzie is a one-day biking event providing challenges for riders of all abilities.

Riders can enjoy a Fondo (timed ride), Tour, or a free Yes We Can Ride for individuals with challenged abilities. Fondo and Tour participants have four distances to choose from: 28 miles, 45 miles, 65 miles or 102 miles. The Yes We Can Ride winds through Crystal Mountain with distances of 1,3, 5 and 8 miles.

Registration for the free Yes We Can ride will begin at 10 a.m. the day of the event. Bikers can also register the day of for the Fondo and Tour rides. A single adult costs $60 and a family is $155.

We chatted with Kris Thomas, a Bike Benzie event organizer, about what riders can look forward to this weekend.

What makes biking in Benzie County special?

“Benzie County is the gateway to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. With the beautiful lakes, rolling hills, farmland, and quaint villages, it’s a cyclist’s paradise. Right now, the sights, sounds and smells are stimulants for a great ride.”

Where are some of the great food stops along the ride?

“We have food stops in Honor, Beulah, Elberta, Platte Township and Maple City. What’s unique about our food stops is that we feature local products, most of which are donated by our generous neighbors. Our stops include dried cherries from Traverse Bay Fruit Company, cherry nut mix from Cherry Republic, cookies from Shop N Save and Market Basket bakeries, GoGoSqueez apple berry applesauce, Great Lakes Potato Chips, and our new Bike Benzie Booster Bars, made from Naturally Nutty Peanut Butter, Sleeping Bear Farms Honey, and dried cranberries from Graceland Fruit.”

What time does the post-ride party begin?

“The post-ride party is from 12 to 4 p.m. and is at Crystal Mountain. The party includes a BBQ buffet, prepared by Crystal Mountain, along with local craft beer donated by Stormcloud Brewing Company and our area’s most famous cherry pie donated by our friends at the Cherry Hut. Jeff Bihlman will perform from 2 to 4 p.m. Anyone interested in joining us for the party alone can purchase an event wristband at Crystal Mountain on Saturday. Cost is $20 each.”

How does this event impact the community?

“Cyclists from the Midwest are drawn to our area for Bike Benzie, which brings dollars to our local economy. For the Benzie Sunrise Rotary Club, Bike Benzie is our most profitable fundraiser, and the funds raised are used to support the Club’s Tim Krause Memorial Scholarship and numerous programs the Club supports that are geared toward improving the lives of Benzie County youth. We are actively involved in many educational programs throughout the Benzie County Central School System and the success of Bike Benzie is critical to our ability to remain involved in educating our local youth.”

Is there anything you want to add?

“I would like to thank our many event partners, sponsors, and cyclists for their tremendous support of Bike Benzie. It is our goal to make our event bigger and better every year, and I hope we are doing just that. With route distances between 30 and 100 miles, and the option to compete in a leisurely Tour or a Fondo (a timed ride) for individual and team awards, we hope that there is something for everyone. And as part of Bike Benzie, we fully fund a ‘Yes We Can’ ride for people with challenged abilities so that no one in our community is left out of the fun.”

For additional information about Bike Benzie, please email Kris Thomas or call her at 231.590.1035.

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Photo(s) by Bike Benzie