We are still only half way through the winter, but it’s time to start planning your next vacations. If you are one who prefers active recreation, you should consider bicycle tour. Bike touring is the best way to explore the area. You move a lot slower than when driving a car. That allows you to see a lot more, to have more personal, direct experience with the environment.
In the Great Lakes region, many tours ride through some incredible scenery. Some of them follow the Great Lakes, other go through rural countryside, and through many beautiful, small, quaint towns.
With bicycling being very popular, there are number of choices for touring all over the Great Lakes region. They are available generally throughout the warm seasons, with most being offered in the summer and early fall. Below are some of the most popular listed by state/province.
The Tour of Minnesota has a long tradition. It was stated in 1974 by Jim Kolbuchar, and use to be known as The Kolbuchar Ride. The 2017 tour will go from June 17 till 23rd. The average daily mileage is 56, with the shortest about 48, and longest – 71. The route follows a blend of trails and roads.
BAM – Bicycling Around Minnesota is a four day tour. This year it is scheduled to take place from Aug. 24 to 27th. The average daily ride is from 65 to 75 miles long. BAM route usually follow the paved, low-traffic roads and bikeways.
The GRABAAWR is the GReat Annual Bicycling Adventure Along the Wisconsin River. This year’s ride is from Jun. 10 till 17th. GRABAAWR is a challenging ride with a lot of miles, and many hills to climb. The route follows lo-traffic roads along over 400 miles stretch of Wisconsin river in northern Wisconsin. Daily rides range from 50 to 80 miles.
Pedal Across Wisconsin is a 7-day 350 mile tour. The daily mileage is between 40 and 60 miles. It is offered twice and this year’s dates are: Jul. 23 – 29th, and Jul. 30 – Aug. 05th.
The Swiss Cheese & Spotted Cows Bicycle Tour is a tour “featuring the best of the driftless area of southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois … rolling hills, hidden valleys and unspoiled natural beauty.” It mostly follows the quiet country roads. The ride averages 60 miles a day. It is scheduled to run from Jun. 24 till 29th.
The Shoreline West Bicycle Tour has two length options: 3-day and 7-day. The longer tour will take place from Aug.05 till the 12th. The total distance covered will be about 386 miles. This year’s route will go from Montague and end at the Mackinac Bridge.
The Michigander was called “one of the top 10 multi-day rides in America” by Bicycling Magazine. This year’s route goes through the most scenic area of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. It is scheduled from Jul. 15 till 22th, and if offered in three different time lengths: 2 –day, 6-day and 8-day.
The Tour Da UP changed recently into a high performance long road cycling. It covers 1,200 going all around the UP with daily average rides of 120 miles. You can sign for a one day ride, if you want. However, it is, definitely, not an event for an average bike tourer anymore.
The Grand Illinois Bike Tour will take place this year from Jun. 11 – 16th. It’s a 6-day ride that will follow a 300 mile loop. The daily distance ranges from 43 to 59 miles.
The Bicycle Illinois Tour with dates from Aug. 19 till 25th claims to be the only event that ride across the entire state. The fully supported ride covers from 500 to 600 miles
The TRIRI or Touring Ride In Rural Indiana Rainstorm Tour will take place in July from 10 – 15th. It is a tour of intensive riding for cyclists preferring longer distances. Each day route is approximately 100 miles. The Rainstorm travels over paved back roads in southern Indiana. The terrain ranges from rolling to hilly. Expect to be challenged. It appears that the ride in no longer offered!
GOBA or the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure is a bicycle tour scheduled to take place from Jun. 17 till 24th this year. This year’s tour will follow winding roads of north central Ohio. The daily average will be about 50 miles.
Parks & Trails New York’s Cycle the Erie Canal Bike Tour runs from Jul. 9 till 16th. It is an 8-day event with the route from Buffalo to Albany. There are also 2- and 4-night options available. The daily average distance is 50 miles. The terrain is almost flat without any hills.
The Bon Ton Roulet is “a festival on wheels around the Finger Lakes”. The tour starts on Jul.22 and lasts till 29th. It is fully supported. The Roulet goes through open farm fields, past stunning overlooks over the lakes, to some cavernous gorges.
The Great Big FANY Ride is a 500 mile ride across New York. The daily average is about 70 miles. This year, it will take place from Jul. 23 till 29th. It will go from Niagara Falls to Saratoga Springs. It appears that the ride is no longer offered!
Great Waterfront Trail Adventure is a popular annual 7-day tour showcasing a different section of the 2,000 km Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. In 2017, it will go from Point Pelee National Park to the Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto. The total distance is 530 km (330 mi). The ride is scheduled to run from Aug. 06 till 12th.
Niagara Vineyards is a one week tour through the Niagara Peninsula. The distance covered is 225 km (140 mi). The daily average is 45 km (28 mi). The tour runs from Aug. 20 till Aug. 25th.
This is just a tip of an iceberg. These are the popular tours, but there are many, many more available. So get on the bike as soon as you can and start training. There is no excuse… However, first, sign up. This will keep you motivated…
Hope to meet you on the trail somewhere this summer!