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800 cyclists pass through on PALM ride



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Approximately 800 riders rolled along Lakeville Rd. as part of the annual Pedal Across Lower Michigan (PALM) event. Photo by Lance Farrell. (click for larger version)
July 04, 2012 - If you were on Lakeville Road the morning of June 29, you probably had to dodge more than a few cyclists. That's because nearly 800 bicyclists were making their final push across Michigan's lower peninsula.

The cyclists were taking part of the 31st annual Pedal Across Lower Michigan (PALM), a yearly road cruise that introduces riders to the thrill and camaraderie of road riding.

Averaging about 50 miles a day, this year's ride extended six days and 279 miles from St. Joseph on the western edge of the state to New Baltimore in the east.

According to Mark Barkey, registration manager for PALM, of the 827 people involved in the annual event, 600 or so are from Michigan, though some came from as far away as British Columbia. Two brothers from Nebraska and Arkansas met up at the PALM ride, and former servicemen were rejoined years after their tours of duty in WWII, Barkey mentioned.

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The range of ages among the riders was about as broad as you can imagine. Nearly 40 of the riders were under the age of ten, with 104 riders between 10-20. One hundred riders comprised the 40-50 age bracket, 180 were in their 50s, and more than 200 from the 60-year old group. Barkey said the upper age ranges were also well-represented: there were 80 riders between 70-80, 10 over the age 80. There was even a 93 year-young woman pedaling along.

Barkey said PALM was organized to garner more support for road riding. The emphasis is "on the social and recreational aspects of bicycling," with "daily distances and terrain . . . well suited for family bicycling."

Cyclists camp at designated spots along the way, typically area schools. Michigan remains a treasured vacation destination., and with a new route selected each year, PALM is "an unsurpassed way to experience the pleasures" of our state.

If you'd like to take part in the 2013 PALM event, you can call 734-669-0172 or sign up at http://lmb.org/palm. The deadline for next year's event will be April 1 or 700 riders, whichever comes first.

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