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Coast to coast—Pedal Across Lower Michigan



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July 04, 2012 - Brandon Twp.- When 800 bicyclists rolled into the township June 28, Ann Walker, 70, was among them.

Walker and the other cyclists stopped at Brandon High School to camp, just one of their stops in the annual Pedal Across Lower Michigan tour. This year's ride, from June 23-29, began in St. Joseph and ended in New Baltimore, a total of 280 miles, with stops in Paw Paw, Battle Creek, Leslie, Perry, and here.

"The ride helps promote bicycling by demonstrating that people can cycle public roads safely and enjoy doing it," said Walker.

"Because PALM goes coast to coast in Michigan, it shows that bicycling can be a serious form of transportation. From the seat of a bike, the beauty and charm of rural Michigan can be enjoyed up close."

Walker, a Fenton resident, was far from the oldest bicyclist on the tour. A 94-year-old rode on a tandem bike and an 87-year-old woman rode her own bike. PALM is for all ages and many families ride together. Walker brought her 8-year-old granddaughter, who rode about half the distance.

"This annual bike tour is one the whole family can enjoy," Walker said. "You see many tandems, tagalongs, and trailers for children who can't bike the whole way by themselves."

The riders are accompanied by volunteers and vehicles to carry supplies including camping equipment. The group begins riding at about 6:30 a.m. each day, averaging about 50 miles per day and begins arriving at a pre-chosen site (usually a school) in early afternoon, where they can use the showers and camp overnight. Longer routes are available for more ambitious riders, Walker said, including a 100-mile route one of the days. Entertainment is arranged at each location each night and the schools often provide meals for riders at a reasonable cost, or riders can seek out restaurants in the community.

This was Walker's eighth time participating in Pedal Across Lower Michigan. She did the rides in 1990, 1991, and 2002. She has done it every year since 2008.

The mother of two cycled long distances with her children in the 1980s, and after they were adults, wanted to continue riding to keep in shape. PALM is very safe, she said, and she has never had a problem.

"It's like a family," Walker added.

"Each time you go back you see some of the same people and new people. This year, the ride was filled two days after registration began. It's very popular."

For more information, visit www.lmb.org.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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