A Northern Michigan Bike Tweet-up With Gary Howe

I don’t know if it’s because I finally have some time to go through my photos from our recent family vacation up north, or because the Chicago to Mackinac race started today, but I’ve got Northern Michigan on my mind.

Michigan highway signs

Should we take the scenic route, or the other route?

While we were up north a week or so ago, we were able to meet up with a great transportation/bike blogger who calls Traverse City home. Andrew and Little Ding and I headed over to Frankfort Michigan one morning – trail-head for the awesome Betsie Valley Trail which I wrote about last summer – to have brunch with Gary Howe – editor of My Wheels are Turning – a transportation-focused blog. He’s a tireless supporter of public spaces and infrastructure planning that supports multi-modal lifestyles for everyone.

Frankfort MI

One of the fat training-wheel-style tires on Little Ding’s bike had sprung a leak the night before  – a very un-patchable sort of leak – and Gary was not able to make the trek with bikes,  so instead of meeting for a bike ride, we met for brunch and stroll around town instead. Gary did bring along his famously friendly beagle Nora, though. She was a hit.  After a tasty brunch, we walked across the street to the Frankfort bike/pedestrian path that winds along the harbor, just behind Main Street. Frankfort has great bike facilities. Besides this path which wraps around the entire harbor and downtown, there are decent bike racks all over town, and lots of folks riding bikes just to get around.

Walking along the bike path in Frankfort Michigan

There were a fair number of sailboats (and some power boats) in the harbor for the July holiday, and it was interesting to note all the bikes that people now bring along with them on their boats. It seems like I see more bikes on boats every year. It makes complete sense .

Dahon folding bikes

Dahon folding bikes locked up in front of a sailboat

One bike on this side....

One bike on this side….

and another bike on this side!

and another bike on this side!

A bike on a boat in Frankfort Michigananother boat-borne bike

We talked a lot about the increase in interest we’ve seen in biking in both our cities, and the challenges the existing governments face in terms of trying to update the infrastructure. I told Gary about the new Kinzie St protected bike lane, and he regaled me with stories that describe the strange ways in which a winter-sport town like Traverse City (skiing, snowboarding, etc) still doesn’t get that people actually will ride their bikes year-round. I suggested he check out the Bike Winter folks.

Gary Howe and Ms. Ding  (and Nora)

Gary Howe and Ms. Ding (and Nora)

It was great to meet Gary in person after chatting with him online for at least a year or more!  It was also a spectacular morning to be out along the western shore of Lake Michigan in a little lake town. We could look south of town, where the Betsie Valley trail leaves the downtown area and wraps around the south end of the harbor and heads towards the even smaller town of Elberta.

looking south towards the Betsie Valley trai

looking south towards the Betsie Valley trail

Looking across the south end of the harbor

Looking across the south end of the harbor – I know the trail is over there somewhere!

A great vacation and a great new friend!

Tags: , , ,