Today we rode about 50 miles from Norton Shores to Grandville. The route planners did an amazing job: we rode past acres and acres of blueberry bushes and asparagus fields, farmhouses and cottages overlooking wetlands and lakes, rolling farm fields and a midmorning watermelon break on the shady shore of a slow moving river. In Allendale courtesy of the school bandboosters, we feasted on sandwiches and homemade cookies in the shade of the park pavilion, serenaded by tuba players playing louie louie. Hopefully the lunch helps them toward their fundraising goal for new marching band uniforms. Pairing with local schools and civic organizations is one of the many positive ways the Palm touches the communities it passes- civic engagement on wheels!
There are direct economic impacts too when riders eat meals and stop to shop along the route. Tonight the owner of the Shamrock Tavern in Freeport is busy packing more than 100 box lunches in anticipation of drawing even a fraction of the 800+ cycling tourists rolling through town.
So it surprised me to learn from route planner Gary Kenyon that some communities want no part of being on the Palm route, which changes each year.
“They’re concerned about cyclists interfering with traffic,” said Kenyon. “The east side is worse than west side; everybody is in a rush. The car is still king.”
Hopefully events like the Palm helping to change that. One bicyclist at a time.