Tandem cyclists from across the country will be cruising through West Michigan this weekend.
The 43rd Midwest Tandem Rally, billed as the largest tandem bicycle event in North America, will be held from Aug. 31 through Sept. 3.
The non-competitive event has 556 individuals from 24 states and Ontario registered. The number equates to 281 tandem teams, most of them being two-seaters.
The riders range in age from 2 to 81, and the average age is 57. Tandem teams include couples, parent-child pairs and other combinations.
Michigan has 181 riders registered, including 63 cyclists from West Michigan and 34 from the Grand Rapids area. Illinois will have 81 participants, and Indiana and Ohio will both have 62 riders participating in the event.
With riders coming from around the country, they are expected to generate about $614,000 in economic impact, and 722 nights are expected to be booked at the Amway Grand Plaza.
The event will feature four days of rides with daily routes ranging from 25 to 100 miles. The cycling routes can be found on the Midwest Tandem Rally website.
“Tandem cycling is a good way to spend time with your riding partner, get exercise and be outside,” said Diana Hugo, co-chair of the event. “Plus, it’s a great equalizer. I could never keep up with my husband on single bikes. It’s also wonderful for people who are visually impaired. We have at least two couples where one of the team members is visually impaired, and it’s a way for them to bike ride.”
There will be afternoon and evening seminars on Saturday at the Amway Grand Plaza, which will offer information about owning, traveling with and tuning tandems.
Exhibitors at the Amway Grand Plaza during the really, including Grand Rapids-based companies Terra Trike and Velocity USA, will feature a variety of tandem products, including tandem bikes available for demo.
This will be the sixth time Michigan will host the event and the third time it will be held in Grand Rapids.
“This event is a great way to learn more about tandeming, meet other cyclists and promote the sport,” Hugo said. “Plus, West Michigan is a great region for tandem riding, with easy access to less-populous roads, plus bike-friendly state laws, like the recently passed three-foot safe-passing law.”