By Genine Hopkins
Clare County roadways were packed over Labor Day weekend, filled with the many bicyclists who participated in this year’s Dalmac, a Lansing to Mackinaw City bike and camping tour that has bicycle enthusiasts touring this great state since 1971.
Skies that would often threaten rain did not thwart these individuals and the sight of so many bicycles on Clare County’s roadways was often breathtaking to watch. The tour is run with volunteers from the Tri-County Bicycle Association (TCBA), who sponsors the Dalmac.
Dalmac stands for Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinaw Bicycle Tour. Allen, a former State Senator from the Ithaca area, wanted the tour to demonstrate how cars and bikes could peacefully coexist, and it’s grown into a force that attracts bicycle enthusiasts from around the U.S. There are three main routes – along with two offshoots that seek out Michigan’s natural beauty – that take these travelers through Michigan’s Mid and Northern regions, and as happened in the early days of auto travel, Clare County’s central location has made it stops for all the routes. Camping sites offer bicyclists two meals, with other stops along the routes, including Clare County sites. One of those sites was run by Marion School’s Ealges’ Cross Country Team, providing some shade, fresh fruits and water. The Eagles team, approached by the TCBA, use this as a fundraiser, and the grateful riders are happy to oblige, since it is a long bike ride from the Harrison area to Marion.
Stopping for a rest near the Clare-Osceola border at the Eagles’ rest area were Duane Haas, originally from Michigan but now residing in Iowa, and Tony Silvereil, another Michigan native who lives in Kentucky. The men were able to take a breather and recharge their energy, as well as take a break from the intermittent rain that occurred on Friday afternoon. Haas has his “inspiration,” a small Batman Pez dispenser, strapped to the front handlebars.
“You gotta get a picture of Batman,” he joked as he was approached for a photo.
Haas, like many other cyclists, is not a novice to the race, taking the opportunity to refresh his memories of Michigan’s beauty.
Robin Duthie, Pat Voss and Dan Gauthier made a stop in Harrison, near Family Dollar, where skies were still quite clear. All of them had participated in the Dalmac in previous years, with Gauthier making his 6th trek to the tip of Michigan’s mitt.
“This is a great opportunity to breathe in all Michigan has to offer,” he told the Review, “I’ll be here for many years to come.”
Although Clare County sees its share of visitors over the Labor Day weekend, the Dalmac riders are becoming a familiar and welcomed addition to bid summer goodbye and welcome fall to the region.