This year’s Michigander route promises to be one of its most spectacularly scenic ever, and members of the tour’s famously close-knit “cycle-logical” family are counting down the days with breathless anticipation. Count me among them. Nancy Krupiarz, the executive director of the Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance (MTGA) – the Lansing-based nonprofit group that now oversees the ride – is pretty stoked as well. “It’s wonderful to be able to return to the well-loved trails of past Michiganders,” she said. “But this year, to be able to add the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, set in the beautiful and unique surroundings of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, is really exciting.” The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail runs 10 miles from Empire to Glen Arbor through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which "Good Morning America" named "The Most Beautiful Place in America" in 2011.
“I had no idea it would turn into something that would last this long,” said Tucker, who's now with the Washington Post, and on a national book tour promoting his highly-acclaimed first novel, “The Ways of the Dead.” “The Michigander I did with everybody else was a nice, laid-back, days-in-the-sun hangout,” he said. “You never had to come indoors. It was great. The trip I did solo in March? Well, I don't recall being much colder, whether it was Poland or Bosnia or the mountains in Georgia. But (on the ’92 Michigander in August), everybody spoke English, and nobody was shooting at me, so it was still pretty low key. But God, my butt hurt.” He wished the riders on the True North edition well. “Good luck and Godspeed,” he said. “It wasn’t like that in the old days!” He added that his experiences made up for the chilled bones and sore rear end he got during his long rides in March and August, 1992 – because they gave him so much more. “You don't get rich in this job,” the Mississippi native and award-winning writer said. “You just wind up with a lot of great stories. And the Michigander – and that, by luck of the draw, I got to pioneer it – is a great story to tell.” Here’s your chance to become part of the Michigander story yourself. Why miss out on all the fun? Life is full of uncertainties, but both Tucker and I are pretty sure about one thing. This will be a hoot in July. --Berkley-based freelance writer and Michigander veteran Ron Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the MTGA, go to www.michigantrails.org and www.michigantrails.org/michigander-bike-tour.