What is DALMAC? It is the Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinaw Bicycle Tour. It is a camping tour, which means at the start of each day, participants wake up in a tent, break down camp and then ride all day to their next campsite.
DALMAC is staffed by volunteer members of the Tri-County Bicycle Association. Their objectives are “to develop an awareness of bicyclists and their needs among the citizens of Michigan, to promote bicycling as a healthy means of transportation and recreation and to encourage wider use of bicycles.”
The riders start their journey at the Michigan State University Pavilion in East Lansing. There are four day routes (4-Day West & 4-Day East) and five day routes (5-Day & 5-UP).
All of the routes have been designed to feature a number of the scenic locations throughout the northbound trip. Three of the routes stop at the Lake George Campground and all pass through the “Tunnel of Trees,” north of Petoski.Three of the routes end in Mackinaw City, while the 5-UP route continues on to Sault Sainte Marie.
On Sunday, all riders are given the opportunity to ride across the Mackinac Bridge. The riders in the tour are given special permission to cross from the Mackinac Bridge Authority.
The tour has end-of-day stops (mostly at schools) where the riders can shower and set up camp. There are baggage vehicles used to tote tents and bags to the overnight stops.
So that riders can keep connected, DALMAC also provides cell phone charging stations along the routes.While DALMAC does not provide food to the riders, most eat dinner and breakfast at camp, stopping for food throughout the day at stores and restaurants they come across.
Heading out on a four or five day bike tour of this length can take its toll on riders who are not properly prepared. Most riders at DALMAC’s online forum recommend getting between 1,000 and 2,000 miles logged in the season prior to the tour. Riders should also be ready to travel between 75 and 100 miles per day.
One of the things most difficult to prepare for on a bike tour the scale of DALMAC is rain. With the rain comes many challenges for the riders. The most obvious challenge may be that they get soaked, but the rain also affects the speed of the bikes.Many riders also have electrical equipment and lights on their bikes. A standard supply on the tour is plastic bags to cover seats, electronics and anything else susceptible to water damage. It is also vitally important for riders to pack extra socks, dry clothes and towels to be sure they can stay warm.
~ Jeremy Beyma, Feature Writer