Day 299: Traverse City Bike Party

Day 299: Traverse City Bike Party
The Awesome Mitten - Traverse City Bike Party
Photo courtesy of Traverse City Bike Party

A bicycle ride created merely to spread joy, the Traverse City Bike Party was started by Jason Dudycha and Nellie Eve Skallerup in June 2011 to bring fellow bicycle lovers together for a casual ride around downtown Traverse City. Dudycha is a former resident of Portland; Skallerup–having formerly lived in Seattle–discovered that Traverse City’s bike scene was not what it could be, compared to the cities in which they formerly resided.  The solution? Start a movement to show northern Michiganders the excitement, and benefits, of a leisurely bike ride. With promotional help from Vanessa Clark, a good friend and fellow bicycle enthusiast, the Bike Party is now something that residents of Traverse City look forward to each month.

This eccentric event takes place the last Sunday of every month at varying times. In general, Dudycha and Skallerup try to pick the time of day when it will be warmest. This is a year-round activity, which means these diligent partiers continue their rides during the frigid winter months as well. Strapped to the back of Jason’s bike you can find a large speaker playing that day’s chosen playlist for all riders and spectators to enjoy. This crew is dedicated to having fun and spreading joy to their fellow Traverse Citians. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join, and there is no age requirement. This group gives off such an inviting, leisurely vibe so all participants, whether novice or experienced, will feel welcome.

 The group meets in front of Pleasanton Bakery, and each month a different route is chosen. Someone new leads the group every time, with a special course planned around the various parts of Traverse City. Generally, there are some stops along the way for water, snacks, and bathroom breaks. The rides can vary between 45 – 90 minutes, and people are free to come and go as they please. At the end of the route, a picnic gathering is held for those who want to continue hanging out.

The Awesome Mitten - Traverse City Bike Party
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Hamilton

The reactions of onlookers make this Bike Party worthwhile in itself. Rowdy, enthusiastic cyclists pedaling around to loud, upbeat music with no obvious purpose draw many curious stares and waves. Little kids enthusiastically flap their hands as the bikers ride past ringing their bicycle bells and honking the horns that adorn their handlebars. It is quite a sight to see everyone’s face light up with curiosity as the Bike Party rolls by.

To find out what time the Bike Party plans on meeting each month, visit their Facebook page. Their website is also full of great information about the group and its creators. This is a fun, carefree group of people, and attending one of these Bike Parties is highly recommended–whether you live in the Traverse City area, or just happen to be lucky enough to be in town, visiting.

Jennifer Hamilton, Feature Writer

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The Awesome Mitten was born when I moved back to Michigan from Nashville, TN in September 2010. Almost immediately, I became frustrated. I couldn’t figure out why there weren’t more Michigan residents singing our states praises! I was so irritated, I wrote a Letter to the Editor. Three weeks later, I had started a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a landing page for the website, determined to do something to make Michigan residents aware of all the cool things going on in their own state. Email me: alex@awesomemitten.com