31 Aug Harbor Springs Cycling Classic Set for September 17th
Registration is now underway for the 32nd annual Harbor Springs Cycling Classic, set for Saturday, Sept 17, at the Birchwood Inn, 7291 S. Lake Shore Dr., Harbor Springs. Riders depart on their respective routes between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Pre-ride check-in starts at 7:30 a.m.
Co-sponsored by the Top of Michigan Trails Council (TOMTC) and the Birchwood Inn, the event occurs in both spring and fall and features a variety of distances and routes, including the Little Traverse Wheelway and the Tunnel of Trees.
On the Little Traverse Wheelway route, which is a paved off-road trail, riders can select 14- or 30-mile routes. Three road routes, all utilizing the Tunnel of Trees, are available in 20-, 45-, and 60-mile distances. Helmets are required.
Registration cost, which includes a route map, refreshment bag, SAG wagon (support vehicle), and a sack lunch, is $30 for adults, $20 for kids 6-12, and free for children five and under. All fees increase by $5 for same-day registrations. To register, call 231-526-2151. Event T-shirt supplies are limited and Birchwood Inn lodging packages are available.
TOMTC Safety and Maintenance Director Bill Prall will be on hand, providing limited pre-ride bike service, distributing maps, and driving the Support and Gear (SAG) vehicle.
The Harbor Springs Cycling Classic took root in 1990 – the same year the community hosted its first adult cycling state championship, the Harbor Springs Cycling Series, which featured a 62-mile road race as well as a street circuit race, or criterium, which took place in downtown Harbor Springs.
Prall, who conceived the event with Birchwood Inn owner Frank Shumway, worked with then Harbor Springs Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Andy Hayes to bring the state championship event to life in 1990, ‘91, and ‘92.
Though the state championship races changed venues in 1993, the Harbor Springs Cycling Classic, an event for locals which utilized the same competitive road course the racers used, continued. In fact, what began as an annual event, became biannual, with spring and fall editions, each starting and finishing at the Birchwood Inn.
The Classic celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2020, a fact Shumway finds flabbergasting. “It’s amazing that (the Classic) has lasted this long. I mean… I’m not that old!” he laughed. “It’s really a tribute to Bill Prall. Without his knowledge and experience we never could’ve pulled off the state championships, let alone the Harbor Springs Cycling Classic.
“We were way ahead of our time,” Shumway continued. “Back then this type of event was not as common as it is today. You see a lot of other events come and go. But, you can’t really beat the Tunnel of Trees and northern Emmet County for great bike riding. I think that’s why this event has lasted so long: We have Bill and our community is very beautiful and very supportive.”
The Top of Michigan Trails Council, a Petoskey-based nonprofit which advocates for trails and facilitates network development, oversees over 300 miles of year-round, multi-use trail.
To learn more about the Sept. 17 Harbor Spring Cycling Classic, visit www.birchwoodinn.com. To pre-register for the event, call 231-526-2151.