The Beginnings of Mid-Mitten Cycling

What began with my obsession for finding the best hill climbs for my road bike has morphed into an all-around guide to the best bicycle routes in Mid-Michigan.

The first thing I asked myself upon moving from California to Lansing, Michigan, was, “Hey, where are all the hills?” For a cyclist who’s used to some ups and downs in the terrain, mid-Michigan doesn’t have much to offer. Pretty scenery, quiet roads, courteous drivers, and good lunch stops, yes. Hills, not so much. In the heart of the mitten, you can go for a 40-mile ride and climb only 300 feet; in San Diego, we would do that much just riding to the beach.

A planned trip back to California involving some cycling prompted me to look for some Michigan hills that don’t involve a three-hour drive from Lansing. What I’ve discovered: they’re out there, but they’re just a bit hard to find. And they don’t tend to be very long, so you might have to do some laps to get in a significant amount of elevation gain.

A massive oak along Williamston Rd.

Thus was born the idea for a section of the website covering the best spots for hill training in mid-Michigan (defined as about an hour’s drive from Lansing). Maybe you’re planning a trip out west with your bike. Or you’ve signed up for a triathlon in another state that includes some climbing. Perhaps you’ve signed up to do DALMAC and are worried about the infamous “Wall.” Or you just want to get stronger on your bike (hill climbing is one of the fastest ways to become a stronger all-around rider). This is a collection of routes that will help you achieve your goals.

There are nine hilly routes so far, and I’m still looking for another one within an hour or so of Lansing. I’m always open to tips. If you know of any well-paved hills with at least 100 feet of climbing in the area, drop a comment below, or email me at lahogue AT gmail DOT com. Later, I plan to add a few bigger hills a bit farther north (but not “Up North”).

Next, I realized maybe not all cyclists are as obsessive about going uphill as I am. So I hit on the idea of sections covering Best Scenic Rides and Best Family Rides, again all within an hour or so of Lansing. Those sections are just getting started. The whole thing could turn into a guidebook with between 30 and 40 suggested rides, either published traditionally or on my own.

I hope you’ll follow me as I discover what Michigan cycling is all about. And if you have any suggestions for the best routes, please leave them in the comment section below.

 

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