On any given day our Fall Bike Celebration routes can be hauntingly beautiful, offer stunning photo ops and are best experienced at a bicyclist’s pace. Sharp-eyed riders should be able to find at least one of the Vicksburg Quilt Trail paintings on every route. No other community in Southwest Michigan has such a trail.
Fall Bike Celebration Ride (7am-3pm)
All routes start & finish at Vicksburg Middle School
Registration Opens: 7am Closes: Noon Ride/Food/Area Clean Up & Close: 3pm
Routes & Suggested Start Times Below; Approximate Distances
Your Fall Bike Celebration Ride registration includes the Friday evening Ice Cream Social and Saturday’s Fall Bike Celebration Ride, with water, food, snacks and treats at key locations. Route maps will be provided. Cameraderie and smiles all around are a sure thing.
Signing up is easy! Register online through BikeReg through September 17 or pay in person on Ride day.
Note to mileage hounds.
Within our Last Start and Closing Time parameters, feel free to ride more than one route to fit your mileage goals to build the perfect day. For example, Climax + Vicksburg Quilt Trail South Loop = 54 miles as a combo-route. “Can I really do that?” Hmm…try it and see! Plan ahead if you are attempting any routes or combo-routes that will get you back to the finish after 3pm. We need to clean up and move our crew to the Dinner. **A simple calculation shows that if you are attempting a route of 71 miles, you have eight hours if you start at 7am and get back to pick up any congratulatory goodie packet by 3pm. If you build in an hour’s worth of stops for any and all reasons, you’ll need to ride 10+mph on the average. We know lots of cyclists who handle the pace and distance (and more) and we get it that this math is ridiculously easy, but also thought it wouldn’t hurt to spell it out. This timing is just the way it’s gonna go down in our inaugural year.
Five Road Routes
– Shipshewana – Climax – Scotts Mill Park – Vicksburg Quilt Trail North & South –
Shipshewana* (115km; 71 miles; Latest Start: 8:00am**)
Land O Goshen! What should we even call a Fall Bike Celebration route that: a) crosses State lines; b) take riders into another world; and, c) suggests the possibilities of time transport?* Can a bicyclist actually ride farther than a metric century route and get back in one day? Well, the answer is yes, for some of us. It could be you! If you try it you’ll find out for yourself. [Here’s a word to the wise: preparation. Most bicyclists can’t ride that far in a day without training for it. Those who can tend to think of themselves as cyclists and kit up in padded shorts. If you are starting from scratch after not being on a bike for a while, it helps to learn how to ride the roads beginning (say, in May with KBC’s Bike Camp), build up to riding an intermediate distance (say, 30-50 miles at KBC’s KalTour at the end of June), then keep training until you can ride 50 or 60 miles before trying this route.] The Shipshewana route is not a randonneuring or adventure cycling event, but the route has been ridden by many a randonnuer (a self-supporting long distance endurance rider) and adventure (exploration and experience-minded) cyclist. We are designing this route to simulate a little bit of what it is like to be a randonnuering / adventure cyclist. The very thought of being able to introduce this multi-state route has put us in such a good mood that we will even include “cue sheets” and mock-up “control cards” that may make you get into the right frame of mind.
IMPORTANT: The Shipshewana route experience is designed for cyclists who can ride long distances and ride in a self-supporting fashion. That means riders must bring their own supplies and tools to fix flats and other common problems (although snacks, lunch in Shipshewana and limited SAG support will be provided). You must be able to read the provided map and/or follow the route cue sheet, or carry your own navigational device because the route will not otherwise be marked. On this route, please keep in mind that on these roads, towns are few and far between. Be prepared to ride long distances, take an extra water bottle and practice how to change a flat, just in case.
Climax* (38 miles; Latest Start: 9:30am)
Yep, it is true that the delightful Village of Climax is listed as #1 in WKFR’s (103.3 FM) list of “5 Bizarre Michigan Town Names Explained.” Those who make it to scenic Scotts Mill Park where our rest stop is planned, may want to continue on to make it all the way to Climax. Or, you can stop by Scotts Mill Park on the way back to Vicksburg. Heck, you stop and catch your breath in both direction before heading back for a lunch if there is anything left for you at the Middle School. Just kidding. We’d like to know if you intend to reach Climax because we’ll have a special surprise waiting (only for those so registering) when you swing through this truly charming village of around 780 souls. By the time you get to the Fall Celebration Ride, we will expect you to know how the village got its real name. We are not kidding.
Scotts Mill Park* (24 miles; Latest Start: 10am)
The stop at Scotts Mill Park turns your ride from Vicksburg (former home of the Simpson Paper Mill into a journey from a revitalized former paper mill town back in time to an 1870’s flour mill, complete with a water wheel and mill pond. The setting is picture perfect — many a couple has been happily wed in this gem of a Kalamazoo County Park. Hmm. Play your cards right and maybe you and your true love can pledge your troths while enjoying snacks and refilling your water bottle in the picnic shelter. If you feel the earth move on this route we guess it might be true love…but it could be due to an earthquake. The epicenter of a 4.2 magnitude quake in 2015 was only a mile from nearby Scotts, an unincorporated community of about 3,600 people. This route will take you through it. Be sure to wave to everybody to let them know bicyclists are a friendly bunch!
*Help us find nicknames for these three routes!
BFK is led by folks who believe in Government of the People, by the People, and for the People. Our committees and volunteers are helping to shape this weekend and these routes, but we want the community and our riders to help us give nicknames or taglines for the Shipshewana, Climax and Scotts Mill routes.
Vicksburg Quilt Trail North and South (Loops; 16 miles each; Start: 9am; Latest Start: noon)
The Vicksburg Quilt Trail is a collection of 24 large colorful quilt patterns, most of which have been painted on the sides of barns located throughout the Vicksburg area. For these routes, the founders of the Trail have designed two separate loops for you to admire the artist-owners’ creative works along the way… . Riding it, we think you will come to agree that the Vicksburg Quilt Trail must be seen in person to be fully appreciated, because the idyllic settings for the evocative quilt paintings — many set against a magnificent rural backdrop — frame an image in your brain that can pretty much only be taken in by stopping to admire the views. The North and South loops are short enough so that your rest, munch and sip stop is back at the Middle School. Full color and special maps will guide you to each of the featured quilts, most of which are painted on barns. The quilts on the Vicksburg Quilt Trail and their locations were selected for their unique character. The owners have graciously all agreed to allow you to stop in their driveways. You never know whether the owners will offer you cookies when you stop to take a photo, but all will be welcoming and expecting that you will stop a moment to admire the view. These special routes touch a large sample of what the Vicksburg Quilt Trail has to offer with a chance to capture the moment.
Pssst … There is some scuttlebutt floating around about a scavenger hunt or other fun seek and find type of activity related to the Vicksburg Quilt Trail. Will these whispered notions take root? Will we keep mixing metaphors? Will we rely on the input you, dear reader, give us about pulling off a “benchmarking, trigpointing, orienteering, treasure-hunting, letterboxing, waymarking and Munzee” type of activity? Will our Chair throw chairs if it doesn’t happen? Who knows? Sounds complicated to pull for 2019, and filled with drama. We’ll just have to see.
By the way, on any of the routes please step off the road when you dismount, and always be mindful of traffic. Be sure to signal your intentions.
Biking is fun for the whole family. It’s a great physical activity, offers a chance for adults to teach children a skill they can enjoy their whole life and provides stay-cation and vacation travel adventure as well. On Saturday, shortly after noon there will be escorts for two of the routes. You can enjoy them without an escort on your own earlier in the day. You are also welcome to add them on to your morning’s Fall Bike Celebration routes. Or, you can make these two (escorted) routes the center of your Fall Bike Celebration Ride!
Two Trail Routes
– Bike Parade – Vicksburg Trail –
Kids ‘n’ Cruisers (Bike Parade) Path Route Vicksburg Middle School
(Decoration: 12:30-1pm; Departure: 1 pm sharp Finish: by 1:30pm if all goes well)
Life doesn’t get much better than watching — or participating — in a parade of little kids on bikes. Elementary school children whose families registered for the Fall Bike Celebration will have the opportunity to decorate their bikes with whatever traditional bike decorations we can round up, bring their own supplies, or arrive with whatever decorations their parents have been applying until the wee hours of the morning! Then an honorary route escort will lead the children on a parade cruise, out from and back to the school.
Will there be a Fall Bike Celebration People’s Choice Award for creative bike decorating? Will there be a round of hearty applause for the Parade-Kid’s Favorites? Is the thought of so much competition damaging to the egos of young children, or just good clean fun? We will announce the answers to such deep questions around August 20 after making some educated guesses about how we dare pull this off, depending on how many parents register how many children.
The Kids ‘n’ Cruisers Parade route will take place on paths close to Vicksburg Middle School. Remember, as part of your Family Registration fees, children (and their families) will get a free cone at the Ice Cream Social and may ride any of the other routes they can squeeze in, earlier in the day! BFK’s Fall Bike Celebration Ride will sorta be like going to Disneyland — more to do than can be started and finished in a day — so register early & plan ahead to avoid the lines.
Family Trail Route (5 miles; Suggested unescorted route timing: 11a-noon)
Escorted Family Trail Route (2-3 pm)
Vicksburg Middle School
The Vicksburg Trail will be open all day to Individual and Family registered riders. We suggest riders who are riding this popular trail make their way back to the Middle School around noon to watch the festivities surrounding the children, and to grab a bite to eat. After the children ride the Escorted Bike Parade route, an escort will assemble and lead families who wish to ride the Vicksburg Trail together, leaving as a group around 2pm. To ride between the Vicksburg Trail and the Middle School, some riding on the road will be necessary.