The Amishland and Lakes Bike Tour will be held Friday through Sunday, Aug. 2-4. The ride takes place over three days with the ride headquartered on the campus of The Howe School in Howe.
The Amishland ride is one of the longest running rides in the area, with this year’s being the 40th annual ride. To celebrate this milestone, there will be a special commemorative t-shirt and “birthday” cake along with ice cream after the ride on Saturday.
The Amishland and Lakes Ride is sponsored by the Michiana Bicycle Association. The Michiana Bicycle Associa-tion (MBA) was established in 1974 to promote fitness, friendship and fun through cycling.
The home base for the Amishland and Lakes Ride is The Howe School (formerly known as The Howe Military Academy). The school campus provides many amenities that are perfect for the ride – it is in the middle of Amish country, it is a short hop to the lake coun-try of Michigan, it has dorms, a gym for sleeping bag camping, showers, a dining hall, an auditorium, and plenty of space for tent and trailer camping. There are also many hotels and B&Bs in the area to provide overnight accommodations for riders.
On Friday afternoon there are two warm-up routes (14 and 32 miles) with the longer route go-ing into Shipshewana. Again this year there will be a mini-SAG stop halfway between Howe and Shipshewana.
The Amishland portion of the ride is on Saturday when the tour heads south into the Amish countryside over scenic and relatively flat roads. Riders have a choice of 25-, 36-, 50-, 63- or 100-mile routes. Over the years, the local Amish have become informal participants in the event. Amish children will sit in their yards along the route and wave to riders as they go by. Many Amish families set up stands to sell baked goods, drinks and even root beer floats to ride participants.
The Lakes portion of the tour is on Sunday when riders head north into the lake country of Southwestern Michigan. Distance options are 22, 34, 47 or 62 miles. The 22-mile route is relatively flat, the longer routes do have some hills. Again this year there will be live music by Acoustic Justice at the Sunday Sturgis SAG stop.
SAG food is a highlight of the ride with an emphasis on locally grown fresh fruits such as blueberries, watermelon and muskmelon. After the ride on Saturday, there will be an ice cream social with free ice cream and cake and entertainment featuring Everyday People, a popular country band.
While most of the tour riders are from the nearby states (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio) the ride attracts bikers from up to 20 other states.