By Brett Ratner
We all ride for different reasons.
Whether those reasons include fun, fitness or competition, pretty much everyone appreciates a tasty meal and maybe a sudsy brew at the end of a long day in the saddle.
If you believe a great bike ride isn't truly complete until it's capped off by fine food and drink, you might consider checking out the Peninsula Century Spring Classic and the Peninsula Century Fall Challenge.
These two rides showcase the best of the scenic Door County peninsula, with each offering its own feel and challenges.
The Spring Classic takes place on June 18, 2016. It begins in the center of the lakeside village of Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin and features routes of 25, 50, 62, and 100 miles through scenic Door County.
After pedaling along pristine roads spanning one of Wisconsin's most popular tourist destinations, you'll be treated to a post-ride meal prepared by top local chefs including specialties from The Cookery, Wild Tomato, Wickman House, Cornerstone Pub, The Fireside, Chives Door County, Coyote Roadhouse, and Door County Creamery.
There will be live music, and if you're thirsty, you can use your complimentary drink ticket, good for one beer from the acclaimed Door County Brewing Company, or a soda. And if you're still thirsty after that, you can enjoy the Door County Beer Festival, which will be kicking off about the time you're rolling in (tickets sold separately).
"Our post-ride experience has really set us apart from other rides," said Myles Dannhausen, Publicity Director and Ride Organizer for Peninsula Pacers Events. "Instead of doing a pasta dish or sandwich, we gather the area's best restaurants and bring a true taste of Door County to our riders. Riders finish this event having tasted from nearly a dozen local restaurants, cafes, brewers and orchards."
Now in its 28th year, Dannhausen said the Spring Classic has grown to nearly 1,000 participants. And while the post-ride festivities certainly have attributed to the event's appeal, the ride itself is what keep people coming back year after year.
"You're on a peninsula, so no matter where the route takes you, you're always near water, on rolling rural roads and treated to great views," Dannhausen said. "It makes for a great day out there."
Dannhausen added that the Spring Classic route is relatively flat, making the Peninsula Century perfect for shaking off winter and getting the legs and lungs ramped back up for summer.
And once your summer legs are ramped back up, Dannhausen recommends making a second trip up to Door County to take part in the Peninsula Century Fall Challenge.
Starting and ending at Waterfront Park in Sister Bay, Wisconsin on September 17, the Fall Challenge will venture inland and feature more demanding 25, 50, 62, and 100-mile routes. The hundred miler will be highlighted by three optional hill climbing challenges, with the day's best male and female climbers awarded the Door County Brewing Co. Polka Dot "King of the Hills" jersey.
And naturally, at the end of the day, you'll be treated to a post-ride party featuring a buffet of local food from Sister Bay's best restaurants and beer from Door County Brewing Co. and Tapuat Brewing Company."
If you like road riding, organizers hope the two events can be perfect bookends to your summer riding plans.
"In the spring people are looking to have fun," Dannhausen said. "In the fall people should have some more miles under them, and are wanting to test themselves more."
Dannhausen, a Door County native who currently lives in Chicago, added that his favorite part of the events is that they showcase everything he loves about the place where he grew up.
"Ultimately, we're trying to introduce new people to the area, and there's no better way to experience the best of Door County than on a bicycle," Dannhausen said.
Visit peninsulacentury.com for information on registration, lodging, route details and more.
About the author:
Brett Ratner (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been a professional journalist for more than 25 years. He has contributed to dozens of publications, including The Chicago Tribune, The Nashville Tennessean, The Nashville Scene, Guitar Player and Musician. Brett began commuting by bike in 2005. Shortly thereafter, his interest in cycling expanded to century rides, bike camping and trail riding. The competition bug bit in 2012 and nowadays he races cyclocross, track, mountain bikes, criteriums and gravel for The Bonebell.