Advocacy Works

Advocacy Works

Norte works to keep people moving and connected to their communities. We start with young riders in programs like Mountain Bike Team, Summer Bike Camp, and Balance Bike Club. You’ve likely seen the impact of these programs shredding through the woods and rolling through our neighborhoods.

Expanding ridership is part of how advocacy works at Norte. A bike train full of smiling, happy riders conveys that the bicycle is a mighty vehicle for health and connections. Many local communities are embracing it with investments in sidewalks, trails, bike lanes, safe crossings, and policies that create transformative benefits for individuals, businesses, and the world.

To that end, we also work to make northern Michigan walk-and-roll friendly by design — through citizen action and direct partnerships. Norte’s advocacy works because we always start with the same question — how can we help?

Advocacy works on three fundamental pillars at Norte:

  • Education — we host two advocacy academies, lead walking audits, and support citizen advocates on specific issues.
  • Partnerships — we foster relationships with municipal, nonprofit, school, and business partners to better understand the obstacles and opportunities in the way of better streets.
  • Encouragement — we help people see that to #bikethere is to be a leader in one’s community. More people on bikes — young and old — is the most effective advocacy out there.

Advocacy works because we turn all three into solutions. Of course, it may not always lead to precisely what we would set out to design if given a blank slate, unlimited resources, and complete buy-in. But advocacy works because we’re at the table having challenging discussions with patience and empathy.

I’ve served as the advocacy director at Norte since 2019. It’s a privilege to apply my experience and knowledge of urban planning and public policy to a mission that is so critical. I can do so because of generous supporters who give to Norte. And I’m also not alone. The Norte staff, board of directors, supporters, and mentors are all part of the discussion. It’s a team effort with the community, and that means you.

If you see a needed improvement in your community but don’t know where to begin, let’s meet and find a path forward. How can we help?

Engage and represent,

Gary
Advocacy and Communications Director

P.S. In early 2019, Norte formed an advocacy committee. A global pandemic cut it short. As we move from pandemic to endemic, the time is now to reconstruct it. Let’s talk if you’re a citizen advocate interested in improving walking and rolling! 

Shoot me an email and let’s talk!

 


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“It turned into something incredible!”

 “It turned into something incredible!”

Last week, Norte wrapped up another stupendous season of Mountain Bike Team. We rolled out with 283 riders across 14 locations, and we had 83 coaches — 37 lead coaches and 46 assistants. Many of our coaches were returning, but others were coaching for the first time. Today we sit down with one coach who had her own learning experience while coaching.

Gina Render is a rider who loves to ride fast and ride far — she’s planning to roll in a 220-mile race later this summer. This spring, in her second season coaching, Gina shared her knowledge and enthusiasm for mountain biking with a group of young women at the Bartlett Trailhead. We sat down with her to talk about her experiences coaching with Norte.

Norte: How’d you end up coaching with Norte?  

Gina: I signed up my son for Norte at the Bartlett Trailhead and then would go for a ride while he rode with his team. He rides with Coach Wes and has the best time. Wes noticed that I rode at the same time and asked if I’d be interested in coaching. So I said, ‘Sure!’ Last fall was my first year, and I had a group of little rippers. They wanted to charge really hard from day one. It was a riot.

N: How was this season different?  

G: The coolest thing happened. The season started with this group of really timid girls. They were crying. They were younger. They were doing it because maybe their older brothers were doing it or their parents liked to ride. They didn’t want to be there. I was concerned. ‘How is this going to work?’ I wondered.

A lot of them were on bikes that were too small. What was really cool was that Norte had all these extra bikes. We got them all the correct sizes, and that was a game-changer. And then we worked on technique and getting them comfortable, so I could take them out further and ride the hills. Soon, they got very comfortable on their bikes — very strong. At the start, I wondered what I was in for, but in the end, it turned into something incredible. It turned into a group of girls that had so much fun together and loved riding.

N: What’s it like coaching a team of mostly girls? 

G: It can be intimidating when you’re trying to join in with a group of guys — at least it was for me. It’s fun for them to see other girls out there doing it. This season was a big learning experience for me. Seeing them come out of their shells and gain confidence was neat. We hit a couple of big hills out there. I remember once looking behind and seeing them all sit at the top. I climbed back up, and we came down together. They learned that they could still control their speed and crushed it. Seeing them build that kind of confidence and strength to do those things was cool. It was neat to be part of that. They were very silly and fun. And they worked hard for Starbursts.

Norte’s More Girls on Bikes initiative ramps up this summer with four clinics. Two are for young women in grades 6–8, one is for adults, and the final clinic is for all ages. Registration opens this Sunday, July 19, at 6 pm. More Girls on Bikes is sponsored by Frontier Computer Corp

Learn More ➡️ More Girls on Bikes.


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This is how to bring fantastic to summer!

A Fantastic Summer!

Want to ride with Norte in the Cherry Royale Parade? 

RSVP with us ➡️ Norte Rolls in the Cherry Royale


We’ll hit the pinnacle of summer with the National Cherry Festival in three weeks, and Team Orange is here for it. So sign us up for the rides, fried goods, and community spirit.

Norte helps kick off the week-long festival with an always epic race of thrills, spills, and bells — and lots of smiles. The Norte Kids Balance Bike Race may only last a blink of an eye, but the memories carry us through the rest of the year.

This year’s Balance Bike Race is Saturday, July 2, with registration beginning at 8 am and racing beginning at 9 am. And, of course, Norte Man will be there to help marshal the riders through the race course. So, if you can make it to only one bike race this year, this is the one to come to cheer for — cuteness and determination at their maximum.

This epic race is not the only way to connect with Norte during the Cherry Festival. We will also be helping relieve traffic congestion with our rockstar bike valet right in the center of the action. Knowing your bike will be secure, you can bike to the festival in confidence. Norte’s Bike Valet is open near the food court from noon–10 pm. If you’re interested in volunteering as a valet attendant, please let us know.

On Tuesday, July 5, at 9 am, we lead the ever popular Cherry Pie Bike Ride — a short, meandering, community ride designed for socializing and celebrating pie. Every rider in the pie ride receives a voucher for a free slice of pie from the Grand Traverse Pie Company.

And finally, join us for another roll as Norte rides in the festival’s ultimate parade — the Cherry Royale Parade, on Saturday, July 9, 2022. We will ride our bikes, wear our orange, and ding-ding our bells to the thousands of spectators who line the streets of downtown Traverse City. Norte’s presence in the parade is our opportunity to show the power of the bicycle — let’s #BikeThere!

If you’d like to join us in the parade, RSVP with us ➡️ Norte Rolls in the Cherry Royale ParadeAll ages welcome. Riders will earn a Norte bike bell and 20% off of Norte gear — New Bike There t-shirts are in!

Let’s do this! Four great ways to celebrate community with Norte during the National Cherry Festival. See you there!


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Rolling, Rolling, Rolling into Summer

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling into Summer

On Saturday, July 30, we ride again. The annual Patrick’s Heavy Ride with Friends turns miles into dollars to ensure that every child can roll with Norte, no matter their resources.

This year, Patrick’s Heavy Ride with Friends is a little different. Instead of a one-way ride from the Norte Clubhouse to the Mackinaw Bridge (140 miles), we will keep it in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties. This change allows us to offer more options and open it up for more riders. There’s still a century+ ride (The Whole Enchilada, 123 miles), but there’s also a middle distance (The Jan Brady, 47 miles) and a more casual ride (The TART 20, 20 miles). None of the rides are races. Registration is $35, and we will create an individualized donation page for you, to help raise more for the cause.

Are you ready to ride? 

Heavy riders share a commitment to Norte and the joy of testing oneself. And, over the years, that effort has paid off. Since Patrick’s first ride in 2017, over $50,000 has been raised to support more kids on bikes.

Not up for a heavy ride? Other ways to support the effort include volunteering to help send riders off and, most importantly, giving to their individual campaigns. When you support the Heavy Riders, you’re supporting the promise that every child in northern Michigan has access to youth bike programs.

Current Riders include Andy Weir, Hunter Steinkamp, Cody Sovis, Wes Sovis, Renee Sovis, Andy Sill, Jill Sill, Ben Price, Ian Plamondon, David Hilt, Abby Havill, Will Havill, Lauren Dake, Patrick Cotant, and Tim Bottrell. Bravo! 🤩

We will highlight each of the heavy riders here and on social media in the coming weeks.

Which rider will you support? 


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Bike Power Bringing Us Together 👐

 Bike Power Bringing Us Together

“If you want to restore your faith in people, get on a bicycle.”

That’s the motto of James Dake, who says he learned this life-changing lesson ten years ago while riding his bicycle 3,287 miles across the country.

“After the trip, when we’re telling people about it, it’s never about a mountain we climbed or a road we traveled down,” says James. “It’s always about the people we met — people who often would go out of their way to help us.”

James pedaled all those miles with his future wife, Norte Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Lauren Dake. Together, they rolled from town to town over two months, from Michigan to the tiny seaside village of Orick, California — deep in the Redwood National Forest.

“We did not follow any designated route. So we were very much off on our own, going through towns that had never seen a pannier rack or a bicycle tourist,” recalls Lauren. As a result, Lauren and James ran into challenges, including bike problems, intense heat, steep mountainous climbs, and pounding rainstorms.

Once, they became separated on a long and lonely road in Idaho.

“I decided to go on ahead — really fast — because that’s my personality, and James said he wanted to take it slow,” says Lauren. “It was hot, and I took a rest under a little shrub for shade when a car pulled up right beside me, and the driver said, ‘Hey, are you with that guy back there? Because we offered him a place to stay tonight, and he said he’s on board if you’re on board.'”

The couple offering shelter had once been bike tourists, and they all became fast friends. “To be offered a place to stay without even asking was pretty cool,” says Lauren. But the Dakes say they repeatedly ran into that kind of friendly hospitality as they traveled west. Offers of food, water, and places to stay were common, and some of the people they befriended are still friends today.

Ten years later, Lauren and James are married, and they have a house and a young daughter — Mira. Lauren calls it “the typical American life.” They still do short, overnight bike tours with Mira. They plan to take her on more extended tours someday. They also frequently host bike tourists at their home through the website warmshowers.org. The Dakes say bike touring taught them to be more patient — to take their time and be flexible, especially when traveling.

“I used to never ask for help, but now I understand that people genuinely do want to help each other,” says Lauren. “The tour really opened my eyes that if you need help and you put it out there, people will want to help.”

Or, as James says, “If you want to restore your faith in people, get on a bicycle.”

James and Lauren have put together a presentation based on their journey. If you need inspiration on the power of the bicycle to bring people together and want to host an event, let Lauren know. #BikeThere #BikeMonth


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Everything Better Starts with Partnerships 🤝

Everything Better Starts with Partnerships

Norte’s connection with East Bay Township began by recognizing that there are five schools — and over 2,400 students — within shouting distance of the intersection of Three Mile and Hammond Roads. East Bay is one of the area’s fastest-growing residential communities. Yet, it lacks safe routes for walking and rolling to school, work, or other destinations. The Township has committed to changing that, and we’re here to help. At the forefront of that commitment is Claire Karner, the township’s Director of Planning and Zoning.

“I have a great position because I get to do many different things,” says Claire, who is in her third year. The position focuses on zoning and issuing land use permits — a busy challenge in the fast-growing municipality. She also has the complicated task of how to connect it all.

“I also work on proactive planning projects like the master plan, updating the zoning ordinance, Safe Routes to School, and the Three Mile Trail,” she says. “As part of the master plan process, we are working on a non-motorized map that shows where we want to see sidewalks and trails. The goal is to have a connected system of trails with safe crossings that people can use to get to home, school, work, and throughout the township.”

East Bay’s master plan calls for increased investments in infrastructure for walking and rolling, primarily along its main corridors — US 31, Three Mile Road, and the Hammond Corridor. Each of these routes is quite different and requires many private and public partnerships. The township works closely with the Grand Traverse County Road Commission, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and neighboring municipalities.

But building a complete network of sidewalks and trails doesn’t happen overnight. Claire sees how the progress will be incremental as the Township adds infrastructure with new developments. The other key to success is partnering for projects like the Three Mile Trail Extension and Safe Routes to School infrastructure.

“We have very limited infrastructure in East Bay Township. It’s a blank slate from a non-motorized perspective, so there’s lots of opportunity for building up that network,” says Claire. “With the Three Mile Trail, we’ve also had a lot of interest in non-motorized projects and connectivity.”

As partners with East Bay TownshipTART, and Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Norte has highlighted the Three Mile Trail many times. Like many of you, we look forward to completing the trail’s extension from South Airport Road to Hammond Road. Although contingent on many moving parts, including funding, the hope is to see the trail extension complete in 5-6 years.

“The exciting thing about the Three Mile Trail is that it will be a key transportation corridor for many people,” said Claire. “In a lot of the outreach with the residents of the East Bay Township, we’ve found the origin where people want to start their trips is near the Three Mile and Hammond intersection. So people are looking to this area to become a hub of activity.”

Claire is also working with Norte and the five local schools on a future Safe Routes to School grant. If awarded, it will facilitate much-needed crossings and sidewalks along the Three Mile and Hammond corridors. The appropriation would also provide continued safe route education opportunities for three school districts.

“There is a huge desire from a recreation, transportation, and improved community wellness standpoint,” said Claire. She urges residents to keep voicing their support. “People’s voices inform the master plan. Having trails, sidewalks, crosswalks as high priorities is the best way to see them implemented.”

To engage and represent in favor of more connections in East Bay, sign up with Norte’s East Bay Connections for calls to action when your voice is needed most. Let’s roll, East Bay!


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It’s Bike Month, Let’s #BikeThere!

It’s Bike Month, Let’s #BikeThere!

Calvin Maison isn’t what you’d call a “bike guy.” He doesn’t wear Lycra nor ride particularly fast. His only bike is an inexpensive fat tire model with mismatched wheels and a rusty chain. But one thing Calvin does is ride — to and from work, about 11 miles, every single day of the year.

“I don’t care if it’s pouring rain or there’s a blizzard out. I’m riding my bike,” says Calvin, who insists he’s not a “fitness guru.” Instead, he’s a regular “dude” who likes to ride his bike.

“I’ve always loved bike riding, ever since I was a kid, because I could go places without having to depend on people taking me there. It was an independence thing,” he says.

Like many people, Calvin fell away from bike riding when he started driving. But one day, about four years ago, he had car trouble, so he decided to ride his bike to work. At that moment, he rediscovered that feeling of independence he knew as a kid, and the habit stuck.

“Then when winter hit, I had a choice to make — I could either get another car or a fat tire bike,” says Calvin. “I don’t know what came over me, but I decided on the fat tire bike.”

But Calvin had a problem to overcome — he is not a huge fan of winter.

“That was actually a motivator for me. I knew myself. I get kind of down sitting inside all winter,” he says. “Bike commuting year-round forces me outside, and I get a little exercise. I’m definitely in a lot better shape than when I started, and I’ve noticed a huge difference in my mental health. To me, that’s probably the biggest benefit. I just feel better all around.”

Calvin loves his janky, beat-up fat tire bike so much that he also rides it in the summer. He follows the TART Trail to his job at Frontier Computer Corp (year one Dynamo Champion). He says his coworkers may think he’s crazy, but he thinks anybody could do what he’s doing.

“The hardest part is getting started — heading out the door. If you can get out the door and make it the first ten feet, you can make it ten miles,” he says. “I just started doing it, and I saw the benefits of it. It’s actually a little bit addicting — just the feeling of accomplishment you get.”

If you’d like to get riding during Bike Month, there are several upcoming opportunities. You can start with tonight’s Ride for Peace slow roll, next week’s Eats by Bike Week, and the Farm Club Slow Roll on May 21. And if you need a bike, swing by the Norte Wheelhouse. We have bikes for sale and bicycles to give out as part of our Essential program. Let’s roll!


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Can You Draw a Bike From Memory?

Can You Draw a Bike From Memory?

Happy Bike Month! The sun is shining (finally), and we’ve already been out celebrating Bike and Roll to School Day this morning (see who won the Most Bike-Tastic award below). On Sunday, Team Orange kicked off Bike Month with our Previously Loved Bicycle Neighborhood Yard Sale and the annual launch of Silver Spruce’s Norte brew — Ryed.

While enjoying a pint of Ryed, I watched a friend’s daughter draw a bicycle on a napkin. It struck me how difficult it is. Almost impossible from memory. She did an excellent job considering the conditions — cold hands and a soggy napkin. My attempt to draw a bicycle this morning is above. I didn’t even attempt the pedals.

For Bike Month, we know you’ll get out and roll as much as possible. We have plenty of events for all abilities on our calendar if you need encouragement.

And I also invite you and your family and friends to take a moment and try the Draw a Bicycle from Memory Challenge. Then, I was hoping you could send me a photo of it. You can email it or swing by the Clubhouse. We might throw together a little art project if we receive enough of your drawings.

Have fun with it, and remember it’s all to celebrate Bike Month! This month-long event celebrates the bicycle’s benefits while encouraging more people to ride bikes more often.

Let’s ride and have some fun!

Gary Howe
Advocacy and Communications Director
Gary@elgruponorte.org

P.S. Don’t be shy! Send me those bicycle drawings 😄

Upcoming Rides with Norte and Friends

Ride for Peace: Relief for Ukraine May 11 *
* Eats by Bike Week May 15-21
Ride of Silence May 18 *
* Farm Club Roll May 21
 *
Junior Trail Gnome Day May 21 *

 


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Riding for Trails, Trails for Riding 🚲

Riding for Trails, Trails for Riding 🚲

Next week, more than 250 young riders — across 30+ teams at ten different trailheads — will roll out for Norte’s sixth year of Mountain Bike Team. Thanks to the 60 coaches who step up for these young riders, we can keep this popular program rolling. And we can ride because northern Michigan has a growing network of tremendous trails.

Last month, we highlighted our strong partnership with TART Trails. Another essential partner for Norte is the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association, or NMMBA.

“We were founded to take care of dirt trails in the area,” said NMMBA Board President Tim Reicha. “It all started with the VASA Single Track.”

NMMBA is now involved with many of the region’s most well-known trails, from Palmer Woods in Leelanau CountyGlacial Hills in Antrim County, and the Cadillac Pathway in Wexford County. The all-volunteer organization not only builds but also maintains and protects trails. NMMBA also partners with like-minded organizations to lead rides and provide educational opportunities.

“There are a lot more people outside. There are a lot more people on the trails,” says Tim, adding that the pandemic only increased that growth. “We’re [NMMBA] trying to develop relationships with those people, and teach etiquette and good practices that impact the trail.”

Tim says a big part of that education is teaching people how to prevent trail erosion. Riding to preserve the trail includes practices like staying on the path and not skidding around corners. We provide these lessons on our Norte teams, and many of our coaches, like Tim, are NMBBA members.

Tim says another goal of NMMBA is to work with regional partners to elevate the region into a mountain bike destination. As part of that vision, he wants to connect existing and future trails.

“I’d like to see somebody be able to ride pavement out to dirt, then hop back on pavement and go back out on the dirt. Then they can stop and support a local restaurant or brewpub and then head home afterward. All without getting into their car,” he says.

As part of this effort to create a bike destination, Tim values the natural partnerships between NMMBA, TART, Cherry Capital Cycling ClubBike Leelanau, Norte, and others.

“The momentum of all these organizations can make it a reality,” he says.

Norte’s role has always focused on creating the next generation of mountain bike riders and trail stewards. And next month, we’re partnering with NMMBA for the first Junior Trail Gnome Day.

“We’ll show Norte families how we work on trails. We will also teach them how they can help while they are out riding or hiking — from picking up sticks to reporting bigger issues,” he says.

To learn more about NMMBA and learn how you can help build and maintain trails, visit NMMBA.net.

If you are a family participating in Norte’s spring Mountain Bike Team, join us for Junior Trail Gnome Day on Saturday, May 21, from 9:30 — 11 am at the VASA Single Track off of Supply Road. To join us, RSVP by May 13. 

📸 Above: Tim and Erin Reicha represent both Norte and NMMBA as coaches for Norte Mountain Bike Team. 

 


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Let’s hear three cheers for volunteers!

Let’s hear three cheers for volunteers!

This week is National Volunteer Week, recognizing the generous, dedicated people who give their time and effort to improve our community.

The theme for Volunteer Week 2022 is “Empathy In Action.” It’s a reminder of the strong connection between volunteerism, empathy, and building community connections. These values get at the heart of creating happy, healthy, strong communities.

Three hundred volunteers contribute more than 5,000 hours every year to support Norte. These compassionate souls help coach our spring and fall programming. Also, they help us deliver Norte MeetUps, TuneUps, and clean-ups, like painting the Wheelhouse, building shelves, and maintaining our skills track — a true sign of spring!

Volunteers contribute to Norte because they support the core of our promise. Last year, their efforts helped over 1,200 young riders expand their horizons, build confidence, and learn the power of active living.

Cathy Pugh, 2021 Volunteer of the Year, joined us last year to help roll out an expanded Bikes for All program. She summed up the warmth she felt at each meetup. “Believe and achieve. Norte’s Bikes for All kids never doubt their ability. They always give 100%,” says Cathy. “And they always touch my heart with their smiles and kindness.”

And that’s a feeling that Norte volunteers can identify with because when you give your time and your empathy to others, you always get something back. And the community is better for it.

In his proclamation of Volunteer Week this year, President Biden called volunteerism “a reinforcing cycle.”

“Volunteers are more likely to become further involved in volunteer groups, participate in civic organizations, attend public meetings, and lend a helping hand to their neighbors. Serving together in common purpose has the power to unite us across the lines that sometimes divide.”

We salute the dozens of fantastic people who help Norte elevate our programs and continually connect communities and people. If you’ve never been a volunteer with Norte, we’re ready for you!

 


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Citizen advocates step it up with Norte!

Citizen advocates step it up with Norte!

A tragedy led me to the Advocate Academy. Last summer, a teenage girl on her way to work was killed by a truck driver. She was riding her bicycle and was struck while navigating through the South Long Lake Road and US 31 intersection — Interlochen Corners.

As an Interlochen local, I know that corner well — lots of traffic moves through there at a high rate of speed, and people walking and rolling must navigate it with caution. There are no painted crosswalks, ramps, or sidewalks.

Interlochen Corners is dangerous by design. It’s intimidating when we drive, let alone walk or bike. So I wanted to do something about it. The annual six-week course in citizen advocacy facilitated by Norte, TART Trails, and the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities was what I needed to get started.

At Advocate Academy, I met people with similar passions for projects in their communities. For example, one person sought to improve the crossing at Division and Eighth Streets in Traverse City, while another wanted to improve a passing lane on Center Road. My classmates from downstate wanted a safer trail crossing and bike parking at a local restaurant.

But how do we turn motivation for change into action? The course walked us through a path forward using real-world examples as models. 

The first step, we learned, is to know your audience. It’s essential to understand who designs and maintains the streets and roads we care about. The power to make the change we want to see often requires peeling back the onion. Do we need to contact the City? Township? Road Commission? The State or even the Feds? Is it a combination? At the academy, we learned that jurisdictions matter.

Once you have that information, it’s time to craft your message. The Advocate Academy also emphasizes that language matters. It’s essential to use the elements of storytelling and personal narrative in your message and be mindful of the words you use. For example, it’s more effective to say, “I feel intimidated and rushed when crossing this street,” than, “this road is dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists.”

I felt like I had a good handle on the language part, but if I wanted to get my message out to the people who matter — the people who can make fundamental changes at Interlochen Corners — where would I start? Advocate Academy helped me understand the difference between strategy and tactics. Strategy is the plan that takes you where you want to go. The tactics are the individual steps and actions that will get you there.

And because of the tools I learned during the course, I was able to develop a strategy and a few tactics that will lead to an improved experience for all at Interlochen Corners. My goal is a painted crosswalk this year — wish me luck!

If you have a problematic intersection in your neighborhood — or a path or crossing or sidewalk that needs a strong advocate — I encourage you to attend Advocate Academy next winter. It’ll give you the tools you need to affect change and remind you that we — citizen advocates — have the power to impact change.


Aaron Selbig, Communications Coordinator

P.S. If you want to help realize a better crosswalk at Interlochen Corners,  join me by replying to this email

 


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Two coaches elevate their skills for all

Two coaches elevate their skills for all

Last month, Team Orange took a giant leap forward. Norte’s Abby Havill and Lauren Dake threw themselves into an intense weekend with the Bike Instructor Certification Program (BICP), a training program that will greatly enhance our coach and rider experiences. After three days of studying and practicing, Abby and Lauren rolled away with far more than anticipated.

“I’m not sure we would have done it if we knew what it entailed,” Abby joked as she held up BICP’s thick training manual. “Lauren and I were freaking out the first night as we reviewed this manual.”

BICP provides professional training and certification for people who teach mountain bike skills. They came to northern Michigan by invitation from Lynn Wolf at the Top of Michigan Mountain Bike Association (TOMMBA).

The foundation of BICP instruction relies on fundamentals and skills developed over the last two decades. The style of teaching was a key takeaway for Lauren.

“The positive reinforcement tactic taught through BICP was helpful to experience,” she said. “It’s about framing your words always to tell them (students) what you want them to do rather than saying, ‘don’t do this.'”

One fundamental to BICP training is keeping pace with the constant evolution of bicycle technology. As mountain bikes evolve, new riding techniques and instruction are possible.

“The design of mountain bikes has evolved and changed,” said Lauren, pointing to trends in handlebar length and wheel circumference. “BICP is also about what skills you can master when you have a newer style bike and why.”

Abby said she learned of the importance of the dropper seat post, an advancement to mountain bikes that allows riders to lower their seat with the push of a button.

“The range of motion you can get on your bike — they call it bike body separation — that separation is really about being out of the saddle,” said Abby. “So now, you can drop that seat, and it’s completely out of your way. It helps with ascending, descending, and so many other moves.”

Leading up to Norte’s spring season — which begins May 2 — Lauren and Abby will be adding lessons to the curriculum. One focus is coach training in April, including a demonstrative skills class. The BICP training has also increased momentum for an elevated More Girls on Bike program. This summer, Norte will offer a series of four all-girl summer clinics, drawing on the lessons learned at BICP.

“BICP training opens a lot of doors for Norte and us,” said Abby. “I’ve mountain biked a lot. This training has made me want to get out and do it more. As a result, I’ll be a better biker and a better coach.”

Both Abby and Lauren passed their tests despite the early trepidation. As a result, they earned BICP certified level one honors with the four other students. We’re so proud of Norte’s first certified coaches. Great job, Coach Abby and Coach Lauren!

Learn from Angela Brooks on her YouTube channel: The Mountain Bike Chicks. If you’re interested to learn more about upcoming coach training or More Girls on Bikes, email programs@elgruponorte.org.


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Pump yourself up for spring!

Pump yourself up for spring!

It’s spring break week in northern Michigan, and we trust many of you are off on glorious adventures—enjoy!

Even though there are still piles of snow on the ground, we can think of no better time to get pumped up for spring riding. So today’s newsletter is a short reminder of some of our services at Norte. Are you ready to roll? If not, or if you’re looking for that next bike, swing by the Civic Center to:

These services are all possible because of generous support from a generous community. Thank you, everyone, for being part of the Norte magic.
Let’s keep it rolling! 


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Heroes of Norte doing good everywhere

Heroes doing good everywhere

Norte’s Troy DeShano was only 21 years old when he received the news no one wants to hear — a cancer diagnosis.

“I was a newlywed at the time, just finishing up school, and so it was quite a situation for my wife and I to find ourselves in,” says Troy. “We had dreams and aspirations for what we hoped to do after college. We didn’t expect to get derailed.”

But derailed they were. Troy didn’t know it at the time, but he would face a years-long trial. It included chemotherapy, several surgeries, and a second cancer diagnosis at age 26.

“I reached a point where I had to accept that I might not make it to age 30,” he says. “It’s not an exciting place to find yourself, but it is a place where you can learn something, so that’s what I tried to do.”

“The suffering that happens to people when they’ve been diagnosed with cancer affects the whole family,” says Bill Couzens, a friend of Norte and founder of the cancer education organization Less Cancer. “It’s emotionally and financially devastating.”

Bill’s focus is educating the public, lawmakers, and health professionals about cancer prevention. He says more than half of all cancers are preventable — and although more people are surviving cancer these days, more people are also receiving the bad news. “We actually have more cancer, not less,” says Bill. “And that’s a headline people don’t like.”

According to Bill, most of the significant causes of preventable cancers — like smoking and obesity — have solutions. Less Cancer focuses on the early development of good, healthy habits.

“I love that Norte gets young people moving,” says Bill. “When you can get kids plugged into healthy decision-making early on, it will reduce their risk for a lot of things later down the road. So to me, the fact that Norte is out there doing what you guys are doing is heroic, and probably will lower the risk for cancer and other health issues.”

Troy DeShano has been cancer-free for 16 years. He credits his wife, Nöel, for helping him survive the challenges they faced early in their marriage. “She introduced me to healthy foods, and I took good care of myself,” he says. “I was able to endure many of those treatments because I was in pretty good health.”

These days, Troy is preparing for his first season of Norte’s youth programs. “All of the things that Norte hopes to influence — creating active, confident young people who are connected to each other and their communities — it’s all connected to our basic motto — ‘happy, healthy, strong.'”

On June 3, Less Cancer will kick off its annual, month-long Bike Ride America fundraising event in Traverse City, with a concert by The Steel Wheels.


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Where’s your passion taking you today?

Where’s your passion taking you today?

If Norte were a house, it would be a welcoming and cozy one, filled with friends like you. There’d be some high energy in the place with lots of bikes lying around. Staff and volunteers, parents and coaches — and many children — would be running around, laughing, and riding bikes. It’d be a blast.

One of the foundations of that very orange house would be Norte’s Business Champions. Today, we want to shine the spotlight on the Wall of Champions. These businesses make northern Michigan a happier, healthier, and stronger community every day. They also support many organizations like Norte. They do so because they share our values and vision.

With their support of walking and rolling, Business Champions help make northern Michigan a desirable place to live. Norte can thrive, grow, and help more people stay active with their steadfast support.

Business Champions lead with initiatives they feel passionate about. 

One example is Einstein Cycles. They recently helped us buy 30 brand new, bright orange balance bikes. They raised their hands to help because they know starting early is the best way to keep young people healthy and active for life.

Another is Revision Legal, a new Superstar Business Champion. They came on board to support Bikes for All, a program that kicks off again in May. In addition, they led the way in helping Norte add the super slick Odyssey to our adaptive bike fleet.

The latest example is Frontier Computer Corporation. It’s part of Frontier’s company culture to stay active and develop healthy habits. They’re also incredibly passionate about encouraging young women to take part. That’s why they recently stepped up to be the title sponsor for our More Girls on Bikes initiative.

“Our Business Champions come from every industry and are different sizes,” says Norte Donor Relations Specialist Wes Sovis. “But each recognizes the importance of investing in happy, healthy, and strong communities for their employees. I encourage you to support the businesses that support us. Norte wouldn’t be rolling without them.”

We highlight all Business Champions on our Wall of Champions. Please take a moment to review, and then seek them out and give them your business. Next, tell your friends and neighbors about them. And finally, when you visit them, let them know you appreciate their commitment to northern Michigan and Norte.


Norte’s Business Champion program recognizes business by level (Rad, Ace, Lux, Dynamo, Superstar, and Titan) and the number of years represented on the Wall of Champions. Learn more about the program and how it might fit your business: Business Champions

📷 Image Above by Wes Sovis. When he visited, team Frontier held an epic balance bike race you shouldn’t miss!


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From One Wheelhouse to Another, With Love

From One Wheelhouse to Another,

With Love

When you visit Norte’s Wheelhouse, you’ll meet John Deely and his dog, Zippy. John came ashore with Norte last year after a 25–year career at sea as a merchant marine officer.

“Here, I get to help out in the community,” says John. “And that’s important to me — to be a part of a community.”

The Community Bike Shop is one of the services available at the Wheelhouse. Visitors have access to a complete set of professional tools — free of charge. If you need a repair beyond your expertise, John can tackle it for a reasonable fee. He also does spring tune-ups.

The Wheelhouse is also jam-packed with bicycles. A good portion is part of the Grand Traverse Regional Kids’ Bike Library. The bike library allows families to check out a bike like they would check out a book. Then, as their youngster grows, they can exchange it for a larger model.

Other bikes hanging on the Wheelhouse wall we reserve for programs. Anyone in Summer Bike Camp, Mountain Bike Team, or Adventure Bike Club who needs a bicycle can check out a ride.

Explore the Wheelhouse with John, Zippy, and Aaron in this 2:32 minute video.

“They’re all tuned up and ready to go,” says John. “A child can borrow a bike for the duration of their program. So if they enroll in a program and they don’t have a bike, we’ve got them covered.” McLain’s Cycle and Fitness donated many of the program bikes.

The Wheelhouse is also home to many adaptive bikes in our Bikes for All fleet. “This fleet is for folks who may have some mobility issues,” says John. “We have several comfortable cruiser bikes, seven tricycles, and various adaptive bikes. So, anyone can get out for a ride.”

Finally, John’s also leads our consignment sales and essential bike program. The latter provides free bikes to adults who need them to get back and forth to work or school.

And if you’re lucky, John says there’s one more thing you might find at the Norte Wheelhouse — love.

“I met my partner, Brooke, here. That’s changed my life forever,” he says. “I had only been here a week, and she came through the door and said she wanted to learn how to work on her derailleur. It was immediate. I knew this was the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with.”

John says Brooke knows how to work on her derailleur now. 🧡


Find the Norte Wheelhouse at the northern end of the Grand Traverse County Civic Center, along Front Street in Traverse City. Current hours are 10–6 pm, Monday–Friday. Call the Wheelhouse at 231-883-2471.


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4 Spokes of a Powerful Orange Wheel

4 Spokes of a Powerful Orange Wheel

As a newsletter reader, you are part of a connected group of people that makes Norte go. Like the spokes on a wheel, you are essential to the stability and development of the organization. Our future is bright because of people like you.

In 2021, 300 volunteers invested over 5,000 hours at Norte. They maintained our fleet of bikes for programs like the Grand Traverse Regional Kid’s Bike Library. They also cleaned, painted, and knocked down walls — and now our tiny Clubhouse has never felt so grand. Our volunteers share their time, skills, and experience because connecting and contributing is rewarding. And being a part of something larger feels good.

Our coaches form another spoke, an important one. This spring, we will welcome 53 lead coaches and 55 assistant coaches to support our programs. Coaches will lead roughly 600 young riders through challenges and victories. They’ll guide them on the streets, on trails, and, for our youngest, through their first bike skills course. We can’t wait to hit those rollers!

Our dozens of partner organizations provide a collaborative strength to achieve more together. This year, to highlight a few, we’re deepening our relationship with Single MOMM, Child and Family Services of Northwest Michigan, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Women’s Resource Center. Each serves our friends and neighbors who might benefit most from a Norte experience. To help, we will reserve spots in the most popular programs. Together, we will ensure our youth scholarships serve those who will benefit the most.

Our grantors, Business Champions, and individual donors are more spokes of this ever-turning wheel. Generosity is a hallmark of a strong community, and we’re blessed in northern Michigan. At Norte, the impact of charitable gifts puts more children on bikes, and encourages all to stay active and connected. The bottom line is that financial investments in Norte create smiles for our youngest to oldest participants.

Spokes of a wheel support the structure and play a critical role in a bike’s maneuverability, flexibility, and shock resistance. A typical bicycle wheel has 32 spokes; some have more and others fewer. While fewer spokes give an aerodynamic advantage, more spokes equate to a durable, long-lasting wheel. We’re leaning into the latter here at Norte.

There are countless pieces that help deliver on Norte’s promise to northern Michigan. And we can always add more. So I invite you to be part of that effort and part of the wheel that is Team Orange. We are building for the future — so let’s have some fun and get to work.

Thank you for being a supportive, essential part of Norte, and for creating a happy, healthy, strong community.

Now, let’s ride!


Jill, Interim Executive Director

📷 Jill pictured with her husband, Andy, on a much warmer day on the Vasa Single Track — more of that soon!


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Ready for the journey?

Summer Bike Camp Registration

Opens March 2, 6 pm

 


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Some partnerships just make sense

Some partnerships just make sense

Norte and TART Trails go together like peanut butter and jelly, says TART Chief Executive Officer Julie Clark.

“We’re just good together, and we’re not as good alone,” says Clark. “Norte is an incredible inspiration to get kids excited about active lifestyles — and that allows TART to focus on building partnerships that can get us the infrastructure we need. Norte shines a big, bright shining spotlight on why that infrastructure is so important.”
TART has had a lot of success in helping communities build new trails. For example, Clark will cut the ribbon on the Boardman Lake Loop this year. It’s a project years — if not decades — in the making.  “I am so proud of this project,” says Clark.

“I’m proud of the partnership with the City of Traverse City, NMC, and the county and the township. But mostly, I’m proud of everybody who came out and really informed the design. They shared their values and their vision.”

And that’s the third piece of the puzzle, says Clark — strong citizen advocacy. Something TART and Norte both value and foster. Citizen advocates always play a significant role in community trail projects, says Clark. She points to the Three Mile Trail as another example where the community, including Norte’s Liderato Youth Council members, influenced local political leaders. The Three Mile Trail will connect businesses, residents, and more than 2,000 students from nearby schools. It is currently in the engineering phase, with construction possible in 2024.

Clark is also excited about the possibilities for the TART Trail when a reconstruction of Grandview Parkway begins next year. “We pushed the Michigan Department of Transportation to really rethink how they view traffic in that area,” she says.

“And that’s why we partnered with Norte. Many of the things that Gary suggested long ago — like double-crosswalks and a double intersection at Park Street — are now in MDOT’s plan.” Gary Howe serves as Norte’s Advocacy Director. In that role, he works with community advocates and partners to advance policy and investments to improve walking and rolling.

TART and Norte are both reliant on an engaged, active community. There’s perhaps no better example than the Advocate Academy. First, TART and Norte pioneered the program in a partnership in 2018. Then, for several years Groundwork Center and Norte collaborated on it. Finally, in the fifth year, all three organizations are teaming together.

“Advocate Academy is important because where change really happens is at the community level,” says Clark. “TART doesn’t build trails. Norte doesn’t just put on programming. Communities build trails. And communities come together and participate.”

 

There are still a few spots left in the 2022 Advocate Academy. The six-week course begins this Thursday.  Learn more and register ➡️ 2022 Advocate Academy


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3 Super Changes for Summer Bike Camp!

3 Super Changes for Summer Bike Camp!

Norte‘s Summer Bike Camp is 131 days away. And trust us — the time is going to roll right by!

The program team is exploding with excitement for summer 2022. Over the past two months, they’ve been exploring new opportunities and digging into the core intentions of what we do here at Norte.

“Becoming a state-licensed day camp allows Norte not only a high degree of accountability but also the freedom to design programs that provide greater impact in the most fun and safe ways,” says Program and Education Director Troy DeShano. “We’re bringing a high degree of focus and intention to our programs this year, with the continued goal to offer meaningful experiences far beyond bike skills.”

Here are three super changes to meet those goals with introductions below.  

  • Four-hour camp, four days a week (M–Th, 9 am–1 pm)
  • Two full-day camp options (weeks of July 11 & August 7)
  • More ShredVenture (weeks of June 27 & July 25)

FOUR DAY CAMP

A positive camp experience begins and ends with the coach. This summer, we’re investing in our excellent coaches with more tools, skills, and time to shine. Shifting to four-hour days, four days a week offers an extra hour of bike camp every week. That means coaches will have more fun and opportunities to impart lifelong skills. We’ll roll out camps in Elk Rapids, Glen Arbor, Suttons Bay, and Traverse City this summer.

FULL-DAY CAMP

We are excited to introduce a full-day camp this summer for grades 3-6! These are full-day camp experiences offered as a pilot project. These opportunities will be Monday–Thursday, 9–3 pm, for two different weeks. The full-day camp will offer a deeper dive into exploring Traverse City by bike. It will allow teams to ride further and experience new adventures.

SHREDVENTURE RETURNS

Last year, we learned a lot in our first-ever weeklong mountain bike program. First, riders and coaches loved it. Second, we needed more than three hours. So, ShredVenture 2.0 will be six hours, Monday–Thursday. The extra time will allow for more instruction, more trail options, and more shredding! There will be two separate weeks of ShredVenture to choose from, during the weeks of June 27 and July 25, for 7th–10th graders.

Norte is deepening our commitment to empowering young riders in northern Michigan. So keep up to date with the new possibilities and start planning for registration, which begins Wednesday, March 2, for Summer Bike Camp and next Wednesday for spring programs.

Keep the momentum going!

Please note, early registration is available for monthly donorsOtwell Hub Members, and Super Friends — it’s not too late to sign up. And, as always, full or partial scholarships are available.

Please email programs@elgruponorte.org for more information.


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