35 Years of Community Celebration with Retiring City Planner, Russ Soyring

Russ Soyring on a boat and relaxing.

Russ Soyring has served as the City Planner of Traverse City since 1986. His impact on the community is far and wide. In large part, it’s thanks to Soyring that Traverse City is consistently recognized as a leader in promoting walking and rolling. For the last 35 years, you could find him almost daily riding his bike from Central Neighborhood, through Hannah Park, and to the Governmental Center.

Last week, he sat down with Norte’s Advocacy Director, Gary Howe, to chat about his experience during the previous four decades and our community’s past and future challenges and opportunities. He retires this week. Team Orange extends our deepest gratitude for his vision and commitment to making Traverse City and Northern Michigan one of the best places to live.


Thank you, Russ. We look forward to working with you on your next big plans, even if we start small. 😉


Soyring’s position will be filled by Shawn Winter in early March. Winter facilitated Norte’s first Advocate Academy in 2018. We’re equally excited about the next 35 years for the community as we are looking back with Soyring. 

Safe and Responsible

My buddy Jack and this once-in-a-century opportunity


I met Jack on March 1st, 2019. He was a fifth-grader at Eastern Elementary. It was after-school, on a sunny Friday afternoon, and I was at his school to interview him, his brother Max and friend Tripp about their quest to bike to school every day of the 2018-19 school year. I liked Jack from the get-go. Smart, funny, and thoughtful. We’ve been buddies ever since.

Jack is the kind of kid that wants to be outside. He wants to move, to explore, to play. If you’re going to find Jack, look for him at the skatepark, cruising his neighborhood with friends, or ripping along a mountain bike trail. He’s an active kid.

Jack is a Norte poster child. What we hold up as an indicator species of a healthy, vibrant Traverse City. He’s independent, confident, with a spirit of adventure. He’s also fortunate to live in a neighborhood where his parents have the confidence he will be safe. They don’t need to hover. He’s good.

Traverse City is doing many things right related to health, access, and social connections. We’re expanding sidewalks, improving crosswalks, building bike lanes, slowing cars, and investing in parks. We should be proud. However, the pandemic has me wondering if we can do better. I wonder if this is a once-in-a-century opportunity to double or triple down on these efforts.

I wonder how we can think and act differently so that more of our children can grow up with the opportunities that Jack enjoys. How do we become a community that puts health at the forefront of our policies, infrastructure, education, and systems? A community whereby every kid is given critical nudges at critical right times so that they develop healthy habits for life.

Instead of treating the symptoms of sedentary, isolated lifestyles, I wonder if we are ready to address the root causes of our traditionally poor health outcomes. Are we prepared to fundamentally alter the odds in favor of more off-the-couch, off-the-screen young people like Jack?

This won’t be as simple as cheerleading everyone to get outside and get moving. We must design neighborhoods around our kids’ needs — their body, heart, and mind — so that more of them (all of them) are free to play outside and roam their neighborhood safely like Jack.

Fueled by stubborn optimism, we’re working on this at Norte. And just like Jack and his crew were successful at biking to school every day last year, we’re all in to be successful in our quest. That’s why Norte is part of a coalition working to better connect many of Traverse City’s schools including Jack’s current school, East Middle School, with a sense of urgency.

The pandemic has many of us anxious about the future. I share that anxiety, but I also can’t help see a once-in-a-century opportunity for more of us (all of us) to commit to doing better. To do what we can, where we are, and together build a bright, beautiful future filled with thousands and thousands of happy, healthy, ready-to-learn kids.

Just like my buddy Jack.

This story originally appeared in the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

2020 Traverse City Summer Bike Camp + COVID-19 Precautions


Norte is always committed to the safety and well-being of all our campers, guests, and staff. We’re doubling-down on that effort with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic upon us. As Michigan moves positively through the MI Safe Start Plan and recovery, Norte’s goal remains the same – do our part to make it the best summer ever. 

To that end, this year’s bike camp requires us to make significant changes to protect our campers, instructors, and their families. Registered families will receive further details as their camp session approaches. 

Some of the precautionary steps we’re taking include: 

  • Social Distancing – Campers stick with the same small team of eight campers and two instructors each day. We limit the interaction between groups as much as possible during the morning camp. Physical distancing is required when we are stationary, and when we ride, we ride in a line and keep to the right. 
  • Masks – For the protection of campers and their families, our instructors must wear cloth face coverings when they assemble in teams. Campers are required to bring at least one mask, a spare if possible, to bike camp. They will wear them when groups gather, like our instructors, may remove the face coverings while engaged in biking. 
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting – Summer Bike Camp is an outdoor, in the community experience like no other. Our home base for camp is at the Norte’s Wheelhouse, which will be used primarily for bathroom breaks and lots of handwashing. The Wheelhouse will be cleaned and disinfected daily to ensure the safety of all bike camp guests. In the community, we visit places that allow us to maintain physical distancing. We are also strategic about passing-by areas for quick bathroom breaks and handwashing–we want to keep those hands clean
  • Monitoring and Communication – We require all staff and campers (looking at you, parents) to complete a health screen before camp begins every day. We will continue to communicate with camper families regularly with any future camp changes and updates. Also, we invite families to reach out if they have questions or concerns. Bike Camp instructors meet daily before camp to check-in and provide feedback on how to improve safety measures. 

Our COVID-19 Task Force will continue to stay abreast of the latest requirements and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of Michigan, and the Grand Traverse County Health Department.


Make your summer bike-tastic! Norte’s Summer Bike Camps are an adventure-based, week-long, half-day camp. It teaches elementary and middle school-aged kids urban bike safety skills and confidence through empowerment, education, and adventure. Many adventures!

In addition to making new friends, staying active, and having the best summer ever, all summer bike campers will:

  • Explore their town on their bike and discover its excellent places.
  • Discover abilities bike safely and bike smart around town with their friends.
  • Develop bike repair and maintenance skills. Knowing how to change a flat or adjust your brakes is powerful.
  • Transform into a bike handling ninja. 


There are bike camp sessions for children in four grade-categories. Incoming 1st and 2nd graders, 3rd and 4th graders, 5th and 6th graders, and the oldest course for 7th and 8th graders. 

What’s required? A Positive attitude! And, students need to be able to comfortably ride 3-4 miles (1st – 2nd grade), 5-6 miles (3rd-4th), 7-8 miles (5th-6th grade), 8 miles + (7th-8th grade).


The first sessions begin the week after school (June 15, 2020) and run weekly through August. Summer Bike Camp starts at 9:00 AM-Noon, Monday to Friday. All sessions begin and end at the Norte Wheelhouse at the Civic Center Park. The orange building off of Munson Avenue. 


  • A super cool wicking Norte T-shirt
  • Already have a T-shirt from a previous season? No problem! We’ll provide you with a discount coupon to our online merch store when you register!


When you enroll, you’ll have one of three choices. 

  • Adventure Camp! Norte’s tried and true model of riding bikes to explore our area and learn how to navigate. Some days we ride far, some days we find an awesome playground, park or beach, but each day the bike is our vehicle for adventure, and our legs are our engines! 
  • Mountain Bike Camp! All of our summer bike camps include plenty of off-road riding. This week’s week is a 5-day focus on off-road riding on fun trails that are all within riding-distance from the park: Hickory Meadows, the Commons, the Vasa, and the Boardman River Trails. Participants should have experience riding off-road trails up to 10 miles (less for the younger groups), and be prepared to push themselves on hills, skills drills, and trail navigation. 
  • Bike Mechanics Camp! Each day will include an in-depth exploration of real-life mechanical problems that can arise while riding bikes. Therefore, most of the bike fixes will take place in the field with our own bikes. Still lots of bike riding, but more breaks and discussions to try to understand our machines better. 


After a successful partnership with Traverse Bay Area Youth Soccer (TBAYS) last summer, we’re very excited to expand our full-day offerings by teaming up with Traverse Area Community Sailing (TACS) and Northwestern Michigan College’s (NMC) College For Kids:


  • Full-day camp 9 am – 4 pm at the Civic Center Park
  • Learn more and register HERE


  • Full-day 9 am – 4 pm, pick up at the Cornwell Sailing Center at Hull Park.
  • Learn more and register HERE


  • Tentatively unavailable for June. More details coming soon.
  • Full-day 9 am – 3 or 4 pm, depending on campus and class
  • Learn more and register HERE


  • Full-day camp 9 am – 4 pm at the Civic Center Park
  • Learn more and register HERE


  • Extend the fun for an extra hour each day with supervised bring-your-own-lunch and free play at the Civic Center
  • Camper pick up 1:00 pm at the Norte Wheelhouse instead of noon


  • $115 for a week of morning Bike Camp only
  • $25 for supervised lunch and transportation to your afternoon activity (for full-day campers)
  • $25 for “extra hour” supervised lunch and play at the Civic Center
  • The cost of afternoon sessions varies depending on your activity. Cost for soccer, sailing, college for kids can be found at TBAYS, TACS, and NMC respectively.


  • 10% off Bike Camp when registering for multiple weeks
  • 10% off Bike Camp when registering siblings
  • Discounts only apply for registrations that are purchased in the same order (i.e. as part of the same cart)


Thanks to our generous donors and sponsors, Norte is proud to provide scholarships to ensure that all families can participate in our programs. We have partial and full scholarships for every one of our programs available (One scholarship per child per season).  Contact hello@elgruponorte.org  (or 231-883-2404) to request a scholarship prior to registering.




Give the gift of adventure with a Summer Bike Camp gift certificate. Have a gift certificate? Lucky you. Give the Clubhouse a call to sign up: 231-883-2404

Thank you, sponsors, for supporting the Traverse City Summer Bike Camp!



Traverse City Summer Bike Camp? Health, Safety, Fun Remain Norte’s Priority

The waiting and unknowing is tough. It’s been a good test of our team’s bedrock principles: strength, patience, resiliency, and creativity.

Like you, we watch the COVID-19 numbers, predictions, and press conferences with a hopeful, public health first mindset.

What does this mean for Traverse City’s summer bike camp?

We are confident that we will still be able to provide our fun, safe, and educational camp with you in some shape and form this summer. Norte’s camps are small, with groups of 8 or fewer. We also spend 99.9% of the time outside riding bikes and exploring our community. These models are a source of pride for us, and we trust we can transform them to satisfy current needs.

To be ready for that possibility, we have established a Program Safety Task Force and are currently creating policy and protocol to ensure summer programs remain safe, healthy, and enjoyable. We continue to receive guidance from state and local health officials and await new guidelines which we expect will offer further direction for summer programs.

Safety and health are of utmost importance, and we will never compromise that.

We will decide to go, delay, modify or cancel summer bike camp late May/Early June.

In the meantime, keep riding your bikes with your family! Ride strong, smile big, ding, and wave.



These Traverse City Kids Are Alright

Earlier this year, I wrote about the national trend of fewer and fewer kids opting outside to play and be active.

The thing is, I’ve noticed a different trend this spring and summer here in Traverse City. I’ve noticed more and more kids off the couch, off the screen and outside actively getting themselves to the places they need to go.

Kids like:

  • Roman Zagunis, who bikes from home in Orchard Heights neighborhood with his rod to fish at the mouth of the Boardman River.
  • Sisters Eleanor and Maggie Olds, who often walk from their home in Old Town neighborhood to the library to check out books.
  • CJ Forsyth, Tripp Bevier, and Jack and Max Matchett, who biked to school at Eastern Elementary every single day last year.
  • Brody Day, a seventh-grader at East Middle, who rides from his home in Holidays Hills to mountain bike with friends at the Commons.
  • Brothers Ronin and Calvin Wilson, who walk to school at Traverse Heights Elementary nearly every day.
  • 4-year-old Charlie Bulloch, who bikes to Oryana from his home in Oak Park neighborhood with his mom to get groceries.
  • First-grader Nettie Sketch, who regularly bikes to Clinch and East Bay Parks with her family to go swim.
  • 12-year-old Kinsey Hintz, who walks to the BATA stop near her home to ride the free Bayline downtown to see a movie at the State with friends.
  • Central High sophomore Evan Coulter, who bikes to work at Brick Wheels from his home in Holiday Hills.
  • All those — and there are a lot! — who skate, bike and scooter to our wonderfully popular Civic Center Skate Park.

Seeing these kids safely and freely roam their neighborhood makes me smile. It’s an indicator of a healthy, vibrant town. It means that, as a community, we’re getting things right.

Things like safe, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods.

Things like accessible parks, libraries, schools, trails, and businesses.

Things like a strong sense of community and tightly woven social fabric where neighbors know each other and look out for each other’s kids.

As a Traverse City resident, father of two boys, and director of Norte, a youth-focused, walk/bike advocacy organization that empowers kids — and those who love them — to be active for life, these things give me hope for a bright future here in this amazing place we call home.

Keep awesome, kids, and thanks for the inspiration. You’re alright.

This piece originally appeared in the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Norte Newsletter

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Join Norte This Summer as a Paid Intern

Passionate about bicycles? Like working with kids? Want to build stronger, better connected and more walk/bike-friendly communities?

Norte, a 501c.3 advocacy nonprofit based in beautiful Traverse City, empowers the young – and young at heart – to be active for life.

Our initiatives are many:


Paid Summer Internship

Posting date: 1/17/20

Part-time 20-25 hours/week

Start date: Late April/Early May

Compensation: $15/hour


The Norte Summer Intern supports a range of programming and communication activities to help further Norte’s mission. S/he will help support and gain experience with the daily operations of Norte at the Clubhouse and Wheelhouse including programs, communications, and assisting with community outreach events.

This position requires a genuine enthusiasm for Norte’s mission and the ability to project that enthusiasm to others. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential to effectively interact with and build trust and confidence among our members and supporters.


Community Engagement:

  • Assist with Norte’s programs including Summer Bike Camp, Estrellas, El Barrio Bike Fix, Amigos
  • Assist with Norte’s outreach events including TC Bike Month, Bike Valet, Vasa Domingos
  • Assist with Norte’s community services including the Grand Traverse Bike Library and Community Bike Shop at the Civic Center



College graduate or currently enrolled in a bachelor’s or master’s degree program majoring in education, nonprofit management, communications or related field.


  • Extremely detail-oriented with strong organization skills
  • Excellent prioritization abilities
  • Exhibit excellent time management skills and ability to meet deadlines
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Exhibit professionalism, with superior social and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Effective problem-solving skills
  • Proficient in the use of Google G Suite


  • Able to work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends
  • Desire to learn and grow professionally


The Summer Intern is a part-time FLSA non-exempt position with a wage of $15/hour.


Please email resume stating your suitability for this position to hello@elgruponorte.org. Application materials must be received no later than midnight on February 17th, 2020.

El Grupo Norte Youth Cycling is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate in employment, promotions, or compensation on the basis of sex, age, race, religion, color, national origin, marital or veteran status, or disability.

Cranksgiving Traverse City: A 2019 Photo Gallery

HUGE thanks to everyone who came out to the 2nd Annual Cranksgiving Traverse City to ride bikes, give back, go good and support our many amazing food pantries. Y’all are rockstars. Thank you!

Special shout out to State Farm Agent Susan Soffredine Rauser and Food Rescue of Northwest Michigan for making this special event possible.

Keep awesome everyone and happy Thanksgiving!


Adventurama is Coming. Here are 7 Things to Know!

Adventurama is Coming. Here are 7 Things to Know!

Big day tomorrow, squads! We are SO excited. Here’s a bunch of things to know.

1. The rules:

Have FUN! Adventurama is all about fun.
Seek adventure. Much adventure. Always.
Be happy. Be kind. Ring your bell. Wave lots. Don’t be a jerk.
Squads MUST stay together.
Squads MUST follow the rules of the road. Blow a stop sign, lose 50 points.
Spandex is NOT allowed. Wear spandex, lose 25 points

2. Things to bring:

A functioning bicycle for each adventurer, of course
One smartphone per squad
One pen per squad
One backpack or something to carry your treasure in per squad

3. Schedule:

  • 12:00 – Check-in opens at The Workshop Brewing Company. (WBC)
  • 12:30 – Mandatory squad meeting. All squads must be checked in
  • 12:45 – Treasure maps and Challenge Cards are unveiled
  • 12:55 –  Last opportunity to draw from the Challenge Card pile
  • 1:00 – Course opens. Squads are released
  • 2:30 – Scoring opens (squads cannot return before this time)
  • 3:00 – Deadline – Your squad will be docked 5 points for every 5 minutes you are late. We set the time based on our Timing Master’s phone clock.
  • 3:30 – Scoring closes – We will not accept returning squads after this time
  • 4 – Awards ceremony and after-party at WBC.
4. Point system:

The squad with the most points “wins.” Treasure spots and bonus point opportunities are weighted. You will not be able to complete them all, so it’s up to your squad to determine which items to tackle. Squads will be issued the Treasure Map 15 minutes before the course opens. If your squad feels confident on the list and wishes to earn additional points, you may draw from the Challenge Card pile.

Challenge Cards are worth big points, but if you fail to successfully complete the challenge you will be docked the number of points that challenge is worth.

The first squad to arrive at a Treasure spot should be on the lookout for an Orange Envelope of Happy. Mas bonus points!

It is possible for Orange Envelopes of Happy to exist in locations that are not Treasure spots so keep your eyes peeled.

You win this game by racking up points. Bonus points and challenge cards are key elements, but take your risks wisely!

5. Scoring:

Each squad has a Treasure Log that is maintained by the squad Captain. If you draw any challenge cards, they will be recorded on your Treasure Log.

When you arrive back to WBC, check in with the Timing Master to have your arrival time documented on your Treasure Log.

You will then carry your Treasure Log to a Scoring Judge who will process your Adventurama! accomplishments and activities to award the corresponding points.

Unless otherwise stated, a photograph must be taken to prove bonus point and Challenge Card completion. Orange envelopes of happy must be brought back to WBC to be scored.

Scoring takes time. Our volunteer Judges work carefully to ensure all points are properly accounted for.

6. Earning additional points:

Share #Adventurama to your fave social media channel– 3 bonus points each

  • You can earn a maximum of 15 points when you post photos and videos of your squad preparing for Adventurama! Posts must include the hashtag #Adventurama and must be made before September 6th. Please tag us too so we’re sure to see it.

“Check in” at Adventurama Sponsors – 3 points each

  • You can earn a maximum of 15 points this summer when you ride your bike down to any Adventurama Sponsor game day. Just “check in” and tag Norte.

Best Squad theme execution – 25 points

  • Judged on costumes, unification, embodiment, and spirit

Best individual costume – 15 points

Challenge Cards (select at WBC if desired) – 25 points

  • Challenge Cards are optional. Big points up for grabs but also big risk. Your squad will be docked points if you’re unable to complete the task.

Orange Envelopes of Happy (find them on the course and bring back to WBC) – Various points

  • You cannot be docked points for Orange Envelopes. They are all happy.

7. Special squad information:

We’re posting many pro-tips and clues to the Facebook event page HERE and to Twitter/Instagram using #adventurama. It would be wise to check these out before game day.

Adventurama is a game with plenty of opportunities for strategy. Once you receive your Treasure Map, sit down with your squad and make a plan of attack. What’s the best way to win? Follow the rules, plan your strategy and have fun. Fun is highly rewarded in this game.

Remember that this is a game with rules. Pay attention to the rules – they’re clearly spelled out in your Treasure Log.

Arrive to the Workshop Brewing Company early for check-in. This is your time to ask questions.


  • Saturday, September 11, 2021


  • Made up of 3-5 adventurers. Every squad must have at least one adult adventurer.


  • $60 donation/squad

All proceeds to support our Traverse City area Safe Routes To School initiative which is dedicated to empowering happy, healthy, ready-to-learn kids to be active for life.


Online registration is now open


You can also sign up in person at Workshop Brewery on Saturday with card, cash or check.

Thank you, Adventurama sponsors!

Got 7.5 hours for more Traverse City kids on mountain bikes this fall?

Are you an awesome person who likes riding mountain bikes and helping kids succeed? We need you.

Norte has 28 teams of 6-7 kids (1st-12th graders) and 28 coaches ready to go for our after-school mountain bike program that starts next Tuesday (9/10) and runs for 5 weeks.

We’re looking for some volunteers to assist these coaches 1 day a week this fall.

Practices happen 4:30 – 6pm Tuesdays and Thursdays for Farm Team (elementary school kids) and 4:15-6:15 Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays for JV/ Varsity (middle and high school kids) based at the Wheelhouse.

Volunteering is fun (we have some great kids and coaches signed up!), easy (one day a week for Farm Team = 7.5 hours) and rewarding as we pair you up with the same squad of six so you’ll get to know the kids and see them progress.

Click HERE to sign up and thank you!

* All volunteers will have to pass a background check

Learn more about the Grand Traverse Region Mountain Bike Team which is made up of stellar elementary, middle and high school students HERE.

Traverse City to the Mackinac Bridge: 25 Awesome People Going Big for More Kids on Bikes

Last summer, Patrick Cotant rode 100 miles/day for 2 days to raise awareness and funds for Norte.

He called it Patrick’s Heavy Ride and it was a huge success. He introduced Norte to many new people and raised $3,070 for our youth programs.

This summer, he’d like some friends to join him and 25 awesome people accepted that invitation.

The inaugural Patrick’s Heavy Ride with Friends, a one-day ride from Traverse City to the mighty Mac, is July 27th and it’s going to be great.

Got $25 for more kids on bikes in the Grand Traverse region? Pledge your favorite rider below and help them help Norte empower kids to be active for life.


86% funded
Hey! Together we've raised $10,800.00 of the $12,500.00 we are trying to raise for #morekidson bikes in the Grand Traverse region. Pledge your favorite rider about and hep us reach our goal. Thank you!

Learn more about Patrick’s Heavy Ride With Friends and get in on the fun HERE.

Getting past the myths that persist

2019 is shaping up to be an awesome year for people who walk and bike in Traverse City. In June, MDOT will install HAWK (High-Intensity Activated CrossWalk) signals on Grandview Parkway. These will go in at Elmwood and Hall street. This fall, Traverse City will cut the ribbon for the reconstructed Eighth Street. The new Eighth Street is narrower (slower) and even includes one of Michigan’s first separated protected bike lanes.

All too often, good news for the pro-walk, pro-bike team attracts naysayers. These two projects won’t be any different (they already haven’t). This inspired Norte board member, Chris Hinze, to examine a few of the usual suspects and offer a little Myth Busting.

“Bikes don’t belong on the road…get on the sidewalk!”

People have a right to bike on both the roadway or the sidewalk. For people new to riding or those still building up confidence, riding in the roadway is intimidating. For them, riding on the sidewalk may be an attractive option. But, there are reasons that this isn’t the safest decision. 

People on bicycles on community bike ride in Downtown Traverse City Michigan. First, riding a bike on the sidewalk can lead to conflicts with people on foot. Second, in certain locations riding on the sidewalk is against the law.  Downtown Traverse City is an example.   

Last, and most important, riding on the sidewalk is more dangerous. The risk of a crash between someone on a bike and a car is higher when the former is on the sidewalk. The person driving is often caught off guard because of the sight lines and speed of the person on a bike. Protected bike lanes and trails are designed to reduce this conflict. Sidewalks are not.

Again, the streets are multimodal. Outside of limited access highways, everyone has a right to bike in the streets. To brush up on your Michigan law, visit the Michigan Vehicle Code.

“Traverse City has a perfectly good TART trail…get on the trail!”

A close cousin to the “get on the sidewalk” denouncement is “get on the trail.” What “get on the trail” fails to understand is that, by and large, trails are for recreational purposes. When people bike they tend to do so to get somewhere. And, to get somewhere with the least amount of hassle and in the least amount of time. We don’t ask people to only drive on highways so why ask bicyclists to only use trails. People on bikes have places to go. When they do so on a bike, they are freeing up street space that can help relieve congestion–besides to freeing up a parking space.

“Bikes don’t pay taxes!”

Well, this one is true; bikes don’t pay taxes. But, neither do cars. Or any other inanimate object for that matter. People pay taxes; we all pay taxes. Those taxes pay for the expense of constructing, maintaining, and policing streets. The majority of this comes from property taxes, which we pay regardless of how we move around. For local streets, less than 10% comes from user fees like gas taxes and registration fees. The user fee dollars predominantly go towards big projects like highways.   

Countless studies have shown that walking and biking break even as a cost to society. Meaning, for every $1 you spend on biking, society chips in less than a dime. For driving, every private dollar spent on motordom, society is paying around $9. That’s a Hefty subsidy no matter how you slice it.

“Bikers don’t obey the rules so they don’t deserve nice things!”

This is the ultimate “straw man” fallacy. This argument references the time someone saw that one person on a bike run a stop sign (confirmation bias). As a result, the community doesn’t deserve better bicycle infrastructure. If bicyclists don’t follow the rules and thus don’t deserve bike lanes, what then of drivers and streets? Local law enforcement agencies dedicate entire portions of their department to “traffic enforcement.” Does that mean because some people in cars speed or run red lights that we should not allow cars to use the streets? As someone who uses cars as well as bikes and walks, that doesn’t seem logical.

Here at Norte, we encourage everyone to be courteous regardless of how they move around town. When we walk, bike, drive, or otherwise roll we need to be aware of our surroundings and understanding of others who, like us, are simply trying to get through their day.  Safer sidewalks and better streets will only be that much sweeter when do.


What myths and biases do you see at play in the community? 



Big Saturday on tap in Traverse City: Here’s 4 awesome things to do



1. Free CPR Classes at the Library.



2. Norte does the Maker Fest! Join us at the City Opera House.



3. Norte is a 2019 TC Roller Derby nonprofit partner. Join us at their Birthday Bash.



4. Bike, hike, ski, walk, run, paddle. Let’s do it all for #AllInOneDayDay.



Norte and West Middle School to Launch New Program For Good

The Solution in School is part of Norte’s broader community-wide bike mechanics education initiative dedicated to empowering people of all ages and abilities to learn the skills that help promote self-assurance, confidence, creativity and lifelong bike independence.

We believe that understanding basic bicycle maintenance and repair is a lifelong skill that gives the young and young at heart the knowledge and confidence to ride more, venture further and embrace a happy, healthy lifestyle.

This pilot program teaches 6-7th graders basic bike repair skills in an engaging, hands-on manner. It will also do good in the community as students will be working on Traverse City’s Bike Library bicycles, which will be loaned out to local kids in need.

The Solution in School begins this Friday. If you’re interested in helping, contact Ben at ben@elgruponorte.org or call the Clubhouse at 231-883-2404.

Munson Healthcare, Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, and Norte Offer Free CPR Classes at the Library

Learn the skills. Save a life.

In partnership with the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation and Munson Healthcare, Norte is excited to offer two free community CPR classes to learn the skills (not certification) to help save a life.

2 classes available (9:15am and 11:00am) on Saturday, April 6th at the Traverse City library – upstairs in the Thirlby room. Limited to 15 participants/class.

Classes led by Vital Hands LLC.

Register for:

  • The 9:15 class HERE
  • The 11:00 class HERE

Questions? Get at us.

Running Fit + Norte Team Up for a Family Friendly Run

Join us for this very special Run Sábados as Running Fit- Traverse City will be onsite at the Wheelhouse with a hot chocolate stand! Their team of experts will be ready and willing to answer any questions on cold weather running gear and shoes. This is your chance to get set up for a successful winter running season.

Run Sábados is a family friendly running group at the Civic Center Park during shoulder season where we get outside with friends, run around in circles on the track and have FUN. Probably eat some snacks after, too.


Meet at the Norte Wheelhouse at 9:00 am.


From elementary students to high school seniors and their families, all ages and abilities are welcome.


While most will run 1 – 4 laps of the Civic Center track, experienced runners are welcome to run downtown or the hills at the base of OMP or the TART trail or where ever.


You betcha. No need to sign up either. Just show up.


Support happy, healthy, strong kids this Giving Tuesday

This year, on November, 27th 100% of our #GivingTuesday donations will go to help the Amigos, our empowerment program for kids with special needs, grow.

Norte is for happy, healthy, ready to learn kids no matter their ability. We believe in inclusion and that every child should have the opportunity to experience the joy of riding a bicycle.

The Amigos is an educational program that teaches confidence, independence, and bike/pedestrian safety skills to young people with special needs through empowerment, education, and adventure. It started in the spring of 2018 with a successful 4-week pilot program at Oak Park elementary and is ready to grow.

The Amigos operates as an in-school 4-week program, a Wheelhouse-based 6-week program, and a weekly summertime meet-up at the Clubhouse.

Please give today and Teter Orthotics & Prosthetics will match the first $1,000.

$1,866 of $2,000 raised
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Donation Total: $50.00

Our friends at The Little Fleet are also hosting an all-ages dance party on Tuesday, November 27th at 7pm for us.

Any donation – big or small – gets you in.

We’re also inviting Norte supporters to create a fundraiser on their FB page on behalf of the Norte to help us get more kids with special needs on bikes. Learn more HERE.



PODCAST: A Very Orange Iceman Cometh

With just a few sleeps away, Iceman fever is stoked high at the Clubhouse.

Episode 2 of This Clubhouse Life is all about Team Orange and features a couple – including our favorite Ecuadorian and 2/3 of the brother Schwartz crew – of our 94 kids that will be toeing the line in the Iceman, Slushcup and Sno-Cone races this Saturday.

Give it a listen – if it stops between segments, hit pause and then play again.


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Iceman, PB&Js, an Olympian and Argentinian Come to Traverse City

8 sleeps!
Let’s celebrate an awesome Iceman Cometh Challenge and an amazing season of kids riding bikes on dirt by eating yummy sammiches with two of our fave pros, 2016 Rio Olympian, Chloe Woodruff, and her Stan’s Pivot Pro Team pb Maxxis teammate, the super fast Sofia Gomez-Villafañe from Argentina.

Meet at the Norte Wheelhouse at 2:00 pm the Sunday after Iceman (November, 4th). We’ll then head around town for a chit-chatty paced ride and back to the Wheelhouse for a delicious, locally sourced PB&J bar. Fun, right?!

Huge thanks to Naturally NuttyBay Bread Co and Food For Thought, Inc. for sponsoring the second annual PB&J Ride.

All awesome kids, their parents, and grandparents too! – are invited.

Oh, and please be sure to RSVP below so we have enough yummy sandwich stuff to go around.

This is a free event but donations will be accepted to support our youth mountain bike team.

Transforming a Forgotten Public Building into a Thriving Learning Center


This spring and summer, in partnership with Grand Traverse County Parks & Recreation, we transformed the long-neglected historic Old Northwest Michigan Fairgrounds building at the Civic Center into the Wheelhouse, a new community space for learning.

Like other learning centers, the new Wheelhouse teaches and reinforces bike education through a variety of programs as well as independent and self-directed learning activities and will be home to:

1) The Traverse City Community Bike Shop: Sharing tools, benches, bikes, and knowledge with the public so they can repair and maintain their bikes.

2) The Grand Traverse Kids’ Bike Library: Ensuring awesome kids have awesome bikes no matter their family’s resources.

3) El Barrio Bike Fix: A weekly summertime community bike fix where we fix, create, tweak, align, repair, maintain and adjust bicycles together.

4) La Solucion: A bike mechanic apprenticeship program that trains local high schoolers to become employable at local bike shops.

5) The Civic Center Traffic Garden: A future Safe Routes To School project to allow elementary students to learn bike safety skills in a safe setting.

The Wheelhouse has allowed Norte to do better – to reach our bike-loving arms wider to not only physically transform a very visible corner in Traverse City but to help weave a culture of health into our community so we can be our best – our healthiest.

It’s been just 5 weeks in our new Wheelhouse and all is awesome.

We just wrapped up our busiest fall ever:

Thank you to the 300+ awesome people and 40+ community partners who made the Wheelhouse possible!


The Great Iceman Entry Giveaway Powered By Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Our friends at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan are being awesome and have 10 free Iceman/Slush Cup entries up for grabs.

All awesome kids are welcome to put their name in our very orange hat for a chance to win.

Complete this form by midnight Sunday, October 21st.