Pancake Ride To Benefit Traverse City's Safe Routes To School

pancake ride

Now in its 26th year, Traverse City’s annual Pancake Ride is an institution.  Started in 1990 by the late Jim Mudgett and recently taken over by the tireless duo of Jason and Arianne Whittaker, the Pancake Ride is arguably TC’s finest group road ride.

The ride and breakfast will be free as always – big thanks to Einstein Cycles and Hagerty Cycling for sponsoring – but new this year, donations will be accepted at the start to support our Safe Routes To School (SRTS) programming. This comprehensive, Traverse City-wide project is dedicated to empowering elementary and middle school students to actively transport themselves to school as well as to grow walk/bike culture at partner schools.

A portion of donations will go to help:

  • invest in bike tools, parts and supplies for El Barrio Bike Fix, our after school learn-to-wrench program
  • fund The Bike Mas Project, our adventure-based after school empowerment program
  • purchase more balance bikes and helmets for the Estrellas del Norte!, our learn-to-ride program for preschoolers
  • grow our Kids Bike Library to make sure that every awesome kid can ride an awesome bike no matter their family’s financial resources

Learn more about July 3rd’s Pancake Ride HERE.

Learn more about our SRTS programs HERE.

Proceeds will be split with Hagerty Cycling’s youth racing program.

Traverse City Bikes To School Day


One small ride for your school, one giant ride for your City.

Traverse City Bikes To School Day is back.  TCB2SD is a community-wide, multi-school celebration of National Bike To School Day. It’s going to happen on Wednesday, May 4th and it could quite possibly be the most awesome day of kids on bikes in TC history. We say that every year but we really mean it this time 😉

Remember last year? Check out this infographic from 2015’s TCB2SD:

tc-bikes-to-school-day-week-infographic 2015

In addition to inspiring and empowering more elementary students to actively transport themselves to class via bicycle than ever before, we will also crown The Most Bike-tastic Traverse City School with a little friendly competition. Eastern won last year? Can the Stars defend their title?

Plus we’ll have all sorts of crazy FUN! Prizes and high fives, too, of course.

Here’s How It Works:

1. Commit to ride your bike to school on Wednesday, May 4th and then sign up HERE. Once you commit, you’re promising to bike on the big day. Pinky swear.

2. Tell your friends, teacher, principal and lunch lady about Traverse City Bikes To School Day and have them commit, too. Yay, lunch ladies on bikes!

3. Don’t forget, you have to sign up HERE to help your school win The Most Bike-tastic Traverse City School award. This is a big deal and we’re taking it very, very seriously. We’re going to use some math, actually.

# of pedaling students and staff ÷
# of total students and staff at school
x 100 =
Your School’s Bike-tastic-ness number.

Highest Bike-tastic-ness number wins bragging rights for the entire year and probably a sweet trophy to show off, too.

4. On Wednesday, May 4th, hop on your bike and pedal to school with some friends or join one of our many Bike Trains and pedal with A LOT of friends.

So simple. So awesome.

Do you live too far from school to bike? Maybe you don’t have a safe route to school? No worries, you can still participate.

** If you take the bus to school, ride your bike to the bus stop. That totally counts. We’ll have a limited number of our pop-up neighborhood bike racks set up at popular bus stops. If you can talk some buddies into biking-to-bus with you, let us know HERE and we’ll pedal one over.

** Does your mom or dad normally drive you to school? Ask them nicely to leave a little earlier on TC Bikes To School Day and drop you off a mile or so from school. Then ask them to join you so that both of you can pedal to school together. That’ll be fun. Not sure where you should park to have a safe route to school? Email us at and we’ll help give you some ideas.

** We’re also encouraging outlying schools to participate. Talk to your teacher or principal about hosting a bike “at school” event. Maybe a recess ride with your classmates? Maybe some skills practice at lunch time?

Just don’t forget to commit. Your school needs YOU!


Are you an awesome mom, dad, neighbor who’s already biking to school with your child/fave neighborhood kid? Maybe none of our bike trains are convenient? Start your own train. Invite a friend, classmate, neighborhood kid to join you and BAM! you have yourself a bike train. Please register your new bike train HERE because more bike trains = more better.

We currently have 18 Bike Trains registered connecting 12 different Traverse City (and Suttons Bay!) neighborhoods to 9 different Traverse City elementary and middle schools:

The Eastern Star Express
The Eastern High-lander
The Eastern Special
The Eastern Star Line
The Eastern Flyer
The Central Grade Zephyr
The Central Grade Coastal Classic
The Central Grade Limited
The TCAPS Montessori Trolley
The TCAPS Montessori Meteor
The TCAPS Montessori Bay Express
The TCAPS Montessori Morning Star
The Traverse Heights Golden Arrow
The Trinity Lutheran S-Bahn
The West Middle Empire Builder
The Westwoods Rebel
The Willow Hill Comet
Suttons Bay/Leelanau Montessori Water Wheel Express

Want to volunteer with Norte! and help make TC Bike To School Day a success. We have lots of fun (not boring!) jobs. You can be a Bike Train conductor or help the kids cross at busy intersections or hand out snacks/stickers/high fives at school. Sign-up HERE. Gracias.

Schools are encouraged to celebrate with us by hosting a small event the morning of the big day. Anything goes, really. Healthy snacks or stickers or High Fives or a dance party or a scavenger hunt with inflatable penguins. Whatev.

Questions can be sent to

Bike Happy. Bike Más. Bike To School in TC.

Traverse City Bike Month Is Coming

bike month

Traverse City Bike Month is a #BikeTVC celebration of people on bicycles.

In collaboration with many other bicycle-friendly organizations and businesses, Norte! will be celebrating National Bike Month in a big, big way this year.

We will ride bikes. A lot. We will also build awareness for the growing presence of people on bicycles here in TC and have tons of FUN doing it. Mucho FUN, actually!

The TC Bike Month Calendar

May Day Ride + Kick off party @ The Filling Station (5/1)

#BikeTVC Strava Doodle Art Contest starts (5/2)

Bike Night @ the Bijou (5/3)

TC Bikes To School Day (5/4)

Estrellas @ March For Babies (5/7)

Bike The Downtown Farmers Market (5/7)

Mud, Sweat & Beers Race @ Mt. Holiday (5/7)

Mom’s Day MTB Shred @ Vasa Singletrack (5/8)

Lids On Kids @ F&M Park (5/14)

Shop Your Local Bike Shop Day (5/14)

Community Bike Fix @ Recycle-A-Bicycle (5/14)

TC Safe Routes To School Champion Awards nominations open (5/16)

Envision 8th Street: Bike to public input events (5/16, 5/18, 5/20)

Ride of Silence with Cherry Capital Cycling Club (5/18)

#BikeBLT: Bike to Boardman Lake Trail open house @ Hagerty Center (5/19)

Kids vs Adults: A National Bike To Work Day/Bike To School Friday Smack Down (5/20)

Bike Your Co-op: Pedal to Earth Day North @ Oryana (5/21)

A Muy Fabuloso “Bike To Bus To Asparagus Festival” Adventure (5/21)

#BikesBikesBikes at Groundwork Center’s Get Local Party @ The Little Fleet (5/21)

Spring Pumpkin Pedal @ Jolly Pumpkin (5/22)

Bike The NMC BBQ (5/22)

TC Rides: A slow, chit chatty community ride  (5/25)

Zeke Goodwin Memorial Ride and Scholarship fundraiser @ Eastern Elementary (5/27)

Bike Happy, TC: A Pop-up Ding, Wave and High Five Shindig (5/29)

Stay up to date and don’t miss out on any of the FUN! by subscribing to our events HERE.

Reclaiming My Time: A Story of Less Stuff and Más Bikes


Photo Credit: Beth Price

With help from the talented Kandy Chapple and Lisa Maxbauer, our co-founder, Ty Schmidt, penned this story which was first published in the March/April edition of Grand Traverse Women magazine. See Ty tell his story at the Grand Traverse Woman Luncheon on April 13. Purchase your tickets HERE.

Reclaiming My Time

by Ty Schmidt

In a life full of questionable choices, 11 years ago I made a really good one. I decided to start “job sharing” with my wife, Johanna. We were then both physical therapists at a rehab clinic in Tucson, AZ, and our first son, Carter, was just born. I wanted to be there to help raise him, so Johanna began working the mornings and I worked the afternoons. In between, we chased Carter around.

Going part-time and earning part-time pay as well as part-time benefits wasn’t an easy decision. We were living a comfortable life as a two-paycheck family. Eating out. Driving two cars. Taking trips. Owning fancy electronic gizmos. We wondered, by working just 20 hours a week apiece, would we run out of money? Would we be eating beans and crackers every night? Would it affect our careers? Would we be happy?

Little did I know all the positive changes that choice would trigger. Today, living in Traverse City, we continue to job share, now chasing two boys (Jameson arrived in 2006) and we are indeed happy. By choosing to live more simply—no TV, no shiny gadgets—and buying less stuff, we haven’t run out of money. No beans and crackers every night, either. I even gave up my driver’s license to ensure I would ride my bike more. I love riding. It calms me and allows me to think. It’s my Prozac, my church, my happy place.

How do we make this lifestyle work? For starters, I get up embarrassingly early to get everyone out the door on time. We have a fleet of bike trailers of different sizes that I use for groceries, hauling and errands. Love Traverse City’s flatness! (Full disclosure: We do own a vehicle and I occasionally catch rides with Johanna in the minivan).

Not having a driver’s license in Northern Michigan is odd. Add in the whole vegetarian, environmentalist, liberal, bike-nerd thing and it gets even more odd. But I just do my thing. I don’t miss TV, which is weird as I used to watch a ton as a kid. We have a VOIP phone at home. I use our laptop and an old iPhone that was given to me, which we use to call/text over wifi. Thank goodness wifi is everywhere. And it’s free. Needless to say, my wife is understanding and my friends are patient.

Through all this, I’ve learned that job sharing makes me happier at home and a better physical therapist. I have the time to help out around the house—I’m not the best dishwasher or laundry folder or gardener, but I try. And I’m productive at work because I’m happy to be there. It’s the perfect balance.

My wife and I just knew we couldn’t have it both ways. It’s either work more to earn more to spend more, or consume less to work less to have more time. We chose the latter. While job sharing with a spouse doesn’t make you a lot of money, it does give you the gift of time. The luxury of time.

In 2002, I realized just how important time was when I lost my dad to cancer, melanoma. He was only 48. They thought they got it all but it came back a year later and he died six months after that on Christmas Day. It was an agonizingly slow and painful death, hard to watch. I was only 28 at the time. He was an elementary physical education teacher and a phenomenal athlete. I think about him every day. I’m sad he wasn’t able to meet my boys.

My dad’s death was a wake-up call. Life is short. Time is precious. I wanted to make my life matter. I wanted to make my dad proud by making a difference. I already felt like I was making a difference through my work. As a P.T., I help others hurt less to move more and I love doing it. It has been very fulfilling. My “job” rarely feels like “work.” Still, I wondered: Could there be more?

With the breathing room that this flexible lifestyle allowed, I was able to think about what I wanted to do with some of my downtime and how I could make a difference beyond my office. Naturally, I did a lot of thinking on my bike (in the winter I ride 20–40 miles a week and in the summer it’s more like 200–300 miles). One thing I realized while riding was that I wanted to be engaged more in my community, in this amazing town. So I got to know my neighbors. I volunteered with local groups. The boys and I spent our mornings exploring Traverse City’s wonderful places—the library, the children’s museum, the beaches, the parks. I began to make friends with several of Traverse City’s many awesome people.

It was with the support of these awesome people that Johanna and I launched Carter’s Compost, a bike-powered community composting operation. Five years later, Carter, and now Jamo too, along with five other neighborhood kids are still slinging buckets and raising awareness about the awesomeness of small scale composting.

Empowering my boys and other youth to be confident, active and independent while using their bikes to do good made me feel like I was making a difference in my neighborhood. Still, I wanted to do more.

When both boys started school, I began to notice things: there were fewer bikes and longer car lines; like-minded moms and dads who wanted to bike to school, but simply didn’t have the time; and unsafe riding by kids as they pedaled on sidewalks or didn’t know how to signal or negotiate a 4-way stop.

Because my wife and I had the time, we decided to try to make a difference. We started inviting neighborhood families to drop their kids off at our house so we could bike with them to school. I would lead the “bike train” in the morning and Johanna would pedal home with the group in the afternoon.

And that’s how Norte!, a bike-centric, youth-focused advocacy organization was born. Thanks to many wonderful people, Norte! has taken off. I’m now its first Executive Director. I get paid to ride bikes with kids. How awesome is that?!

Even better: Kids in the area are learning the confidence that comes with safe bike riding; the area has a little less traffic and car pollution; and the community has a greater sense of, well, “community.”

Because of that one career decision 11 years ago to prioritize my time, I’m now happy at home, fulfilled at work and engaged in my community. I think my dad would be proud.

gtw luncheon

Bike Happy, Traverse City Keeps Rollin’


Bike Happy, Traverse  City, our year end fundraiser, is crushing it. $2360 and counting. That’s mucho dinero for Norte! but let’s keep’er rolling.


Remember, thanks to these awesome 6 businesses/organizations, the first $3000 will be matched. Let’s not leave money on the table, folks.

With your support, Norte! will:

  • invest in bike tools, parts and supplies for El Barrio Bike Fix, our upcoming after school learn-to-wrench program at Eastern Elementary
  • fund The Bike Mas Project, our experienced-based after school empowerment program at Eastern and Traverse Heights Elementary this spring
  • purchase more balance bikes for the Estrellas del Norte!, our learn-to-ride program this summer
  • grow our Kids Bike Library to make sure that every awesome kid can ride an awesome bike no matter their family’s financial resources

Please donate today!

Norte! is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization (Tax ID 46-4861142), and your gift is tax deductible as allowed by law.

Give Online

Send a Check

PO Box 781
Traverse City, MI, 49685

A Norte! Story: Carter Bikes Happy With Winter Bike To School Day


Meet Carter. Carter is a 6th grader at East Middle School. Last winter, when he was at Central Grade, Carter participated in Winter Bike to Work and School Day here in Traverse City. He was joined by his Principal, Mrs. Gallagher, several Norte! volunteers as well as 100+ awesome people across TC who embraced winter and pedaled to work/school together.

We asked Carter to share his experience. Here’s his story:

Winter Bike To School Day
by: Carter Schmidt

As I pulled on on my snow gear I grumbled to myself “Why can’t I just take the bus instead of biking to school? ” It was International Winter Bike to School and Work Day and my school’s principal, Mrs. Gallagher, was joining me to bike to school. International Winter Bike to School and Work Day is a worldwide competition where cities compete against each other to see who has the most people willing to bike to school or work in the dead of winter.

Traverse City was competing against cities like Montreal, Minneapolis, Moscow and Oslo and we were in the top 20. Norte! was trying to get as many people as possible to ride to work or school. Norte! is a youth focused, bike centric, advocacy organization that my parents started.  Mrs. G and 4 other brave souls chose to ride with me.

As soon as I walked into the cold air I involuntarily shivered. The thermometer showed that it was 5 degrees Fahrenheit. It wasn’t the coldest day I had ever ridden but it was still chilly. For the last two years, I rode my bike to school every day. I learned a lot riding in some miserable conditions. My mom always says “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices.” You have to dress smartly because the temperature can get into the negative teens. I wore a ski helmet and buff to keep my head and face warm. Also, you don’t want to ruin your nice bike. I rode a junky old mountain bike that my dad found in an alley. To get more traction on the snow, I let air out of my tires. It also takes some practice to learn to to handle your bike in the snow.

Mrs. Gallagher and I kind of had a hard time getting started due to the slippery snow and ice but once we got going it was fine. The streets were pretty clear thanks to the City getting out and plowing early in the morning. As we headed down Washington Street there wasn’t much traffic. As we got closer to school, there were more cars.

Once the school was right in front of us, I wanted to get out of the cold air so I started biking faster. As I approached the bike rack, I noticed that other kids rode their bikes too. I quickly took off my helmet and ran into the school. As I hit the heat of the warm building, I felt something cold drip onto my cheek. I realized that the ice on my eyelashes was melting and dripping down my face. What a great way to start my day!

A few photos from our Winter Bike To Work and School Day Gallery

Norte! has played a part in mucho Bike Happy moments in Traverse City this year. From pedaling to school to exploring our woods and trails, Norte! has empowered our local youth, like Carter, to be resilient, independent, and self confident both on and off their bikes.

If you like Carter’s story and want to support more of the same, please consider donating to our end-of-year Bike Happy, Traverse City  campaign. With your continued support, we’re committed to building a more bike-friendly Traverse City by inspiring its youth through bicycles.

Gracias. And let’s ride bikes together soon.

A Norte! Story: Avery Bikes Happy With Every Kid In A Park


Meet Avery. Avery is a 4th grader at Woodland School. Earlier this fall, Avery joined us for our adventure to Sleeping Bear to get her Every Kid In A Park pass. We rode the BATA bus, pedaled bikes, climbed sand dunes, explored a museum and ate ice cream. It was awesome.

We asked Avery to share her experience. Here’s her story:

Every Kid In A Park With Norte!
by: Avery Sill

On September 27, 2015 I did my second Norte! ride. It was called an “Every Kid in a Park” Adventure.” My mom drove me to the BATA bus stop at Hall Street where we were to meet the other riders in the Norte! group. I was kind of nervous at first because I didn’t know anyone that I was riding with. But right when I got there everyone was so nice that I forgot that I was nervous.

We loaded up the bikes and got on the bus. Then the bus drove us to the visitors’ center at Sleeping Bear Dunes. As a Fourth Grader, I was given a free pass to any National Park in the country! Then we rode our bikes along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. The trail was very hilly.

We were riding through a tunnel of trees. I felt like I was riding in a fairy tale. When we got to the dunes we climbed and climbed and climbed. After we climbed we had lunch, then we climbed some more. It was so fun. I got a lot of sand in my clothes, hair, nose, and ears, but it was worth it!

After Sleeping Bear Dunes, we took the Heritage Trail to Glen Haven on our bikes. We explored the boat museum and the black smith’s shop. At the boat museum there was a super cool scavenger hunt! Then we rode to Glen Arbor to have ice cream at Cherry Republic. The ice cream was delicious. Next we rode to the bus stop to get picked up to go home. My legs were pretty tired but I wanted to keep riding.

At the end of the day I had made a couple of new friends. I felt really proud of myself for riding thirteen miles, more than I had ever ridden before! This day was one of the best experiences of my life. I think the best part was riding with Norte!. Norte! is a very welcoming and encouraging group. I am so excited to be a part of Norte!.

Our Every Kid In A Park Photo Gallery

Norte! has played a part in mucho Bike Happy moments in Traverse City this year. From pedaling to school to exploring our woods and trails, Norte! has empowered our local youth, like Avery, to be resilient, independent, and self confident both on and off their bikes.

If you like Avery’s story and want to support more of the same, please consider donating to our end-of-year Bike Happy, Traverse City  campaign. With your continued support, we’re committed to building a more bike-friendly Traverse City by inspiring its youth through bicycles.

Gracias. And let’s ride bikes together soon.

A Norte! Story: Hannah Bikes Happy On TC Rides


Meet Hannah. Hannah is a 3rd grader at Central Grade School here in Traverse City. She and her family, joined us on many TC Rides, our slow, chit-chatty community cruise, this summer. She even wrote a story about it:

Norte! Ride
by Hannah Pulliam

The Norte! ride is you drive down to the Peace Train. Park your bike in the back or you ride your bike down there. You get on your bike. There is a whole group of people. You follow them down through the neighborhoods and down by the hospital and end of at Little Fleet food trucks. And you get something to eat and drink.

It is fun and keeps your healthy. Then people ride back to the Peace Train park or their house. If you like having fun and staying healthy then you should do the Norte! ride. It starts at 6 o’clock. Hope you can make it there!

Hannah’s story that she turned into her teacher, Mrs. Bageris:

photo (16)

Norte! has played a part in mucho Bike Happy moments in Traverse City. From pedaling to school to exploring our woods and trails, Norte! has empowered our local youth, like Hannah, to be resilient, independent, and self confident both on and off their bikes.

If you like Hannah’s story and want to support more of the same, please consider donating to our end-of-year Bike Happy, Traverse City  campaign. With your continued support, we’re committed to building a more bike-friendly Traverse City by inspiring its youth through bicycles.

You can give here:


Gracias. And let’s ride bikes together soon.