Old Home Week bike tour is for everyone

Andy Barbuzanes has organized a new event for Old Home Week, a bike tour.

People don't have to love cycling as much as Andy Barbuzanes to join the Old Home Week 'Tour of Antrim Township Bike Ride' on Saturday, Aug. 7. He's just pretty sure anyone who participates will enjoy the experience. He has planned three routes for the first-time event, so people of all abilities can take the tour.

"This is a good event to bring people awareness of cycling. It's not a race," he stressed. "It's open to everyone, young and old."

He designed trips on back roads in the township. The 12-mile tour should take a rider from 45 to 90 minutes; the 22-mile tour up to three hours; and the 40-mile tour that same amount of time.

"The last one is a pretty serious amount of riding," Barbuzanes said. "A very advanced rider can do it in two hours, someone with intermediate skills in three to three and a half hours. They'll really be moving."

No one has to go it alone. All riders will meet at Nelson Pavilion at Jerome R. King Playground at 9 a.m. for registration. Helmets are required. Then each group will follow a guide, with those doing the 40-mile loop leaving first. Barbuzanes anticipates each tour will naturally create two speeds of travelers. Another ride leader will bring up the rear, ready to assist anyone who has mechanical difficulty or develops physical problems. The guide can call for help as needed from volunteers in a SAG vehicle, etymology unclear. Sources say the acronym stands for Support Aid Group or Support And Gear or just refers to those who sag behind. In any event, it will be available to remedy unplanned situations. The shorter rides will be east of U.S. 11, hitting Clay Hill and Zullinger. The long ride will pass through State Line, Martin's Mill Bridge and Kauffman. The tours will be held, weather permitting. A light rain may cause some interested people to stay home, but only a downpour will cancel the event.

Barbuzanes, 42, has been cycling competitively for 20 years, and pedals up to 200 miles per week. He and his friends have canvassed Antrim Township and he finds it scenic. "That's what so great about riding around here," he said. "It's so beautiful."

He is a member of a Summit Health cycling group that rides every Tuesday evening. He expects many of those people to show up for his tour. If 50 people come out that Saturday for any of the rides, he will consider the venture a success.

His advice for OHW cyclists: bring water, wear comfortable clothing, and bring tools. The guides will also have pumps and their own tools. Bikes will undergo a safety check before participants take off.

As everyone returns to the starting point, Barbuzanes will make sure their names are checked against the registrations. "If you don't sign off when you get back, we're coming to look for you."