Husband and wife team prep for 300 mile ride across Michigan
WATERFORD — Three hundred miles is not far to travel by vehicle, but try trekking that distance on a bicycle—while six months pregnant.
Reed City native Caitlin Hendriks, 26, is doing just that with her husband, Nathan, 28, from Friday through Sunday as part of the 26th annual Make-a-Wish Michigan’s Wish-a-Mile (WAM) bike ride event.
“I’m very excited and really looking forward to it. It’s for a great cause and all for the kids,” Caitlin said. “I’m a bit concerned with how hot its been, but it’s not a race and it’s supposed to cool down.”
WAM is comprised of one 50-mile ride and the 300-mile ride. Caitlin, who works in nuclear medicine at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, said she completed the smaller ride last year after coworkers encouraged her to join them. This year she is shooting for the moon, traveling from Traverse City to the Michigan International Speedway in Booklynn with about 900 cyclists.
“Fifty miles wasn’t that bad. I think I can do 100 each day,” she added.
However, doctor’s orders tell her to only ride about 40 miles each day due to her pregnancy, so she is planning on riding the first and last 20. For the miles in between, she will travel by van, which is there for emergency situations or for riders who need a break. The couple are part of a team of about 30 others.
Nathan said his determination will help him push through the ride and the pain that comes with the long distance, but he still has some concerns.
“(I am) definitely nervous about my wife, being almost six months pregnant. I trust that she knows her limits and will not overly exert herself,” Nathan said, adding he also feels intimidated. “Some days I feel strong and fast on the bike, while other days I am tired and slow. I am very new to the sport, so I am still learning how pace myself.”
The route has the group riding down roads in numerous counties. Osceola and Mecosta are two counties that will host a few rest stops for the weary. The first stop in Osceola County is at Traveler’s Bar and Grill in LeRoy, followed by Cedar Township Hall and Mosaic Park in Hersey. In Mecosta County, riders will stop at Morningstar Enterprises Property in Colfax Township before stopping for the night at Ferris State University. After leaving Ferris on Saturday morning, they will stop to rest at Udderly Delicious Ice Cream in Morley before heading into Montcalm County.
“All of our riders, volunteers and supporters are passionate about WAM and our mission to grant wishes for Michigan children with life-threatening medical conditions,” said Karen Davis, Make-A-Wish Michigan president and CEO. “As our largest fundraiser, WAM is a major component to helping us reach our goal of granting more than 400 wishes this year.”
The Hendricks’ had to raise $900 and pay a fee of $95 to participate in the ride. The money stays in state to assist children in Michigan with wishes from the organization and support the bike tour’s 300 volunteers, food and other items. Typically riders raise above and beyond that goal by raising an average of $1,400, which speaks volumes of the commitment held by the supporters, Davis said.
Hendriks said she received a lot of support from family, friends, former Make-a-Wish recipients and those who helped fund last year’s ride.
Community members are welcome to come out along the route to cheer on the bikers and offer their support, which is exactly what Hendrik’s grandmother, Carolyn Beilfuss of Reed City, and other family members, are planning to do.
“I’m so proud of her,” Beilfuss said. “She is amazing and she’s married to a super guy.”
The family is making signs to display in Cedar Township and one member will be offering cold soda to bikers as they travel down 170th Avenue, Beilfuss added.
Hendricks said she is looking forward to completing the 300-mile journey with her teammates and receiving congratulations and hugs from wish kids who will attend the celebration at the speedway.
“I’ll still feel like it’s an accomplishment and it’ll just feel good to know I was able to be a part of that,” Caitlin added.
Make-A-Wish Communications Coordinator Shae Snyder said WAM is one of the main events that brings people together to help reach the organization’s fundraising goals.
“I’ve been told it’s an amazing, emotional moment when it’s all over and the wish kids are giving out medals,” Synder said.
Nathan said he and Caitlin are happy to take part in a cause that benefits hundreds of children in the state.
“This is an event that we have really embraced and a cause that touches us closely. I know we will both do great,” he said.
For more information about the Wish-a-Mile event, visit kintera.org/faf/home.