Cycle the Door’s Centuries

When the Village of Sister Bay demolished the Helm’s Four Seasons Hotel to expand Waterfront Park in 2008, the wheels started turning in Brian Fitzgerald’s head.

The event organizer who once spun pots at a small shop across the street from the village beach envisioned a site that outdoors lovers would clamor for. The village eventually created a 1,800-foot stretch of public shoreline, and while many focused on the beach and kayaking possibilities, Fitzgerald’s mind turned to drawing people to the park.

“I thought right away that this would be an unbelievable spot to host a bike ride,” Fitzgerald says. “You’ve got this amazing beach, and you’re right in the middle of town so family members can wander around town or just play at the park while you ride. And when the ride’s over, people can walk to bars and restaurants and spend money right here in Sister Bay, where there are a bunch of hotels in walking distance. It’s actually really rare to find a location that’s big enough to host a major event that also features all of that.”Len Villano

It would take him several years to organize a ride, but in 2013, with the support of the Sister Bay Advancement Association, the village, and local businesses, Fitzgerald’s vision became reality with the Peninsula Century Ride. The September 13 ride acts as a bookend to the long-established Door County Century Ride, September 7.

6 Reasons to do the Peninsula Century this Fall:

  1. An amazing post-ride buffet

Year one of the Peninsula Century Ride wowed riders with a post-ride buffet from Sister Bay chefs.

Chèvre Torte from Door County Creamery; Cherry Crisp from Seaquist Orchards; homemade ice cream from the Door County Ice Cream Factory; Tapuat Kombucha; beer brats and veggie burgers from the Piggly Wiggly; plus other restaurant specialties made for an amazing sampling of locally produced food.

The 2014 menu promises to be the same – a great reward after a long day on the saddle.

  1. The beer chaser.

Oh yeah, in addition to local food, local beer is waiting at the finish line to help wash down that buffet.

Door County Brewing Company has earned rave reviews statewide since bottling its first beers in 2013, and even greater reviews for the taproom they opened in Baileys Harbor in May of 2014.

The brewery is a family affair, with founder John McMahon leading the business end, his son Danny McMahon helming the brewing operation, and youngest son Ben McMahon running the show in the taproom. Odds are you’ll meet one or all of them pouring your beer at the finish!

  1. It’s organized by local pros

The Peninsula Century Ride is organized by the Peninsula Pacers, the same group that has created some of the most popular events in Door County since 2008. Founded by Fitzgerald and David Eliot (Eliot is also the publisher of this magazine), the pacers started with the Door Len VillanoCounty Half Marathon and have since added the Door County Beer Festival, the Ride for Nature, and the Door County Pond Hockey Tournament to their stable of events.

The organization is built on the shoulders of local cycling, running, and hockey enthusiasts who put safety first and build events that maximize the participant experience.

  1. You don’t need a closet full of spandex

You don’t have to be hard-core to enjoy a century ride. While experienced riders can push their limits in the 100-mile distance, there’s plenty of room for the casual cyclist with routes of 25, 50, and 62 miles as well. Each features course support with aid stations, bike mechanics, and a sag wagon to make sure you get to the finish line.

You don’t have to worry about speed either. The ride is not timed, and you’re encouraged to soak in the scenery.

  1. A challenge for the serious cyclist

The 62- and 100-mile routes of the Peninsula Century Ride have several challenging climbs for Len Villanoserious riders. Organizers are incorporating Strava competitions into this year’s ride as well, with prizes for the best climbers and fastest sprinters in specially identified sections of the course.

  1. It’s the best way to see northern Door County

The routes of the Peninsula Century Ride take riders on a tour of the very best Door County has to offer. The 100-mile route takes riders past the marker of a historic shipwreck and Uncle Tom’s, the site of the old Newport School made famous by the late Uncle Tom Collis, one of Door County’s iconic characters.

Participants will also ride through Peninsula State Park. Words don’t do the jewel of the peninsula justice, but cyclists will revel in the eight-mile stretch through the park past Eagle Tower, home to the county’s most awe-inspiring 360 degree view.

The route also includes the historic Horseshoe Bay Farms, beautiful Cave Point County Park, and White Cliff Road – where some of the most beautiful homes of the peninsula are found.

It would be hard to see all of this in a week, let alone a day, and there’s no better way to experience Door County than in the open air, powered by your own effort.