Silent Sports Getting Louder in Door County

The popularity of silent sports niche continues to grow on the Door County peninsula.

Last weekend’s Ride for Nature, a bicycle ride to benefit the Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor, attracted a record 734 participants who pushed through gusting winds to complete routes of 15 – 100 miles. That’s an increase of 34 percent over the previous high of 484 participants in the 2011 Ride for Nature.

In May the Door County Half Marathon and Nicolet Bay 5k drew more than 2,200 runners to Peninsula State Park, and both July’s Door County Triathlon and October’s Fall 50 sold out in record time earlier this spring.

More than 13,000 people are expected to take part in runs, rides and paddles in Door County this year, more than double the 5,000 who took part in organized events in 2006.

Brian Fitzgerald, the organizer of the Ride for Nature and director of the Door County Half Marathon, said the destination and facilities in Baileys Harbor are great selling points for the Ride for Nature.

“What a wonderful setting for a start and finish in Baileys Harbor,” said Fitzgerald, an Ephraim resident and business owner. “To have the historic town hall there, the beautiful green space, and have it all steps from the water gives it a truly unique feel.”

The Ridges Sanctuary will receive at least $8,000 of the ride’s proceeds, but the nature preserve will see a bonus this year. The new Bike to Benefit Program raised $2,572 for the preserve, matched by a $1,000 grant from the Cordon Family Foundation.

Fitzgerald said he’s proud to see the event grow, but as with the half marathon, he now faces the challenge of balancing growth with quality.

“People love that it’s a smaller event,” Fitzgerald said. “We want to grow, but as we do we are dedicated to maintaining that small, boutique event feel that has brought people back for more than 20 years.”

For more information on the Ride for Nature visit