This past weekend, I joined 350 riders in the Wish-A-Mile 300, a three-day charity bike ride spanning 300 miles across West Michigan. Together, we pedaled with a common purpose: supporting Make-A-Wish in granting life-changing wishes to children.
Day One: Marshall to Holland – Rain, Grit, and Community
Kicking off in Marshall, MI, our first day was marked by a serious rainstorm early on, making the ride challenging but thrilling. The Grateful Team, our 13-rider squad, pushed through the weather, fueled by the knowledge that we had raised over $33,000 for a great cause.
We connected with Officer Dre, a Wish Hero, during a rainy lunch stop. Dre’s playful enthusiasm in handing out speeding tickets to riders, along with our eye-catching blue and pink jerseys, brightened the day.
Day Two: Holland to Kalamazoo – Hills, Camping, Pizza, and Inspiration
Day two started wet but eventually dried up, taking us from Holland, MI, to Kalamazoo, MI. The highlight was the hill climbs between miles 70-90, testing our legs and breaking up our team into a spirited chase up and down the terrain.
That night, we had a special encounter that truly stood out. During dinner, we met Kai, a Wish Hero who had his unique wish to swim with sharks fulfilled as a young boy. It wasn’t an easy wish to grant, but the dedicated folks at Make-A-Wish made it happen. Meeting Kai and hearing about his extraordinary experience was very inspiring to me and added an emotional layer to the day.
Our team camped out in the cool air, enjoying pizza and conversations about the weekend. It was a laid-back moment that allowed us to reflect on the ride, bond as a team, and carry the inspiration from Kai’s story into the next day.
Day Three: Kalamazoo to Marshall – New Riders and a Unified Finish
The final leg, from Kalamazoo, MI to Marshall, MI, started with the addition of several riders who were only riding the 100-mile route. Together, sporting our matching purple and rose kits that attracted lots of compliments, we headed towards the finish line.
Day three was the flattest but didn’t come easy, especially after two intense days of riding. The excitement reached a peak as we circled the track at the Eaton Proving Grounds, finally meeting Frankie at the finish line.
A Ride to Remember
The Wish-A-Mile 300 wasn’t just a bike ride; it was a journey filled with unexpected weather, challenging terrain, and meaningful connections. From the serious rainstorm on day one to the cool night of camping with pizza on day two, every moment added to the unique experience.
Though it might not have been the most comfortable or easy ride, the sense of accomplishment, the smiles of Wish Heroes like Dre and Frankie, and the record-breaking success of Make-A-Wish Michigan made it all worthwhile.
The Grateful Team’s youthful energy, along with the unforgettable encounters along the way, have made this ride one for the books. Here’s to 300 miles of resilience, fun, and a legacy that goes beyond the road.
Join the Adventure: Make a Difference on the Road
If you’re a cycling enthusiast, or even if you’re new to the world of stage rides, the Wish-A-Mile 300 is a ride like no other. Beyond the physical challenge and camaraderie, it’s an opportunity to be part of something bigger, something that truly makes a difference in the lives of children.
Be on the lookout for me at group rides. I would love to tell you about my experience on this ride and how you can join. If you have ever been interested in a stage ride, this is the one to do. Whether it’s the joy of meeting Wish Heroes like Dre, Kai, and Frankie, the thrill of climbing hills, or the satisfaction of camping under the stars with fellow riders, the Wish-A-Mile 300 offers a rich and rewarding experience.
With different distances to choose from and support every step of the way (including luggage carriers and massage therapists), there’s room for riders of all levels to join in. It’s not just about the ride; it’s about the impact you can make.
So grab your bike, gear up in your favorite jersey, and come be part of a legacy of love, resilience, and dreams fulfilled. See you on the road!
Eli Luke, RE/MAX Cyclist