Never been on a week long bike tour?
You will not be alone: every year over 35% of our riders have never done PALM. Many have never done a week long bike tour. Here's how it works:
Every night including the first night, we camp out at schools. You supply the tent, rain fly, and sleeping bag. We use the school's shower and restrooms. We sleep in tents even if it rains.
Every day you pack up your tent and all your luggage and carry it onto a truck to be taken to the next site. You bike to the next site.
At the next site, volunteers (including you if you arrive early enough) unload the trucks. When you arrive, you find your tent and luggage and setup. Every site has an information table manned by PALM staffers who will answer your questions about the current site, e.g. the locations of restaurants, laundromats, ice cream parlors, and other points of interest.
The route is marked. There are symbols painted on the road telling you where to turn and reassuring you that you are on the route. You will also receive a detailed map of the route. It is a booklet that contains a map of the area with our route marked in red, like a AAA Trip Tik. It also contains written instructions on where to turn and how long you will be on any road, like what you get from MapQuest. At the nightly meeting we go over the next day's route, including any detours, problems on the route, and points of interest.
We have SAGs, ie Support And Gear vehicles, that patrol the route during the day. If you encounter a problem on the route, you can flag down one of these vehicles for help. For instance, if your bike breaks down on the road, the SAGs can get a hold of the bike mechanics or drive you and your bike to the next site. They carry water for water bottles and may have a First Aid kit or bicycle pump.
We travel with two bike shops. They set up at every site for bike repairs. You will have to pay for labor and parts, but your bike can be repaired.
You can purchase breakfasts and dinners on PALM. You choose the meals you want (if any) but you must pay for them in advance. They are prepared at the school by a local volunteer group or the school's food service and are served in the cafeteria. A vegetarian option is (normally) available. You are on your own for lunch.There are several ways you can get to and from the ride.
- You can get someone to drive you to the start of the ride and then pick you up at the end of the ride.
- You can purchase a bus ride from where the ride ends to where the ride starts for June 22. On June 22 you drive to where the ride ends (Luna Pier). PALM provides week long parking at the ending site. Your bike will be loaded onto a truck and driven to where the ride starts. During the week you bike to the end where you are reunited with your vehicle on June 28 and drive home.
- You can purchase a bus ride from end of the ride to where the ride started for June 28. You drive to the start of the ride (Norton Shores) on June 22. PALM provides week long parking at the starting site. During the week you bike to the end. There you take a bus back to where the ride started. Your bike is loaded onto a truck. After the bus ride you, your bike, and your vehicle are reunited and you drive home.
- You could drive to the start and arrange to have your vehicle driven from site to site during the week. We don't encourage this: this is a camping trip and there is limited parking at the schools where we stay. You will need to indicate that you will need parking at the daily sites on the application, obtain a PALM Vehicle Pass, and park in a designated area. The driver of the vehicle is considered a participant of PALM and will have to pay the registation fee even if they do not ride. It's up to you to figure out how to get your vehicle from one site to another. We will provide maps to the next site so that you don't drive on the bike route. It's a hassle but still some people do this.