HR manager makes solo 200-mile bike trip

A view from Sarah Velez's bike trip

In September, Human Resources Manager Sarah Velez decided to get on her bike and go. Leaving her home in Mason, she headed out on a journey of 202 miles to arrive at her destination in Ludington. The entire “double century” trip was done in two days, with an overnight in northern Grand Rapids.

You might wonder why anyone would want to ride 100 miles per day once, let alone twice in a row.

“For me, being on my bike has been super therapeutic throughout these times of separation from people and activities,” Velez said. “It seemed fitting to ride to Ludington, where my parents live, and spend time with them after my journey. To be able to be outside and to be able to cover distances on my own steam has been good for my mind and body. The sunshine and exercise have kept me sane and optimistic.

Velez only picked up cycling during the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020. Since then, she has acquired two bikes, one road bike and one gravel bike. For this trip, she chose to use the gravel bike and said that was the right call.

“Some of the ‘trails’ were older, grassy two-tracks,” she said. “But the trail systems in Michigan are amazing and I encourage everyone to check out the opportunities to travel our amazing state safely and off the roads. Check out the TrailLink app to see trails near you.”

One huge consideration for a trip of this length was the need to carry enough food and water.

“I used about 4,500 calories per day on this trip,” Velez said. “Staying ahead of eating was a challenge, so lots of high-calorie, shelf-stable foods were important. I also carried about three liters of water with me. I got to eat almost anything I wanted along the way, so the first stop was in Dewitt at Sweetie-licious to get a fantastic chicken salad sandwich and pumpkin muffin.”

Velez had one more safety tip for anyone taking to the trails, on or off a bike.

“Use sunscreen when you go out! After a melanoma scare last November, I tell everyone to apply sunscreen often, and use the good stuff.”

Sarah Velez arrives at her parents' house after a solo 200-mile bike trip