More than 400 compete in Melting Mann

Published 8:31 am Friday, March 25, 2016

More than 400 extreme prepare for the start of the third annual Melting Mann Sunday.  (Submitted photo)

More than 400 extreme prepare for the start of the third annual Melting Mann Sunday. (Submitted photo)

More than 400 extreme bicyclists traveled to Cass County Sunday, to participate in the third annual Melting Mann.

The Melting Mann is a dirt road bike challenge named after Mann Road located in Newberg Township, which offers a challenge of extreme incline, decline and intense turns.

On Sunday, bicyclists had the opportunity to travel a 22-mile route or a 32-mile route on various dirt roads throughout Cass County, which included some of Southwest Michigan’s most challenging and scenic dirt roads in Cass County.

This year’s challenge brought local riders from Michigan as well as from five surrounding states and Canada. Heart Smart Events, LLC coordinates this event, to promote healthy activities and to highlight the natural bike terrain in Cass County.

In bringing 400 bicyclists to the area, this also provides a boost to the county as these participants purchase gas, food, supplies and lodging in the area.

“This bike challenge is unique as each course takes place on 90 percent gravel roads, which is a draw to those bicyclists who want to test their intensity and endurance,” Mark Wright as cofounder of Heart Smart Events, LLC said.

A $250 cash prize was awarded to the male and female who completed the 32-mile course the fastest to win the 2016 Melting Mann competition. This year’s winners were Keri Pawielski of St. Joseph with a time of 1:45:36 and Joe Thomas of Portage, with a time of 1:35:28.

“It was great to see the number of riders this year coming from Canada and neighboring states to enjoy the natural terrain of Cass County as well as the opportunity to interest visitors in what Cass County has to offer,” Jamie Stafne co-founder of Heart Smart Events said.

When the race was complete, riders and fans were able to enjoy food and music, thanks to the many sponsors of the event, which included over 40 business sponsors spanning the Michiana area, from as far north as Grand Rapids and as far south as Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Organizers thanked the Cass County Sheriff’s Department and Reserve, the Cass County Road Commission, the Newberg Township Fire Department First Responders, the Village of Vandalia, Moreno’s Sports Bar and Grill and the many volunteers who made the day a success.