The Steel Wheels will be rolling out of Ann Arbor, quite literally, following their tour-opening concert at the Ark on August 4 (see Nightspots, p. 44). Members of the four-piece Americana string band are gearing up for their third annual bicycle tour. Two members have previously ridden a 300-mile tour through Virginia and a 500-mile tour through Michigan, but their jaunt through Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana is their first with all four members, and their first pulling an upright bass.
Lead singer Trent Wagler came up with the idea as a challenge to limit the band’s carbon footprint; he and mandolin player Jay Lapp made the first two bike trips as a duo. Lapp, an Ann Arbor resident, says highlights of the previous tours included riding over Afton Mountain in Virginia and the random kindnesses they received from strangers. The rest of the band hails from Harrisonburg, Virginia, and will be driving to Ann Arbor with instruments and bicycles to start the tour.
What will the ten-day, 550-mile ride from here to Goshen, Indiana, be like? Says Lapp: “Four guys with bicycles, instruments, and burning thighs.”