Helle: Bike ride stopping in Austin next weekend

Published 2:33 pm Saturday, June 6, 2015

Established in 1974, as the Klobuchar Ride, the Tour of Minnesota bicycle tour will come to Austin on June 14 with 150 riders.

The ride will begin in Chaska on June 12 and travel through south central Minnesota. Overnight stops are Faribault, Austin, Albert Lea, Owatonna and Northfield. The ride will conclude on June 19 back in Chaska after about 330 miles. Bikers camp in local towns with camping gear carried on a truck.

“We’re opening the ride up to families this year to bring in new riders and a new energy to an already energetic group,” says Bob Lincoln, Tour of Minnesota organizer. “How many people do you know who spend a week of vacation biking 300-plus miles?”

The Tour of Minnesota group will arrive in Austin on Sunday, June 14 and camp at Todd Park with meals served at the Izaak Walton Cabin. The riders depart early on Monday, June 15, headed to Albert Lea.

The Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau has been instrumental in welcoming the Tour of Minnesota to Austin and handling logistics of the overnight stop. Vision 2020 and the Southern Minnesota Bike Club have been helping spread the word about volunteers needed to help the bikers load and unload luggage and serve meals. To volunteer, call Nancy at the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau at 507-437-4563.

Last summer, Austin was a stop for the Bicycle Around Minnesota ride with more than 270 riders staying overnight. With the additions planned to the local Austin trails and connections to regional trails, I believe Austin will attract more and more rides.

Since Vision 2020 is working on both increasing tourism and encouraging multi-modal transportation, it is especially exciting to watch Austin become a hub for bicycle tourism. We are blessed with flat geography and a central location. With efforts by Vision 2020 committees and partners in the community like the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, the future is bright.