‘Seeing all of Minnesota’; Annual bike ride stops off in Austin
Published 10:42 am Monday, June 15, 2015
John W. Hays was ribbing Tour of Minnesota ride director Bob Lincoln Monday morning at Todd Park when another rider came up and tickled him.
Though the roughly 120 riders often only see each other once a year, many agreed it’s become like a big family, and Hays said his favorite part is seeing the people and the “random silliness.”
“It’s a blast,” said Hays, who participated in the ride while on vacation from his job as a ranch manager in Beldenville, Wisconsin.
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The Tour of Minnesota riders camped at Todd Park Sunday night and got to take in a bit of Austin before setting off around 7:15 a.m. Monday for Albert Lea, where they were slated to spend the night at Frank Hall Park.
The annual Tour of Minnesota bike ride started last Friday in Chaska, where it’s set to conclude this Friday.
“I think it’s going great,” Lincoln said.
The riders arrived in Austin about an hour later than planned Sunday at around 3:30 p.m. and ate dinner last night and breakfast this morning at the Izaak Walton League cabin.
Many of the riders have participated for several years and know each other well, as several described the group as a big community or family.
For George Carlson of Minneapolis, this was his 26th time participating, and he said it’s a great way to see the state.
“That’s really a big deal — seeing all of Minnesota,” he said.
Riders said it was a bit warm and muggy Sunday with highs in the low 80s, but Carlson said it was nothing compared to the 1988 ride when highs reached 106.
The average age of the riders was 63, and the riders are set to travel about 330 miles. After a longer ride from Faribault to Austin on Sunday, many riders were looking forward to the shorter trek — a roughly 40-mile route — to Albert Lea on Monday.
For some, it was nice to return to Austin. Gene Bednar and Gib Rowe both worked for Hormel Foods Corp. in sales and both previously lived in Austin.
“I was anxious to get here and put on my Spam shirt,” said Rowe, who lived in Austin from 1969 to 1975.
Bev Anderson, the ride’s oldest rider at 82, said it’s been a good year for the ride and they enjoyed their time in Austin.
“This is a beautiful park,” she said.