Former Congressman and Judge, David Minge often begins his organized bike rides with the “sage” musings from Ole, Lena and Sven. They encapsulate the down-home charm of both this accomplished leader and the quaint towns he leads his band of fellow bike riders through. And now these jokes have become a tradition, with this coming Labor Day weekend marking the tenth time David Minge has presided over the Parks & Trails Council’s annual 3-day bike ride.
It has been a labor of love—for both him and those who come along for the journey. “No matter the weather, road conditions or unforeseen obstacles, David provides words of encouragement and reminds us that there is some fun ahead,” said Dan Mettner who has been on nearly every ride. “He naturally conveys a quality of leadership that brings people together.”
While Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota is celebrating 60 years of service this year, it wasn’t until David Minge became involved in 2004 that the organization took on the challenge of coordinating a bike tour that celebrates Minnesota’s parks and trails. So often is the case that a good idea simply lingers until someone comes along who inspires others to take action.
For Minge, this quality of “taking action” is something he finds inspiring about the people who founded Parks & Trails Council years ago. They were dedicated individuals who came together despite immense challenges to ensure Minnesota acted on a vision to create and preserve parks and trails. “It’s really inspirational to look at what others have done,” Minge says.
So now, during each Labor Day weekend, Minge helps others appreciate these past and ongoing accomplishments in preserving and creating parks and trails. “I want people to see the beauty of these places and all the interesting characteristics across the state,” Minge explains. “The changing landscapes from prairie to farmland to forest to lake to blufflands contain a fascinating variety of opportunities for rewarding rides.”
In the first ten years of this event, David Minge has brought riders to 14 state parks, at least six state trails and many other regional parks and trails. “Part of the challenge I see is in making use of [parks and trails] proportional to all that they offer,” says Minge. So many people do not know about all the opportunities to experience the natural areas across the state.
“David is magical. He connects with people in a truly genuine way that puts them at ease and makes them feel honored to share their personal knowledge and story with others,” says Brett Feldman, executive director of P&TC. Minge also puts this talent to use as an ambassador for parks and trails.
Each year he begins anew with outreaching to the local community where the bike ride is based to spread the word about Parks & Trails Council’s work and in soliciting the help of locals to share their community. It is a two-way street of sharing. “We are a grassroots organization, so the outreach David does is critical to building relationships that help to advance our mission going forward,” explained Feldman.