The 7th annual Bike Minnesota with Parks & Trails event started off without a hitch: a beautiful evening with new friends enjoying a great talk from Carleton Professor Martha Pass and Dr. Dave Melton about the nearby Veblen Farmstead and how it’s owners played a role in the local community. Executive Director Brett Feldman, who asked the group his signature question – how many rides folks had been on, welcomed bikers on Friday, Sept. 2nd.
"We are always moved by the appreciation and excitement that event participants show us year after year as we take them on custom narrated tours of some of Minnesota's most treasured places,” Brett said.
A new addition this year was Hlee Lee, the External Relations Director, who had just started working for the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota a mere 8 weeks before the event. Thrown into planning and being a key staff person at the event, though a little overwhelming, she took charge and had a lot of fun.
“I was nervous the entire time that things could go wrong. But the riders, Brett, David and all the volunteers were great! They were so supportive of my learning curve and each other, it was beautiful,” Hlee said.
Nerstrand Big Woods served as home base for the three-night, four-day adventure. Early Saturday morning, after morning announcements from – what some of the riders call – “our fearless leader” – Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge David Minge, riders took off from Dennison, MN for their first 50-mile day. Local volunteers staffed rest stops along the way.
Riders eventually made their way onto the Cannon Valley Trail, where Chuck Richardson – one of the many community leaders who played a role in establishing the trail, welcomed them. In Cannon Falls, riders stopped into the Cannon Valley Winery for some wine tasting and socializing, before returning to Dennison to call it a day. Saturday’s outdoor dinner was proof of what was to come – the wind!
Day two, Sunday, proved to be a challenge – with high winds and complicated small-town turns. The generous people of southeastern Minnesota recognized the challenge, and in Elysian – where an outdoor lunch was planned – the Elysian Tourism Center opened their building for the group to bring their meal indoors. That evening, riders were able to share their wine with each other at dinner at the Faribault Episcopal Cathedral, where they were given a brief history and tour of what was the original Cathedral of the Diocese of Minnesota.
Monday, the final day’s ride, though shorter than the previous two, provided just as much entertainment and information with stops in Cannon City, Dundas and Northfield. Riders were guided through the Carleton Campus in Northfield, after receiving a brief history of the town. Several riders expressed being impressed with Northfield and enjoying the town’s historic look and feel.
An optional stop, which turned out to include almost all of Monday’s riders, was the Veblen Farmstead, not far from Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. The current owners opened its doors and gave tours to event participants, intrigued to learn more after hearing Friday evening’s presentation.
We’re already looking forward to next year’s ride!
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