Bicyclists enter as strangers and leave as friends

The annual Tour of Minnesota bicycle ride is coming to North Branch and Taylors Falls June 17 and 22.
The ride was started in 1974 by former Star Tribune columnist Jim Klobuchar. In 2013, Bob Lincoln, a digital learning coach at Sun Path Elementary School in Shakopee, took over and renamed the ride from “Jaunt with Jim” to “Tour of Minnesota.”
“When Jim asked me to take over, he advised me to keep doing three things,” Lincoln said. “Number one is to visit small vistas and places in rural Minnesota and surrounding areas. The second is to experience the local heritage, culture and character of the places we visit. The third is to bring economic development to the towns that we visit.”
The bike ride is not a competitive race or fundraiser. The bicyclists pay a fee that covers the cost of camping, meals, showers, the use of facilities in local schools, a repair van and transportation of their gear.
“It’s great for the towns we visit because the bikers love to shop. They go to bars, restaurants, museums, and they love to go dancing,” Lincoln said.
Every year Lincoln hires a caterer for the trip and this year they are having the Chickadee Coffee House and Deli in Barnum as their caterer. They will provide eight meals for the group during their eight-day trip.
Here is the itinerary for this year’s Tour of Minnesota:
• June 16 – Stillwater.
• June 17 – North Branch.
• June 18 – Moose Lake.
• June 19 – Superior.
• June 20 – Day off in Superior.
• June 21 – Danbury.
• June 22 – St. Croix Falls and Taylors Falls.
• June 23 – Back to Stillwater.
“On our day off, people will go on field trips,” Lincoln said. “In Superior, four museums are opening for us, and that’s pretty cool.”
In case of bad weather, the group has an emergency plan. Instead of camping outside, they camp in the gymnasiums of the local schools.
This year, there will be 175 riders on the ride, which is 50 more than last year. The riders range in age of 8 to 87 years old.
“We are really a community, and it’s a pretty amazing group,” Lincoln said. “We have a saying that when you do the ride, you enter as strangers and leave as friends.”

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