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Tour de Pepin draws record 1,044 riders

High water and a rainy forecast threatened to put a damper on this year’s Tour de Pepin Saturday, but the rains (mostly) stayed away, and an act of generosity kept the event on track.

The result? A record turn-out of 1,044 riders.

“It ended up being quite a beautiful day,” said Michelle Larson, executive director of the Lake City Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the annual ride around Lake Pepin.

Earlier in the week, flooding at the riverfront park in Stockholm, Wis., put the popular shuttles for riders across Lake Pepin in doubt. Larson was exploring other ways of transporting riders and bikes back to Lake City when a riverfront landowner in Stockholm offered a place for the Pearl of the Lake paddlewheel boat to pick up riders.

“Such a lifesaver,” she said of the anonymous donor.

Larson said the Minnesota Department of Transportation had done a great job sweeping the route last week, only to have late week rains wash sand back onto the roads.

That resulted in a few more flat tires and a busier-than-usual roadside assistance crew.

But other than that, things went well, she said.

The only rain was before the event began at 7 a.m.

“All the riders had an amazing time,” Larson said. “We heard so many positive comments.”

This year’s event atrracted a rider from New Jersey on a special mission.

Nancy Schrader turned to cycling after hip and knee replacements ended her running career, Larson said.

Schrader set a goal of participating in 100-mile rides in every state in the nation, and she chose Tour de Pepin as her Minnesota event.

It was her 39th ride, Larson said. Her next was in Michigan.

“People from all over the nation take part in Tour de Pepin and it’s always fun to hear their stories,” Larson said.

After the ride was a party with live music, cider and beer sponsored by Sociable Cider Werks and Lift Bridge Brewing Company.

Larson said 66 volunteers helped put on this year’s ride.

On Tuesday, a long table in the chamber office in Lake City was full of leftover refreshments and supplies from the event. That’s after over 250 pounds of fruit and other items were donated to the Lake City Food Shelf.

Larson said she’s looking forward to the 2020 event and a newly resurfaced Highway 61 and completed Red Wing bridge project. She said they are considering altering the portion of the 100-mile route that takes riders away from the river. Riders of shorter distances may have a new option next year as well.

But for now the chamber turns its attention to one of its other marquee events, Water Ski Days on June 28-30.



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