MINNETONKA — Thousands of cyclists riding every variety of bicycle took in the sights of the Lake Minnetonka area and beyond as they rode in the 14th annual Tour de Tonka.

More than 3,400 people, including more than 1,100 first-timers, participated in this year’s event, said Tim Litfin, executive director of the Minnetonka Community Education, which puts on the event.

“You have to have a lot of good things to make anything happen. You have to have good staff, good volunteers, organizational plan, all of that,” Litfin said. “It was a nice mix, a nice blend of all those good things working in our favor.”

For this year’s ride, there were eight routes — 16 miles, 36 miles, 48 miles, 57 miles, 62 miles, 71 miles and 100 miles — that went through 24 communities in the west metro, including the Lake Minnetonka area, Chanhassen, Chaska and Eden Prairie.

At each rest area along the various routes was live music for riders to enjoy while they stopped to get a snack, fill up their water bottles and stretch their legs.

Organizers say more than 600 volunteers helped make the event run smoothly and cheered on rides, while about 144 public safety officials helped keep people safe.

All the routes finished at Minnetonka High School — also known as Tour de Tonka headquarters — where there was a party with live music.

Robert Taylor of Orono has ridden in the Tour de Tonka three or four times, and this year his choice of transportation was a unique one: a penny-farthing for 30 miles.

“The challenging part is there is no brakes and there are no gears. It’s always pedaling, it’s fixed. So when you are going downhill, you’ve got to hold back with your feet to keep from over speeding and falling forward,” Taylor said after the ride.

His bike was made in 1885 and was on the streets of Boston before cars were in America, he said, noting “In the day, these cost as much as a brand-new Ferrari would.”

Growing in popularity

Tour de Tonka has become a popular event over the last 14 years. The first year brought 881 riders to three routes, Litfin said. Sixty-six people from that original ride have participated every year since.

The event draws people from all over Minnesota and many states, as well as people of all ages. Bill Lurton, 89, was the oldest to participate in this year’s ride. Litfin said he believes children as young as 5 or 6 were riding their own bikes in the 16-mile route.

Reporter Frances Stevenson contributed to this report.

Melissa Turtinen is the multimedia reporter for Lakeshore Weekly News. She's passionate about adding context to stories and informing people about what's going on in their community. She enjoys being outside, traveling and good beer.


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