Minnetonka Community Education’s 14th annual bike ride, the Tour de Tonka, is just around the corner on Saturday, Aug. 3.
Among the additions to this year’s event are music performances, which are scheduled to happen at each of the rest stops and at the start and finish. At the Minnetonka High School event headquarters, Don Rice will DJ, and Big Mike and the Function Junction and the Jason Paulson Band will perform.
Tim Litfin, executive director at Minnetonka Community Education, said the ride brings in cyclists from across the country.
“The news spreads fast that we’ve got a quality event with quality volunteers and quality staff in a pretty area,” Litfin said. “People hear about you.”
Participants have come from 74 of Minnesota’s 87 counties, and have traveled from 42 different states. More than 800 riders this year will be new to the Tour de Tonka.
“There are 64 riders that we call legacy riders where they’ve ridden every single ride,” he said. “They wear this like a badge of honor.”
The Tour de Tonka has eight routes, ranging between a novice-friendly 16 miles and an advanced 100 miles in length. The 100-mile route will kick off the day at 7 a.m. from Clear Springs Elementary. The 16, 30, 36, 48 and 57-mile routes will start at 7:30 a.m. at Minnetonka High School. At the same time, the 62 and 71-mile routes will begin at the Minnetonka Community Education Center.
For spectators, one of the more iconic moments of the ride is to watch its start at Minnetonka High School, where hundreds of riders will go one-by-one, at the outset of 420 miles worth of roads and trails. Litfin said a large flag, hanging above, frames the moment.
“We have a range of riders, from younger novice riders (...) all the way up to experienced athletes,” Litfin said. “And it doesn’t matter if they’re inexperienced or experienced because we’re going to cheer them on. That’s one thing we do very well at the Tour de Tonka. We make our riders feel loved.”
Last year’s ride had been cancelled due to anticipated severe weather. It had been the first cancellation in the ride’s 13-year history. Litfin said it had been a safety decision, though it had been a difficult choice to make.
The event is an opportunity to showcase Minnetonka’s hospitality, he said.
“This is about treating people the right way so they want to come back,” he said.
The Tour de Tonka raises money for the ICA Food Shelf, and Litfin said more than $75,000 will have been raised by the end of this year’s Tour de Tonka.