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Some Itascatur Club bike riders gathered last week to say "good-bye" to the trestle bridge they often ride over on the Heartland Trail. The bridge is scheduled to be replaced this fall and construction may interfere with the Headwaters 100 bike ride Saturday, Sept. 26. The ride will continue with or without the bridge. (Submitted photo)

Headwaters 100 bike ride returns

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Bicyclists and fitness enthusiasts from all over Minnesota and surrounding areas will flock to Park Rapids for the 29th annual Headwaters 100 bike ride Saturday, Sept. 26.

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Sponsored by the Itascatur Ski-Bike-Run Club, its members and other community volunteers have been working to organize the event that draws hundreds of visitors to the area. The number of riders has been known to increase if the weather is good. Indications so far are that the weather is likely to be cooperative.

Bicyclists bring their own bikes and helmets and can ride as little or as long as they desire. They have a choice of following three different routes: a 45-mile, 75-mile or 100-mile ride. This year may see a slight change in the routes due to the closing of the Heartland Trail bridge near County Road 18.

Each route is well marked and supported with Support and Gear (SAG) route drivers. These SAG volunteers drive their vehicles up and down a section of the route, watching for bicyclists in distress. They are prepared to offer first aid, water, help with bicycle pumps and tire patch kits, or provide a ride back to the parking lot if the bicyclist is too tired or otherwise unable to finish the ride.

The ride has become well known for it's three food-stops. No rider will go hungry or lack nutrition for this event. Delicious hot soups are available, along with cookies and sweets, Gatorade and coffee, bananas, grapes and other fruits, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Food is available at Itasca State Park, with help from the local Lions Club, the Conservation Club near Emmaville, and the Muskie Shelter in Nevis.

Registration and check-in times for the ride are from 7 to 9 a.m. Saturday morning. A spaghetti dinner is served at the school the night before as a Kinship fundraiser. The ride starts and ends at the Century School on Helton Avenue in Park Rapids.

Money earned from this event goes to support the development and maintenance of the Soaring Eagle cross county ski area, located north of town just off of Highway 71. Some of the funds will also be put into supporting other non-motorized outdoor activities in the area that support healthy lifestyles.

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