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Bike to work Friday for whatever rewards

The "three marketeers" on 3rd Street are inviting area residents to burn calories instead of gas Friday.

May 19 is National Bike to Work Day, with commuters encouraged to toss the car keys aside and become pedal pushers.

And to that end, Beagle Books, Third Street Market and Bella Caffé will reward riders with a cup of coffee, muffins, Gatorade, water and conversation from 6:30 to 10 a.m. Friday.

Pins created by the Developmental Achievement Center will document the feat.

"Pump up those Huffy tires and bike to Third Street," event organizer Jill Johnson advises.

'Bike's my sanctuary'

Century fifth grade teacher Steve Prenevost will be among those who'll hike up the kickstand Friday, inviting his students along for the ride.

But for this bicycle enthusiast, it's just part of his routine. He bikes the 3.5 miles to work throughout the school year - fall, winter, spring - a minus 34-degree morning his record ride.

"The worse the weather, the better I like it. I have never regretted riding my bike," he said, despite Minnesota's oft-intemperate clime.

People traveling by in the comfort of cars have assumed him to be impoverished, homeless.

"It's my sanctuary," he explained of the "peace, quiet and time for thankfulness" he experiences on his journey.

Prenevost doesn't time himself. "I just go," monitoring bird nest progress and "scavenging" on his trip.

His 35-year-old road bike (overhauled twice) is his "summer bike." Winter finds him on an 8-year-old mountain bike. "Salt ruins them," he explained of the turnover.

A bungee cord serves as the "trunk," minnows and groceries often in the Long Lake resident's cargo bin.

Over the years, Prenevost has developed an "emotional attachment" to the two-wheelers, beginning in his college days when it was his only means of transportation.

"Weather doesn't stop me," he said. "Rain, I don't like it, but I ride." (Lightning, however, will deter.) He has arrived, however, sporting wet pants. "I wear dark ones," he said, grinning. "Khaki's bad."

The coach has headed home aboard his bike many a night after a game at 11 p.m., daughters Amy, now 25, and Katy, 23, waving and honking as they drove by when they were in high school.

Wife Jan, he said, is to be commended for "putting up with" the additional drive time required. Son Paul, 11, has yet to accompany his dad/teacher on the trip to school.

"It's not about exercise or proving anything. It's not a test of physical endurance. I could care less about gas prices. It's just my time. I like the solitary experience," Prenevost said.

Good for wallet and planet

Initially, organizers Thom and Cathy Peterson, Pete and Marge McEwen and Deane and Jill Johnson were hoping to draw 50 bicyclists.

Now they expect 100 to brake on Third. And next year could be a week-long celebration of the cycle.

The event is stirring conversation, Jill Johnson said.

People are discussing extending the Heartland Trail to the schools, to encourage biking among kids. Engineers have been asked to sign a bike lane in conjunction with the widening of Highway 34.

And Dorset, the bikers' hub of Hubbard County, is asking to be included in the route next year.

Bikes, she said, should be looked at as a means of transportation, not merely recreation.

"It's good for the wallet and the planet," she noted.

"It's a wonderful, wonderful time," Prenevost said. "We all need to find our own time. This is mine."

In the event of rain, Bike to Work will move to Friday, May 26.