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Local family makes bike ride a tradition

In what's becoming a family tradition, the Quibell family of Fargo will set off on the 40-mile loop Saturday, including pedal pushers Tristan, 6, Sydney, 8, Lucas, 10, Karen, John and Ethan, 5. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

If early forecasts are correct, Mother Nature will be smiling on this year's Headwaters 100 Bike Ride - and tappin' her toes to music.

Weather forecasters are predicting sunny skies and temperatures climbing into the 70s Saturday.

And - new this year - cyclists will experience live music at two of the food stops.

Tony Wilsen and friends will perform folk music from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Mantrap Valley Conservation Club. Dancing Light will entertain with psychedelic folk from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Nevis stop. Foods stops are also set up at Itasca State Park.

A recent count had 430 riders registered to pedal through field and forest for the 31st annual event, and organizer Neil King expects those number could reach 650, given weather prognostications.

"We could set a new record," he said of Itascatur, the organizer of the event for the past 15 years. Participants range from 5 years up to octogenarians.

The event begins at Century School in Park Rapids.

Seventy-five volunteers have been recruited to aid bicyclists on the 40-, 75- and 100-mile routes. Itasca State Park's roadway was under construction last year, but is now ready for riders.

Pedaling backwards

John and Karen Quibell of Fargo and kids Lucas, 10, Sydney, 8, Tristan, 6, and Ethan, 5, will head out for the 40-mile adventure tour.

"It takes us most of the day," John said.

He speaks from experience. This will be the seventh year for Lucas, Sydney and himself, the fifth year for Karen, Tristan and Ethan.

"We love being out and want to expose the kids to an experience like this," Karen Quibell said.

"Over the years, we have had many different configurations," John Quibell said. "Karen and I have both pulled trail bikes or burleys and a few years we each pulled both.

"Last year, we got down to only Ethan in tow; the older three had their own bikes," he said. 

"The high points for the kids are the food stops," John Quibell said.  "They inhale the hot chocolate, caramel apples and candy and yuk it up with riders and volunteers they have met over the years.

"Once they reach Nevis, they are rewarded with a playground" - incredibly with energy yet to be spent.

"Hopefully, next year, as we are peddling up big hills I won't have to hear from a passing rider, 'Did you know your kid is peddling backwards?' because Ethan will be on his own bike," he added.

The next day, Sunday, the four children will head off to a fiddle contest, the boys playing the stringed instruments, Sydney a pianist.

SAG wagon available

Registration and check-in is from 7 to 9 a.m. Saturday at Century School.

The 100-mile ride heads up to Itasca and on to Lake George, Emmaville, Dorset, Nevis and back to Century via the Heartland Trail.

The 75-mile route also heads to Itasca then back to Century School via Lake George, Emmaville and Dorset.

The 40-mile ride travels through Emmaville and Nevis.

All bikers are required to wear helmets.

  The Headwaters ride is fully supported with several rest and food stops, as well as SAG (support and gear) wagons for those needing assistance. That includes shedding clothing, making minor repairs or fixing a flat tire.

A spaghetti dinner will be served from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23 at Century School, with proceeds benefiting Kinship of Park Rapids. Bike ride registrations will be accepted at the dinner.

"We're expecting a banner year," said Ken Grob, who's spearheading registrations.

For more information on the ride, go to