Fall splendor heralds Headwaters 100 Ride
The 27th annual Headwaters Hundred Bike Ride and Race will be held Saturday. The ride will take cyclists through the lakes area as the leaves fall and the landscape changes into autumn colors. There will be a 100-mile timed road race and 100-, 75...
The 27th annual Headwaters Hundred Bike Ride and Race will be held Saturday.
The ride will take cyclists through the lakes area as the leaves fall and the landscape changes into autumn colors.
There will be a 100-mile timed road race and 100-, 75- and 45-mile riding courses.
The 100-mile ride will follow a well-marked route leading cyclists to Itasca State Park. The ride follows Wilderness Drive through the park and proceeds through Lake George, Emmaville, Dorset and Nevis. The Heartland Trail will bring them back to the finish line.
Participants can choose the 75-mile ride that also tours the Headwaters of the Mississippi, Lake George, Emmaville and Dorset. Or, cyclists can choose the 45-mile ride through Emmaville and Nevis.
The 100-mile road race rolls by lakes and woodlands, but will not go through Itasca State Park.
All participants in the ride and race must register and check in at the Century School on Helten Avenue between 7 and 9 a.m. Riders are asked to disperse by 9; the race starts at 10.
Neil King, president of the Itascatur Ski, Bike and Run Club, which sponsors the events, said for the first time this year, chip timers will be placed on racers' bikes to log starting and ending times.
Since racers usually come in at the finish line in a pack, it can be hard to sort out placement, King explained. "The timers will be more official. It's the way things are done now so if we want to attract racers, it was the way to go."
While the purpose of the events is to have fun, exercise and experience a challenge, King said, safety is always a concern.
Volunteers in sag wagons sweep routes to pick up riders experiencing problems with their bikes or who need to call it quits. "Seven hours on a bicycle on a road can be a long, long time," King said.
Organizers would like all riders to be done by 6 p.m., but stay at the Century School until they are fairly certain all riders are in. That can be challenging since not all participants check back when they're done and it is hard to know who might still be out on the Heartland Trail.
Every effort is made to keep track of the last person on the ride and in the race, he said.
Rain can be an issue in Itasca State Park because of the steep hills and sharp corners, he added. Leaves and pine needles also can be a problem as can an unexpected deer, squirrel or other wild critter. Riders need to be alert, King said.
He also advises caution on the Heartland Trail. "It is not that wide and there is two-way traffic," he reminds trail users. Dogs on leashes can be especially troublesome, entangling approaching riders.
On roads, King said, cars and bicycles can co-exist, but if there's an accident, bikers always lose. Accidents can be the result of inattentive driving or even an aggressive driver, King observed.
"Even though the law allows bicycle riders to ride double-file, they need to be careful to do that where it's safe," he added. "In a roadway bicyclists have the same rights as cars, but if there's an accident, it doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong.
"We are really fortunate to have some of the best roads in the state for bike riding, but this weekend there will be a lot of bikes so we all need to pay attention and accommodate each other."
Awards will be presented to the first three finishers in each age/gender class in the race. Trophies will be awarded to the first place overall in the male and female classes.
Because of construction on Highway 34, this year riders will be routed back to Century School via Red Bridge Park, north on Highway 71 to Monico Lane and west to the school.
Route maps will be posted at the spaghetti dinner, sponsored by Kinship of Park Rapids, from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Century School. Cost for the dinner is $8 per person. Registrations for the bike ride will be accepted at the dinner and the day of the event.
Riders must abide by the Minnesota Motor Vehicle Code and wear helmets. Personal music devices are not allowed.
For more information, contact the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce at 800-247-0054 or go to www.parkrapids.com .