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Preston, Peterson chosen for prime bicycling event

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Jan 31st, 2014
Posted in Peterson Health & Wellness

Two Fillmore County towns, eagerly awaiting news, received confirmation last week that they had been chosen as a part of a four-day, four-community bicycling event. Bicycling Around Minnesota (BAM), an eight-year tour organization, set up the event, aimed at highlighting Minnesota communities to an ever-growing bicycling audience. “The goals of the ride are to promote Share the Road, fitness, tourism and bicycling as a transportation mode as well as to promote the Scenic Bikeways System of Minnesota.”

According to the group, the concept for the ongoing tours began in part from members of the State Bicycling Advisory Committee, as well as several enthusiastic individuals. Beginning in 2006, with just 30 riders, the initial number tripled in the first year, more than doubled again the third year, and has now grown to require a limit of 275 riders annually. Tour registration opens up shortly after the communities are selected and typically fills within days.

There are currently seven regions which are basis of the communities chosen; north and west central, central, northwest, northeast, southern, and southeast. At the conclusion of last year’s tour, the group made the decision to return again to southeastern Minnesota after a five year absence. The communities of Preston and Peterson were contacted by BAM last August and encouraged to fill out the two-page application. Chosen based on features, highlights, and amenities, the cities have been working collaboratively to secure the 2014 tour here.

“We’re trying to plan some fun events to keep them entertained,” enthused Kathy Dahl of the Preston Tourism. Preston, in particular, was chosen as the start and end host city, based on the county fairgrounds. Quite an undertaking to organize, the event requires parking availability for 175 vehicles for the tour’s duration, as well as water for ‘shower trucks’ and local campgrounds or lodging. “We’re very appreciative to the Fillmore County Fair Board working with us to provide the fairgrounds as a wonderful venue. We’re also grateful to the city of Preston utilities working to set up the water for the event.”

Roughly 30 percent of the riders will stay in area accommodations during the tour, while 175 will camp out in primitive tent sites. Country Trail Inn & Suites, Jailhouse Historic Inn, and Trailhead Resort, all located in Preston, and Geneva’s Hideaway, The Crossing B&B, and The Wenneson Historic Inn of Peterson will all likely see their rooms full to capacity. Additionally, the tour allows for meals to be served by a combination of local community and civic groups, caterers and restaurants within the communities and participants stopping in towns along the way.

Tour participants will gather August 13 in Preston and set out the next morning, touring to Peterson.

While riders go at their own pace, the tour is noted as for intermediate to experienced riders, as the tour covers 60-80 miles per day, on paved, low-traffic roads, over the rolling and rugged landscape. Riders will depart Peterson the morning of August 15 and return to Preston August 17.

Peterson is already considering a fair amount of activities for the event including a tour of the Peterson State Fish Hatchery and Peterson Station Museum, a stop at Geneva’s Ice Cream Shop, possible wine-tasting, Amish buggy rides, and a possible farm tour. Already set is a performance by the Rutabaga Brothers in the refurbished band shell, August 14, from 7-9pm.

“Each of you have gone above and beyond to gather the information needed and work with us to ensure a great ride for our 275 riders. I couldn’t be happier with your energy and enthusiasm!” stressed BAM Tour Director Mary Derks.

“I think it is important that our citizens realize that a lot of time and energy went into making this happen. We are very thankful that they care enough about our city to do so much work that benefits all of our businesses in town,” enthused Peterson Mayor Jennifer Wood. “We are excited to have these bikers visit our town and excited that our bed and breakfasts and hotel have an opportunity to house so many people. We hope they absolutely love our little town and come back to visit us many years to come.”

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