Park Rapids Hosts Minnesota Bike Opener
We didn’t have the best weather on Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop a few people in Park Rapids from hitting the trails for the Minnesota Bike Opener. The Bike Opener celebrates the opening of the bike season and is traditionally held the next Saturday after the state fishing opener.
This was the 4th year it was held at Heartland Park in Park Rapids. Bicyclists were allowed to come and go as they pleased. People who chose to stop through could get a tune-up and some trail safety information. There were also free helmets for kids.
Butch De La Hunt, president and CEO of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, says, “We had some great sponsors this year that helped us out with some free bikes from CHI St. Joseph. Itasca Tours here, they donated some helmets. We have a lot of great things. Northern Cycles here is helping us out with some tune-ups…and just finding out all about bikes and what you need and find out about etiquette on the trails. We have a lot of different people that participated. Sweets made some of our little energy snacks so people could enjoy those.”
Another reason Park Rapids hosts The Bike Opener is because the town is home to one of the state’s biggest trails system. Park Rapids was also the location for the first Rail To Trail. Officials with the Itasca Tour Outdoor Activities Group say bike culture in Park Rapids continues to grow, and each year, the bike opener itself gets a little bigger.
Nikki Torkelson, bike director for the Itasca Tour Outdoor Activities Group, says, “The great thing about biking is anyone can do it. You can do it any age. If you’ve got injuries, biking is a good way too if you’ve got a bad back or bad knees. It’s just a great way to exercise. It can be as rigorous as you want or it can just be nice stroll – especially through our areas and our trails. It’s just a nice way to get some exercise.”
Organizers also gave away two free bikes at the event.