When riders roll out of Minnetonka High School on Saturday, Aug. 2 for the multi-distance Tour de Tonka bike ride, they’ll be a part of a nine-year Minnetonka tradition that has exposed thousands to the Lake Minnetonka area and generated excitement for the sport of cycling.
“When we started Tour de Tonka in 2006, there was a need for a bike event in the western suburbs. This area is filled with beautiful roads, trails and scenic views of Lake Minnetonka and the other area lakes. We wanted to showcase these communities, and indeed we have,” said event director and Executive Director of Minnetonka Community Education, Tim Litfin.
In 2006, 819 people rode in the inaugural Tour de Tonka. In 2008, the event grew to almost 1,900 riders and was moved from, what was then the Deephaven Education Center, to Minnetonka High School to accommodate the larger crowds. In 2013, more than 2,896 riders, representing over 210 communities, participated in Tour de Tonka.
“Tour de Tonka has something for everyone, from families and recreational bicyclists to cycling teams and serious athletes,” Litfin said. “We offer many things that other rides do not. Tour de Tonka is a ride, not a race. We want to promote an atmosphere of fun and celebration, and we have. The food and the music are huge attractions, and we have far more volunteers cheering, directing and helping out than any other ride. This year there will be 14 bands or DJ’s involved helping you celebrate your success at Tour de Tonka. We also include a free event t-shirt with registration.”
By offering multiple ride distances — 16, 26, 44, 52, 67 and 100 miles — Tour de Tonka incorporates something for every level of rider and opens up the ride to more than just the experienced cyclist.
Tour de Tonka is close to the Twin Cities, so riders do not need to commit to an entire weekend for the ride, like they might have to for an out-state cycling event. Tour de Tonka’s mass start, with each ride distance leaving within minutes of each other, adds to the excitement of the day. The rest stops on each route are filled with food and music and help to make this annual event a very enjoyable ride.
“I have run numerous marathons and biked many biking events. This by far was the best managed and well run event I have ever participated in,” said Jeremy Gottstein, a 2013 Tour de Tonka rider.
Tour de Tonka offers all of this, plus 400 fantastic event volunteers, numerous support vehicles and personnel ready and available to assist, it’s no wonder Tour de Tonka has become so popular in just eight years.
Depending on the route, this year riders may travel through as many as 25 different communities including Chanhassen, Chaska, Deephaven, Delano, Eden Prairie, Excelsior, Greenwood, Independence, Long Lake, Mayer , Minnetonka, Minnetrista, Mound, Navarre, Norwood-Young America, Orono, Plymouth, St. Bonifacius, Shorewood, Spring Park, Tonka Bay, Victoria, Waconia, Watertown and Wayzata.
More information about Tour de Tonka can be found at www.tourdetonka.org or by calling (952) 401-6800.
Tour de Tonka is coordinated by Minnetonka Community Education and sponsored by Maple Grove Cycling, The Invicta Watch Group, Twin Cities Orthopedics, Tonka Bay Marina, Cub Foods Minnetonka and Boyer Construction.