"Tour de Tonka 10th Anniversary", Sun Sailor, August 2015

By Will Hoverman
Sun Sailor Newspapers
August 3, 2015

Tour de Tonka is right around the corner as the area preps for the massive bike-ride fundraiser occuring Saturday, Aug. 1.

Tour de Tonka, known by some as “Minnesota’s Ride,” has grown to host
more than 3,000 riders from across the country since its conception a decade ago.  Riders can choose from six different distances: 16, 28, 49, 57, 77 or 100 miles.

“Bicycle riders participate because Tour de Tonka is pure fun,” said Tour de Tonka Director Tim Litfin. “All ages and abilities – from families and recreational bicyclists to cycling teams and serious athletes – enjoy what Tour de Tonka offers them.”  In 2014, riders came from 204 different communities, 52 Minnesota counties, 20 states and two countries.

The celebrated ride has much more than just the cycling. There are 14 rest stops along the way with food, music, rest and conversation.  Dozens of volunteers help make the event a success. From door prizes, live bands, food vendors and charity drives, this event has grown to become a West Metro staple.  “It’s all about the rider,” Litfin explains. “Tour de Tonka is unlike bike rides in the state and in the Upper Midwest.”  

Tour de Tonka’s routes move through 24 different communities including Chanhassen, Chaska, Deephaven, Delano, Eden Prairie, Excelsior, Greenwood, Independence, Long Lake, Mayer, Minnetonka, Minnetrista, Mound, Navarre, Norwood-Young America, Orono, Plymouth, Shorewood, Spring Park, Tonka Bay, Victoria, Waconia, Watertown and Wayzata. All of these locations offer scenic views of beautiful roads, trails and most of all, lakes.

The 100-mile ride begins at 7 a.m. from the Minnetonka Community Education Center on Vine Hill Road in Deephaven.  The 16, 28, 49, and 77 mile rides begin as before from Minnetonka High School at 7:30 a.m.  Pre-race day registration and packet pick-up are available at Minnetonka High School on Friday, July 31, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. On race day, parking at each location opens at 5:30 a.m. as does registration and packet pick up.

Louis Ricard of Wayzata has been participating in Tour de Tonka since the beginning, earning him the title of “Legacy Rider.” He admires just how much traction the event has gained.  “It’s grown from a handful to over 3,000 riders now,” he said. “I think the breadth of how many different types of competitors is great too. You get old riders, young riders — I think there’s a 74-year-old riding this year. It’s also really cool to see families, groups and organizations participate. Sometimes you see some people with 30-40 members wearing the same shirt.”

Ricard also emphasizes the sense of community felt at the event.  “There’s a whole element of camaraderie at the end of the race with pizza, music and so on. It’s really a great end to a great day,” he said.  Tour de Tonka partners with the ICA Food Shelf to combine fun with
charity.  A percentage of the registration fee is donated to the ICA. Riders are also encouraged to donate food or money on or before the day of the event.  In 2014, Tour de Tonka provided $5,980 for the ICA. To date, the ride has raised over $36,000 to support the local food shelf.

Whether you are looking for a family-friendly day of recreation or an intense athletic expedition, Tour de Tonka provides both.