F.C. Bike-A-Thon ready to fight cancer

Published 10:00 am Monday, April 19, 2010

Riders and volunteers are getting ready for the 38th annual Freeborn County Bike-A-Thon that will be on May 1 at 6 a.m.

Currently riders are collecting pledges which are due by April 29 or April 30, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Skyline Plaza. Riders need to collect at least $35 or pay that much to ride in the event. Freeborn County Sheriff Mark Harig has been helping organize the Bike-A-Thon each year since 2003.

“I’m just mainly organizing all the volunteers and the route for safety,” Harig said.

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Harig has been coordinating with Jonathan Jahnke, who is from Alden but living in the Marshall Islands at an Army base on a small island in the Pacific Ocean. Jahnke wants to make a sister event happen on the island to help raise money for the American Cancer Society. Freeborn County’s Bike-A-Thon will also be supporting the American Cancer Society.

“The main thing is to raise money for cancer,” Albert Lea businessman Kent Erlandson said.

Erlandson, who organizes the teams of riders for the event, said people can choose to ride by themselves or as a team. Erlandson said most riders only ride to Glenville and then get picked up and brought back to Albert Lea. Only about a quarter of the riders finish, and it’s not a race.

“You can quit anytime and people will pick you up and take you back,” Erlandson said.

Harig has been organizing buses and trucks to help transport riders back to Albert Lea no matter where they are on the 100-mile route. The route starts at Sibley Elementary School’s warming house and then goes through Glenville, Myrtle, Hayward, Geneva, Hartland, Freeborn, Alden, Conger and then back to the starting point.

“Along those ways we’ve got checkpoints at city halls and fire departments,” Harig said. “The riders can take a break and have a snack.”

There will be volunteers at those towns to get snacks and water to the riders. There will also be first aid available along the route and a vehicle that follows the riders along the route so no one can get left behind. There are signs along the route and at some points there will be volunteers who help stop traffic for the riders. Safety is a big concern for coordinators of the event.

“There’s a tremendous amount of volunteers,” Harig said.

There are buses and trucks available in case there’s bad weather. All riders must register when they turn in their pledge cards or a half an hour before the event so that all riders are accounted for.

“A lot of businesses in Albert Lea donate water, food, money and vehicles,” Erlandson said.

All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society. Bank night is on May 11, when solo riders bring their pledges in, and May 25 is prize night at Skyline Plaza. This event is the oldest 100-mile fundraiser ride in the country, organizers said.