Here’s a super salute for the Bike-A-Thon

Published 9:44 am Friday, April 29, 2011

Column: Between the Corn Rows

There are two anniversary years which can be used for the Freeborn County American Cancer Society Bike-A-Thon. One is based on the 39th year of it existence. The other is based on the fact that this is the 38th anniversary of the actual 100-mile ride around the county.

The use of the 39th year is confirmed with a Tribune article in the April 17, 1992, issue with a headline which said, “Bike-A-Thon rolling into 20th year.”

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This article was written by Wanda Dorman, who has really been involved with this very successful fundraising activity through the years. She wrote:

“It all began in the spring of 1972, when our special events chairwoman, Lorrayne Aysta, was approached by Dick Kenevan with the idea. He had learned about a group in California that had promoted and run a very successful Bike-A-Thon,

“At the time, collecting donated items to be sold at auction as a fund raiser for the American Cancer Society was a big success. The idea of a Bike-A-Thon intrigued enough people, and it was unanimous to set the plan in action.

“The first Saturday in May was chosen as the date for the ride, simply because school was still in progress and it would not run into summer vacations for families. The day has remained the same for 20 years (as of 1992), along with the rules and guidelines set down during the initial meeting.”

It’s understandable that it would take time to organize this bike ride around the county. Thus, the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, area amateur radio and citizens’ band radio operators, people to help out at the 10 rest stops and many other folks would be needed to make this Bike-A-Thon a reality. And also the riders and their sponsors would have to be recruited.

Now here’s the proof I found regarding the first Bike-A-Thon actually taking place in 1973, or 38 years ago. An article in the May 6, 1973, issue of the Sunday Tribune had this key phrase “… Albert Lea’s first Bike-A-Thon was getting underway …” On the same page was a photo with this caption, “They’re off and pedaling — Bikers flood across the starting line after the ribbon was cut officially starting the first Albert Lea Cancer Bike-A-Thon at 6 a.m. Saturday. The riders will raise money for 1973 American Cancer Drive.”

I hope this will help to explain why the use of the 39th and 38th years for the Bike-A-Thon taking place on May 7 are both legitimate.

While doing research for this column, I happened to discover that a small portion of the Bike-A-Thon’s original route had been changed. With the article I wrote for the May 2, 1989, issue was a map showing the Bike-A-Thon route. However, the map on this year’s poster shows a different route in the Myrtle area.

The 1989 map showed this Bike-A-Thon route coming from the south on County Road 30 to Myrtle, then going east on County Road 13. At the intersection with County Road 34 the route went north about three miles to County Road 19. At this point the route went west on County Road 19 to County Road 26 and north to Hayward.

Right at this point maybe a county map might help to understand this route and the one to follow.

For the pending Bike-A-Thon on May 7, the route will go straight north on County Road 30 past Myrtle to the Bohemian National Cemetery corner, then west on 19 to County Road 26 and north to Hayward.

Just when between 1989 and this year the change in routing for the Bike-A-Thon was made is unknown.

We’ll continue on with this topic based on the 38th or 39th anniversary for the pending Bike-A-Thon in the next column.

Ed Shannon’s column has been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984.