More than 4 decades of memories from the Freeborn County Bike-A-Thon

Published 9:42 am Thursday, May 5, 2016

A flood of riders takes off in a former Freeborn County Bike-A-Thon take off from the warming house near Sibley Elementary School. - Provided

A flood of riders takes off in a former Freeborn County Bike-A-Thon take off from the warming house near Sibley Elementary School. – Provided

Saturday marks the 44th and final year for the Bike-A-Thon. Here are some stories and photos of the event from years past.

Community generosity made event a success

“It was a grant ride, the American Cancer Society 100-mile Bike-A-Thon. Each year the first Saturday in May — rain or shine, and usually a lot of wind — friends and family who had raised money from pledges came together to ride for American Cancer Society research programs.

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I am proud of our community. Without their generous support we could not have accomplished this successful event. Thank you — we will win in the fight against cancer.


Wanda Dorman

Albert Lea


A ride in the first ever Bike-A-Thon

I remember riding in my first Bike-A-Thon in what I believe was the first year it was held. I was riding my red Schwinn one-speed Little Shaver bicycle. I dreaded getting up so early knowing it was going to be pretty cold, but the chance to ride with my friends got me going. My mom had bought a bag of chips to send along, and we had tried to clip it on the bike, which didn’t work, so I must have carried them as best I could. Being so many years ago, I don’t remember much about the ride, but I do remember my friends getting ahead of me on the stretch heading into Hayward and I stopped to get picked up, with a tear or two in my eyes. I do remember my parents saying how proud they were for my riding 36 miles.

My next attempt at finishing the route occurred when they had changed the course to do two trips around the northern part of the county. It was a perfect day, and I had finished the first 50-some miles on the first lap, but being by myself and the fact it was a perfect day to play baseball with my friends sent me home. That’s the one I wish I had finished as it was a perfect day.

My last attempt at the full route occurred around 30 years ago after I had started at the Tribune as a sales representative. The challenge went out between the Tribune, KATE Radio and the Freeborn County Shopper on who they could get to ride and raise the most money. Never having been someone to say no to help raise money for a great cause, I said I would. The Tribune ran a big ad with my picture on a bike, and I raised quite a bit of money. Little did I know that my competitors would be driving mopeds along the route. I made it to Hartland, but the strong wind that saw me ride about five miles in an hour made me mentally exhausted, and I gave it up. I believe it was 76 miles. There was some controversy there, and I remember publisher Don Jones writing a column scolding the others with a picture of a bike and a moped alongside the column.

As a member of the Albert Lea Jaycees, I was part of a group that rode the team ride to Glenville a few years until I became over 40 years old and was not in the organization anymore.

Little did I realize that cancer would hit my family as my mother had a cancerous kidney removed a little more that 10 years ago and my wife is a colon cancer survivor. All those pennies collected as a kid and the tears shed many years ago on a country road near Hayward have been a small part of the tremendous amount of money this event has raised over 44 years for the fight against cancer. Thanks to all who have taken part and thanks for all the volunteers who have made it possible.


Tom Jones

Albert Lea