MARSHALL - The ride was a hot and thirsty one. But as some of the first of more than 300 cyclists pedaled into Marshall on Tuesday afternoon with the Tour de Kota event, they said they were having a good time.
"The wind was working for us," said ride participant Chris Anderson. A steady wind from the south helped push the bikes along on their way to town.
"Today is kind of a payback day for Sunday," said rider Jeff Kluck of Sioux Falls, S.D. The first portion of the tour was shorter than Tuesday's, but cyclists faced challenging headwinds the whole time, he said.
Photo by Deb Gau
More than 300 Tour de Kota cyclists from around the country made their way into Marshall through hot and hazy conditions Tuesday afternoon.
The 2012 Tour de Kota is a 464-mile round trip that started Sunday in Dell Rapids, S.D. On Tuesday's leg of the tour, cyclists rode just under 100 miles from Brandon, S.D. to Marshall. After staying overnight in Marshall, the tour will continue west along Minnesota Highway 19 and north on U.S. Highway 75, passing through Ivanhoe and Canby on the way to Watertown, S.D.
This year marks the first time the tour has left South Dakota, and local volunteers were busy trying to make a good impression.
Besides giving cyclists a place to shower and set up camp at the Marshall Middle School, community members offered amenities like a "relaxation station" giving massages, and a pasta supper and concert by Larry Meyer on Tuesday evening. Crews of area residents were also ready to welcome visitors and give directions, stand guard over the bike corral, and even help entertain the crowd - the Marshall Community Band had its own concert by the middle school campground.
Event organizers said the weather forecast was the wild card for Tuesday's portion of the Tour de Kota. Linda Erb of the Marshall Visitors Bureau said some ride participants had asked about booking hotel rooms in case of thunderstorms during the night. Bruce Remme, co-chairman of the Marshall TDK committee, said organizers were ready to open the middle school gymnasium for cyclists if there was inclement weather.
Some tour participants still planned on setting up tents near the middle school. Rider Dave Remillard pitched camp as soon as he arrived, then took some time to rest and talk with fellow rider John Wharem.
"It's been good so far," Remillard said of the tour, even with temperatures hitting 97 degrees or higher.
"The big thing for people is to just watch your fluids," Wharem said.
In spite of the elements and occasional difficulties like flat tires, tour participants said it was worth it to be on the road together with other cyclists.
"We have a good group from Sioux Falls, six people riding together," Kluck said. "It's all part of the experience. If someone gets a flat, we stay together."
"There are a lot of good things about it," Anderson said of the tour. He said he's met riders from Oklahoma and Ohio, while he lives in Redwood City, Calif. Of course, the experience of being on a bike is another key part.
"You can't see some things when you're in a car. You're closer to nature," Anderson said.