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Pedal for Project Impact 2017: Local cyclists ride for a reason

Gary Miller / Tribune file photo Cyclists take a break during the first day of Pedal for Project Impact in July 2016 in Hawick.1 / 9
Gary Miller / Tribune file photo Pedal for Project Impact 2017 cyclists will have the opportunity to visit Blanchard Dam, located on the Mississippi River near Bowlus.2 / 9
Gary Miller / Tribune file photo Richard Kokkila, left, and Steve Marquardt ride the Lake Wobegon Regional Trail during Pedal for Project Impact in July 2016.3 / 9
Gary Miller / Tribune file photo Steve Marquardt, left, and Craig Schellberg ride the Glacial Lakes State Trail during Pedal for Project Impact in July 2016.4 / 9
Gary Miller / Tribune file photo Jordie’s TrailSide Cafe in Bowlus is a popular stop for cyclists.5 / 9
Gary Miller / Tribune file photo An old train bridge passes over the Lake Wobegon Regional Trail near Albany.6 / 9
Gary Miller / Tribune file photo Pedal for Project Impact cyclists pedal from Alexandria to Fergus Falls on the Central Lakes State Trail in July 2016.7 / 9
Gary Miller / Tribune file photo Dave Kokkila, right, helps Steve Marquardt with a mechanical problem during Pedal for Project Impact in July 2016.8 / 9
Gary Miller / Tribune file photo Bob Hines of Willmar rides to the covered bridge on the Lake Wobegon Regional Trail in Holdingford.9 / 9

WILLMAR — Riding a bicycle hundreds of miles during a long weekend isn't everyone's idea of a good time.

But for those who do enjoy cycling long distances, Pedal for Project Impact offers riders a bonus: the chance to raise money for a good cause.

And, if there are a few cyclists who want to join this year's PPI, there's still time.

Riders are welcome to pedal along for a few hours or all three days.

This year cyclists will spend July 28 to 30 pedaling from Willmar to Alexandria and back.

Originally PPI was a family fun ride held in Willmar in 2011.

It was started by Safe Avenues — Willmar's shelter house for victims of domestic violence — to raise funds for children whose lives have been affected by domestic violence.

PPI morphed over the years to a weeklong ride to Bemidji and back.

Organizers—that would be Bob Hines and this writer, both of Willmar—shortened the ride last year to three days in the hopes of attracting a few more riders.

Since the first, weeklong PPI in 2013, the number of cyclists participating for an entire ride has ranged from two to six.

Each year several additional riders have joined PPI for parts of the trip, particularly on the first or last days, or the weekends.

This year PPI cyclists will leave Willmar and ride to St. Joseph—mainly on the two portions of the Glacial Lakes Trail—then take the Wobegon Trail to Albany, where they'll stay the first night.

On the second day, cyclists can ride the Wobegon straight to Alexandria, that day's destination. Or, they can shuttle to the Soo Line Trailhead near Little Falls or pedal out to the trailhead.

Those who take the Soo Line will ride across the Mississippi on a bridge practically on top of Blanchard Dam, have the chance to stop at Jordie's TrailSide Cafe in Bowlus and ride over the covered bridge in Holdingford.

On day three, riders head back to Albany and then to Willmar. Most riders will probably want to shuttle from Albany to Roscoe.

Cyclists are welcome to join PPI riders for a few hours, a day or two, or the entire ride.

While it's not required, riders are encouraged to do some fundraising for Project Impact.

Those who want to ride for all or part of Day 1 should be at the Glacial Lakes Trailhead near the Willmar Civic Center at 8 a.m.

On Day 2, the riders will be departing at 8 a.m. from the hotel in Albany. Riders wanting to join PPI then should let the organizers know and be there at 8. It will be the same on Sunday in Alexandria.

Anyone wishing to stay at one or both of the hotels should contact the organizers by July 15.

As far as daily distances are concerned, that's up to each rider. There will be long and short routes each day. Riders can hop in the support truck at any stop along the way.

They can ride, drive or navigate the truck.

Pull outs

More information about Pedal for Project Impact


or email

How to donate to Project Impact


Click on Donate.

By mail:

Safe Avenues

PO Box 568

Willmar, MN 56201

Please write PPI in your check memo line.

Gary Miller

Gary Miller is a Designer for Forum Communications Co. Born and attended public schools in Willmar, Minn. Served 20 years in U.S. Navy as a photojournalist. Worked at West Central Tribune and Forum Communications since retiring from the Navy in 1994.

(320) 214-4344