Riding to help others: Local bicycle enthusiasts pedal for causes they support

Riding a bike can be a solitary activity. It could even be called selfish. Really dedicated cyclists can spend much of their free time on the road, trail or path by themselves. When they do ride with others, they're usually away from their famili...

Daven Kokkila rides oin the Glacial Lakes State Trail to Long Prairie on the first of the 2014 Pedal for Project Impact. Photo by Gary Miller

Riding a bike can be a solitary activity.
It could even be called selfish.
Really dedicated cyclists can spend much of their free time on the road, trail or path by themselves.
When they do ride with others, they’re usually away from their families and friends who don’t ride.
So giving back to the community is probably one of the reasons many cyclists sign up for fundraising rides.
Several such rides are held here in Minnesota. The Habitat 500, Bike MS and the Red Ribbon Ride are examples.
Some bicyclists take it a step further and try organizing their own ride to raise money and awareness for a favorite cause.
Fundraising rides may last a few hours, a day, a week or, in some extreme cases, more than a year.
Paula Holmes-Eber wrote about her family’s extended ride for the Adventure Cycling Association’s website: “During the 16 months our family - myself, my husband, and our 14- and 12-year-old daughters - cycled 15,000 kilometers through 24 countries (raising $75,000 for asthma!), we were often asked how we could accomplish such an undertaking.”
Most rides, however, take much less time than the adventure Holmes-Eber and her family undertook.
This summer some area residents will be taking time away from work to ride for a couple different causes.
Wade Lundeen, 25, a Cokato native, is an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America who is working at Habitat for Humanity of West Central Minnesota in Willmar.
He will ride in the Habitat 500.
This year the 500 begins and ends in Owatonna. The ride will be from July 12 to 18.
From there, the 135 riders will pedal to Albert Lea to Spring Valley to Winona.
They’ll stay in Winona for two days and, during their second day there, have the options of taking the day off, working on a Habitat house or doing a 100-mile ride.
During the week of cycling, Wade and his fellow Habitat riders will travel an average of 71 miles a day,
Each Habitat rider must raise at least $1,000. All the money they raise goes to their Habitat chapter. If they don’t raise $1,000, the riders must make up the difference.
“I set my goal at $3,000 to fully fund one ‘Brush with Kindness’ project,” Lundeen said.
Those projects involve basic home improvements such as painting, landscaping and light repairs.
Another fundraising ride involves far fewer riders.
This year’s Pedal for Project Impact begins 8 a.m. Monday at the Glacial Lakes State Trail parking lot at the Willmar Civic Center.
Anyone who wants to is invited to spend an hour or two with the three or more cyclists who will spend a week pedaling to Bemidji and back. This writer will be one of the riders riding the weeklong tour.
While Long Prairie will be the first-day destination for the riders heading to Bemidji, any other riders are invited to pedal along for as far as they want.
From Long Prairie, the Project Impact riders will head to Park Rapids Tuesday and then to Bemidji Wednesday. They’ll spend a day Thursday riding in the Bemidji area.
Riders will be back on the road Friday heading for Pequot Lake.
Albany will be the destination June 13 and the riders will pedal back to Willmar the morning of June 14.
Anyone who wants to is invited to join the Project Impact riders on the last stretch of their weeklong trip on the Glacial Lakes State Trail.
The weeklong ride is intended to raise money for and awareness of Project Impact, a program at Safe Avenues, the shelter house in Willmar for women and children who have experienced domestic violence.
Project Impact offers support groups for children when their moms are working on safety planning or attending groups.
The project works with members of the community who assist children or work on behalf of  children.
It also offers referral and access to counseling services, school social workers, child guide programs, day care providers, mentorship programs, family activities and children’s events.
Five cyclists have participated in Pedal for Project Impact during the previous two years of the ride.
Daven Kokkila, originally of Willmar, rode the entire week last year and will ride with the group June 13 and 14 this year.
When asked to email a few comments about his experience, he wrote of last year’s ride:
“I thought the Pedal for Project Impact was a meaningful way for relative strangers to do something they love to help people in need. From the word go, all of the participants of the PPI ride were irrevocably linked.  Over the week we became friends and shared memories that will always make us smile. When I reflect upon the experience, I’m glad that the whole community of Willmar could be connected, by donating, to strengthen their own community. Fundraising can sound daunting, but with such a worthy cause to support, people gave with zeal.“
Tom Meium also rode last year and had these comments:
“The 2014 Pedal for Project Impact provided an opportunity to combine good companionship and good exercise for the benefit of a good cause at Safe Avenues. The ride was challenging but very doable. The chance to spend a week on the road was like being a (65-year-old) kid again. Knowing that this much fun was being used to fund the young victims of abuse made it all the more satisfying. While it didn’t work out for me this year, the Pedal for Project Impact ride was a great experience that I hope to do again.”
Fun, a change of pace and the opportunity to do something good by doing something they enjoy ... that’s what riding for a cause is all about.

A few fundraising bike rides

Pedal for Project Impact
June 8-14
Departs at 8 a.m. Monday from the parking lot at Willmar Civic Center. Everyone invited to join riders as they pedal down the Glacial Lakes State Trail and on the morning of June 14 as they return to Willmar on the trail.
Website: http://www .
Daily progress reports will be posted during the ride at http://2wheeler.

Habitat 500
July 12-18
Riders will pedal from Owatonna Albert Lea to Spring Valley to Winona and back to Owatonna to raise money for their local Habitat for Humanity affiliates.
Website: http://www .

Red Ribbon Ride
July 16-19
Join us for the Annual Red Ribbon Ride in 2015. This is a four-day, nearly 300-mile bike ride that will start with an opening ceremony at 6:30 a.m. July 16 at the Mall of America and end with a closing ceremony July 19 at the beautiful State Capitol in St. Paul.


Bike MS: TRAM Ride 2015
July 23-28
A fully supported, three- or five-day cycling vacation in northern Minnesota with festive overnights and activities along the route. This ride is open to cyclists of all levels of expertise.

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