Gray skies and a threat of rain couldn't keep cyclists away from the first annual Bike Opener at Heartland Park in Park Rapids last Saturday, May 16. Over 300 came to see the ribbon cutting for the new bridge over the Fish Hook River and ride the Heartland Trail in celebration of what chamber director Nicole Lalum hopes will be an annual event much like other season openers across the state.
" We have hunting opener and fishing opener, why not a biking opener?" she said after the event. " The Heartland Trail is right here, and it just makes sense."
Even in less than ideal weather, families came out to enjoy the newly updated park. There were used bikes for sale, a go-cart track, a string band and chair massages, a carnival-like atmosphere. Everyone received a free helmet and costumed kids zipped around on decorated bikes with their faces painted.
The initial idea for what she calls 'a celebration of all things bike' in Park Rapids was sparked early in 2014 and planning began in January of 2015, as a collaboration between the Park Rapids Area Chamber, Minnesota Department of Health, Northwest Composite Mountain Bike Team, Saint Joseph's Area Health Services, Hubbard County Bike Group, and Itascatur outdoor activity club.
"Our hope is that it gets bigger every year and gets more people interested in biking" said Nicole Lalum, who is already making plans for next year.
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