by Trevor Hass
When doctors told Brenda Reinert she’d be unable to run competitively anymore, she took up biking as a new hobby.
The Otsego resident Reinert had three kidney surgeries, a partial thyroidectomy and skin cancer at various points from 2012 to 2015, and was a patient at the Mayo Clinic up until last year. She wasn’t an avid biker before these health problems, but in the past year and a half she’s started riding around the Midwest to stay active.
Reinert was one of 20 total Otsego, Elk River, Rogers and Zimmerman residents – eight from Rogers and Otsego and two from Zimmerman and Elk River – to ride in the Tour de Tonka in Minnetonka on Saturday, Aug. 6. Rogers’ Mike Sisto, Otsego’s Nate Lutgen and Reinert all had extremely positive experiences with the Tour and said they’re eager to return next year.
“The ride was amazingly organized and I will definitely be participating until I die,” Reinert said.
Before riding in the Tour de Tonka, Reinert participated in Ragbrai – a seven-day, 420-mile trek across Iowa, so she’s no stranger to lengthy courses. She said she was very impressed by the way the Tour was organized, noting that her poor sense of direction wasn’t a problem due to the volunteers and markings on the road.
She said the crowd, staff, T-shirt pickup and band were all top notch, and riding in her first 100-miler went quite smoothly. The courses ranged from 16 to 100 miles and all had different names. There were courses for everyone from children to the most experienced riders.
“It’s a great sport,” Reinert said. “Anyone can do it.”
Sisto and his wife, Trisha, each completed the 57-mile course. Trisha first found out about it by seeing T-shirts in public, so she figured she’d investigate to see what the fuss was about.
Trisha and Mike were not disappointed by the Tour. Sisto praised the organizers for putting together great live music and having a steady supply of food to fuel up along the way. He looked at the event as a great way to push himself and to spend time with family and friends.
Sisto finished the course, but he admits he did wipe out once along the way when he hit a curb. That wasn’t entirely his fault, though, as he was stuck riding a fat bike. He estimated there were only four people using fat bikes out of more than 2,000 competitors.
“I definitely wouldn’t use a fat bike again,” Sisto said. “I would make sure to use a road bike next time. It pushed me to my limits, but in the end it was a great time.”
For Lutgen, the experience was a mix of overwhelming and awesome, but he said the awesomeness outweighed the overwhelming aspect. He said there are so many bikers that riders are in a constant line of bikes, even at several stretches throughout the 100-mile course he completed.
He was first introduced to the Tour five years ago by one of his wife’s hockey teammates. Lutgen and his wife started out with the 45-miler, but they’ve steadily increased the distance each year.
This year was their first time doing the 100-mile event. He said it was possible due to some extra training and additional miles around the neighborhood in the months leading up to the Tour.
“Once you do the 77 miles, 100 miles isn’t that big of a jump,” Lutgen said. “It’s more of a mental barrier to overcome, not a physical barrier.”
He enjoyed zigzagging through Wayzata, Delano, Chaska and other towns, and he had a blast interacting with other riders, just like he did the previous four years.
These three locals were just a trio of thousands of riders in the Tour, but the event meant something different to each of them. It brought them all together to take part in something they all enjoyed tremendously.