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VIDEO: Ready, set ... slow!

Ryan Peterson with First National Bank of Osakis battled Widseth Smith and Nolting's Tim Schoonhoven down to the finish line at Thursday's Slow Bike Challenge. (Photo by Al Edenloff)2 / 4
Emma Reinek took the slowest honors in the children's division.3 / 4
Juergen Brunkhorst was the big winner in the adult division, taking home a $200 gift certificate from The Bike and Fitness Company. (Photo by Al Edenloff)4 / 4

A slow bicycle race at the Eco Fair Thursday not only offered a unique competitive challenge, it also provided a peek into new bicycles that will pedal around the trails in Alexandria this summer.

Active Living Douglas County's BikeShare program is expanding its fleet of free, green bikes from four to 10, according to Jessica Peterson.

"A big part of our mission is getting more people out on bikes," Peterson told onlookers at the second annual Slow Bike Challenge.

Just as last year, four adult bicycles are now available, free of charge, at the Central Lakes trail head bike rack at Big Ole Park. Six more are now stationed at the Alexandria Area YMCA and must be checked in and out.

The bikes at the Y include two adult bicycles and four for children. Those who use the bikes must return them inside the Y facility, where they will be stored.

Last year's BikeShare program, the first time it was offered in Alexandria, was a big hit, according to Jessica Peterson with Active Living.

In just five weeks, users collectively logged 1,503 miles, enough to theoretically reach Los Angeles, California.

Community members are encouraged to use the bicycles to explore Alexandria and the Central Lakes Trail for free, and then return the bicycle for the next user.

The program is a communitywide effort with partnership from Jake's Bikes, The Bike and Fitness Club, Alexandria Parks Department and residents.

The 10 bicycles were purchased through Jake's Bikes and The Alexandria Bike and Fitness Company.

"Both of these local bicycle shops maintain the bikes, in nearly all instances, free of charge," Peterson noted. "Without their strong support of Douglas County BikeShare, it wouldn't happen."

You can help by reporting damaged or abandoned bikes by calling or texting (320) 304-2929.

Those competing in the Slow Bike Challenge tested out the new bicycles. The rules were simple: The last one to cross the finish line, a mere 25 feet away, was the winner.

Getting there slowly wasn't so simple. The competitors had to keep their bikes moving but couldn't let their feet touch the ground.

This led to a lot of wobbling, hopping, balancing and frantic turning of the bike handles to try to keep moving at a snail's pace.

A referee, George Odio Jr., kept a close eye on the bicyclists to make sure they were following the rules.

After a few heats and qualifying rounds, the winners emerged.

Juergen Brunkhorst with Widseth Smith and Nolting was the slowest in the adult division, picking up a $200 gift card from The Bike and Fitness Company.

The children's winner was Emma Reineke. She won a $200 gift certificate from Jake's Bikes.

View the video online at

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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