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More bikers expected to explore Central Lakes Trail in Douglas County

Alexandria biker looks forward to riding on new U.S. route that includes the Central Lakes Trail.

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Jeff Brand of Alexandria, middle, is pictured with two high school friends, Andy Hvidston, left, and Larry Seljevold, while on a bicycle trip on the North Shore. Brand, a retired orthopedic surgeon who worked at Heartland Orthopedic, a service of Alomere Health, and Hvidston, experienced medical school and orthopedic residency together. The three friends have been on several bicycle trips together and plan to bike the new U.S. Bicycle Route 20, which runs along the Central Lakes Trail in Douglas County.
Contributed photo
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DOUGLAS COUNTY — The Central Lakes Trail has an estimated 107,000 bicyclists riding on it each year. That number could get a whole lot bigger as the Central Lakes Trail is now part of the new U.S. Bicycle Route 20.

Part of the route passes through the Alexandria lakes area on the Central Lakes Trail.

The new route , at 188 miles, travels east to west across the state from St. Cloud to Moorhead and North Dakota border.

Map of US Bike Route 20.jpg
Contributed / Minnesota Department of Transportation

Jeff Brand, a retired orthopedic surgeon from Alexandria and the president of the Big Ole Bike Club , is looking forward to the new bike route and feels it will be good for the area.

“I think it is going to get used and it will bring more riders through the Alexandria area,” he said.

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s website , Bicycle Route 20 meets up with U.S. Bicycle Route 45/Mississippi River Trail in St. Coud where riders can connect north toward Brainerd and Itasca State Park or south toward the Twin Cities, U.S. Bicycle Route 41, Wisconsin and Iowa.

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The website also noted that there are Amtrak train stops in St. Paul, Minneapolis, St. Cloud and Fargo along U.S. Bicycle Route 20, giving options for an easy and scenic return trip.

The new bicycle route takes advantage of several state and regional trails – like the Central Lakes Trail – with more than two-thirds of the route on paved trails. The remaining parts are on the shoulders of paved roads or on lanes shared with motor vehicles.

USBR 20 in Minnesota Panel Maps by Celeste Edenloff on Scribd

Between Waite Park and Osakis, according to the MnDOT website, the route follows the 65-mile Lake Wobegon Regional Trail, which is fully paved and 10-feet wide. In Osakis, the westbound route turns into the Central Lakes Trail, which is a 14-foot wide, 55-mile long paved trail.

Both the Wobegon and the Central Lakes trails are used for snowmobiling in the winter months with conditions generally not suitable for bicycling from December to April.

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Bicyclists ride along the Central Lakes Trail, which runs from Osakis to Fergus Falls.
Echo Press file photo

The Central Lakes Trail will take bicyclists to Fergus Falls.

Most of the route between Fergus Falls and Moorhead will use state highways and county roads. Full details of the route, along with maps, can be found on MnDOT’s website, www.dot.state.mn.us/bike/usbr20-maps.html.

Brand said there is a website, Warm Showers , that is for what he called “through bikers” who do a lot of self-supported long distance tours on their bicycles. The Big Ole Bike Club has hosted riders before through this website and he feels with this new route, there will be opportunities to host even more.

Anyone can join the website and can become a member, become a host or even find a host.

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“As a bike enthusiast, it’s fantastic for through bikers,” said Brand. “And now with this new bike route through our area, it’s going to be huge.”

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Jeff Brand of Alexandria, president of the Big Ole Bike Club, is shown with his touring bike and panniers, which are bags often carried in pairs that are slung over the front and back of bicycles.
Contributed photo

Brand and two high school friends, Andy Hvidston and Larry Seljevold, are looking into biking the new U.S Bicycle Route 20 yet this year. The three of them have done several bike trips together.

He expects this one will take a good week as the plan is for them to start in Moorhead, bike the whole route to St. Cloud, then finish by bicycling back to Alexandria. They will most likely tent along the way, but will also likely use the Warm Showers website to find places to stay and shower.

As for food, he said they will carry some food with them, but will also go out to eat in towns along the way. The plan is to ride anywhere between 40 and 60 miles per day, he said.

Brand said he is looking forward to having the Central Lakes Trail as part of the new U.S. Bike Route 20 and that it will be good for the community.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects lead and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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