by PAMELA EYDEN
When they first met in Utah years ago, some of Sundra and Patrick Menton’s first dates were on mountain bikes.
“He was already into it,” she said, “so I started riding, too.”
They married, moved to Winona and now have two kids, Avri and August. For them, biking is a family activity.
“We ride wherever we can ride together,” said Sundra. Sometimes that means riding around Lake Winona, sometimes it’s gravel country roads, and sometimes it’s the Root River Trail out of Rushford. At the end of that ride, there’s ice cream for a treat — a sure incentive.
The Mentons taught their children to ride using “balance bikes,” pedal-less bikes that toddlers can walk, stride, push and glide on. Kids seem to learn faster how to steer and keep their balance than when they start with tricycles or training wheels, Patrick said.
Avri has just finished her first year on the Winona Composites/Winona High School mountain biking team. She knows the trails up on the bluffs behind Holzinger Lodge and at Bronk Unit’s Cherry Hill pretty well by now. Her brother August just joined the team.
The family is taking their vacation in Bentonville, Ark., this spring. The town has become a mountain biking mecca because of its many miles of constructed mountain biking trails in nearby hills, ravines and forests.
Patrick, who works as Winona’s assistant recreation director, is an enthusiastic supporter of the new “Bluff Traverse” trail system Winona is planning to build. It will connect the town with the bluff top, and offer both hiking and biking trails for people of all skill levels.
“We have all the trailers and gear we need,” he said, “but when Winona’s new trails are built, we’ll be able to ride from our house, around town and to the top of the bluffs without driving.”