The Tour de Water, first held in 2018, returns this year on Saturday, May 22. The ride, sponsored by local small businesses, Efficiency Detectives and Island City Brewing, as well as the Recreation Alliance of Winona, offers cyclists, young and old, numerous options in distance and comfort level, all geared to novice riders who may hesitate to take on traditional rides that climb the region’s valleys or ride along state and county roads that include fast moving traffic.
Ride the Lake Loops: Beginning at Lake Winona cyclists can choose to ride the Lake Winona loop for an easy and flat 5.2 miles. A mainstay for local cyclists, the bike path wraps around the east and west sections of the lake on a wide paved path. To complete the full loop riders will cross Huff Street at well marked pedestrian crossings.
Take the Tour: Also beginning at Lake Park, more adventurous cyclists may choose the 20-mile urban tour. This loop is an urban circumnavigation of Winona and Goodview that takes cyclists past numerous Winona and Goodview parks, streams, lakes, the Mississippi, the new interstate bridge and back into town through the new Levee Park and back to Lake Winona. The ride includes two highway crossings and a section of sometimes busy Riverview Drive along Winona's port. Riders may be challenged by the interstate bridge but are rewarded with spectacular views of the river.
Do the Bridges: By taking the "Tour" and extending your ride across Winona's Historic Wagon Bridge, cyclists will be rewarded with a short trip over the old interstate highway between Winona and Wisconsin and along the edge of Aghaming Park, a wild and natural 1,100-acre floodplain forest and reserve. At the Wisconsin end, cyclists will be greeted with a new pedestrian bridge crossing over the Burlington Northern tracks and a crushed limestone pedestrian trail extending to the Town of Buffalo Park. This new Flyway Trail, the first section of which was only completed in late 2019, hopes to connect cyclists to the Great River Trail trailhead in Marshland in a few short years.
The goals of the Tour de Water are two fold: to introduce cyclists to the myriad of recreational options and scenic beauty of the city of Winona, and raise much need funds for the Southeast Minnesota and Western Wisconsin Regional Science and Engineering Fair. The fair, coming up on its 72nd year and features student scientific research from grades 6-12. Funds raised pay for registration fees for students advancing to state and international competition.
25 for 25: Registration for the Tour de Water is online only (a pandemic precaution), and the cost is only $25. The first 50 registrations will receive a free Camelbak water bottle. One-hundred percent of registration fees goes to the regional science fair. The ride is unsupported this year to minimize contacts during the pandemic, but the proximity to the communities makes this ride both inviting and a comfortable 25 miles. To register, examine the route(s), and find out more go to: https://tourdewater.weebly.com/ or go directly to ticket registration at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tour-de-water-tickets-146957801741.