MANKATO — They weren't prepared for it. But they're sure glad it happened.
Organizers of the Mankato River Ramble say the event has grown quicker than expected. They're reaching more people than they ever thought they would, and they believe the event has contributed significantly to the number of people who choose to ride bikes instead of cars.
They've also been able to return some of the love the community has shown them by contributing financially to like-minded projects.
The Mankato River Ramble, scheduled for Oct. 6, is quickly becoming one of the area's biggest community events.
"The reason we started doing this is to encourage Mankato area citizens to ride," River Ramble organizer Tom Engstrom said. "And what we've found is that we think there are more people riding. Look at Visit Mankato's logo. It has a rider on it. Now, to say we caused that, I don't think that's the case. But I think we played a part. ... It's about developing the idea that Mankato is a good place to ride."
The Mankato River Ramble offers three different distances for riders of all abilities and ambitions. The shortest is a 12-mile loop that meanders around Minneopa Falls. The mid-range ride (26 miles) adds to the Minneopa ride by taking a detour out to Rapidan for a stop at the Dam Store. And the long ride, a 42-mile journey that Engstrom says is the one most often chosen by participants, covers some of the Minneopa ride (including the jaunt to Rapidan), but then heads out County Road 9 to Lake Crystal, north to Judson, then back to Land of Memories Park where all the rides begin.
Three rest stops are in place, each with live music and food to entertain riders.