I want to state this for the record: The Lake Alice 100 might be my new favorite Minnesota bike ride and I want this best-kept-secret to be a lot less secretive.
It would be irresponsible to describe the Lake Alice 100 bicycle ride without first stating an important disclaimer; few of those who participate in the event will complete (or have any desire to complete) the namesake “100” as in 100 miles or 87 of the 1.2-mile laps around Lake Alice in Fergus Falls on the first Saturday in May. So why even have that in the name at all? Well, that’s one of the best things about this ride. The beginning and end of it are completely self-defined. Okay, fine, it does “start” at 9 am and “ends” at 4 pm, but anyone is free to come along at any time during the day and ride as much as they please. With a 1.2-mile loop, you’re never more than 1.2 miles away from the next rest stop where you can grab a banana, some Gatorade, or socialize with the members of Pedal Fergus Falls who host the FREE event with a handful of local sponsors.
Why is it my new favorite ride?
- The town of Fergus Falls.
I was quickly charmed by the vast variety of independent businesses and their friendly proprietors that encompass downtown Fergus Falls. In the short time I was there I enjoyed wood-fired pizza, a high-quality breakfast with locally roasted coffee, and even some artisan chocolates to bring home to my partner. Fergus is an incredibly pleasant place to walk around and explore. Hear from the Fergus Falls Mayor, local Bicycle Friendly Businesses, and advocates in this short video from last year’s Minnesota Walk Bike Summit!
- The route is darn near perfect.
With only 40 ft. of climbing over 1.2 miles, you’ll notice the loop is reasonably flat with just a little climb at the end of the lap to add some variety. The scenery is great with waterfowl shoving each other to claim space on the tiny island on the north end and turtles sunning themselves along the shore. You won’t encounter a single stop sign on the entire loop so the effort that comes with starting and stopping is only when you decide to take a break. The route is also a one-way road further reducing the likelihood of encountering dangerous encounters with automobile traffic all of whom I did encounter were courteous to all participants. Finally, this short route is fantastic for participating in the event with those of different skill levels. Those who want to go for the full “century” can still do a lap or two with those who are just looking to get a few “party-pace” laps in and they can always catch other riders on the next lap as they come around so no need to expect long miles without seeing other smiling faces. For the 2022 ride, I’m guessing I saw participants with ages between 5 and 80 riding all sorts of different bicycles and completing different total distances but all on the shared course. I can think of very few rides that offer anything that comes close to that.
- It’s FREE!
No really. Zero dollar entry fee. But, if you’re like me, you won’t be able to resist purchasing a Pedal Fergus Falls t-shirt featuring Otto the Otter. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want one too. This event is a labor of love to highlight the community and get as many folks excited to use their bikes more often in their daily lives.
So to recap, mark your calendar now for the 10th anniversary of the Lake Alice 100 happening on Saturday, May 6th, 2023 in hopes that it’ll be the biggest Lake Alice 100 ever. Whether your Lake Alice 100 is 100 miles, 100 kilometers, 100 furlongs (about 12.5 miles), 100 minutes, 100 light-years, or just a good excuse to lounge by a quaint lake and watch others ride bikes all day be assured you’ll be in 100% good company in Fergus Falls every May.