by: Dave Jensen
For eight years now, residents of west-central MN have been converging upon a small lake located in the heart of Fergus Falls. Known to the locals as Lake Alice, it conjures up myths dating back to the infamous cyclone of 1919, which was believed to have deposited treasures within its murky waters. It wasn’t until 2013 that a local cyclist finally discovered its hidden treasure. Contrary to myth, it wasn’t gold or silver. It was much more valuable. It was a treasure only a cyclist could truly appreciate – the perfect bike loop!
While Lake Alice was already a popular destination for cyclists, it wasn’t until that crazy rider set out to complete an entire century ride along its banks that it became something special. Intended to be a publicity stunt for an upcoming charity ride across the country, he was fully prepared for the 87-lap century ride to be mind-numbing. To his surprise, it was just the opposite.
Accustomed to lonely highway riding, he found the ongoing interaction with walkers, joggers, and other cyclists to be very refreshing. It wasn’t long before other cyclists were jumping on his rear wheel hoping to keep pace for a lap or two. Add to that the convenience of snacks, refreshments, and restrooms every lap, and he was starting to think he had discovered the perfect century. Unfortunately for him, the weather took a turn for the worse that day and forced him to take cover. Under normal circumstances, this would’ve resulted in a frantic rescue call from a distant highway. However, living just blocks from Lake Alice, he was out of his cold wet gear and into warm dry clothes in a matter of minutes.
Lying in bed that night there was no doubt in his mind that he would attempt the challenge again. However, at the suggestion of his friend, he decided to pose the challenge to the local bike community, and the Lake Alice 100 was born. As the branch manager of the local Affinity Plus Credit Union, his friend even offered to sponsor it. No one knew what to expect, but with over 150 participants taking part that first year, they knew they were on to something special.
Since then, the Lake Alice 100 has served as the unofficial kick-off to the spring riding season. Coined as “The World’s Most Compact Century,” it’s a very festive atmosphere with music, food, and fun. Expenses have always been covered through donations, and there’s never a fee to participate. While the LA100 Founders still help host the event, it’s recently come under the direction of the local bike advocacy group, Pedal Fergus Falls. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the event has been canceled the past two Springs. However, Pedal Fergus Falls recently announced that the 2021 event would be made up on Saturday, August 21st. Headquartered out of St. James Church on the south side of the lake, participants are welcome to sign a waiver and ride laps anytime between 9 AM and 4 PM. Cyclists of all ages and abilities are welcome. More information is available at dreambigtour.net/lake-alice-100.