MARSHALL - As this year's Tour De Kota bicycle event approaches Marshall, local organizers and volunteers are hoping to pull out the stops for about 400 visitors. The cycle tour will make an overnight stop in town on Tuesday - the first time the event has ever visited a Minnesota community.
Members of the local TDK organizing committee said this week they're expecting more than 300 cyclists, plus supporters like friends and family, to arrive in Marshall Tuesday afternoon. Local officials, businesses and volunteers will be working together to offer food, shelter and even entertainment.
Doug Goodmund, assistant director of Marshall Community Services and a member of the organizing committee, said people have been doing a good job stepping up to help with the event.
"It takes a lot of people to put on an event like this," he said. Organizers said they were happy with the level of response.
"Getting the volunteers together was relatively easy," said committee co-chairman Chad Kulla.
"I think we had more volunteers than we needed," committee member Tom Hoff said.
Tour participants on Tuesday will approach Marshall from the south, along Lyon County Road 67 and camp out overnight at a "tent city" area and bike corral set up near the Marshall Middle School. On Wednesday morning, the cyclists' route will continue through Marshall and west on Minnesota Highway 19 toward Ivanhoe. Community volunteers and Marshall Police will be providing security at the campground and watching the weather, said Marshall Public Safety Director Rob Yant.
Yant said organizers want a safe event. Streets won't be closed off for the bike tour, he said, so drivers should exercise caution Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning. The bike routes will be marked with signs, and people should make use of existing bike lanes.
The tour will be a chance for Marshall to show off its downtown area and community, organizers said. Cyclists will be only a short distance from the Marshall Area YMCA, the new Memorial Park and Main Street. A meal and free concert by Larry Meyer at the Landmark Mercantile building will be the main event of the evening. The Marshall Community Band will also be playing music at the campgrounds.
Linda Erb of the Marshall Visitors Bureau said the bike tour will also be a chance for Marshall to live up to its status as a Minnesota GreenStep City. GreenStep Cities is a recognition program for Minnesota cities that adopt a set of best practices for quality of life and the environment. Erb said organizers are taking care to make the Marshall TDK stop as "green" as possible.
For example, she said, organizers are opting to have water refilling stations instead of selling bottled water, and will encourage visitors to use posted maps and information instead of using lots of printed copies.
"We're trying to keep our use of paper down," she said. One of the main ways organizers are helping to avoid litter is by posting codes that can be scanned by smart phones. The codes will help direct people to event information online, Erb said.
Perhaps most importantly, organizers said, the tour will be a great chance to promote cycling and healthy lifestyles in Marshall.
"I think (Tour De Kota organizers) recognized that Marshall was a bike-friendly community," Hoff said.