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Bike tour passes through Worthington

After traveling more than 2,000 miles across riverfronts, mountainous terrain and prairie lands, cyclists pedaled their way to the Travelodge Monday afternoon for an overnight stay in Worthington. A group of 55 cyclists and seven staff members ventured from Sioux Falls, S.D., to Worthington as a part of The Across America North Tour.

The Across America North Tour creates a number of cycling tours each summer for cyclists who want to see the United States in a unique way -- from the seat of their own bicycle. On average, the cyclists log 80 miles each day over the course of 50 days, with five days off to tour major destination points.

The group started their journey in Astoria, Ore. and will conclude the trip in Portsmouth, N.H. - making the cross-country journey a total of 3,650 miles.

Through the cycling organization, America by Bicycle, cyclists are provided an overnight stay in the comforts of a nice hotel, with a hearty meal and relaxation to complete a long day of cycling. Also, America by Bicycle provides the transportation of luggage and a bicycle mechanic for cyclists participating in the tour.

Barbara Munk, the logistics coordinator, expressed her joy for the unique individuals who are participating in The Across America North Tour.

"Everyone has something unique to offer to our cycling group," said Munk. "Our group has quite an age range. From 20-73 years of age, we have such different perspectives on life offered right here that we always have something to talk about."

Munk has been involved with the America by Bicycle company since 2001 and has led countless tours with the help of her husband.

"We have people cycling for donation companies, people who've quit their jobs to cycle and even a foreign cyclists whose come to see America with us," explained Munk.

Carolyn Bolton, 52, of Australia, joined The Across America North Tour to see the United States from the seat of her bicycle.

"It's such a fantastic opportunity for me to see a country that I've never seen before," said Bolton. "And Minnesota has been wonderful so far. The people are amazing and so friendly here in town."

Other members of the group who are cycling to raise donations for cancer foundations or blood drives bring purpose to the cycling tour.

"We have a number of individuals who are cycling for a good cause," said Munk. "It's amazing what they are trying to do to help raise the awareness of cancer and the dependency of blood used in hospitals."

Dan and Judy Clawson have been touring across America in hopes of raising funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Larry Frederick for the Life Across America blood drive.

Frederick suffered from a life-threatening leg wound when he was hit by a car traveling at speeds greater than 100 mph. He used over 65 liters of blood and lived to tell the truth about how important blood donors are in America.

"It was a traumatic event in my life," said Frederick. "By living to tell my story, I find the cycling tours give me purpose in life. This is my third tour and by far it's the prettiest ride I've been on. The company has everything organized and planned out just perfect for us cyclists. And not only do you meet amazing people, but strong cyclist who give inspiration to others around you."

With a unique connection to Worthington, brothers Chuck and Tyler Campbell are cycling to raise donations in memory of their older brother who died of melanoma cancer. The Campbell brothers have been excited to arrive in Worthington for one particular reason - their step-father's last name is Worthington.

"I've always wanted to cycle through Worthington," said Chuck. "And when I turned 60 I decided to join The Across America North Tour in memory of my brother and raise awareness of cancer."

With a unique group of cyclists, friendships are bound to grow and nurture throughout time. For Munk, and many other cyclists, these friendships last a lifetime.

"We started out as complete strangers, learned so much about each other and can relate so well that now we've become family," said Munk. "This is really the experience of a lifetime."