Tour makes SDSU stop

Interesting people, good food part of Tour de Kota for SDSU folks

Gary Wietgrefe was back where it all started and cited his alma mater for making it happen.

“I want to thank SDSU for opening up Hansen Hall, my old dorm. I get to stay on the second floor, although originally I was on the fourth floor during college. This is great, to be able to stay there, get showered, and come down for a pasta dinner.”

Wietgrefe, a 1978 graduate, and his wife, Patty, were one of nearly 500 bicycle riders who took part in the seventh annual Tour de Kota held June 5-10.

The contingent headquartered at Hansen Hall on the first leg of the tour—Sioux Falls to Brookings. The bikers turned the dormitory grounds into a tent city with pop-ups dotting the scene or they elected to spend the night in the dorm.

The 2011 edition, sponsored by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, was a 430-mile loop beginning and ending in Sioux Falls.

With a “back to campus” theme, the six-day tour included overnight stays at Augustana College, SDSU, Dakota State University in Madison, Mitchell, Freeman, University of South Dakota, and the University of Sioux Falls.

Among those taking part was SDSU President David Chicoine, who did the first two legs of the tour from Sioux Falls to Brookings and on to Madison the next morning.

Chicoine, along with cyclists from local towns and across the country not only took in the South Dakota landscape, they also experienced friendly folks and local food traveling the back roads and byways in the eastern portion of the state.

Discovering new places

Dan Schoen, donning biking attire following the initial eighty-three mile trek that saw the group make stops at Brandon, Garretson, Corson, the Nunda corner, and finally Brookings, hasn’t missed a Tour de Kota.

“I love South Dakota,” says Schoen, a 1972 mechanical engineering graduate from State. “There are very few warm months here so it’s nice to get out and really see the country, and the smaller towns do a bang-up job, they really do.”

He observes people come out, especially if their town is selected for an overnight stay. “There’s entertainment, all kinds of food and games, and the older generations just knock themselves out with their baked goods.”

Schoen, an engineer with Malloy Electric in Sioux Falls, relates another reason for doing the tour: “I enjoy getting away from the office, away from the telephone. I have a phone with me, but it’s turned off. It’s for my advantage, nobody else’s!”

Paul Fokken, an associate professor of recreation administration, has been at SDSU for seven years. Riding in his fourth Tour de Kota, he still comes across places he’s never seen before.

“We stop in small towns and I like to find out about their history,” he says. “We stopped at Devil’s Gulch in Garretson, which I didn’t even know was there. That was pretty cool to see.”

Wietgrefe, a bulk equipment specialist for Syngenta Seeds of Sioux Falls, notes he and his wife completed three days of the tour three years ago and, after doing all six days last year, they looked for a repeat performance this time around.

“It’s a lot of fun, and as we get older, we wanted to get into something where we could exercise together,” he says. “On these rides people can set their own pace. It’s also a wonderful way to see different parts of South Dakota and meet interesting people.”

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