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Father-daughter team to bike 500 miles for Habitat

Dan, Melody, Dave, Angela and Joy Peterson get ready to take a bike ride with the Lakes Area Bike Club Tuesday evening. Dave and Angela are preapring for a 500-mile trek in support of Habitat for Humanity July 12-18.

Last year Dave Peterson and his son, Josh, took a 500-mile bike ride in support of Habitat for Humanity. This year, Dave Peterson is gearing up for the trek again, this time with his daughter, Angela.

"The high school graduate and her much getting older dad -- that's the way I put it," he said with a laugh.

"It was fabulous, a really good experience," Peterson said of last year's trip. "What topped it off for me was being with people passionate about building homes for people who need homes."

Peterson said his son wanted to participate once again this year, but he won't be able make the event.

"He is in basic training, or he would be riding for sure," said dad.

In its 17th year, each year the 500-mile route moves around the state of Minnesota, and this year it begins in southern Minnesota, in Faribault on July 12. From there, the Petersons will ride 60 miles to Rochester, via the Douglas Trail.

Day Two is 75 miles to Rushford. Day Three is bike, build or breather day, where riders have the choice to ride a 65-mile loop around Rushford, help work on a Habitat for Humanity house being built in Rushford, or take a breather that day and relax.

Day Four resumes the trek, going 100 miles to Grand Meadow. Day Five is 80 miles to Albert Lea, Day Six is 70 miles to Lake Crystal, and Day Seven is 60 miles back to Faribault, via the Sakatah Singing Hills Trail on July 18.

Last year, his first year riding, Peterson and his son raised about $8,000, all of which went back to the Detroit Lakes area chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and was put toward construction of the Ohman house in Frazee.

Peterson said about four weeks after the ride, he was eating at a restaurant in Detroit Lakes and a young boy he knew saw his Habitat T-shirt and came up to him to ask what he had to do with Habitat. Peterson told the boy he raised money for the house through a bike ride. The boy was excited because the Ohmans were his aunt and uncle. That, Peterson said, was a nice, unexpected connection to the event.

And although they were prepared for the actual ride after training for weeks beforehand, "The first day out, we didn't know anybody and we had a wind that was out of sight," he said.

But, they got to know other bikers and the weather calmed down, making the remainder of the ride more enjoyable. In fact, Peterson said, his son met a young woman from Michigan on the ride and they are still in a relationship.

The 120-plus riders raised a total of about $300,000 during last year's ride, and this year, Dave and Angela have a new, even bigger personal goal.

"Habitat is building two houses this year. Our goal is to raise $5,000 for each," he said.

He added that there is a possibility for a matching donation for the first $2,000 raised.

"We're doing it to build homes," Peterson said.

Along the way, bikers are fed by churches and housed by churches, in community centers, etc. The communities are all very supportive, he said.

Same as last year, Peterson -- and now his daughter too -- has been riding as much as he can in his spare time.

"It's more than a one-week commitment, it's at least a six-week commitment," he said. "Any spare time is saddle time."

Donations for the Petersons' Habitat for Humanity ride can be dropped off at First Lutheran Church, and 100 percent of those proceeds go back to Habitat. People can also submit donations online at, but an administrative fee is taken out of the donation. Donations are tax deductible.