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Big group expected for STOKR

| May 5, 2004 12:00 AM

Registration for STOKR — the Scenic Tour of the Kootenai River bike ride — was stopped in mid-April with 351 riders set to come to Libby on Friday and Saturday, May 7-9.

It¹s by far the biggest group of riders to sign up in the 10-year history of the event, said organizer Susie Rice.

³We¹ve never filled our quota before and we raised the numbers this year,² Rice said. ³We¹ve turned so many people away. We¹ve created a monster.²

Last year, registration closed with 297 riders and in 2002, the ride brought in 268 cyclists.

³The limiting factor (to bringing in more bicyclists) is the available accommodations in town, but how many pasta salads can volunteers make?² Rice asked. ³How much can you ask of a small community?²

Bicyclists will be coming from as far away as Southern California, Anchorage, Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia and Casper, Wyo. The majority come from Spokane with an increasing number from the Seattle area, Rice said. This year¹s event will include the largest number of local riders, too.

Rice credited local resident Bob Hensler for boosting the interest among local riders. Hensler, who is preparing to ride a bicycle to his 50th high school reunion in Wisconsin, has been teaching a class at the Montana Athletic Club-Libby.

All proceeds of the STOKR ride will benefit Kootenai Valley Partners of Habitat for Humanity.

Bicyclists will begin arriving as early as Wednesday but the bulk of them will come in on Friday for registration, Rice said.

On Saturday, May 8, bikers can choose between a 98-mile ride and a shorter ride of 45 miles, both starting at 8 a.m.

The longer ride starts in Libby and heads west along the Kootenai River. The route turns and follows the Yaak River before returning to Libby over Pipe Creek Road.

The second option also starts out heading west along the Kootenai River. The ride meanders through the Lake Creek drainage before heading back to Libby along the Kootenai.

On Sunday, May 9, a 37-mile ride follows the Kootenai River upstream to Lake Koocanusa and the visitor center at Libby Dam.

Organizing STOKR involves more than 300 volunteers, from people making cookies and pasta salads to those preparing entry forms for mailing, to support drivers and medical personnel, Rice said.

Volunteers staff stations along the routes to feed and provide other assistance to the riders.

In 2002, STOKR raised more than $15,000 for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.