Todd and Jen Reinert stand in front of the Habberstad House in Lanesboro where they spent their fifth wedding anniversary last week. The couple had spent their honeymoon biking in and around Lanesboro five years ago, but this year, the couple chose Lanesboro as a destination and biked the entire route from Fort Collins, Colo., to southeastern Minnesota to celebrate their special day.  PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVE HUISINGA
Todd and Jen Reinert stand in front of the Habberstad House in Lanesboro where they spent their fifth wedding anniversary last week. The couple had spent their honeymoon biking in and around Lanesboro five years ago, but this year, the couple chose Lanesboro as a destination and biked the entire route from Fort Collins, Colo., to southeastern Minnesota to celebrate their special day. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVE HUISINGA
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Most people come to Lanesboro to bike the trails. Jen and Todd Reinert biked TO Lanesboro - from Fort Collins, Colo., - to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The Reinerts were actually returning to the scene of their honeymoon of five years ago, at the Habberstad House.

Jen had grown up in Omaha, Neb., and Todd close to Green Bay, Wis. Their wedding was in Omaha, with the reception in her parents' back yard. The criteria for the honeymoon destination included that it be within a reasonable distance of Omaha, and have potential for good biking, a passion for both of them.

A friend told Todd about Lanesboro, this little town he had just visited for the first time, so Todd checked it out on the Internet. It looked like a charming town, and when he saw the photos of the Habberstad House, it seemed perfect. In fact, it turned out to be so perfect that they decided to come back for this fifth anniversary.

Biking tours are pre-planned

The trip took about a year of planning. The Reinerts left home on May 3, and built in a visit to Spring Green, Wis., to a friend's cabin where that friend holds an annual Back Woods Festival. So it was a chance for Todd, who had lived for several years in nearby Madison, to see friends and enjoy good music. It was also a chance to rest up and relax after several days of hard biking.

There is a pattern to their biking, with six to seven days of an average of 50 to 60 miles per day, followed by at least one rest day before they get back on the road again.

Todd's first bike tour was in 1976, so he has a lot of experience and knows the need to plan out the night stops. Jen calls those stops the "nice carrots" and they usually camp in some small town selected in advance.

According to Todd, those night stops have to be planned out because, for instance, when they left Fort Collins, they knew that they would have to cover a hundred miles before nightfall. There were no towns - meaning places to stay or camp or eat - in between.

Making the first day the longest ride fit right into the Reinerts' pre-trip planning. Doing the most difficult - longer - days early in the trip means that later on they can be more flexible. Putting Colorado and western Nebraska behind them meant that there would be more towns, and choices of places to stop for the night, and of course also shorter days on the bikes, along with flatter terrain. The pre-planned night stops are "anchors" for their journey.

They have a daily routine, being in a "breakfast café" by nine, and getting a map via iPhone to plan the day and route. The wind makes a difference in deciding which specific route to take to their next "anchor."

They actually combine their camping with a mix of inexpensive motels and B&Bs. They often reference Warm Showers (warmshowers.org), an online site for hosting bikers, staying in one home in Winona on this trip. They also host bikers themselves, including at various times four men from Boston, three women from Chicago, and even a newly-graduated veterinarian who was biking across America before starting her practice.

Bikers meet interesting people

The Reinerts find every stop to be an adventure. There does not have to be a campground with showers, though that is nice. They often stay in the town's park, and try to find the "town cop" to make sure the officials know they are there and that their intentions are good. They often get offers to stay at people's homes when they are touring on bicycles.

They always meet interesting people. On one trip, "B.J." (Before Jen), Todd was bike touring in Oregon, and was talking with a man he met where he was camping. The man was a river rafting guide and was taking some guests on a trip down the McKenzie River the next day. However, his other guide was sick and couldn't go, and he had been unable to find anyone to take that spot. He couldn't go out alone, but the three out-of-town guests were already there and ready to go. Having talked to Todd, and found out about Todd's experiences in rafting, he asked if he'd take the other slot. He told him, "You just have to paddle, and act like my employee." Todd did it, and was elated for the chance to raft that particular beautiful river.

Not far from Lanesboro, the Reinerts had another of those unplanned visits. They stopped at a small town on their way to Lanesboro, and started talking to some women. Everyone is curious, of course, and when these women found out the direction the Reinerts were traveling, they said the bikers should stop in Fremont at the Fremont Store to see Martha.

They did, and described the store as "right out of a movie set."

They went inside and asked the clerk if Martha was there. The clerk went into the back, and soon Martha came out to welcome them. Martha, at 97 years old, spent some time telling them about the history - 157 years of it - of the store and her own role.

That experience was just one of the many encounters they enjoy as part of biking. Todd, in preplanning the tours, allows time for those unexpected stops and adventures, adding that "all the people we run into are very kind."

Touring on bikes both challenging and rewarding

Both talked about the challenge of fatigue. Because they regularly, at least once a week, do long-range bike trips, they still find the 75- to 100-mile days a big hurdle, so they try to get those out of the way early in the journey. Both also expressed a dislike for riding into the wind, agreeing that wind has the ability to make people a little "owly." But they work it out, Todd saying he has experience on his side, Jen admits to the advantage of youth on hers. Put them together, and they practice "slow and steady wins the race."

Biking is a great form of tension release for Jen. She works as an oncology nurse at a hospital in Fort Collins, which is a high stress job, and she is aware of the constant need to re-charge. She bikes the three miles each way to and from work, weather permitting, and finds it a good way to start unwinding at the end of the day.

Of course it helps that she and Todd have another ritual. "He allows me to talk about work for about a half hour every time I come home from the 12-hour days that I work." She works a three-day, 12-hour, six-week rotating schedule. Most weekends, they do a 20- to 45-mile bike tour.

Todd is a self-employed professional photographer and does everything from portraits for business and families, weddings and architectural photography. For him, his background in professional photography allows him to see the landscape with a photographer's eye. He finds great pleasure in the rural views, including barns, farms, fields and cows while propelling himself down the road under his own power.

Both mentioned feeling "self-contained on a bike, where the world's problems come down to the wind." It simplifies life, can allow the biker to become isolated from problems, and promotes serenity. They both love "chatting up people" and also the small towns.

The rest of the trip

From Lanesboro and another great stay at the Habberstad House, they were heading back to Madison, Wis., where they will again meet up with friends and have some rest days. From there, they are hitching a ride back to Colorado with one of those friends, toting the bikes on his bike rack. They expect to be back home at Fort Collins by June 17 and back to work on June 18.

When asked if they would be coming back to Lanesboro and the Habberstad House for their tenth anniversary, they said that was indeed in their plans. They already have the ritual of a bike tour every year on their anniversary, and expect to come back every five years to Lanesboro.

Jen added a caveat, "But I don't know if we'll be riding the bikes all the way again!"