Biking for Brains: The Lake Superior Circle Tour

Fundraising for Bike Safety Awareness

Did you know that cycling is the leading cause of sports-related head injuries? While football tends to dominate the discussion of sports-related head injuries, research shows that bike accidents account for far more traumatic brain injuries each year. The statistics are astounding:

Each year, nearly 90,000 people sustain head injuries due to bike accidents. Approximately 90% of people killed in biking accidents were not wearing helmets. Cycling is the leading cause of sports-related head injuries in children under 14. (source: American Association of Neurological Surgeons) The list goes on… and so should the helmets!

This August, two tenacious women from Duluth will strap on their helmets, hop on their bikes, and ride 1,300 miles around Lake Superior. This past week, The Duluth Experience had a chance to interview Sonja Bjordal and get a little more insight into the ride, her inspiration, and the need to raise more awareness about bike safety.

Sonja & Emily

Sonja (L) & Emily (R)

DeXp: Please start out by telling us a little bit about yourself, your riding partner Emily (Patrice Michog), and how the two of you got involved with Restart, Inc. and their program to raise awareness about bike safety.

Sonja: When we started planning the trip, we thought about hooking up with a charity and trying to give it a greater cause and make it bigger than just us. We have both worked closely with individuals with brain injuries, Emily as a rehab nurse and myself working in group homes in the area. I have a friend at Restart that mentioned their most recent campaign was bike safety awareness, and I told her about our trip and that is how Restart got on board. They are based out of the metro area, but work with folks all over the state of Minnesota and are a great resource for people with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injuries), and have had great success with reintegrating people back into the community through job coaches, personal aids and social resources.

So, we have been working with Jessica Mathias at Restart and have been reaching out to people in Duluth and the Twin Cities.

DeXp: At what point did you and Emily decided you were going to bike 1,300 miles around Lake Superior? Was the fundraising component there from the beginning?

Sonja: Emily and I have been dreaming about doing the Lake Superior Circle Tour for a couple of years at least. We have been riding and running partners for a long time and knew that we would be great partners for a trip like this.

DeXp: How do you prepare mentally for an expedition of this magnitude?

Sonja: Kris McNeal (Big Water Bike)has been giving us some great tips on places to stay and folks to look up, as well as providing moral support on how to mentally deal with a trip of this kind. We have been training a lot and saving our pennies in preparation for the trip and our jobs have been so very kind to allow a “leave of absence” so to say.

DeXp: What will you be riding? What’s your setup?

Sonja: Emily and I are both riding vintage steel frame road bikes that have been modified in order to handle the weight of gear for a long tour. we are each using panniers and plan on camping most of the time. we have contacted some hosts on the bikers website, – hopefully we will have a few places to stay indoors and clean up a bit!

DeXp: How do people donate to the cause and follow your progress?

If you’d like to make a donation to Sonja & Emily’s effort and Redstart, Inc., please visit: Biking for Brains Charity Ride

Your support not only helps to spread the important message of bicycling safety, it allows Restart clients the opportunity to gain back independence and live healthy, satisfying lives.

Follow Sonja and Emily throughout their journey by following their blog: Biking for Brains Blog.
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If you’re interested in learning more about our guided mountain bike trips, please visit The Duluth Traverse Mountain Bike Adventure Page and consider booking your next adventure with The Duluth Experience!

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