Ironman Bike Ride gets a warm welcome in Lake Elmo

cyclists3It was a very warm welcome, in fact, for the 47th annual Ironman bike ride — the National Weather Service said the high temperature topped out at 81.  That’s about 24 degrees warmer than the average over the previous five years.

“It was incredible weather,” said Ryan McEnaney, spokesman for the Ironman ride. “People were saying it was the best weather ever for the ride.”

Participants for the 47th annual version of the ride included 3,680 pre-registered riders and 1,016 walk-ups at the Washington County fairgrounds — an all time high for same-day registration. Riders had a choice of 4 different routes, ranging from 14 to 54 miles, running from Scandia in the north to hilly Afton in the south.

The ride moved from Lakeville, where it was held last year. It has previously been held in Buffalo and Minneapolis.

There were some glitches — dozens of bathroom stalls at the fairgrounds were still frozen, making for some long lines at porta-potties. Cyclists arriving in their cars also backed up for more than a mile at the fairgrounds entrance. Some gave up and parked on the side of the road to get to the ride’s start.

“We’re definitely working on parking next year,” McEnaney said.

But he said the ride went smoothly, without any traffic incidents or injuries, and that they’re already working on improvements for next year.