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Event mixes beer, bicycles to raise money for charity

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    http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070729/NEWS/707290307/1001--- Event mixes beer, bicycles to raise money for charity By Ben Shouse
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2007
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      Event mixes beer, bicycles to raise money for charity
      By Ben Shouse
      Published: July 29, 2007

      The Tour de France reached its climax Saturday, as the world's greatest
      cyclists raced for their sport's grandest prize.

      Barbie's first annual Charity Bicycle Poker Run also was Saturday. It was a
      bit more relaxed: The riders stopped at a bar every couple of miles, and one
      of them had only recently figured out which way the handlebars are supposed
      to point.

      But the camaraderie was world-class on the six-mile ride around the east
      side of Sioux Falls. And the effort raised about $1,000 for the Lupus
      Foundation and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, said Barbie Merritt, the
      organizer and a bartender at Eastway Sports Lounge and Grill.

      Merritt said she got tons of support from the regulars at Eastway for the
      event, which she started because she loves being on her hybrid bicycle.

      "It's the best feeling in the world," she said. "I smoke, too, but it clears
      my lungs."

      A little stressed out after weeks of planning, she prepared Saturday with a
      beer and a cigarette.

      "Are you drinking already?" Sharon Erickson called out when she noticed the
      Michelob Light bottle in her friend's hand.

      Erickson and her sister, Janis Oldre, were just drinking water at the moment
      but did not rule out a beer at one of the stops along the way - Cherry Creek
      Grill, Alpine Inn and Corner Pub and Casino. The two wore matching T-shirts
      that said "Erickson Girls, We're Innocent" - a claim they confirmed was

      The sisters were less than fully geared up. Lacking pockets for their
      cigarettes and cell phones, they had brought along a cloth wine-bottle bag
      adorned with feathers.

      Oldre said she initially had some troubles remembering how to ride a bike.

      "I just have to make sure I have my handlebars going the right direction.
      When I was practicing last week at the campground, I had them turned
      backwards," she said.

      "Only an Erickson could do that," her sister said. "She's trying to change
      gears and hitting the brakes, and it's like, 'Oh my gosh.' "

      In the end, though, the Erickson sisters completed the ride. In fact, all 42
      riders did, Merritt said - and only two fell off.

      One of those who crashed - he happens to own the bar - was making sure his
      wife and mother-in-law were OK when he hit a curb. The other had to lock up
      the brakes to avoid a four-wheeler and went over his handlebars.

      "My left hand clinched a little harder than my right, and I went down," said
      Ricky Edwards, a cook at Eastway.

      Alcohol was not a factor in either incident, riders say.

      And, it's probably worth noting, South Dakota law makes it clear that the
      Driving Under the Influence statute does not apply to: "(1) A horse or other
      animal; and (2) A bicycle, tricycle, or other unpowered foot-pedal

      Indeed, it was all completely legal. In that sense, the gang from Eastway
      has a leg up on the many Tour de France riders who have been kicked out of
      the race for using banned substances. And though none of these riders will
      be on the podium in Paris, they'll always have Eastway.

      "Once you walk into this place, it's like home," Merritt said.

      Reach Ben Shouse at 331-2318.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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