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The tunnels on the Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail will open Wednesday, May 1, and three days later, the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual opening celebration for the bike trail at the bike depot in Sparta.

John Hendricks, director of the Sparta Chamber, said while the trail is technically open all year long, local officials prefer to hold a celebration the first weekend after the tunnels open, which are closed during winter and early spring.

“I think it’s an excellent opportunity for people to get re-introduced to the bike trial,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

There will be a few additions and changes to the event this year, Hendricks said.

First, instead of a lunch, the Chamber will provide a pancake breakfast for $2 from 8-10 a.m. In addition there’s a free bike shuttle available beginning at 8:30 a.m. to take bikers and their bikes to either the west to ride the La Crosse River Trail or to the east to Norwalk to ride a portion of the Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail that’s open.

“Sometimes people just like to go one way rather than having to go out and back,” Hendricks said. “This way we can shuttle them out, and they can bike back at their own pace.”

To utilize the shuttle, bikers need to make a reservation in advance; they can call either the chamber at 608-269-4123 or Speed’s Bike Shop.

Another addition to this year’s event is a celebration of the opening of the trout and general fishing opener, which also starts on May 4, at Ben Bikin’ Park in Sparta from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Fishermen are also encouraged send pictures of their catch of the day to the Chamber to be entered for a drawing of $50.

The official ribbon cutting will be held at 10 a.m. and from 9-11 a.m. there will be kids games offered at the depot.

To ride on the trails, cyclists must purchase a bike trail pass, which costs $5 for a day or $25 for the season. Passes are good for any trail in Wisconsin.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article had the location for the celebration at the trail depot in Kendall. The festivities will actually take place at the depot in Sparta.

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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