Biking Bob rides into town

Since 2002, the man who has been affectionately nicknamed "Biking Bob" has ridden through about 11,500 miles of Minnesota. Today, he'll make a stop in Cloquet and Duluth as he rides another 2,300 more.

Robert Erickson, the 61-year-old chairman of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation, has logged the miles to raise scholarship money for part-time MnSCU students.

His tour started Monday at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids and will take him about a month to stop at all 53 MnSCU campuses, averaging about 80 to 100 miles a day.

In his first five tours, MnSCU said Erickson raised about $300,000, providing scholarships to 225 students.

Erickson will be starting his day riding 51 miles from Sandstone to Cloquet to arrive at the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College at 10:30 a.m. He'll then ride 25 miles to Lake Superior Community College, where he's set to arrive at 2 p.m. He'll take off for 33-mile ride to Two Harbors, where he'll spend the night before riding 75 miles to Vermilion Community College in Ely.

Bob is no stranger to long-distance biking. Last year, for example, he took a 6,000-mile trip that included going from St. Petersburg, Russia to Istanbul, Turkey.

Still, he said this year may be his last campus tour.

"When I started doing this six years ago, there were virtually no scholarships for part-time students," he said. "The letters I've gotten from students who have gotten these scholarships brings tears to my eyes."

For information on donating, go to www.foundation.mnscu.edu or call (651) 296-9443.

Get a pack

Need help getting a back-to-school backpack? The Junior League of Duluth, in collaboration with Churches United in Ministry and the Duluth School District, will be giving out 410 of them stuffed with supplies from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Duluth Central Administration Building. The Junior League, which is made up of a group of women who work to promote volunteerism, said any remaining backpacks will be distributed to various schools based on need.

Free audiobooks

Your favorite book may be just a click away.

The Duluth Public Library has begun offering free downloads of hundreds of copies of audiobooks and CDs. The only downside? The files are compatible with numerous MP3 players, but not iPods.

For more information or to start downloading, visit http://www.duluth.lib.mn.us/WhatsNew.html and click on "download audiobooks."

Give a hoot

With back to school shopping in full swing, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is offering these tips for a "greener" school year:

r Search for products that can be used again such as lunch bags, reusable containers and refillable pens or pencils.

r Stock up on items that will be needed in the future to reduce unnecessary packaging.

r Buy 100 percent post-consumer recycled and chlorine-free paper, reducing solid waste and emissions of dioxin.

r Buy organic when possible.

r If your children take the bus to school, encourage bus drivers not to idle while waiting to pick up students. If your students walk or bike to school, map out a safe route for them. Carpool the kids to school.