by Cori Hilsgen
The 34th annual Tour of Saints will be held July 20. Riders from 200 Minnesota cities gather in St. Joseph for this ride through rolling hills.
Event director Michael Doyle said more than 1,000 riders participated last year.
“St. Joseph has always been a very welcoming community to cyclists,” Doyle said. “Many participants who travel here from other parts of Minnesota, and neighboring states, arrive on Saturday afternoon and stay overnight at the College of St. Benedict to be ready for the ride on Sunday morning. They have a chance to relax and enjoy the town, often by bicycle or on foot. The Local Blend, Bo Diddley’s Deli, Kay’s Kitchen and Bello Cucina are all popular destinations for tour participants, both on Saturday and after they’ve finished Tour of Saints on Sunday.”
The event, which is not a race, begins and ends at CSB. The course travels 35 miles of scenic byways and includes 18-, 35- and 50-mile options. The ride is held, rain or shine.
Check-in for the tour begins at 6:30 a.m. Riders can enjoy food and drink at various rest stops along the course. Refreshments include pastries and cookies, fruit, cool water, energy drinks, candy bars, watermelon and lemonade.
The first stop after 12 miles is in Cold Spring. The second stop after 27 miles is at Collegeville Orchards near St. John’s University. After 31 miles, riders can choose the short course to finish for a 35-mile ride or can follow the 50-mile course. Riders taking the 50-mile course can get refreshments at the Avon city park, next to the Lake Wobegon Trail, and then travel back to CSB for more refreshments at the finish.
Participants who might need a lift during the tour can call the St. Cloud Amateur Radio Club who will send one of the support trucks to pick them up. Bike shop mechanics are available at the food and rest stops to offer assistance.
“Each year we have new participants who discover the joy of bicycling by taking part in this event,” Doyle said. “We also have a lot of people who look forward to riding it every year. ”
Doyle gave an example of a retired couple, now in their 90s and living in Florida, who plan their visit to Minnesota so they can take part in the tour.
For more information visit the website www.tourofstaints.com.
Y2K Lions member Bernice Heim restocks the fruit table with freshly washed strawberries at the Collegeville Orchards rest stop, which riders reach at the 27-mile mark. Y2K Lions members help at this rest stop, and the Tour of Saints makes an annual donation to the Y2K Lions which then uses its funds to help others.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.