They're called tours
Since there's no official season for organized bicycle rides or tours, there's no official end of the season. But fall's beginning is good enough for me. I rode in four tours this summer. It would have been five, but I came down with some sort of...
Since there's no official season for organized bicycle rides or tours, there's no official end of the season.
But fall's beginning is good enough for me.
I rode in four tours this summer. It would have been five, but I came down with some sort of crud two nights before the seventh annual Northshore Bike Ride held this year at Gooseberry Falls State Park north of Duluth.
I rode in that event the previous summer and organizers seemed to have laid out a 50-mile route that was uphill both ways.
This year I rode in the Tour of Saints July 9 in St. Joseph, the Tour de Tonka Aug. 4 in Deephaven, the St. Paul Classic Bike Tour Sept. 9 and the new Minneapolis Bike Tour Sept. 16.
While many of the rides are called tours, they're nothing like professional bike races such as the Tour de France. Judging by the cycles and gear some the participants use, however, it's easy to understand how someone watching might think it was a race.
Generally the rules or guidelines for these events emphasize that the rides are not races and participants should enjoy the scenery.
Tour organizers emphasize the leisurely pace they recommend by setting up rest stops along the routes.
At the stops, volunteers offer riders water, juices, fruit and other snacks. At the two Twin Cities events there was also entertainment. Musicians performed at stops in St. Paul and, during the in Minneapolis tour, vans from from local radio stations playing their broadcasts.
The tours I've ridden have all offered at least two routes of different lengths. The Minneapolis tour, for example, had a 15- and 41-mile route.
That variety of lengths assures a variety of riders. There are young people who look more fit and muscular than some of the extremely lean racers in the Tour de France.
But there are also plenty of folks who aren't so lean.
Riders' ages range from preteen to senior citizens. Some participants are too young to walk or pedal. While I was cooling down at a rest stop during the Minneapolis tour, I was asked by a young couple to photograph them and their baby. The baby was riding along in one of those strollers designed to be attached to a bike.
Some of the bikes I've seen rolling down the roads in the tours look as much like strollers as they resemble conventional bicycles. Bicycles built for two are fairly common. Judging by their sleek lines and dropped handlebars, some of them appear to be racing bikes built for two.
At the St. Paul tour, I was passed on a hill by a bike built for five.
Five riders means a lot more leg power than I had. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
Recumbent bikes are also fairly common. Some recumbents look like slightly low-slung conventional bikes with lawn chairs mounted on them.
Others recumbent bikes are more like backward tricycles with seats mounted on them. The little wheels are in the front and the bigger wheel, to which the pedals are attached by a long chain, is in back.
At the St. Paul event, some cyclists decided to use their imaginations. They converted their bikes into tropical birds, a buffalo and other creatures.
Other riders at that tour decided that the helmets required at all the rides needed to be jazzed up. I saw one guy who added Viking horns to his head gear and another who attached a parrot.
And that's what these rides and the many others held throughout the warmer months are really all about. They're for people who want to get outside and ride their bikes with like-minded people.
This was the second summer that I've participated in some bike tours and the experience has become something that makes me look forward to the warm weather.