Don’t blink, the Tour of Missouri is coming (locally Sept. 13-14)

September 8, 2008

Last year more than 300,000 spectators turned out to cheer for the riders in the inaugural Tour of Missouri bike race, making it the largest sporting event in the state’s history. When the 15 teams of eight riders each start pedaling today in St. Joseph for the 2008 event, they’ll include world-class talent and some big team names, like Garmin-Chipotle and Columbia. The race’s seven days culminate in downtown St. Louis on Sept. 14. In between, the cyclists will tour the corners of the state. The best bet for St. Louisans to watch the race will be either Saturday (Sept. 13), in the 96-mile Hermann-to-St. Charles stage, or Sunday (Sept. 143), in the 70-mile final stage.

If you’ve never seen a bike race, I highly encourage you to check it out. For one thing, the racers go really fast — I knew that, at some level, but until I actually saw it, I didn’t quite grasp the blink-of-an-eye speed at which the race comes and goes past whatever vantage point you’ve chosen (bridges are great, for example). For that reason, Sunday’s stage is the best for spectators because the riders will be doing five laps on a rough loop from downtown to Forest Park, and part of the route will be used in both directions. It’s there that I would park my picnic (because this is definitely a kick-back-and-relax sport for spectators!).

The race’s homepage has invaluable tips for fans, including where the best vantage points will be (start/finish line, sprints, hills, etc.). Be sure to arrive early for the pre-race hoopla, either at the start/finish or along the route (sponsors typically pass by ahead of the racers, handing out goodies and setting a festive mood). If you choose the finish, there’ll be a giant TV screen showing the final two hours of each stage. Everything is free, but you’ll want to come prepared with snacks and drinks, especially along the less-densely-filled sections of the route. It’d be a huge shame to miss the race because you had to make a food run!


One Response to “Don’t blink, the Tour of Missouri is coming (locally Sept. 13-14)”

  1. Cranksgiving food drive is back for its third year on Nov 23rd at noon

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