This morning my dad and I did the 30 mile Saint Paul Classic Bike Tour. I’ve never done a bike tour or ride; my dad hadn’t done one since 1971! But, we hitched the bikes up on the rack and drove down near University of Saint Thomas, the starting (and ending) location. We got about a half mile from the University, parked, and rode in.
At first things seemed to be in disarray. There were thousands of bicycles and the riders moving around every which way. But, as we approached the big tent we found the signs directing us where to sign up and did so. About 10 minutes and we were off.
Most of the beginning of the ride was downhill, which made for a very smooth start. All of the streets were closed off, intersections controlled by VERY friendly police officers who were not afraid of giving the bicyclists multiple green lights at a time while traffic waited to cross the route. The route had tons of signs, explaining each turn, rest areas, reminding slow riders to ride to the right, etc. The ride along the river was beautiful. While I had driven the river portion of the route many times before in my car - it wasn’t until this ride that I was able to truly appreciate it and see all the wonderful scenery.
The organizers of the ride claim:
“Is the course difficult?
Ramsey Hill, on the short route, is quite steep and many folks will need to walk their bikes up. On the long route, there are three moderate uphill climbs.”
Both my dad and I agree that while there are three SEMI-moderate inclines, that there were 4-5 other inclines where you still huffed and puffed to get to the top. During the race my dad and I were unsure where the “third” moderate incline was, but upon further reflection I’m guessing we overlooked the first one which was just past 35E on Shepard Road. We agreed that the other two were the ascent as you approached Highway 61 on Warner Road and the climb highlighted on the map on Wheelock Parkway. The other “smaller” inclines were still quite the workout, to be sure.
After we hit our pace, we realized that my dad was quicker on the descents (his bike is much more rigged up for road riding, smaller tubes, etc) and I was quicker on the inclines. It didn’t take us long to adopt the whole “meet you after the hill” idea where we could each go our own pace and end up together again after the course leveled back out.
When I had checked in I noticed my dad’s cousin had also signed up for the race. We kept our eyes open for him, knowing that the odds we’d pick him out in a crowd of so many bikes were next to none. But, as luck would have it, right as we got onto Mounds Parkway we came up upon him and had a great chat as we biked our way to the rest area.
We didn’t stop (other than for quick breathers and to chit-chat with the relative) until we hit the Como Park Pavillion, which at about 23 miles in the ride is a perfect place to stop, get some snacks and refill the water bottles. We got back on the road again and headed for the finish line, completing the 30 mile route in about 2 hours and 25 minutes, or 12.5 miles per hour.
We picked up our t-shirts, rode back to the car and drove on home.
I really enjoyed the ride - certainly the weather couldn’t have been better considering it was 65-75 the entire sunny day with just enough wind to keep things cool. At 31 miles (including the mile to/from the car) it was the furthest I had biked in one day ever. While there were hills, much like the riding I do around the apartment, there were also great level runs which made the ride great for everybody. And I’m so glad my dad came along - being able to chit chat and pace myself with someone I knew made everything that much more enjoyable.
My dad and I both agreed we’d meet again next year and do it all over again. :)