Though bike racing has steadily grown in popularity here in the U.S., our enthusiasm for the sport is sorely lacking when compared to our European counterparts. (It's the shaved legs and the Spandex, isn't it?) The best advocate for the sport is the sport itself; witness a race in person and you'll immediately appreciate the athleticism, the strategy and the guts it takes to navigate a left turn at 30 m.p.h. in the midst of a screaming peloton. The Gateway Cup returns to four unique St. Louis neighborhoods this week (Friday, September 2, through Monday, September 5), offering you four chances to see everything high-caliber cycle racing has to offer. The Benton Park Classic Criterium on Monday is the main event, a 1.77-mile course that starts and ends at the park (Arsenal Street and Jefferson Avenue) and takes racers on a tour of South City. Key landmarks on the course include Venice Cafe, Gus' Pretzels, and the Anheuser-Busch brewery, all of which offer unique advantages as vantage points. Races begin at 9 a.m. with the charity fun ride Helmet Hustle ($20 donation to ride), followed by a tailgate party. The kids' sprint starts at 2:20 p.m. ($5 suggested donation to ride), and the pro finals start at 3 p.m. (women) and 4 p.m. (men), respectively. Admission is free for spectators. For more information, call 314-645-1362 or visit www.gatewaycup.com.
Mon., Sept. 5, 2011