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Friday, November 30, 2007

Tour de Stooges has a new home

I'm pleased to announce today that the Tour de Stooges bicycle ride has a new home: Lindendale Park in Highland, Ill.

Why are moving the ride from its old home at McKendree University in Lebanon to Highland? The simple answer is that the ride and McKendree outgrew each other.

When the ride began in 1997, we drew about 150 riders. The 2007 version of the ride drew about 700 riders. At the same time, McKendree added more students, buildings and programs. While McKendree did a great job of handling our crowd this year, university officials determined they would not be able to handle the ride in future years because of the university's growth.

Needless to say, I was very disappointed about McKendree's decision. Having the ride at McKendree was a major factor in the ride's success. Having an indoor facility with restrooms for registration was a big plus. Even bigger was the fact we were able to use McKendree's cafeteria for our all-you-can-eat buffet at a very reasonable price.

Fortunately, we are leaving McKendree on good terms. Special thanks go out to Ed Willett, McKendree's director of operations, and Shazad Baig, Sodexho's campus service/food services manager, for their willingness to work with us. Ed's and Shazad's staffs always met the challenges we presented.

Another factor in the success of the ride is the scenic course, and keeping as much of that course as possible was a goal in finding a new home.

At first, we looked at O'Fallon, Ill., because it's the closest community to Lebanon with potential facilities to handle our crowd. Unfortunately, there were significant availability, traffic and safety issues. That, along with the city's rapid growth, probably would mean we have to move the ride again in a few years.

That led us to Highland. That community always was a part of the longer routes, and many cyclists told me they really enjoyed riding through Highland. Lindendale Park is the home of the Madison County Fair and plays host to many events during the year, ranging from stock car racing to the Art in the Park festival. While Highland is a growing community, the roads in and near the park are safe for cyclists. Lindendale Park has plenty of parking for large crowds.

While the shorter routes have changed, we've kept many of the same roads we've used in the past for the longer routes. We've also changed the Moe Metric to avoid one community where we've had problems with a road hazard in recent years.

We still will serve a lunch after the ride, but it won't be a all-you-can-eat brunch as it was in the past. It's nearly impossible to match the deal we had with Sodexho at McKendree, but we've found a caterer in the Highland area that will be able to give us a good meal, complete with tea and lemonade. Soda and beer will sold by the Helvetia Sharpshooters, which operates the pavilions at Lindendale Park.

We think you'll enjoy our new home and our new routes, and we hope to see you May 3 in Highland!


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Roger 1 comments links to this post 12:36 PM

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