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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's Moonlight Ramble time again!

St. Louis' original nighttime cycling party, the Moonlight Ramble, takes place this weekend. Cyclists will begin taking off from the Soldiers Memorial Plaza at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

The Moonlight Ramble has been a St. Louis fixture since 1964, when Dick Leary took off on his own for a midnight ride through St. Louis. It is the major fundraiser for the Gateway Council of Hostelling International, one of the two largest organizers of group rides in the St. Louis.

How big is it? Anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 take place in the ride each. By comparison, the Gateway Council's second largest ride of the year, the Tour de Stooges, draws about 550 to 700 people a year.

Mark Cockson, the group's executive direct calls the event "the best party on wheels." Registration and a pre-ride celebration begins at 8 p.m. After the ride, the Gateway Council will have an after-ride party featuring Fat Tire beer, ice cream from Crown Candy Kitchens, Fitz's root beer and "sliders for riders" — White Castle burgers.

Most years, the Ramble heads toward the city's Central West End or toward South St. Louis. This year's ride will head into North St. Louis, near the site of the council's proposed 89-bed hostel. The council recently moved into new offices at 2810 N. 14th St., just across the street from Crown Candy Kitchens.

"There's the incredible sense of achievement you feel when you first learn to ride, when you push those boundaries your parents set and start exploring other neighborhoods and places. The Moonlight Ramble brings back those same feelings," Mark told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The cost of the ride is $25 for adults and $10 for children. As of Wednesday afternoon, online registration is still open for the Moonlight Ramble. Otherwise, you can sign up the day of the ride. Some St. Louis-area bike shops also are selling tickets.

The Post also mentioned several other rides in the region, and I was happy to see the Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society was included among them.

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