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Monday, September 14, 2009

Tour de Coal set for Sept. 26

The good folks at the Coal County Chamber of Commerce are putting on the 4th annual Tour de Coal bicycle ride on Saturday, Sept. 26, in Benld, Ill.

The goals of the ride are to promote bicycling in Macoupin County and to raise money for community projects in Gillespie, Benld and other nearby communities.

Routes of 15, 30 and 63 miles are available. The routes go past the sites of many former coal mines that were the lifeblood of those communities. In addition, the 63-mile route uses parts of old alignments of Route 66 and passes the gravesite of Mother Jones, a major labor leader in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The cost of the ride is $15 a person ($20 day of ride) and includes a $40 family special ($50 day of ride), and registration takes place from 7 to 9 a.m. at the Benld Civic Center, 201 E. Center St. in Benld. The community is approximately halfway between St. Louis and Springfield.

The start site of the ride used to be at Benld Elementary School, but mine subsidence earlier this year forced the school to be closed permanently, so the start site was moved to the Benld Civic Center.

For more information about the ride, visit its Web site, and you can register online at Active.com.

Thanks to events like the Tour de Coal and the Tour de Donut in nearby Staunton and thanks to the recently completed extension of the Madison County Transit Quercus Grove Trail to Staunton, bicycling has received quite a boost in Macoupin County. Bicycle enthusiasts are hoping to garner support for more bicycle trails that would link the Madison County trails to a bike trail in the Springfield area.

As a native of Macoupin County, I'm always happy to help boost bicycling in that area.

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