My daughter, Gabriela, and I rode the 33rd annual Tour of Saints Sunday.
Temperatures rose to the 80s and the relative humidity to 67 percent as we rode from St. Joseph to Cold Spring to Collegeville and back to St. Joseph.
We took the 35-mile route. Organizers of the “heavenly little ride” also offered riders a 50-mile route and an 18-mile course on the Lake Wobegon Trail.
I’d ridden the tour four or five times previously in the past decade. But this was the first time anyone had ridden with me.
It made the experience all the more enjoyable. And all it cost me was the promise of lunch at the Star of India in nearby St. Cloud.
I had to chuckle as we rode out of St. Joseph, where the terrain is flat and encountered our first hill.
“Is the whole ride like this?” Gabby asked as we tackled that first little climb.
“Yes. It is,” I responded.
And it is a hilly route for this part of Minnesota.
But the Tour of Saints has its rewards.
The first rest stop about 12 miles into the ride is at Rocori High School in Cold Spring. I always enjoy that stop because the Cold Spring Bakery provides plenty of treats.
There’s plenty of fruit at the second stop located on Fruit Farm Road.
What we and other riders found most interesting was near East Gemini Lake just the other side of St. John’s University from Fruit Farm Road.
“Lean On Me” is a sculpture and a building in one made mostly of saplings from the Saint John’s Arboretum.
At its tallest point, it must be nearly three stories tall.
Gabby and I stopped for a closer look for about 10 minutes. During that time, dozens of people – riders in the tour and folks just driving by – stopped to see the creation and take photos.
The Tour of Saints was the first organized cycling event I ever rode. Since then, I’ve ridden in quite a few and become more selective about which rides are worth the effort.
One of the standards I now consider is what I call the drive-ride ratio. The total time I spend driving to and from a tour can’t take longer than the time I’ll spend pedaling.
Because it starts and ends at the College of Saint Benedict, the Tour of Saints is just an hour’s drive for me.
But I would recommend this particular tour to cyclists who have to drive farther. The college offers guest rooms and apartments for rent to tour participants.
And St. Joseph is the where the Lake Wobegon Trail begins. The Wobegon runs through a variety of picturesque towns with interesting shops and restaurants.
The Tour of Saints could be the focus of a weekend of cycling.
Those interested in riding the tour next year should visit its website at www.tourofsaints.com.