Bike race rolls into city June 16

Stillwater criterium wraps up Nature Valley Bicycle fest

2012 Cyclocross National ChampionshipsThe 16th Annual Nature Valley Bicycle Festival grand finale returns to Stillwater’s streets and hills June 16, festival organizers announced Monday.

The Stillwater Criterium ends the five-day Nature Valley Grand Prix on Father’s Day. Organizers said the criterium route features a series of hairpin turns and a 24-degree climb up Chilikoot Hill, the steepest in North American bicycle racing.

The festival begins June 6 with the three-day Minnesota Fixed Gear Classic at the National Sports Center Velodrome in Blaine, organizers said. The event continues June 12-16 with the Nature Valley Grand Prix pro stage bike race through five communities.

The Grand Prix begins with a June 12 morning time trial along East River Parkway in St. Paul. Racers move to downtown St. Paul’s Rice Park district that night for a short circuit criterium.

The race moves to Cannon Falls June 13 for a 20-mile rural road race along the Cannon River before finishing with multiple high-speed laps in downtown Cannon Falls.

Racers are back in the Twin Cities June 14 with an evening criterium through the Uptown neighborhood in Minneapolis. This stage also includes a free kids race with children ages 12 years and younger riding the criterium route in friendly competition.

Professional and amateur riders test their endurance June 15 with a 95-mile road race through the rolling Wisconsin farmland in Menomonie, finishing with multiple laps on an in-town circuit. Experienced amateur cyclists can sign up for the Gran Fondo, Italian for “Big Ride,” which gives them the chance to cycle the same route the pros race. Interested cyclists can register for the Gran Fondo at www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com/Gran_Fondo.

Each stage features Fan Zones that include stunt riders, live music, bike and fitness expos and a free Shimano Tour de Kids fun race for children 12 years and younger.
All Nature Valley Bicycle Festival races are free to attend. Proceeds from the Grand Prix are donated to Children’s Lighthouse of Minnesota, a pediatric hospice project. Visit www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com for more information and schedule of events.

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