Anybody who has feared for her life while crisscrossing through downtown Minneapolis on a ten-speed, dodging right-turning SUVs and close calls with side mirrors, knows that biking is sweaty, dangerous work. The Great River Energy Bike Festival offers you the chance to appreciate cycling without actually having to ride. The Nature Valley Grand Prix kicks off in downtown St. Paul today with live music, food, and a circuit packed with six turns. The fourth stage of the Grand Prix will zoom through downtown Minneapolis on Friday. The course runs partially along Nicollet Mall, making it easy to stuff your face on restaurant patios while cheering on spandex-clad athletes with bodies harder than sculpted marble. The Alive After 5 concert stage, surrounded on three sides by the course, will host live music, and stunt riders will perform demonstrations of skill and daring. Back in St. Paul on Friday morning, the Grand Prix St. Paul Time Trial on Harriett Island offers a glimpse of world-class riders pulling out all the stops in pursuit of pure speed. If you're a real masochist, you can head down to Stillwater for the Grand Prix's final stage: A cruel climb up Chilkoot Hill, with a grade of more that 20 percent, the backside propelling racers faster than 50 mph. Free. The St. Paul Lowertown Criterium is free 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, at Mears Park (Sixth and Sibley Streets); the Minneapolis Downtown Classic is free 4:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Wednesday at 10th Street between Marquette and LaSalle, and around Peavey Plaza; the Stillwater Criterium is free 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Chilkoot Hill (Corner of Chestnut and Second Street). For more info visit www.minnbikefestival.com.
Fri., June 13, 9 a.m.-noon, 2008