Nature Valley Grand Prix: St. Paul Downtown Criterium

We all know that the Twin Cities is one of the most bike-friendly metro areas in the nation. It's fitting then that one of our popular yearly sporting events is the Nature Valley Grand Prix, a five-day festival where professional cyclists wind their way through urban settings, scenic trails, rural country roads, and steep hills. The event kicks off Wednesday with the St. Paul Downtown Criterium (Landmark Plaza, at the corner of West Fifth and North Market Streets) from 4 to 9 p.m. This race features a high-speed route amid skyscrapers. Thursday from 4:30 to 9 p.m. the Cannon Falls Road Race (825 Cannon River Ave.) will take the pros through Minnesota wine country with scenic views. Racers return to the cities on Friday when the Uptown Criterium requires competitors to make incredibly sharp turns at high speeds as they whip by Calhoun Square (3001 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis) from 4:30 to 9 p.m. New last year, Saturday's Menomonie Road Race (corner of Third and Main Streets East) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. features 95- and 76-mile courses filled with rolling hills and long climbs. Finally, the races draw to a close on Sunday with the Stillwater Criterium (corner of Second and Pine Streets) from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Stamina is a key requirement, as cyclists will have to brave the incredibly steep Chilkoot Hill on each lap around the track. In addition to races, each leg will include a bike expo, amateur and children's rides, and other activities. For a complete schedule, visit www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com. (Photo by David Gabrys)
Wed., June 15, 4-9 p.m., 2011

 
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