Again this February, cyclists from around the Midwest will come to the banks of the Mississippi River in Chester to undertake the Cannonball Bike Race.
The Chester Cannonball is the first of two races in the area in February. It will be held Feb. 2 and two courses will be offered, 55 and 77 miles.
Both take the riders over the Chester Bridge, into the challenging river bottoms and hills of Perry and St. Genevieve Counties in Missouri, back across the river via the Modoc Ferry, and finally (and hopefully) a celebration of their finish at the St. Nicholas Landmark.
The Chester Police Department will shut down the bridge across the Mississippi River for the ride launch.
The race will start at 9 a.m. from the Landmark, with the Chester Welcome Center being an ideal place to watch the riders depart and cheer them on. The event is co-sponsored by the Bike Surgeon in O'Fallon, and the St. Nicholas Landmark.
If last year is any indication of what to expect, riders will likely face not only a challenging course, but interesting weather conditions.
The Cannonball Ride Race Series pays homage to the famous 1980s movies, where competitors are self-supported and experience the challenge and adventure of racing on the "roads less traveled".
The second Cannonball race, on Feb. 16, is based out of Sauget. The course is relatively flat and there's a 31-mile ride and a 67-mile one, where Valmeyer is the halfway point.
Race fees are $40 through Feb. 1.
"Gravel" racing has become a cycling phenomena in recent years, bringing people to many small towns and rural areas to experience the great outdoors through these fun and adventurous events.
Riders can register at www.cannonball.bike or call the Bike Surgeon at (618) 622-1693 for more information.