A daunting 36-mile ride through Wildwood's country roads makes the annual "Tour de Wildwood" one of the area's most popular cycling events. In 2010, more than 800 riders registered for the ride; admission is free.
Gary Crews, superintendent of parks, said the 2011 Tour attracted 835 participants. "This year's event was the largest in its six-year history," he said.
He said problems were minimal. "This year, however, unlike all of the past years, the normal levels of courtesy and mindfulness of the 'rules of the road' were lacking with some of the participants, which created some problems on the roads."
Crews cited problems from bicyclists as not halting at stop signs and passing people in dangerous manners.
"People love the hills," said Joe Vujnich, Wildwood's director of planning and parks, as he handed out water and snacks to departing cyclists.
Although the city offered a less challenging 6-mile, family-oriented loop, the vast majority of the bikers setting out were experienced cyclists from all over the St. Louis area.
"This is my first time riding in the Tour de Wildwood," said Elizabeth Rechtien of Wildwood. She and her brother, Harry Wood of Creve Coeur, decided to do the shorter 27.4 mile section.
Riders were cautioned about several key areas of the ride. A steep downhill section of Orrville Road just before its intersection with Eatherton left one cyclist in the ditch last year with injuries. Before the ride, clusters of cyclists gathered to go over the route and discuss possible stopping points. Many cyclists planned to stop at Gilberg's Gardens on Ossenfort where a water station was set up.
The terrain for these courses is considered moderately hilly to very hilly, with long climbs on all routes. Helmets are required. Refreshments and food are provided at the start and finish.