The 10th annual Tour de Cape charity bicycle ride will take place Saturday, starting in downtown Cape Girardeau. Riders have their choice of an 8 or 9 a.m. mass start from the John Boardman Pavilion, across from the "Missouri Wall of Fame" mural on the riverfront. The ride must be completed by 5 p.m.
Tour organizer Joel Allison said the most important thing about the tour is the charity it supports.
"All proceeds benefit the Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship. The money goes directly to the therapy, not the upkeep of the horses. It helps children that have the needs but not necessarily the means," he said. The organization in Oak Ridge helps children with disabilities gain exercise and muscle strength through horseback riding.
Participants have their choice of a 100-mile, 62-mile, 30-mile or 15-mile ride. This year, however, riders who choose the two longer routes will no longer cross the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge into Illinois.
"Because of the road surfaces in Illinois this year, we are keeping to this side of the bridge," Allison said. He said organizers were disappointed to change the route, but moving it back to Illinois may be possible for future tours.
Allison said the first 30 miles of the ride will travel north and the remaining 32 or 70 miles will veer to the southwest. All routes will end at the John Boardman Pavilion.
The route will travel through terrain featuring flat stretches, rolling hills and a few more challenging hills.
Allison said there will be rest stops for riders to get drinks and snacks every 12 to 15 miles along the route.
Tour director Patrick Koetting said because this is a pleasure ride, not a race, people of all skill levels can participate. He offered tips for riders new to the event.
"Take your time. You have eight hours to complete the tour. Bring two water bottles and have fun," Koetting said. He also said riders were required to wear helmets.
Support and gear assistance will be available Saturday.
"There will be three or four SAG vehicles and two bike mechanics on the route," Koetting said. SAG will not be available after 5 p.m. and may not be available to riders choosing to leave before or after the mass starts.
The registration fee is $30. Participants can sign up from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Cape Bicycle Cycling and Fitness, or from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Saturday at the John Boardman Pavilion. Participants will receive an event bag and will be eligible for attendance prizes.
Koetting said he anticipates 300 to 400 participants in this year's ride.
The event is sponsored by Cape Girardeau County Rotary Club and Cape Girardeau Evening Optimists Club.
More information is available at www.tourdecape.com.