By ERIC X. VICCARO
Cycling enthusiast William Zoughaib made a presentation before the Ste. Genevieve Parks and Recreation board on Monday, Feb. 22.
This small city of roughly 4,500 people has a noted cycling history as the site of the former Le Tour de Ste. Genevieve.
Also, Ste. Genevieve was a destination stop on the Tour of Missouri back in 2009.
“This is a great opportunity for us,” said Ste. Genevieve park board member Lauren Smothers. “We can’t say ‘no’ to this.”
Aldermanic representative Ashley Armbruster during Thursday’s board of aldermen meeting noted the hope is for it to be a “competitive cycling” event.
Zoughaib, who aims to have a two-day weekend cycling festival, broke down the categories of races – and different age groups from juniors to masters.
Criterions are races of a certain length ranging from 45-70 minutes based on the number of loops the cyclists would complete.
Zoughaib, the son of Ste. Genevieve park board member Samer Zoughaib, said a downtown criterion would be popular because of the number of shops and restaurants in close proximity.
There also are climbing races, and Zoughaib noted fellow bicyclists have discussed how challenges of navigating Missouri Route M – which runs from United States Highway 61 toward Interstate-55 – and Eisenbeis Bottom.
Todd Parker, a St. Louis resident, had served as Le Tour de Ste. Genevieve race organizer.
The race ceased after the 2012 ride because of time constraints on Parker, which was noted in an April 17, 2013, article in the Herald.
Also discussed during the park board meeting, putting on a cycling event would require a slew of volunteers – as many as 70 people – to execute it smoothly. The Ste. Genevieve Police Department also would need to assist.
Le Tour de Ste. Genevieve also involved the youth with special sprint races, and featured a field with as many as 250 cyclists. The event also was chronicled in several documentaries.
Zoughaib said he would enlist the help of the Missouri Bicycle Racing Association, or MOBRA. The group is chartered to coordinate amateur cycling endeavors throughout the state – with a complete, yearly calendar of races.
“I was impressed with how (Le Tour de Ste. Genevieve) ran like clockwork,” park board member John Karel said.
“It’s amazing the amount of people it brings into the city,” chimed in field operations supervisor Gary Roth regarding cycling events.
The Ste. Genevieve County Community Center could be used as a hub for the race, with its ample parking and shower facilities.
Board members indicated they would like to schedule another meeting with Zoughaib to hammer out additional ideas and details. A cycling event may happen as early as 2022.
Ste. Genevieve will be the site of the Big Bam Cycling Event this summer.
On June 13, cyclists will be in the city to take a shuttle to Poplar Bluff, the genesis point for the five-day ride.
Big Bam will conclude on June 18, with riders entering Ste. Genevieve from two directions based on distance and approach.
A 37-mile route will take cyclists through Route B to Missouri Highway 32 to Progress Parkway then Route M. Rozier, Center, Fourth, Seraphin and South Main Streets also are part of the route. A 63-mile route will run on Routes B, P and J to Highway 61 and St. Mary’s Road.
Ste. Genevieve County Library Director Shawn Long was present to gain approval from the park board for “Jurassic Park in the Park.”
Barbara Basler-Peterson made a motion to accept showing the film, with Samer Zoughaib providing the second. The motion carried unanimously.
Long is partnering with the Ste. Genevieve Learning Museum Centre to present the 1993 giant monster movie – directed by Steven Spielberg based on the 1990 Michael Crichton book. Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Samuel L. Jackson and Jeff Goldblum starred.
Long said he would like to begin the program at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 15, with May 22 as the rain make-up date. The movie would be shown at dusk (8:04 p.m. is sunset time on May 15).
There will be hands-on activities for children, including balloons and dinosaur bubbles. The library also would sell light refreshments as a fundraiser, Long reported.
“We are aiming to have 300-400 people, safely,” Long said during the meeting, noting COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic restrictions will likely be eased.
Park board member Geoff Duvall suggested bringing in portable toilets — and also assist with a power source and extra trash cans.
Armbruster suggested having a scavenger hunt in the park, which was a featured attraction during Easter in 2020.
The park board is investigating a possible movie series of its own on the third weekend of each month (June 19, July 17 and Aug. 21).
Donors would help pay for the licensing, with collection jars.
The board indicated it would like to have either a food truck or concession stand, with a charge fee per truck to participate rather than by a percentage of possible profit.
There would be a cap on attendance at 100, and the library’s screen, projector and speakers would be used in kind.