Off to the Races

Giro della Montagne

Today, Anne and I went to watch the bicycle races on ‘The Hill’. Today’s event is called the ‘Giro della Montagne’, or Tour of the Hill. It is one of four events in the Saint Louis criterium series, the Gateway Cup. Normally, we catch most if not all of this series of bike races. It is the height of the bike racing scene here in the Lou, but this year the party was crashed by Hurricane Isaac. So for us at least, the first two events were rained out. They actually went on in the rain.

We had planned to cycle over to the races today. We launched and got about a mile and then the rain came again. We turned around and headed back home. We ended up driving over to the Hill instead.

The picture with this post shows the men’s masters race. These are men who are forty years old or older. They have just finished their half-mile climb on the approximately one-mile crit course. These riders are rounding the corner and about to commence their half-miles descent to the start/finish line. I am standing only inches from these riders as they cruise by at 20+ MPH, but I am fearless, because I have a steel barricade between them and me. Also their momentary 20+ MPH speed is about as slow as they go in this race.

The Hill neighborhood is the traditional Italian area in Saint Louis. Story has it that back in the day, the parish priest doubled as the Hill’s real estate agent. His matching of young Italian couples to available properties ensured the Hill’s ethnic purity. This process also explained the lack of For Sale signs.

The Hill was also the home to baseball greats Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola. They grew up on the Hill; their boyhood homes are across the street from each other. Also four of the five St. Louisans on the US soccer team that defeated England in the 1950 FIFA World Cup came from these streets. The Hill’s race was the origin of what eventually grew into the Gateway Cup.

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