With New Sponsors Bike Festival Gears Up

from the North Star Bicycle Festival and Grand Prix website

North Memorial and PreferredOne saves the North Star Bicycle Festival and Grand Prix, scheduled  for mid-June, in four Minnesota and one Wisconsin Cities.  Now moving forward, the 17th Annual North Star Bicycle Festival will take place June 13-21. The future of the festival looked bleak until these two new major sponsors stepped forward. The event will include the Life Time Fitness Hillfest, June 13 and the North Star Grand Prix pro stage bike race June 17-21 in Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis and Stillwater, Minnesota and in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

At the 2014 starting line  in Stillwater - photo© Caroline Yang

At the 2014 starting line, in Stillwater – photo© Caroline Yang

For maps, event schedules and information visit www.northstarbicyclefestival.com. Other new sponsors include RBC Wealth Management, K’ul Chocolate, Luther Westside Volkswagen and Voler. In 2015 the festival will also benefit a new charity, Special Olympics of Minnesota.

“We are so grateful to North Memorial Health Care and PreferredOne for stepping up to the plate and saving this important cycling event,” said Festival Director David LaPorte. “The festival has been a crucial part of the Midwest cycling community and USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar for 17 years and it would be a real shame to lose it. Thanks to the generosity of these two companies, fans will be able to enjoy the North Star Bicycle Festival again in 2015.”

A congratulatory pat after a heated North Star Race  in 2014. photo© Caroline Yang

A congratulatory pat after a heated North Star Race in 2014. photo© Caroline Yang

“North Memorial Health Care is thrilled to partner with PreferredOne to support this popular festival in Minnesota, where we are known for our enthusiasm for biking and trails,” says J. Kevin Croston, MD, North Memorial Health Care Chief Executive Officer. “North Memorial is committed to the health and wellness of our communities and there is a natural synergy with this event that showcases the benefits of biking for all ages.”

“PreferredOne is excited to support the North Star Bike Festival and Special Olympics,” says Paul Geiwitz, Interim President and CEO of Preferred One. “The Festival fits well with our mission of encouraging PreferredOne members and the community to be active and live a healthy lifestyle. We hope residents can attend one of the many free Festival bike events around the metro and surrounding area.”

The North Star Grand Prix, the most prestigious event on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar, opens June 17 in Saint Paul with a morning time trial along East River Parkway. The action moves to Downtown Saint Paul’s Lowertown area that evening with a criterium (short circuit race). The Lowertown arts district has been rejuvenated with the new St. Paul Saints ballpark and the renovation of the Union Depot, which serves as the terminus of the Green Line light rail, connecting downtown Saint Paul to Minneapolis.

On Thursday, the race moves south to Cannon Falls for a rural road race showcasing the wide open spaces of Minnesota’s heartland, dotted with family farms, boutique wineries and the famed Cannon Valley Trail. The race finishes with multiple laps at high speeds through the quaint downtown. On Friday, it’s back up to Minneapolis for an evening criterium in the city’s dynamic Uptown area, a neighborhood of trendy shops, bars and restaurants located just south of downtown near the chain of Minneapolis lakes. The Uptown edition of the FREE Park Dental Tour de Kids fun race is always a highlight with hundreds of kids 12 and under riding the crit route, cheered on by thousands of spectators. Each child gets a free medal.

The weekend presents an opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful terrain in the Midwest for the Menomonie and Stillwater stages. Cheer for the pros in the North Star Grand Prix as well as locals competing in the amateur races. In Menomonie the road race tests the cyclists’ endurance as they traverse 95 miles of rolling farmland in the heart of Wisconsin’s dairy country, finishing with multiple laps of an in-town circuit. Menomonie will host amateur races in town and events introducing visitors to the arts, historic sites and friendly, family-owned shops and restaurants.

Stillwater, Minn. is host to Sunday’s grand finale June 21. The Stillwater Criterium is legendary for weeding out the field, which features a 24 degree climb up Chilikoot Hill – the steepest in North American racing. This picturesque town is built on the bluffs of the St. Croix River and the route features a series of high speed, downhill 90 degree turns throughout the city’s historic neighborhoods and charming Main Street area. Make plans for a Father’s Day brunch at a riverfront restaurant or grab a treat at one of the town’s plentiful ice cream shops or candy stores along the way.

Fan Zones set up at each stage include food vendors, live music, bike and fitness expos and The FREE Park Dental Tour de Kids fun race open to children age 12 and under.

About the Bicycle Festival presented by North Memorial Health Care and PreferredOne

Now in its 17th year, the North Star Bicycle Festival p/b North Memorial Health Care and PreferredOne is a celebration of bicycling that includes amateur and professional racing and community events. The North Star Grand Prix has become the most prestigious event on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar, attracting top American racing teams and nearly 300 top riders from around the world. It is the only professional sporting event in Minnesota open to the public, for which no admission ticket is required. Proceeds from the festival are donated to Special Olympics of Minnesota. For a detailed schedule of events visit www.northstarbicyclefestival.com.

About the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar

Entering its 19th season in 2015, the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC) is an in-road road cycling series sanctioned by USA Cycling. It is designed to provide a ranking system for all elite-level cyclists, both amateur and professional, through participation in the nation’s premier cycling events.