The sixth annual Great River Energy Bicycle Festival will come through Downtown on Friday, June 11, including stunt performances and a bike expo. For nonbikers, the fun includes Martin Zellar's free Neil Diamond tribute.
Starting at 10th Street and Nicollet Mall, the race path goes to Marquette Avenue and down 12th Street, heading back to the Mall, to 11th Street and ending with a loop around the St. Thomas campus and the finish line at 10th and the Mall.
The festival's main feature is the Nature Valley Grand Prix, with separate men's and women's races. The women race first, from 6:45 p.m. to 7:25 p.m., with the men racing from 7:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
One of the event's major players is Jenine Longo, a 12-time world champion who has won Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals. "For women, this is top-notch, and for men, it's overall one of the top four stage races in the country," said Julie Swenson, a race spokeswoman (and also a Skyway News columnist).
For spectators, color is the key to knowing who's who. The red-jerseyed rider is the race's overall leader. The rider in white is the best young rider. A blue jersey signifies the sprint leader and green means that the rider is the top amateur.
The Bike and Fitness Expo will also be going on during the race. The Expo will feature experts on bikes and equipment, as well as information on programs and upcoming events.
Pro stunt riders will also show off their balance and acrobatics. One participant, Aaron Lutze, holds the national record for the vertical side jump.
Even if you're not a cycling fan, the Alive After 5 free concert series near the race will draw a crowd to Peavey Plaza, South 11th Street and Nicollet Mall. On June 11, Martin Zellar and his band will perform "Neil!" -- their tribute to Neil Diamond, between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Zellar's following includes fans from his Gear Daddies days. Food and drink vendors will also be on hand.