Tour du Parks captures the best of Baltimore
By Ron Cassie
Published June 12, 2006
Copyright © 2006 The Examiner
(Chris Ammann/Baltimore Examiner)
Kay Schneck, center, helps her niece, Sara Dewese, left, adjust her bike seat before taking off on the 2006 Tour du Parks event Sunday at Carroll Park in Baltimore.
BALTIMORE - About five years ago, Penny Troutner, owner of Light Street Cycles, and Bob Moore, former Baltimore Bicycling Club president, were trying to come up with a way to promote the recently completed Phase I section of the Gwynns Falls Trail.
“We were just kicking around ideas, and I was looking at a map,” recalled Troutner. “And I think I was like, ‘Hey Bob, Baltimore is surrounded by all these parks.’ ”
Voila — Tour du Parks was born.
The fourth annual ride connects the now-completed Gwynns Falls Trail, a 15-mile scenic greenway in west and southwest Baltimore, to every other major park in Charm City.
It’s not the French countryside of Lance Armstrong and Eddie Merckx, but it captures the best of Baltimore.
“If I had friends coming into town, this is what I’d do to show them the city,” said Michael Abrams, who came in from Catonsville and rode with Michelle Mazzoccco. “It’s the full spectrum of nature and urban landscape.”
About 350 amateur bicyclists — from grade-schoolers to Social Security recipients, but mostly 20- to 50-somethings — came with small groups of friends Sunday for the Tour du Parks, a social morning of exercise. Three rides, each beginning and ending in Carroll Park, were offered this year. The 12-mile tour specifically ran along the Gwynns Falls Trail. A 20-mile ride led through many of the city’s parks and waterfront areas, and the 30-plus-mile jaunt hit all of the major parks, as well as waterfront areas and historic neighborhoods. Food and repairs, provided by Light Street Cycles and the Velocipede Bike Project, were available along the way.
The longest ride took cyclists past fishermen casting for rockfish and white perch off the Middle Branch docks, high atop Federal Hill, bouncing over the cobblestones in Fells Point, to Canton, over to the Pagoda in Patterson Park, past golfers on the 16th tee at Clifton Park, past the Korean Soccer Association of Maryland tournament in Herring Run Park, alongside Lake Montebello, into the neighborhoods behind the old left field wall at departed Memorial Stadium, through basketball games in Druid Hill Park, past the zoo and the botanical gardens — and happily, after an exhilarating last three miles across covered bridges on the Gwynns Falls Trail, back to a barbecue at Carroll Park.