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Monday, June 27, 2022

42nd Melon City Criterium to cycle through Weed Park

Margaret Hurlberthttps://discovermuscatine.com
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–For recreational bicyclists in Muscatine, Weed Park may represent a good place to go for a leisurely ride on a warm day. However, for competitive cyclists, it stands out as the home of the Melon City Criterium annual bike race. After a two year wait due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Harper’s Cycling and Fitness and the Melon City Bike Club look forward to bringing the third leg of the Iowa Memorial Weekend Cycling Classic back to Muscatine.

A popular bike race, the Melon City Criterium offers a hilly course with varied scenery different than many of the downtown bike races other cities offer. A part of the Iowa Memorial Weekend Cycling Classic, which includes Friday Night Fever in Burlington, the Snake Alley Criterium in Burlington on Saturday, and the Kwik-Star Criterium in Davenport Sunday, the race attracts many experienced racers. “Historically, we’ve had over 400 riders from 20 states,” shared Greg Harper, race director and owner of Harper’s Cycling and Fitness.

To get young riders interested in racing, the Melon City Criterium features a free kids race for bike riders 10 and under. The short, easy loop around the top of Weed Park provides the ideal place for the littlest riders to safely compete.

Throughout the day, the Melon City Criterium will feature both male and female races at a variety of skill levels. Riders will do laps around the entirety of Weed Park, starting at the intersection of Park Drive and Parkington Drive and traveling around the park counterclockwise. For the safety of the bikers, the city will block off the roads in the park to traffic that day. Open to experienced riders with proper racing bikes and helmets, those wanting to participate may register and pay their entry fees using the link on the Melon City Bike Club’s website.

For those who like biking but lack professional racing experience, Harper encourages people to come, observe the racers, and get a taste of the exuberance of the day. As Harper put it, “to see all the cyclists right next to each other is pretty exciting.” Racing begins at 8:30 a.m. with the pro women’s race at 3 p.m. and the pro men’s race at 4 p.m.

As bike racing comes back into its own, Harper feels elated to bring the Melon City Criterium back to Weed Park for the 42nd time. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm from the bike racers to get back to biking again,” he observed.

Harper particularly enjoys, “just the satisfaction of putting on a well-established race that brings people from all over the country to Muscatine.”

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