Last year the Tour of Somerville was set to celebrate its 80th anniversary, but COVID cancelled those plans. This year, the landmark race, which was started in 1940 by local bike shop owner, Pop Kugler, is back on track, but moving from its Memorial Day weekend spot to Labor Day.
The huge event is the oldest bicycle race in the country. Because of that it draws major crowds and cyclists from around the world, and the director is hoping that by moving the date back three months, it will allow additional time for the public to receive their COVID vaccinations, and hopefully make being in a big group a safer option. It may also allow time for state mandates to allow larger events and crowd sizes.
“While moving the event was not our first choice,” says Mike Malekoff, director of the Tour of Somerville, “we will have a bigger and better event with more races in area communities as part of the Tour of Somerville Cycling Series.”
The move is supported by lead sponsors Unity Bank and Atlantic Health, along with local communities. Nearby Easton, PA is hosting an evening race, the Easton Twilight Criterium. In addition to the race, casual cyclists can participate in the recreational ride, with distances of 25, 50, 75 and 100 miles.
The move may not seem like a huge deal to some, but Memorial Day has been tied to this race since the start. “Memorial Day and the Tour of Somerville have been linked together ever since the first two winners, Furman Kugler of Somerville (1940, 1941) and Carl Anderson of Clifton, N.J. (1942), lost their lives during World War II, at which time the Tour was suspended for four years,” says Malekoff.
All of the bike races and accompanying events will meet with any state guidelines to insure public safety. For the latest information, go to the Facebook page of the Tour of Somerville.