Somerville tour returns on Memorial Day in 2022

By on May 26, 2022 0

SOMERVILLE – A bit of normality will return to the county seat this holiday weekend.

The 77th Tour de Somerville, the nation’s first and oldest cycling race, will return on Memorial Day after two years of cancellations due to the pandemic and flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

The race, known as the Kentucky Derby of Bicycle Racing, was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021, the lingering pandemic again caused it to be canceled on Memorial Day, with organizers scheduling it for Labor Day.

But, because the borough was ravaged by flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida on September 1, the race was again canceled as Somerville and Central Jersey continued to recover from the disaster.

“We’ve been through a lot over the past few years,” Mayor Dennis Sullivan said. “We deserve to have fun.”

The return of racing will boost the spirit of Somerville, the mayor said.

“People just want to have a normal summer,” Sullivan said. “It’s going to be OK.”

The mayor said he plans to ride the Family Fun Ride which will start the day at 8:45 a.m. Monday on West Main Street in front of Wolfgang’s Steakhouse. Registration can be done via the Borough’s website.

The eight competitive amateur races begin at 9:30 a.m. for registered runners of varying ages and skill levels.

The first professional race, the women’s 25-mile contest, begins at 2 p.m. with a $10,000 purse.

The men’s 50-mile, 43-lap professional race around the 1.1-mile course, with a $10,000 purse, is scheduled to start at 3:15 p.m.

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Professional and elite cyclists from as far away as New Zealand competed in the two featured races.

Organizers expect the winners of the 2019 races to return to defend their titles.

Connor Sallee of Connecticut won the 2019 Tour de Somerville in 1 hour 38 minutes. The winner of the women’s race was Maggie Coles-Lyster of Canada.

Entry to the races is free.

Today’s races are promoted by Arts on Division and sponsored by Unity Bank, as well as Atlantic Health, Flemington Car and Truck Country, Somerset County, the Borough of Somerville and the Downtown Somerville Alliance.

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The races aren’t the only events in Somerville on the three-day weekend.

The Classic Cruisers return to Main Street on Friday nights until Labor Day.

The Somerville Stage in Division Street Plaza will return Saturday from 6-9 p.m. with a performance by Maura Glynn and Friends. And during the races on Monday, there will be music on Division Street.

The borough will hold its annual Memorial Day Ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday at the new South Bridge Street Cemetery.

The following streets will be closed on Memorial Day where parked cars will be towed: West Main Street, between North Bridge Street and Mountain Avenue; Mountain Avenue, between West Main Street and West High Street; West High Street, between Mountain Avenue and North Bridge Street; and North Bridge Street, between West High Street and West Main Street.

Residents and visitors should not park inside the course as they will not be able to exit during the race.

The Bernie Field parking deck, 68 E. High St., will be available for free parking only on Memorial Day. All cars must be out before 6 p.m. on Monday.

Free parking is permitted Sunday until 6:00 a.m. Tuesday in Lot 7 on East High Street and in the Borough-owned parking lot on Veterans Memorial Drive between Warren Street and Hamilton Street.

Professional cyclist and owner of a borough bike shop, Fred “Pop” Kugler organized the first 50-mile Tour of Somerville in 1940. His son, Furman, a former national cycling champion, won the first two races in 1940 and 1941.

Carl Anderson, a friend of the Kuglers, won the Tour in 1942. The Tour was suspended from 1943 to 1946 because of World War II.

The Memorial Day race date took a tragic turn when Kugler and Anderson were killed in World War II.

Resuming in 1947, the senior men’s Tour de Somerville race was officially renamed the Kugler-Anderson Memorial in their honor.

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Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. To get unlimited access to her articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.