The Tour De Fort Lee will play host to some of the most exciting criterium (crit) cycling races in the northeast on September 8. The community friendly event, now in its ninth year, will also feature a 5-mile family ride and a 2-mile walk.
The event benefits the Fort Lee Education Foundation (FLEF), which raises monies to fund innovative programs for students and grants for teachers in the Fort Lee school district due to budgetary constraints.
â€œNelson [Gutierrez] from Strictly Bicycles really wants to get the spectators out,â€ said Harvey Sohmer, President of the FLEF, and councilman of the Borough of Fort Lee. â€œAnd the [Fort Lee] mayor and council, and the [Fort Lee] police department are very supportive of the event.â€
The student population has increased tenfold since Sohmer graduated from Fort Lee High Schoolâ€™s (FLHS) class of 1959 with his wife, Roberta Sohmer, who graduated class of 1962. He attributes the popularity of the four-corner crit events to the fast, spectator-friendly course.
This official USA Cycling event draws some of the most experienced riders in the tri-sate area, and organizers have added several new categories (cat) including a combination junior and women cat 4 race, and women cat 1, 2, and 3 races.
In an effort to draw a younger demographic into competitive cycling, organizers broke out the juniors into different age groups for prizes including junior men 10-14, junior men 15â€“16, junior men 17-18, junior women 10-14, and junior women 15-18. Separate medals and merchandise prizes will be awarded for each age group.
The men categories that made last yearâ€™s criterium races a success, including men cat 1 and 2, cat 3,4,5, and masters 35+ and masters 45+ will return.
The races start and end at the intersection of Abbott Boulevard and Tremont Avenue in Fort Lee. Cyclists will race north on Abbott Boulevard and make their first turn heading east onto Riverdale Drive. At the next intersection they turn south onto Oleri Terrace, then head west to attack the steep hill up Forrest Avenue before turning north onto Abbott Boulevard again.
The top prize money has increased significantly over last year, coming in at $1,999 to be split between the first 20 places in the men 1& 2 categories. The other categories also feature prizes for top riders.
Tony Clores, Vice President, another graduate of FLHS (class of 1958) and past president of FLEF, said the event doubles as a class reunion for alumni who return every year from near and far to catch up with friends, take in all the outdoor excitement, and support a great cause.
â€œI wanted to give back to the community,â€ said Clores, who continues the work of the foundation with his wife Julia Clores (class of 1960) after Bunny and Michael Feiler started the foundation in 2004 with a $30,000 donation from a local church.
But while sponsors such as Benzel Busch and Strictly Bicycles have been very supportive of the Tour de Fort Lee, he hopes sales of the 50/50 raffle ticket sales, on sale for $20, increase significantly before the event.
â€œI hope we at least achieve what we achieved last year,â€ Clores added. â€œThatâ€™s all going to depend on the raffle.â€
If 1,000 raffle tickets are sold, the winner walks away with $10,000. The winner will be announced at the end of the event.
To purchase 50/50 raffle tickets, visit Strictly Bicycles, 2347 Hudson Drive, Fort Lee, New Jersey during store hours. Go to StrictlyBicycles.com for store hours. For more information regarding the Tour De Fort Lee, go to flefnj.org or call 201-638-5294.
The Tour de Fort Lee will be held rain or shine. There will be an additional $10 late fee for race day entry. To pre-register for criterium races, go bikereg.com/Net/tour-de-fort-lee.
Pre-registration closes Sept 7 at noon. To view categories and prizes, click the Race Flyer near the bottom of the BikeReg event page: bikereg.com/Net/tour-de-fort-lee.
Those interested in signing up for the family ride or walk events can register the day of the event at the intersection of Abbott Boulevard and Tremont Avenue in Fort Lee, New Jersey starting at 7:30a.m. The events start 9a.m.
The Tour de Fort Lee is sponsored by benzelbusch.com, StrictlyBicycles.com, zipp.com, cannondale.com, and is presented by bergenvelodrome.com