Want to start the Fourth of July with the best physical activity in town. I am going to share with you my all-time favorite city bike ride. You can get from Ladue or Frontenac to the Arch and back before it gets too hot or the crowds totally overtake downtown for Fair St. Louis.
First of all, get up early. I mean by 5 or 6 a.m. at the latest. After loading your water bottles, checking the bike and having a power breakfast, prepare the wheels for the road.
Here we go:
Come down Clayton or Ladue Road then cut over and head north on Price. At the corner of Price and Delmar turn right and head for University City. At Delmar and Old Bonhomme, turn right and head towards the high rises of Clayton. When you pass by Samuel Church (with the red door), turn left and head into Clayton Gardens. Swing around the little pocket park in Clayton, go right, then left down Maryland Avenue. It is smooth sailing through University City, past the tennis courts at Jackson Park. Don’t go onto the Forest Park Expressway, of course.
Wind your way through some scenic back streets of U. City and when you hit Big Bend, make a sharp right. Then go left on the alley, just north of the Forest Park Expressway. At the center of Washington U., there is a walking bridge that crosses onto the campus.
You will have to walk your bike down the stairs. Wind through the campus in front of the main entrance and you will be at Skinker and the west entrance of Forest Park.
Travel the leisure bike trail around half the park until you are on the eastern edge which will take you back onto Lindell. Go Lindell to Kingshighway and loop to the right. Then at the light, head head east on West Pine Boulevard. That will take you onto the empty campus of Saint Louis University.
Once at SLU, head back to Lindell and go all the way into the city to 12th street. Make a right at 12th; then a left onto Pine Street. Pine will run you all the way down to Old Court House. Cross into the park grounds. Again, being the Fourth of July, you will either have to walk your bike, or bikes may be banned. If not, enjoy the spectacular morning view; dip your wheel into the Mississippi River then get the heck out of there.
You can reverse your route and you will be back to Ladue in less than three hours. That is a 25 mile round trip.
Or you can head down 7th street to the Anheuser Busch Brewery, go for a ride around Soulard and Benton Park; then travel on to Tower Grove Park, and all the way out Chippewa, Gravois or other routes through or around the Hill. That route, up Cherokee or up Gravois and around Fox Park and other neighborhoods is closer to 50 miles and will take a half day. Before its over, you will see beautiful homes on tree lined streets of the city, Dog Town and finally Maplewood.
There is no doubt, that from your bike, you will see things you never see from your car. In the hot weather, you’d be surprised how many people are out and about in the early morning hours. Some are sitting on their front stoops, still celebrating from the night before.
I have all kinds of favorite country bike routes. This one is called “my city route.” Other routes are in Wildwood; (Wild Horse Creek); in Columbia, Illinois and my all-time favorite going from Pere Marquette north of Alton, across the river into Calhoun County and on to Brussels and Hardin. That is a country route, worth the trip. Caution, that is a shadeless route and the sun is unrelenting.
Get out, ride your bike, enjoy the holiday and be safe.