Old Frenchtown Bicycle Tour
One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, Soulard is known to many residents for its plentiful restaurants and bars, and Obtoberfest and Mardi Gras festivals. Weaving through the tree-lined streets and courtyards in the neighborhood, Harold Karabel lead a group of fifteen cyclists on a tour of Soulard and the adjacent LaSalle Park neighborhood on August 23. As always, Harold provided a fascinating commentary that highlighted some of the architectural gems of the area, explained the area’s long and colorful history, and showed photographs of how specific sites in the neighborhood had changed over the years.
Stops on the tour ranged from tiny stone houses, to brick row houses, to several of the massive churches that soar over the neighborhoods. These churches are a tangible reflection of the area’s cultural past, having been built by the early German, Czech, and Lebanese immigrant communities who settled in the area. The tour also made a stop at Soulard Farmer’s Market, the oldest farmer’s market west of the Mississippi, which has been in continuous operation since the late eighteenth century.
The final stop on the tour was LaBerta and Sons Cycles at 1007 Russell Boulevard. Matt LaBerta has provided eco-sag support for Trailnet’s Community Bicycle Tours for the past two seasons. Riders got a chance to admire the latest frame that Matt is constructing, have a guided tour of the shop by his sons, and received much appreciated ice water.
Trailnet is grateful to George Dennis of the Church of St. Vincent DePaul, who opened restrooms, provided ice, and a shaded pavilion for our ride’s starting point. Many thanks to Harold for his enthusiasm, knowledge, dedication to the city, and ability to locate shade as temperatures neared 100. Thanks to Matt, Mylo and Mason, who almost had a carefree morning, until a rider got a flat at our last stop. Finally, thanks to the cyclists and volunteers who braved the heat to join in on the tour. This tour was funded, in part, by Great Rivers Greenway District.