FAIR HAVEN GEARS UP FOR BIKE RACE

fh_detour1a1Detour de Tour: Signs on River Road alert motorists to Saturday’s planned shutdown. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

As he was driving through Fair Haven last week, Michel Berger got a sense that his brainchild, the Tour de Fair Haven, is going to be a success this weekend.

He was following a young man decked out in a full cyclist ensemble test-driving the weekend’s route on River Road. He caught up and spoke to the rider.

“He said, ‘This is a great route. I’m happy we have a chance to do this around here,'” Berger said. “You could tell he was really getting ready for Sunday.”

That’s when at least 75 bicyclists of all ages and skill levels will be seen zipping through Fair Haven competing in the first Tour de Fair Haven, a dual-purpose event that Berger, a Fair Haven resident from France, dreamt up last year to promote cycling to children.

The event is also a money- and awareness raiser for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), a progressive ailment that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Proceeds will go to the local Joan Dancy and PALS Foundation.

The borough will shut down River Road and the side streets that make up the 4.5 mile loop for a couple hours to accommodate the race. There will be five categories of races based on age and skill level, and a children’s race will cap off the day.

Berger said since he began working on coordinating the event earlier in the year, it has quickly gained steam by getting local, regional and national sponsors. The Fair Haven Borough Council designate a “Bicycle Weekend,” and Berger expects bicyclists from the tri-state area and even a couple from Europe to be part of it.

Already 75 people have signed up, and Berger is confident the number of participants will top 100.

“Bike racers have a tendency to register at the last minute,” he said. “It’s interesting to see what the success could be here. If we go above the 100-person mark, I think that would be a mission accomplished.”

Depending on how well the weekend goes, Berger said he’d like to make the race an annual event in Fair Haven.

“A lot of people bike around this town. It’s a big thing,” he said

More details can be found at the tour’s website.