First in a series of articles all week.  Follow @RobRains on Twitter  And @StLSportsPage on Twitter

Why We Love St. Louis
 Reason #1: All there is to do for fans of the Outdoors

One reason we love St. Louis is all there is to do for fans of the outdoors. There are many walking, running, and biking trails around the Greater St. Louis area. All summer there are “runs” and you can find out more on the St. Louis track club’s website: http://www.stlouistrackclub.com/.

They have a race calendar for running enthusiasts to check out if they would like to participate: http://www.stlouistrackclub.com/calendar.htm

For the purposes of this article we will focus on bicycling since the Tour de France is in full swing. We've got information on the Tour de France and scroll down for information on bicycilng in the St. Louis area.

Bicycle enthusiasts love the Tour de France

The Tour de France is going on right now and you don’t have to tell bicycling enthusiasts that. They know that . While many are worried about how the Cardinals will fare going into the All-Star Break, there are those glued to their televisions to see who will be wearing the “yellow jersey”—that person who is is leading with the lowest overall time in the race. Vincenzo Nibali is wearing the jersey as of results from Stage 8 which took place on Saturday.

As reported by the New York Times, one of the problems this year is all the fans who are standing on the track trying to take “selfies” with the riders who whiz by.

“Since the Tour began Saturday (July 5), several riders, including Tejay van Garderen, the American leader of the BMC team, have been knocked off their bikes by self-portrait enthusiasts standing on the course,” according to writer Ian Austen.

In a big race, especially the Tour de France, there are teams and the teams know who their strongest rider is and they protect that rider, much as a team might protect their driver in auto racing. They try to help the protected rider avoid crashes or other problems they might encounter with their bikes.

An example of the protected rider was Lance Armstrong. He may have won all those races, but he had help from his team.

The Tour de France, which got underway July 5, 2014 actually starts in England but goes through France for most of it and winds up in Paris, Sunday July 27th.

UPDATE as of Tuesday: The speculations around an expected duel between Chris Froome and Alberto Contador have completely vanished. Five days after the defending champion, the Spaniard has been forced out of the race after crashing badly before the real fight between the favorites begun. Following the sad exit of the leader of Tinkoff-Saxo, the super favorite of the Tour de France became Vincenzo Nibali who caught the last attacker Joaquim Rodriguez with 1.2km to and took the yellow jersey back after the beautiful.. [Continue reading... http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2014/us/]

BACK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE POSTED 7-12-14:
This weekend’s big news was “Race leader Vincenzo Nibali expects to come under intense pressure when the Tour de France ventures into the mountains for the first time this weekend.”-- http://www1.skysports.com/cycling/news/12040/9379543/tour-de-france-vincenzo-nibali-expecting-pressure-as-race-reaches-high-mountains

As Stage 8 finished, Nibali was still the leader:

1. Blel Kadri wins stage eight
2. Spain's Alberto Contador second
3. Italian Vincenzo Nibali finishes third to retain lead

It was a rough course with several small crashes. From the Tour de France website: (http://www.letour.com/) The question at the start of Saturday was whether the Vosges Mountain Range a group of mountains in France near the Germany border, less familiar than the Alps or Pyrenees, would be hard enough to make a difference in the race.

There were mixed feelings in the Village Départ.

“The breaking point is here. Everybody's tired. The tension is constant since the start of the Tour. And that's why many riders will crack. We checked the climbs and it's tough', said BMC team director Yvon Ledanois.

“There's a lot up for grabs. The Vosges are a great playground, the stages are well designed and its possible to try something,” said Philippe Mauduit, Alberto Contador's team chief at Tinkoff-Saxo.

On the other hand, Yvon Madiot was not so convinced.

“The Vosges, in my opinion, won't make a big difference between the favourites. We're not on the eve of a stage in the Alps or the Pyrenees. There will be damage at the back but I can't see the favourites lose serious time,” the FDJ team director said.
The weather was rainy which requires the cyclists to change the air pressure in their tires.

What is the Schedule for the next Stage in Tour de France?

8 Hilly Saturday, July 12th Tomblaine > Gérardmer La Mauselaine 161 km
9 Hilly Sunday, July 13th Gérardmer > Mulhouse 170 km
10 Mountain Monday, July 14th Mulhouse > La Planche des Belles Filles 161.5 km
- Rest day Tuesday, July 15th Besançon
11 Hilly Wednesday, July 16th Besançon > Oyonnax 187.5 km
12 Flat Thursday, July 17th Bourg-en-Bresse > Saint-Étienne 185.5 km
13 Mountain Friday, July 18th Saint-Étienne > Chamrousse 197.5 km
14 Mountain Saturday, July 19th Grenoble > Risoul 177 km
15 Flat Sunday, July 20th Tallard > Nîmes 222 km
- Rest day Monday, July 21st Carcassonne
16 Mountain Tuesday, July 22nd Carcassonne > Bagnères-de-Luchon 237.5 km
17 Mountain Wednesday, July 23rd Saint-Gaudens > Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet 124.5 km
18 Mountain Thursday, July 24th Pau > Hautacam 145.5 km
19 Flat Friday, July 25th Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour > Bergerac 208.5 km
20 Individual time-trial Saturday, July 26th Bergerac > Périgueux 54 km
21 Flat Sunday, July 27th Évry > Paris Champs-Élysées 137.5 km


Bicycling in St. Louis

Bicycle enthusiasts in St. Louis have several outlets and all they need to do is contact the local bike stores like Bike Shark. http://bigshark.com/articles/rides-races-event-calendar-pg22.htm

They have a list of events and each Saturday morning there are group rides.

It's important to be safe when riding so be sure to check your bike helmets and be sure they are the right size. Cardinal Glennon Medical Center's Glennon Foundation has a program to help children get the right bike helmet size.

Tour de Kirkwood

Kirkwood, Missouri has it’s own version of the “Tour de France” in their annual “Tour de Kirkwood.” This event is a triathaloon which includes swimming, biking, and running. The event takes place Sunday July 27, 2014 and is based out of Kirkwood Park.
For more information: http://bigshark.com/about/2014-tour-de-kirkwood-triathlon-7-27-14-pg837.htm

SWIM: 400 yard pool swim - serpentine course with a time trial start. Fastest swimmers to the front. Start line up begins at 7:15 AM

BIKE: 10 miles - NEW COURSE THIS YEAR - Please be sure to review the course mapage below

RUN: 3 miles (yep, three MILES!- we promise)

START: 7:30 AM Start Time. Transition Zone open at 6:00 AM. Closes at 7:15 AM

Show-Me State Games Cycling July 19 8a.m.-11 a.m.
Starts at Sun Baptist Church in Auxvasse, Mo.,Callaway county.

DescriptionEntry Fee: $20 pre registration due July1. $25 on-site entries will be accepted. Deadline: Pre-registered entries must be postmarked or received via the internet no later than July 1. Registration is also allowed the day of the event at the race site. Check In: All participants must check-in at the race site on the day of competition at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the race. Check-in will open at 7:00 a.m. Commisioner: Call SMSG at 573-882-2101 How to Enter: Register online now for Cycling.http://smsg.org/registration.php?entrytodisplay=9 To enter by mail, please complete a Show-Me State Games entry form http://smsg.org/pdfs/entryform.pdf and mail it along with payment to: Show-Me State Games 1105 Carrie Francke Dr, Room 01 Columbia, MO 65211-3190

Bike Works helps kids get bikes

The Organization Bike Works is a great group. They donated 15 bicycle to Rainbows for Kids last year, giving kids something exciting to look forward to and for many it was their first bike.   Shown left is one of the kids with a prosthetic leg due to her cancer, and she is riding a bike for the first time all due to the generosity of Bike Works.

Through their “Earn-a-Bike program, local kids learn to build and fix bikes, while building the confidence they need to follow their dreams. If you are a bike enthusiast, contact them to see how you can get involved.

For information on how you can donate bikes or help them restore bikes to give to children, contact them: http://www.bworks.org/bikeworks/
Ride Your Bike in St. Louis- Check out Trailnet.org

If you want to know more about how and where to ride in the Greater St. Louis are, Trail Net could be your answer.

According to their website:

"Love to bike around the neighborhood or local trails, but not sure how to start riding for transportation? Trailnet’s TravelGreen program promotes multi-modal travel and bike commuting and increased awareness of bicycling safety in the St. Louis region. Our education, built environment and policy work all help create a more livable St. Louis so those who are ready can shift gears toward a new and healthier commute on a regular basis. Listen to the stories of those who have begun to make the shift to a healthier commute. ) Contact Meredith Klekotka at meredith@trailnet.org for any questions."

Great Rivers Greenway Bike Map
http://www.greatriversgreenway.org/Portals/0/Bike%20St%20Louis%20Map/2013BikeStLouis_2%2027%2013.pdf

Missouri State Trails - Trails in Missouri
Explore Missouri trails and find comprehensive trail guides including Missouri trail maps, descriptions, photos and reviews. Their website is: http://www.traillink.com/state/mo-trails.aspx

Whether you’re getting outdoors for recreation, fitness, commuting or travel you’ll discover top trails for bicycling, hiking, running and more on TrailLink.com.Get outdoors and explore all Missouri has to offer including popular trails like Frisco Highline Trail and Katy Trail State Park.With more than 39 trails covering 39 miles you’re bound to find one perfect for you.

Katy Trail- Lots of people love biking on the Katy Trail
The Katy Trail is a “rails to trails” project and is the longest biking and hiking trail in the country. The trail is along the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railroad, better known as the Katy. The trail runs near the Missouri River and gives a biker a view an of som of the best natural scenery Missouri has to offer.
Check out: http://www.nibordot.addr.com/about_katy.htm

Katy Trail Bike Rental: http://www.nibordot.addr.com/

Where to Stay when going on a Bike Ride

There are Drury Hotels near many trails.

Festus, Mo.

For a short weekend get-away, try Festus, Mo. featuring a vibrant park system, beautiful lakes and nearby hiking and biking trails—and it’s close enough to St. Louis to head down tot Busch for a Cardinals game., Whether you come to Festus to tackle the trails or to root for the Redbirds, the Drury Inn of Festus is an excellent place to stay.

Fenton, Mo. Is a good choice

Strap on your helmet and fanny pack and get ready for some of the best cycling in the Midwest. Fenton, a beautiful suburb of St. Louis, is covered with parks and bike trails, earning it the nickname, City of Parks.

No matter where your weekend jaunts or business travels take you, the Drury Inns are our favorite midwest hotels. We like them because you get a lot for your money:

Wake up each morning to a free Hot Breakfast. Take your pick from a selection of great breakfast items including scrambled eggs, biscuits & gravy, sausage and make-your-own Belgian waffles. In the evening, try the 5:30 Kickback® for free hot food and cold beverages. Their rotating menu features a variety of hot food, including chicken strips, macaroni & cheese, hot dogs, baked potatoes, broccoli cheddar soup and more! Plus, beer, wine, mixed drinks and soft drinks are served everyday. There’s something for everyone at Drury’s 5:30 Kickback. It's a snack for some, meal for others and free for all—and we at StLSportsPage.com like “free.”

Did we miss anything? 

If there is an event or organization  that fits in this article you think St. Louisans should know about feel free to mention it in the comments.

Coming Tomorrow:

BASEBALL!  How you can win free tickets to the Frontier League All-Star Game at the Gateway Grizzlies.