Tour de’ Tangipahoa welcomes 450 riders plus pickles

Tori E. Pajares –

Cyclists from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida came out Saturday to ride in the Hammond Kiwanis Club’s 23rd annual Tour de’ Tangipahoa.

As the club’s largest fundraising event, this year had a turnout of 450 participants between both ride times. Beginning at 7:30 a.m., the first ride consisted of a 60-mile radius. The 30-mile ride began at 9 a.m. Both rides began and ended at the University Center.

Along the routes were several rest stops with portable restrooms, soaked towels, refreshments and snacks.

“We added pickles and pickle juice because they asked for that,” volunteer Arlene Anzalone said.

J.D. Schooner of Houma, who has ridden in Tour de’ Tangipahoa for six years, said pickle juice is a good resource for riders.

“Pickle juice is salty. When you sweat, you lose a lot of salt. So pickle juice helps put salt back in your body.” Schooner explained.

Other snacks at the rest stop included Gatorade, water, oranges, bananas and pretzels. Some rest stops were busier than others Saturday, and volunteers were in constant communication to put leftover supplies to good use.

Cyclists usually skip the first stop, “but we get pretty busy here,” Anzalone said at Rest Stop 5.

Many precautionary measures were in place for safety. Following along the riders, vehicles designated as “sag wagons” were ready to transport any rider who could not finish due to injury or to escort bikes to repair.

Riders who need bike repairs were taken to David Moeller, owner of The Bike Path in Mandeville. Moeller has brought a van complete with tools and spare bike parts to Tour de’ Tangipahoa for the past four years.

“We pretty much have any part that might break on the bike,” Moeller said.

He sets up at the start of the race to help air up tires and shift adjustments. After both races had left, he moved to rest stops in case cyclists needed repairs.

Only a few minutes into the race, Moeller said one cyclist got two flat tires and needed immediate help to continue riding. Also, The Bike Path help about 20 riders in simple repairs such as air and adjustments.

“Sometimes there are more catastrophic needs that arise, but we try to prepare for what we can,” Moeller said.

Although riders were warned in advance to be careful on the roads and stay on the designated routes, Couvillion says not all listen. At least two crashes took place during the ride.

“They were both rider fault accidents,” said tour chairman Judy Couvillion.

The first involved a tire collision between riders. The second incident occurred when a rider unintentionally pressed her brakes.

At the end of the rides, Hammond Kiwanis Club provided riders with pastalaya, potato salad and coleslaw for lunch and All-American Healthcare gave free 10-minute massages.

All proceeds from Tour de’ Tangipahoa go back to the community via programs that Hammond Kiwanis Club supports.

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