Tour of Somerville: NJ’s Biggest Bike Race Is Happening on Memorial Day

by Abby Montanez
Tour of Somerville

Cyclists from all across the country will once again gather to participate in New Jersey’s biggest bike race. Tour of Somerville is one of North America’s oldest races, dating all the way back to 1940. Often likened to the “Kentucky Derby of Cycling,” the annual event is traditionally celebrated during Memorial Day weekend. This year will be no different, with the 77th Tour of Somerville returning to the Garden State on May 30, 2022. 

Tour of Somerville History 

The story of how one of the nation’s most prestigious races came to be is one of triumph and tragedy. Fred Kugler—known as “Pop” to locals—was a bike shop owner in Somerville and a professional cyclist. So when he had the idea to bring a race to his hometown, he was met with hardship. 

At the time, NJ state law banned bike racing on highways for prizes. It just so happens that Main Street, which runs through downtown Somerville, is part of Route 28. Fred found a loophole in the legislation and rebranded his race as a “tour” (where bike riding meets backpacking). The inaugural 50-mile Tour of Somerville was then held during Memorial Day weekend in 1940.

Tour of Somerville in Somerset County, NJ l Photo courtesy of Somerset County Tourism

In its first two years, the first-place winner was none other than Fred’s own son, Furman. Furman was already a National Cycling champion and considered one of the most promising cyclists in America. In 1942, Carl Anderson, a family friend, took home the title. 

From 1943 to 1946, the Tour took a pause after World War II summoned soldiers to battle. Unfortunately, both Furman and Anderson were killed when serving overseas. The race returned in 1947 and in honor of these two lives lost, the Senior Men’s leg of the tour was renamed the Kugler-Anderson Memorial. 

2022 Tour of Somerville: What to Expect 

Cyclists are eager to return to the Tour of Somerville in 2022 after COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida impacted the previous two years. As always, the series of races will cater to both amateur and professional cyclists alike. Categories will range from a non-competitive family fun ride (pre-race) to Junior and Masters for men and women. 

tour of somerville

Bike race on Main St. in Somerville, NJ l Photo courtesy of Somerset County Tourism

The start/finish line will be located outside of Wolfgang’s Restaurant on Main Street. Friends, family and other onlookers are welcome to line the streets of the course to cheer on cyclists. Online registration for the Tour will end on May 28. Mail-in registrations must be postmarked no later than May 15. Onsite registration will be available the day of, however additional late fees will apply.

In addition to the many races taking place, there will also be an array of food offerings, entertainment and vendors to coincide with the event. 

Will you be attending or participating in the Tour of Somerville in 2022? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author/s

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Abby is The Digest's Managing Editor. She spends her time looking at dogs on Instagram and eating her way around Jersey City.

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