ST. JOSEPH -- Cyclists from all over the state will take part in the Tour of Saints bike ride through central Minnesota on Sunday.

Over 800 people are expected to participate in the 35th annual recreational ride from the College of St. Benedict's campus on routes with stops in Cold Spring, Collegeville, and Avon.

Tour of Saints Director Michael Doyle says the event is not a race -- it's a way to enjoy the outdoors and the sport of cycling.

"Minnesota's a great state for bicycling and we're trying to make it even better," Doyle says. "It's a ride intended for people to get out and enjoy the camaraderie of bicycling with other people and experience what I call 'the joy of bicycling'."

Cyclists can sign up for one of three routes of 18 miles, 35 miles and 50 miles the morning of the event at the Haehn Campus Center at St. Ben's.

"Some people just do the 12-mile trip to Cold Spring and they realize that's probably enough for them and we'll give them a lift back," Doyle says.

Despite the distances, Doyle says the event is definitely suitable for the whole family.

"It's about getting out with friends and family," Doyle says. "We'll have riders [ranging] from children in trailers to riders in their 80s, so we've got people of all ages and abilities."

Doyle has been involved in the event for the past 25 years and says he enjoys seeing the love of the sport grow in new riders.

"For some people, they'll go out and do some of these rides occasionally and find that they love it," Doyle says. "For others, it becomes an entire lifestyle for them."

"We've got three generations of people that have done this event and they look forward to it all year long because it's something that brings friends and families together getting the endorphins flowing and having a great time."

Early registration has closed, but participants can start signing up on-site at 6:30 a.m. Sunday and riders must take off no later than 8:30 a.m. Helmets are a requirement to ride in the Tour of Saints.