The following is an extract from my OutSPOKEn column that will appear in the upcoming March/April edition of the Southern California Bicyclist magazine available soon at local bike shops throughout Southern California.
This is usually the edition where I begin to publicize the local pro level bike races in our area to encourage my readers to attend these events. Considering all the recent doping revelations I should address the logical question, why go? The sport of cycling is still beautiful to watch particularly for those of us who ride who can relate to the effort it takes to ride lots of miles fast, sprint or climb. The equipment geeks among us get to be close enough to drool over the top of the line equipment that the pros get to ride. The riders are far more accessible to their fans compared to most other professional sports. The events are colorful and photogenic for the shutterbugs out there. And unlike most sporting events, there is no admission charge, so the price is right.
Also, the races are starting to be dominated by a new generation of young riders who are far more likely to be riding without the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED’s). I am not saying that the new riders are saints. Rather the newer riders entered the sport when the drug testing for PED’s has significantly improved, the penalties for getting caught are substantially stiffer, and the former tolerance for drug cheats has almost evaporated. So riders today are more likely to get caught, and getting caught is more than ever likely to be a career ending move.
Now on the races; first up chronologically is the San Dimas Stage Race which this year will be held on March 22-24. The first day is a time trial up Glendora Mountain Road. The second day is a road race with laps on a seven mile loop, and the last day there is a series of criteriums in Old Town San Dimas. Last year a winter storm added to the other challenges of the race For more information about the 14th anniversary edition of the San Dimas race go to www.sdsr.com. Next is the four day Redlands Bicycle Classic on April 3-7 which has been run annually since 1985 by volunteers although, if you attend it as I have, you would never know that. The race touts itself as a race “where legends are born,” because of the number of top domestic pros who count winning at Redlands among their early victories. There are a series of professional and amateur men’s and women’s races culminating on the hilly Sunset Road race on the last day. For more information go to www.redlandsclassic.com.
Then on May 5 there is the Dana Point Grand Prix held on a six corner, one mile loop overlooking Dana Point Harbor and which is usually blessed with wonderful weather. This race is part of a national series of criterium races under the auspices of USA Cycling so the winner gets important points toward a national championship. As a result top criterium riders make the trip to Dana Point for the race. More information about the series of races including a free kids race can be found at www.danapointclassic.com. Finally there is the eight stage Amgen Tour of California the biggest pro race in the US. In its eight year the Amgen Tour will for the first time start in Southern California on May 12 and proceed north to its finish about 800 miles later in Santa Rosa on May 19. The precise course details have now been made public, and are available on the race web site. The So Cal stages are; Stage 1, Escondido start and end, Stage 2, Murrieta start and end in the Palm Springs area, Stage 3 Palmdale start and finish in Santa Clarita, and Stage 4 Santa Clarita start ending in Santa Barbara. For more information check out their web site at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
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