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Gran Fondo route changes for 2011

Levi’s Gran Fondo, the annual Sonoma County cycling festival and group ride, will take a slightly different route for this year’s event, say organizers. Rolling road-closures and a recent landslide have necessitated the changes, which will not have an impact upon the main climbs and descents of the route.

The basic course, laid out for the inaugural Gran Fondo in 2009, takes riders on one of three scenic rides: the Gran, which covers 103 miles and incorporates King Ridge Road; the Medio, which is 65 miles and cuts out King Ridge and the additional climbs; and the Piccolo, a 32 mile recreational ride which keeps participants away from the more remote western portions of Sonoma County.

The altered route for 2011 affects one portion of the final approach back into Santa Rosa, which riders in the Gran and Medio will encounter. A landslide on Coleman Valley Road, near Occidental, has caused a large hole to open up in the pavement, making passage dangerous for cars and bikes. An alternate route via Bittner Road has been suggested. Bittner runs parallel to Coleman Valley Road, but approaches Occidental from the south side of town. Riders would access Bittner from Joy Road, adding about a mile to the course.

Additionally, CHP have indicated that a mandatory cut-off will be required for Gran-route riders at the River Road/Cazadero Highway intersection. Riders who fail to reach the intersection before 10.30am will be redirected onto the Medio route, thereby avoiding the King Ridge portion of the Gran Fondo. Presumably this is to regulate rolling road-closures at the Meyer’s Grade/Pacific Coast Highway intersection, which was held open for riders in 2009 and 2010. Road closures are particularly important for Gran Fondo, since several of the main intersections are busy, and several thousand riders are required to flow through them during the course of the day.

Finally, event organizers have indicated that part of the route will be on unpaved roadway, a return to the authentic but generally unpopular climax of the 2009 Gran Fondo. In that year, riders were directed onto a loose gravel pathway for two miles before emerging at the finish. A gravel section is common on many European gran fondo rides, but some American participants of Levi’s Gran Fondo – many of whom did not expect the detour and did not know how to handle the surface – were frustrated and unhappy about having to ride on it.

Levi’s Gran Fondo takes place on October 1st this year, and is expected to attract the usual mixture of riders from Sacramento and all over Northern California, as well as a few individuals from out of state and overseas.



local note

The Freeport Regional Water Authority announced today that it will reopen the Pocket Area Bike Trail, near the Freeport Bend.

The trail has been closed since 2007.

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Redesigned Grand Prix to return to Sacramento

Downtown Sacramento will host a new major criterium on September 10, bringing hundreds of top US cyclists back to the city for the final weekend of the national racing season. The Sacramento Grand Prix adopts the model set in 2010, a street-race that ushered in the prologue of the Amgen Tour of California.

The reborn Grand Prix criterium has been moved to a new slot in the racing calendar, occupying the weekend before the cycling industry’s biggest convention, Interbike, in Las Vegas, NV. Race organizers Project Sport hope the Grand Prix will come to be regarded as a memorable and important closing competition on the US racing schedule each year. Sacramento’s proximity to Las Vegas will make the race attractive to riders committed to attending Interbike.

The projected course will take 500 riders in six fields around a tight one-mile route around the capitol. The riders will complete 50 laps in total, creating a major visual attraction for the estimated 10,000 assembled spectators. Competitors are expected to range in ability from recognizable pro-tour household names down to first-time amateur racers. There will also be an over-35 field, and a law-enforcement category.

Grand Prix organizers conceived the event in response to the huge public support and turnout for the Amgen Tour of California over the last few years. Sacramento is frequently selected as a host for one of the stages of the ToC, but in the event that the city is passed-over in future years, the Grand Prix will provide local cycling fans with a major, all-day event which organizers and city officials hope will replace revenues normally filled by the Tour of California.

The criterium course begins and ends on L Street, opposite the Capitol. From there, riders travel west, then turn down 10th St, onto N St, then up 15th St before turning back onto L Street. The route encapsulates the whole of Capitol Park, providing plenty of opportunity for spectators and vendors to find a space on the inside or the outside of the course. A $10,000 prize is on offer, making the Sacramento Grand Prix one of the richest purses on the US Cycling schedule.

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another reason to ride your bike

If you live in the greater Sacramento area your chances of having you car stolen is among the highest in the country. A new study released by the National Insurance Crime Bureau put Sacramento at No. 6 for likelihood of auto theft in the entire nation in 2010. That’s up from No. 11 in 2009.

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Sacramento Tweed to host Seersucker Ride

Local sartorialists Sacramento Tweed will stage an informal group ride on Sunday, June 26th at 11am in downtown Sacramento. The event will incorporate a picnic in Land Park, a tour of the Crocker Art Museum, and a post-ride tipple at DeVeere’s Irish Pub.

Originally scheduled for the weekend of the 3rd June, the ride was postponed due to the filthy weather. Forecasts are much more favorable for the coming weeks, promising a warm and dry day of cycling-related revelry and Edwardian fashion.

Fans of classic European fabrics will rejoice at the event, which will offer riders the opportunity to showcase their finest seersucker suits. The organization’s blog briefly outlines a suggested dress-code, emphasising a “spirit of inclusiveness and conviviality, which means we don’t care about what you wear (although please wear something appropriate for warm weather–no heavy tweed, please!), or what you ride. All we want is that you wear a smile, and ride what you’re happiest riding.”

The ride begins at 11am in front of Revolution Wines. The shop, located at 29 & S St, will be open an hour early to service the congregated houndstooth enthusiasts in the form of handmade sandwiches for the picnic. Riders will depart and observe a leisurely pace south towards Land Park, where several hours have been set aside for communal luncheon. Cupcakes and iced popsicles will be made available by local retailers for those riders with a sweet tooth.

Post-picnic, aesthetes will again mount their cycles and head to the Crocker, where a special group rate for admission has been offered by the gallery. The thirsty may adjourn to the cafe for a glass of pinot gris, or wait until the group reaches its final destination, DeVeere’s Irish Pub on 15th & L Street. Live music has been promised, the genre of which is yet to be announced. At least one accordion would be appropriate, and no doubt greatly appreciated by the cyclists.

Sacramento Tweed encourages all participants to observe contemporary highway bylaws, while maintaining a certain historic perspective. Cellphones have not been banned, but would probably impinge upon the authenticity of the event.

For more information, visit Sacramento Tweed.

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Midtown Sacramento launches bike-share initiative

Ride Your Own Way, a new bike-sharing program for mid-town Sacramento, is set to launch on June 11th, says Brandon Darnell of The Sacramento Press. The bicycle-rental initiative is sponsored by Ikon Cycles, the tiny boutique bike shop on 18th St run by local cycling advocate Adrian Moore.

Moore donated the bikes to the program, saying “I had some extra money and I thought it was kind of an investment in Sacramento.” The bikes were purchased in a closeout sale from Italian manufacturer Bianchi. Moore spent $4,000 on 12 bicycles, a small but significant initial fleet of rental units for the planned six-month trial period.

“I’d like to see a private entity be able to run it and profit from it, but the reality is there really is very little profit in bike share programs.” Added Moore. His own donation of bikes was part of a group including Curb Locking Systems, the company which donated the bike locking stands, and the Midtown Business Association.

The first bike stations will be located at 28th and J Street in midtown, where customers will be able to rent a bike for free for the first 30 minutes. After the initial time-period is up, users’ credit cards will be billed a $2 fee for each additional 30-minute period. The bikes must be returned to their original location, otherwise the user will be charged $500 to “keep” the bike.

Rob Kerth, Executive Director of the Midtown Business Association is enthusiastic about the bike-share program.

“I see this as having many uses. Folks who don’t have a bike but don’t want to deal with parking at lunchtime would be a perfect example.”

Kerth envisions future bike stations situated at light rail stations and bus stops, enabling commuters to pick up bikes from all kinds of locations around Sacramento, and eventually drop them off at any other bike station.

“It wouldn’t take very much at all to keep this going”, Kerth added. ” Sacramento is great bicycle country, we have tree-lined streets, it’s flat, and the weather is great for it.”

Users are encouraged to bring their own cycle helmets, but Moore will also be renting helmets from his shop for a nominal $3 day-use fee.

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British Cycling launches Breeze to get more women on bikes

British Cycling has today launched Breeze, the biggest ever programme focused on getting more women into riding bikes. Breeze is a National Lottery funded nationwide network of fun, local and flexible bike rides designed to close the gap between the number of men and women cycling regularly, and introduce over 80,000 new women to bike riding.

Led by women for women, Breeze bike rides are local, friendly and informal. The short, traffic-free rides are ideal for busy mums and anyone who hasn’t been on a bike for a while and would like to go for a casual bike ride with a small group of women from their area.

Breeze is British Cycling’s response to the growing gap between the number of men and women riding their bikes. Currently three times as many men take part in cycling regularly and the gap is growing, yet research suggests that nearly one million British women would like to ride a bike more often.

In 2011 British Cycling surveyed over 1,000 women to find out what was discouraging them from riding. Results showed that safety concerns, lack of knowledge of routes and having no-one to cycle with were the key barriers to getting involved.

Breeze addresses these concerns and offers women flexible, safe, accessible and fun opportunities to ride a bike as well training and support. The rides are organised by British Cycling trained local Breeze champions and fit around busy work and family lives. Breeze bike rides are free, friendly and open to women of all ages and abilities.

Natalie Justice, Network Manager at British Cycling, said: “Currently only two per cent of women cycle regularly compared to six per cent of men yet we know that nearly one million women would like the opportunity to get out on their bikes and socialise with other women.

The first Breeze bike rides will start in June and roll out in towns and cities across England over the coming months. As part of the programme, British Cycling will train and support 1,000 local Breeze champions, female volunteers who will add their riders to the Breeze network at times to suit them and their groups.

Jennie Price, Chief Executive of Sport England, said: “Breeze is responding to what women want by offering them a fun and flexible way to get involved in cycling. Our investment of almost one million pounds of Lottery funding in Breeze will help us to tackle the gender gap in sport and deliver a mass participation legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Breeze is funded by the National Lottery via Sport England’s Active Women’s Fund and designed to get over 80,000 women back on a bike or riding for the first time. It also aims to convert 20,000 of them into regular cyclists over the next three years, reversing a trend that has seen 35,000 women drop out of bike riding in recent years.

To find a Breeze bike ride in your local area or to find out how to become a Local Breeze Champion, go to

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Bicycle Film Festival returns to Sacramento

Bicycle Film Festival – the New York-based cycling art and culture showcase – will return to Sacramento this May, coinciding with the popular May Is Bike Month initiative and the Amgen Tour of California. BFF had its Sacramento debut last year, and the positive reception secured a return for the international festival.

“I’m stoked we’re bringing the Bicycle Film Festival back to Sac, where we had such a huge turnout last year,” festival Director Brendt Barbur told The Sacramento Press. “Sacramento is a perfect city for BFF due to its love of the arts and music and rich cycling heritage.”

BFF will arrive on Thursday, May 12th, when the Crocker Art Museum will host the opening party before showing a selection of short films. The festival will then move to Fremont Park at 16th and Q for Friday and Saturday, where more films will be shown, along with competitions and music. The event is sponsored by Hot Italian and Sierra Nevada Brewing, and admission and bike valet parking are free.

Bicycle Film Festival started in 2001 in New York and quickly gained the attention of the mainstream media. This year, the festival will visit more than 20 cities in a dozen different countries.

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By Bike | Week 12 (Miles 972 – 1084)

I turn 30 next month. The big three-oh, they say. One of those important numbers that’s a multiple of 5.

I mention this only because I’ve realized a couple of things in the last few weeks:

  1. I’m in the best cycling shape of my life.
  2. I might be in the best overall shape of my life.

It was easy really. I didn’t need interval workouts or hill repeats. There were no special 6 hour rides or trips to the gym to lift weights. I didn’t get on the trainer once. All it took was an almost daily ride to work and back and few Saturday rides with Sam.

I’m not saying I couldn’t be faster-trust me, I’m not that fast. If I were going to enter a race, I’d probably need to do a few intervals and hill repeats and make myself suffer in ways I can only vaguely remember from my years on the cross-country team. But, the beauty of all this, is I’m not going to enter a race. Every ounce of strength I find in my legs is for me. So, it doesn’t matter if I take a day off. It doesn’t matter if, instead of bringing myself to the redline, I just spin home.

But we’ll see how I really feel when Levi’s Gran Fondo rolls around and I’m faced with the prospect of climbing King Ridge Colman valley Road…

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UC Davis Bike Auction

These bikes were abandoned. Go, bid, and give a bike a good home.


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