Country Coast Classic bike ride along Hwy. 1 is canceled

ktanner@thetribunenews.comApril 15, 2013 

Cyclists pedal along Highway 1 during the 2012 Gene Cerise Memorial County Coast Classic bike ride.

MERLE BASSETT — Special to The Cambrian

There won’t be a 2013 Gene Cerise Memorial Country Coast Classic Bike Ride, because the recently resurfaced pavement on 20 miles of Highway 1 north of Cambria has made “cycling a very rough and undesirable riding experience,” according to a cancellation notice emailed to ride supporters April 11.

The event, held annually in June since 2001, was first postponed to Nov. 2. According to the five-member committee that coordinates the ride, now the event won’t be reinstituted “until Caltrans fixes the chip-seal surface.”

The annual ride offered 15-, 25-, 50- and 100-mile routes along the federally designated “All-American Road” scenic highway and other routes, including Highway 46. It raises funds for what was known as the Cambria Teen Center, operated in recent years by the YMCA of San Luis Obispo County, overseen by the Lions Club of Cambria and now known as the YMCA Recreation Center.

Funds raised from the annual bike ride total as much as $16,000 a year, according to Classic committee member Marcelle Bakula.

The bike-ride committee made its unanimous decision on April 10 to cancel the 2013 ride.

“We do not feel that we want to subject the riders to the coarse chip seal on Highway 1 north of Cambria,” Jim Rogers announced in an email sent to event supporters Thursday, April 11.

“In the fall of 2012, Caltrans applied a rough aggregate chip-seal surface” to the traffic and bike lanes, the committee said in one of the emails, a surface “that has made cycling a very rough and undesirable riding experience. As a result, the Slabtown Rollers Cycling Club and other cycling clubs have cancelled all scheduled daily and weekend rides on the current chip-seal surface.”

Riding on that stretch of road isn’t impossible, the letter said. “If you had to get from point A to Point B, then yes, it is ride-able, but it would not be a very enjoyable experience, and we won’t ask our riders to ride it.”

Committee members had considered other routes, but “The 25- and 50-mile ride routes along Highway 1 have been the core of this event,” and “overwhelming feedback from past riders is to not change anything. Past riders have told us the route along Highway 1 is the signature” of the event, and is “a unique experience to be treasured. To change the route, the ride would not be the same.”

For updates on the highway’s condition, go to www.fixhwy1.com, www.facebook.com/SlabtownRollersCyclingClub and www.dot.ca.gov/dist05/projects/chip_seal/index.htm.

As many as 300 riders participated in the event each year, coming from all over California and from other Western states, including Washington and Arizona, Bakula estimated. Some riders “came all 12 years,” she said.

The economic impact to the community was multiplied because riders were often accompanied by others, including spouses and children, and then spent the weekend on the Central Coast.

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