On a blissful blue-sky, 60-degree Saturday, June 25, 157 bicycling enthusiasts coalesced in Cambria to take part in the 16th annual Gene Cerise Memorial Country Coast Classic Bike Ride.
Enticed by the Central Coast’s cool weather and natural beauty, riders came from Reno, Visalia, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Palmdale, Riverside, Salinas, San Francisco, Sacramento and many other cities far and near.
The ride is a fundraising event — raising about $20,000 on Saturday — that supports youth programs in Cambria, and features three levels: century (100 miles, $65), half-century ($60) and the 25-mile short ride ($50). One quick glance at the brutal challenge the century ride offers makes it abundantly clear this course is not for the fainthearted — nor for those out of shape.
Starting from the registration point (Pinedorado Grounds), 20 intrepid century riders headed south on Highway 1, east on 46, and up over the grade (a 6 percent gradient). Approaching the top of the grade, they were blasted by a 40-degree rise in temperature; North County temperatures hovered around 102 on Saturday.
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They then turned left on Oakdale Road, past the Hunt Cellars winery (where a rest stop offering nutritious snacks and water was located), back to 46 on Vineyard Drive and on to a fast and refreshing ride down the mountain into cooler conditions — arriving back at the Pinedorado Grounds following their 56.4-mile jaunt.
157 Number of cyclists taking part in the 16th annual Gene Cerise Memorial Country Coast Classic Bike Ride.
After the first half of their trek — during which they racked up 5,174 feet of elevation gain — century riders were served lunch at the Pinedorado Grounds and took a break. They then headed north on Highway 1 to Ragged Point and back, another 44.5 miles (1,637 feet of elevation gain), totaling to 100 miles.
The half-century is a ride up to Ragged Point and back, and the 25-mile ride is halfway to Ragged Point and back.
Volunteers from the Lions Club of Cambria provided Pinedorado resources; the preparation and serving of a chicken, tri-tip, salmon or vegetarian lasagna dinner for riders; the new easy-ups that covered the registration and serving areas; and many helping hands.
Members of the Slabtown Rollers bicycle group — and others supporting the annual bike ride — have formed a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Country Coast Classic Inc. They provided SAG (service and gear) support, manned the four rest stops and helped with set-up and tear-down.
The Country Coast Classic group will entertain grant proposals from youth-related programs when the final net proceeds are available later this summer.
The 2015 ride (with 40 fewer riders than in 2016) raised $8,310 for Cambria Grammar School (including $2,360 for the kindergarten-through-second grade Early Reading Program, and after-school programs).
Santa Lucia Middle School received $3,250 of the proceeds; and $2,500 was distributed among Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts the Assistance League (school clothes for local students), Cambria Youth Athletic Association, the Marine Corps Toys for Tots and the Coast Union’s Safe and Sober Graduation trip.