by Vanessa McCracken
Check out the special discount for our readers at the end of this post.
Everyone, go grab your new 2018 calendars and highlight these two dates: March 3 and April 7. Two of my absolute favorite, cannot-miss events happen on these two days, and I really want you to do them this year, too!
The 29th Annual Blossom Bike Ride, hosted by the Reedley Lions Club, is March 3 and really encapsulates every single thing I love about living and riding in the Central Valley. The ride takes you from Reedley College out through the blossom-filled country roads and is so spectacularly gorgeous that you will stop along the way just to soak it all in. I love the Valley all months of the year, but I’m sure we all agree that early springtime around here is pretty special. I love experiencing the blossoms up close and personal on my bike in a way I would never be able to in a car. It is such a full sensory experience: the sight of the blossoms and the gorgeous hillsides, the smell of the blossoms and the dirt, the sound of the water trickling as you ride by irrigation or creeks, the feel of the warm sun kissing my forehead in the late morning. I would miss a lot of this if I was driving by instead of riding.
The event itself is hosted with so much heart! The Reedley Lions Club does an incredible job taking care of the bike riders, and I’m always impressed by how many people volunteer to pull off such a big event. Everything is so organized, and the volunteers running the rest stops are always so friendly and encouraging. The routes are well marked, the rest stops are fully stocked, SAG support is abundant, and the post-ride meal is generous and hits the spot. The ride is a fundraiser for the Reedley Lions Club, which uses the funds to give back to and support the community. I got to work with several members of the Reedley Lions Club the last couple of years, and I’m always inspired by their selflessness and tireless commitment to their community.
There is a 20-mile, 40-mile, and 60-mile ride, which means there is something for everyone! Some people have been training the last couple of months specifically to do the Blossom Bike Ride 60-mile course, but this event isn’t just for the hardcore, spandex-loving cyclists. If you’ve never done an organized bike ride before but want to experience the blossoms up close and personal while also supporting a great cause, then the 20-mile route is perfect for you. People read 20 miles and think, “That’s crazy, I could never pedal 20 miles.” I am here to tell you that it really isn’t crazy, I promise! I’ve witnessed countless people do it over the years, despite thinking it was impossible. I’ve even watched kids as young as nine ride 20 miles, on their first big bike ride ever. If they can do it, so can you!
So after you’ve done the 20-mile Blossom Bike Ride (and sent me an email telling me I was right and how amazing and beautiful the ride was), you’ll want to do the California Classic on April 7. The California Classic is the only bike ride that shuts down a major freeway so you can ride your bike on it. It is a big deal. And it is just the coolest thing to ride down the 168 with thousands of other people on bikes, while all of the people driving on the other side of the 168 are looking over and wondering what in the world is going on. (Westbound 168 is closed down for cyclists, while eastbound 168 remains open to cars.) Friends and family often line the overpasses with signs and horns, and it’s so awesome riding by as they yell and cheer for us all. It really is one of those bucket list rides that everyone needs to do at least once, and I think everyone should do it this year.
The California Classic starts and ends at Chukchansi Park, and has exceptional rest stops, fantastic SAG support, and incredible post-ride amenities like a delicious lunch, free bike valet, cold towels to wipe down, massage, free ice cream, and a beer garden (I probably should have lead with that). You also get a really great technical shirt and the coolest finisher’s medal! There’s a big expo the night before with all kinds of great vendors on hand, and there is a vendor pavilion after the ride, too. It’s a big event that is very unique to the Central Valley, and one that I never take for granted.
Just like the Blossom Bike Ride, the California Classic has rides for different levels. Since January, our Saturday morning bike rides have added miles and hills each week as we prepare for the California Classic Century (100-mile) route. It’s been awesome watching everyone get stronger every week, and I can’t wait to cheer for everyone as they complete their first (or fifth or tenth) century. There is also a metric century (65-miles) and a mini-metric (35 miles) and the mini-metric is what I would love to challenge everyone to commit to doing this year! It’s completely doable, you get to experience the fun of taking over the freeway, and you get all the awesome amenities after. You should totally do it.
To learn more about how to safely ride in a group, check out the tips I shared with Kings River Life readers last spring. Even better, join us for a bike ride! We lead weekly Starbucks rides that are perfect for helping riders gain confidence on the road and in a group. We do everything we can to help empower people to get out and experience things like the Blossom Bike Ride and California Classic. We teach flat repair demos and clinics, smart cycling clinics, and we host different rides for different levels. If you’re doing the Blossom Bike 20-mile ride, joining our weekly Starbucks rides this month will be a great way to feel confident for it. If you’re doing the Cal Classic mini-metric (35-mile) ride, look for our training rides on www.SunnysideBicycles.com starting in March, and join us as we get ready for the fun day!
You can register for the Blossom Bike Ride here, and for the California Classic here. I can’t wait to see all your smiling faces out there!
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