Last week marked the 34th annual Redlands Bicycle Classic, the longest running professional cycling invitational in America.
The Redlands Bicycle Classic is a series of cycling races that range from youth and citizen level racing to professional level racing. It’s hosted by the city of Redlands and their surrounding communities such as Big Bear, Highland, and Yucaipa.
The event is a big deal for all the hosting communities. Residents come to watch and cheer for the races, and many even open their homes to the cyclists and their teams as a place to stay while they are in town.
Every year the city of Redlands partners with almost 800 volunteers in all the participating communities to put on this race, which is usually the first race of the cycling season for most competitors.
A lot of volunteers take pride in being involved with the event. A lot are repeating volunteers and some are cyclists themselves, which can make the event all the more enthusiastic and exciting.
“I volunteered for the classic last year as well. The cycling team I joined at the end of 2016, Citrus Valley Velo, runs the citizens race registration booth every year. It was good,” volunteer and cyclist, Erica Bunn said, “It can get pretty hectic but it’s fun to see the kids participating in the bike races and getting excited about cycling. They’re the future of the sport so I think making bike races available to kids is important.”
The races last over the course of five days and consists of different types of races. There are circuit races, road races, time trials, and criteriums. The winner of the race overall is who has the shortest cumulative time out of all five days.
This year, the races began on Thursday May 3 in Oak Glen, and ended on Sunday May 6 in Downtown Redlands.
During the weekend of the event there are vendors and activities for spectators to get involved in, and since the starting/finish line of the race lie in the heart of historical downtown Redlands the public can also take advantage of the many local businesses in the area.
Vendors include sponsors of the event, food tents, beer tents, and some days live music is performed or a DJ is set up. There are also a few activities set ups such as a rock climbing wall that all ages can participate in.
“I always plan on going, seeing bike races in person versus streaming them online is so much more fun. It’s also cool to see the community you live in transform to support your sport. I think it’s always fun to see professional athletes performing at their best, and over the weekend there are vendors set up in downtown Redlands so there’s something for everyone,” Bunn said.
In addition to being a great community event, the Redlands Bicycle Classic also inspires for future cyclists. Weeks before the races even start the classics has cyclists visit schools in the community to teach about healthy living and staying active. They also invite students to practice their cycling skills on the same courses as professionals.
The cycling community is supportive and continually encourages one another to keep progressing, which comes in handy when racing as a team.
“People are always so generous in helping me grow as a cyclist. It’s a really supportive community within a very challenging sport which can be a dangerous at times so there’s a sense of camaraderie that comes along with it,” Bunn said.
Every year the Redlands Bicycle Classic features all different cycling teams, gives an outing for the community, and brings hundreds of volunteers together. To learn more about the event and how to get involved, visit redlandsclassic.com.