If the second weekend in October is the Big Bike Weekend for motorcycles, then surely this coming weekend is the Big Bicycle Weekend for non-motorized two-wheelers.
This Saturday, April 30, will see the 24th edition of the Lemurian Shasta Classic, one of the oldest and toughest mountain bike races on the West Coast. The following day, May 1, is the date for the 41st annual Jamboree Century, a 100-mile noncompetitive ride on roads all around the Redding, Shasta Lake, Anderson and Cottonwood area. More than 600 riders are expected to participate in one of the two events.
The Lemurian has a long, rich history that my homeboy Jim Dyar recounted last year. The race, which starts and ends at the Brandy Creek Marina, offers 26-, 20- and 8-mile courses. All three are full of climbing and technical single-track. There are no “beginner” courses at the Lemurian. The long course attracts pro riders from all over, and entails about 5,000 feet of climbing and several wickedly steep descents. (I described the long course in detail last year.)
Chico professional cyclist Aren Timmel, who has finished in the top 4 at the Lemurian six times, wrote in his blog, “It is a real mountain bike course. Steep, really steep climbs. Steep and rough descents, miles of true single-track. Dozens of creek crossings.”
Yeah, that pretty well describes it.
When I asked Timmel about the event, he described himself as a “Lemurian fanatic” who first raced on the original course as a teenager.
“The Lemurian is just what mountain bike racing should be. A nice, long and challenging course in the mountains, mass start, cash prizes for the top three overall, camping at the event, food and beer afterwards,” Timmel said. “Even a lake to swim in afterwards.”
This is the first year that Redding Mountain Bike club has been fully in charge of the Lemurian and club President Bob Boecking assured me that “everything is basically the same” this year. That’s a good thing.
“Last year, we kind of shadowed and learned what was going on. We’ve always been a big part of the volunteer effort,” Boecking said. Easing the transition is the fact that former race director Ron Bresolin is RMB’s vice president and available for constant consultation.
“It’s been a quality event with quality prizes and swag, and well-marked trails,” Boecking said. “We want that to continue. We’re not going to cut corners or costs.”
Winter was hard on the trails at Whiskeytown, as heavy rain and high winds brought down numerous trees. However, Boecking, who works on the National Park Service trail crew, said the entire Lemurian course is clear of trees and course conditions are close to perfect.
Although the pre-registration period has ended, you may still enter the Lemurian on race morning. The event website has details.
The Jamboree Century is the biggest event of the year for the Shasta Wheelmen, Redding’s road cycling club. The event features 102-, 67-, 28-, and 10-mile rides starting and ending at the Sundial Bridge over the Sacramento River in Redding.
The three longer routes follow “the less traveled roads of Shasta County” and include multiple rest stops, according to Paul Herman of the Wheelmen. The 102- and 67-mile routes have a lunch stop in Cottonwood. A SAG wagon will be available for those who can’t quite make it to the finish. The 10-mile ride sticks to the Sacramento River bike path and serves as a family-oriented event.
Like a marathon for runners, a century, or 100-mile, ride is something that every serious road cyclist has to try at least once. The Jamboree is a good one for first-timers because the crowds are manageable and nearly all of the climbing is in the first half of the course.
You can still get the pre-registration rate, or you may wait until Sunday to sign up. The event website has details, including useful course maps.
Both of these events serve as club fundraisers. The knobby-tired group pours most of its money into trail construction and maintenance. The Wheelmen put their proceeds “towards the promotion of safe cycling in the Redding area.”
Even if you do not participate at either event, you’re welcome to hang out at the start/finish areas, visit with the vendors and manufacturers who will have equipment on display, and cheer on the riders.
Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and vows to ride a century … next year. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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