BY: SARAH BOGY AND ALISON TRUAX
Coined as being the most bike friendly city in the U.S., Long Beach is home to a flourishing bike culture and its streets are no strangers to spinning wheels. Thanks to Tony Cruz, U.S. Olympian and Professional Cyclist, the LB bike movement has been gaining momentum. Named Bike Ambassador in 2009, Cruz created the Bike Long Beach website to bring information and bike culture to the masses.
Four years ago he decided to put into motion the Tour of Long Beach, a charity ride promising fun and fulfillment for pedal pushers and philanthropists alike. The charity ride supports Pediatric Cancer research at Miller Children’s Hospital.
“He wanted to share his love for cycling and tie it into the community by giving back to the cancer foundation,” said Jocelyn Neely, Marketing and Event Coordinator Intern at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.
The event offers four different races so that riders, young and old, can participate.
Among the options for those looking to hit the streets are the free Family Fun Ride for kids, families and youth groups of all ages, the Tour of Long Beach 31-mile ride, and Metric Century 62-mile ride. The “Big Ride,” or Cruz Gran Fondo is the lengthiest option, spanning 100 miles down the coast from Long Beach to Laguna Beach.
The growing event promises to draw in a larger crowd than ever this time around.
“The first year we had around 1,200 participants, this year we expect over 3,000 to come out for the races,” said Brett Beck, Senior Development Officer at Miller Children’s Hospital Last year the tour raised $225,000 for the cause and this year Wells Fargo, the presenting sponsor, is providing a jump-start by donating a generous $50,000.
“This year we hope to raise $300,000 for pediatric cancer research,” Beck said.
There are several volunteer opportunities for those who may not want to participate in the ride, but want to be involved in the cause. Volunteers can help participants register, hand out goody bags at the end of the race, and help serve food.
“Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community, and with this huge of an event, volunteers are who make this event possible,” Neely said.
The event is an opportunity to pay it forward, but also promises to provide a day of fun for both non-participants and participants alike. All races lead to a full-day bike festival that includes live entertainment, food, vendors and a craft beer garden to take the edge off post-race.
The Beachwood & Friends Craft Beer Garden features the chance to sample more than 20 brews, including the local flavors of the Belmont Brewing Company and Beachwood Brewing among a dozen local craft breweries from all across the southland.
Twenty bucks gets you a five-ounce souvenir glass and ten tastings at the beer garden’s entry.
As an added incentive, “Every rider who registers will get a free beer tasting at the beer garden,” Neely said.
The free festival is held at the Pike at Rainbow Harbor downtown and is a celebration of all things cycling and a feel-good way to spend a Saturday. Prices to register for the rides vary from individual to group rates ranging between $55 and $120.
Registration is available on the Tour of Long Beach website and will be open until the day of the event. For those who want to gear up and practice, there is also an optional bike training happening every weekend up until the day of the event with US Olympian Tony Cruz.