Redlands Bicycle Classic hosts public ride again

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Weekend warriors can ride where the pros ride during this year's Redlands Bicycle Classic in southern California later this month.

After a year's hiatus which left 700 potential cyclists without an event, the public bicycle ride returns on March 25 during the three-day pro cycling event, scheduled March 24-26.

The Redlands Bicycle Classic draws men's and women's teams from across the US. Many up and coming pros compete: for instance Juan Jose Haedo, the Argentinian sprinter on the Toyota-United Pro team who won two stages in last month's Tour of California, is a former winner at Redlands.

Founded in 1985, the race series is on the US Cycling Federation's official race calendar. It features a 3.2 time trial on Friday, a criterium over a one-mile course in downtown Redlands on Saturday, and the Sun Sunset Road Race on Sunday that comprises 62 miles for women and 88 miles for the male competitors.

Organizers started looking around for a charity to sponsor the public ride after so many complains about its absense in 2005. The Redlands Daily Facts reports that Elizabeth Kulbin volunteered to head the effort that will raise money to establish a dog park in Redlands.

Three routes are prepared for this year's public ride: a simple course leads cyclists on a 6 to 12-mile route; the scenic course extends to 33 miles and includes a couple of climbs; and the savage course, a grueling ride that include a 22% grade at one point.

Registration and more information about the public rides and races are available at the Redlands Bicycle Classic website. Some 500 cyclists are expected for the public event.

Redlands isn't the only bike race that includes a public ride. The most famous might be L'Etape du Tour — the day non pros attack a difficult stage of the Tour de France. This year, the public cyclists ride from Gap to the summer of L'Alpe d'Huez on July 10, a 110-mile ride.

The Tour of Georgia is also sponsoring a public ride covering the last segment of the final stage on April 23 to raise money for cancer treatment.

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