Uphill battle, weather again test Climb to Kaiser riders

Neither brutal heat nor the monumental task itself dissuaded more than 200 cyclists from tackling the 41st Climb to Kaiser on Saturday.

About a dozen started the 155-mile route as early as 4:30 a.m., with the bulk of the field joining in about 5:30 a.m. It is coordinated each year by the Fresno Cycling Club.

Considered among the toughest rides in America, those who take on the full route not only have to deal with a lengthy course featuring 10,000-plus feet in climbing but also the usually warm weather near the Valley floor.

This year, temperatures again soared into triple digits (it was 106 degrees when 46 took part in the inaugural climb in 1977). There was rain at higher elevations and hail when riders reached the 8,000-foot level, event director Dennis Ball said.

Though not considered a race, times are kept. The first two riders home were Matthew Paliughi and Giovanny Bello, both in 9 hours, 21 minutes. Stragglers might not finish until 10:30 p.m.

One person was hurt as of midafternoon. Injuries were minor, Ball said, after a rider hit a pothole and his tire deflated.