It’ll be a bustling weekend in downtown Fresno, with 4,000 athletes signed up for the sixth annual California Classic century ride and half marathon, an event that returns to back-to-back days after splitting up the previous two years.
Action starts Saturday with bicycle rides of 35, 60 or 100 miles. Sunday is the half-marathon and Rock-and-Run 5K.
Among the event’s unique draws is the closing of a 10-mile section of westbound Highway 168 from McKinley to Shepherd avenues from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday. That has helped make the California Classic “the biggest cycling event in the Valley,” race director Mike Herman said.
The rides will start at 7 a.m. at Inyo and H streets outside Chukchansi Park. Cyclists will take city streets to the McKinley Avenue on-ramp and ride the westbound lanes, opposite traffic, to Shepherd.
From there, riders will split off onto the various courses before finishing back at the stadium. There will be seven rest stops and 10 support and gear vehicles.
The expected cool morning weather should make it an enjoyable ride, with temperatures forecast for the mid- to upper-50s at the start before climbing into the mid-70s in the afternoon.
Recent rains will provide added color for the century ride, with foothills ripe green and dotted with wildflowers.
Runners will have excellent views of their own while completing a course that goes through Fresno Chaffee Zoo and the new African Adventure exhibit.
All finishers will receive a fair amount of swag including a goody bag, an interlocking medal (one for cyclists, one for runners), Cold Stone ice cream, massages and a barbecue luncheon inside the stadium’s beer garden.
Online registration is available through Thursday. Packet pickup and on-site registration will be available from noon to 7 p.m. Friday at Wilson’s Bicycles at 284 W. Shaw Ave. in Clovis. There is no race-day registration.
Prices are $50 for the 5K, $80 for the half-marathon and $70-75 for the cycling rides.
Sunday’s races begin at 7 a.m. with the half marathon; the 5K starts at 7:05.
Big Sandy – The ninth annual Big Sandy point-to-point mountain bike race returns Sunday.
Riders can choose from courses of 15, 23 and 38 miles. The short and midrange routes start at San Joaquin River Gorge and end at Finegold Bay while the 38-mile pro/expert route starts and finishes at Finegold.
Entry includes three food/drink/raffle tickets. Registration starts at $58 for the short course, $65 for the 23-miler and $75 for the long course. Juniors range from $40-$50.
In-person registration is available from 4-7 p.m. Friday at Steven’s Bicycles in Clovis, 1365 N. Willow Ave., or starting at 7 a.m. on race day.
Open preserve day – Explore the McKenzie Preserve at your leisure Saturday during the annual open house hosted by the Sierra Foothill Conservancy.
There is a $2 parking fee. Gates will open 9 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. No dogs are allowed.
On Sunday, the conservancy is hosting a 5-mile round-trip hike to the summit of Tivy Mountain. It includes a 2,000-foot climb to the top.
The hike will start at 8 a.m. and last up to 6 hours. Meet in the parking area off Piedra Road.
River walk – Step into spring with a Saturday morning walk at River West, hosted by the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust.
Meet at River Center, 11605 Old Friant Road, at 9 a.m. to carpool to the site.
Participants should dress appropriately and bring a hat, sunscreen, water, binoculars and a small snack.
Ages 10 and up are welcome.
The Fresno Bee