Published in the May 2 – 15, 2018 Issue of Gilroy Life

Photo by Marty Cheek
‘Fast” Freddie Rodriguez, an Amgen Tour of California ambassador, prepares to “race” twins Valentino and James during the March kick-off event.

The South Valley region has some of the best and most challenging bike rides in Northern California. The trails of wilderness areas such as Henry W. Coe State Park and Harvey Bear Ranch County Park attract some of the most die-hard mountain bikers from the Bay Area. And many hardcore cyclists enjoy the winding rural byways such as Day Road and Watsonville Road in the countryside surrounding Gilroy.

This month, the South Valley region will receive international publicity for its cycling opportunities thanks to the Amgen Tour of California race coming here as one of its 11-city stops. The Amgen is the most prestigious cycling event in the United States. The excitement of the May 16 time trials starting and ending in downtown Morgan Hill will showcase the region to millions of people around the world on TV, the Internet and print.

Thousands of people are expected to visit the area to get close to world-class athletes including Olympic medalists, Tour de France contenders and other world champion cyclists. A lifestyle festival at the Morgan Hill Community Center that day will showcase bike industry vendors as well as nonprofit organizations that advocate healthy living through physical activity.

What’s being billed as “Bike Week” kicks off the evening of Friday May 11 with a free concert open to all South Valley residents at the Morgan Hill Downtown Amphitheater. If you like the music of Bruno Mars, you won’t want to miss Isaiah Pickett and his bluesy-jazzy style of crooning. The hyper-energetic Cocktail Monkeys will also perform.

The Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce, which is hosting the concert with Specialized Bicycle Components and Bike Therapy, encourages families to bring their bikes to the concert. Specialized technicians will give bikes a free maintenance check-up and Bike Therapy can help fix any problems.

There will also be an area for kids to go through a bike rodeo course to teach them about cycling safety. Beer and wine for adults and fun food for everyone will be available for purchase.

The fun continues May 13 — Mother’s Day — in the morning with a beginner and intermediate-level group bike ride starting and ending at the Morgan Hill Grange building on Fourth Street across from the downtown garage. Cyclists returning from that ride will be able to enjoy a pancake breakfast sponsored by Bike Therapy to get back their energy.

The evening of Tuesday, May 15, visitors can get a peek at Specialized’s operations in their public open house where they can tour the Morgan Hill company’s museum showcasing the history of cycling, experience the wind tunnel and enjoy delicious cuisine from the various food trucks.

We encourage families with youngsters to get involved with the Amgen events in the South Valley. This year, the Tour of California’s focus will be to brand the race toward a healthy lifestyle. Like the race organizers, we’d like to encourage families to have their kids involved in eating right and being physically active and getting into the fun of cycling.

“This is going to put Morgan Hill and the South Valley on the map as a cycling destination,” said Brittney Sherman, who is organizing the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce events associated with Bike Week. “This is one of the best areas in the United States for biking — and in particular mountain biking at Henry Coe. Amgen’s really going to educate the world about how valuable the South Valley really is and how our lifestyle just can’t be beat.”

All Gilroy residents are invited to join in the cycling excitement with Amgen’s time trials May 16. But also come to the free May 11 concert, enjoy the group bike ride on May 13, and visit Specialized’s open house May 15.

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If you would like to share your thoughts about this editorial, please email Robert Airoldi, the Gilroy Life editor, at editor@GilroyLife.com or call him at (408) 427-5865.
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