Live music, BMX bikers and a big screen TV will adorn West Beach at Cabrillo Boulevard today, as world-renowned cyclists from the Amgen Tour of California ride across the finish line for the Santa Barbara leg of the race.
The Lifestyle Festival, which is free to the public and begins at 10:30 a.m., is part of the eight-day Amgen Tour of California bicycle race and will feature 50 exhibitors. Spectators can watch the race via live footage, while perusing booths ranging from sports and cycling vendors, to a health and fitness expo.
Shannon Brooks, communications manager for the Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau, said the event will culminate with an awards ceremony for the Tour’s racers at 3 p.m. A special bicycle parking area will be set up at Ambassador Park and attendees are encouraged to ride their bikes down to the beach.
Barney Berglund, chair of the festival’s local organizing committee, said all the cities hosting stages of the race are holding similar festivals. The Santa Barbara Lifestyle Festival marks the end of the fifth stage of the tour.
The race, according to a press release from the tour’s organizers, is projected to bring an estimated $1 million in tourism revenue to Santa Barbara hotels and businesses as it passes through.
The Amgen Tour of California, which runs from Feb. 19 to Feb. 26, is modeled after the Tour de France and runs from San Francisco to Redondo Beach. One hundred twenty-eight professional cyclists from 16 different teams are competing in the event.
Berglund said Santa Barbara’s festival, sponsored by Health Net, is designed to give local residents a chance to learn about bike safety, as well as other health and fitness issues.
“The original intent of the festival was to promote bike safety, health, and fitness,” Berglund said. “The intent is to promote a healthy lifestyle.”
Brooks said there will also be activities to educate attendees about cancer, since proceeds from the race will go to cancer-related charities. She said she expects at least 25,000 spectators to attend the festival. Roughly 35,000 people attended a similar event held in Santa Rosa last Monday.
Berglund said he thinks locals should attend the festival if only to catch a glimpse at some of the best cyclists in the world.
“I encourage everyone to come out to the festival,” Berglund said. “I don’t think people realize how huge of a spectacle it’s going to be. This race is a chance to see some of the best bicyclists. There’s never been an international event of this caliber in Santa Barbara.”
Local residents who cannot attend the festival can watch the cyclists check in and set off on the next stage of the race, which takes them to 1 East Cabrillo Boulevard in Thousand Oaks at 9 a.m.