Hundreds of collegiate, amateur and professional cyclists rode circles around downtown Isla Vista on Saturday, burning up the asphalt on the Embarcadero loop at the debut of a bicycle race that organizers hope will become a true I.V. classic.
Hosted by UCSB cycling team, the first annual Island View Classic featured races in a number of categories, including men’s and women’s collegiate, men’s amateur, amateur and pro combined, and master’s races for riders over a certain age. The circular course, called a criterion, began at the intersection of Embarcadero del Norte and Pardall Road, cut across on Cordoba Road and continued around the Embarcadero loop back to the finish line. The loop was completely closed to car traffic during the event, which ran from 7 a.m. to about 5 p.m. and attracted hundreds of spectators throughout the day.
UCSB cycling team Race Director Barrett Ausman, a senior history major, was one of the main organizers of the Classic. Ausman said planning for the event began in October, and major contributors included the cycling team, the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District, 3rd District Supervisor Brooks Firestone’s office, the I.V. Foot Patrol and the UCSB Dept. of Recreation.
The Classic, which was funded primarily by sponsors and cycling team fundraising, cost nearly $8,000 to organize and generated about $5,000, much of which will go back into the cycling team’s budget, Ausman said.
“We put a lot of effort into this event, and it has paid off a lot,” Ausman said. “It’s going to help get our name out there, raise some money, and I think it will be really positive for the team.”
The UCSB cycling team put in a strong showing at the Classic, finishing at or near the top in nearly every collegiate race.
UCSB dominated the Women’s B race, with Alicia Mitchell taking first place, Whitney Wilkinson taking second and four more riders placing in the top 10. Marisa McAdler of UC Davis finished first in the Women’s A event.
UCSB teammates James Pham and Michael Grundmann finished first and second in the Men’s C race, respectively, while Matt Post and Rich Vasak took second and fourth in the Men’s A race, losing to first-place rider Devin Flaherty of Stanford University. Gaucho riders Nick Martinez and Cody Clark finished fourth and fifth in the Men’s B race, in which Adam Bickett of UC San Diego claimed victory.
Neil Bezdek, a junior at Westmont College, won the Firestone Walker Brewery-sponsored cruiser bicycle race that was open to the public, earning him the title “King Cruiser of Isla Vista.” Out of at least 10 Greek teams that were scheduled to participate in a special cruiser relay event, only one fraternity and two sorority teams showed up.
Thomas Pittmann, a junior mechanical engineering major who attended the Classic, said he enjoyed the cruiser race in particular.
“It’s a very neat idea – very Isla Vista,” Pittmann said. “I’m glad they have something that’s not as competitive that students can enter.”
In the final event of the Classic, Keith Horowitz of local team Velo Pro/Kona captured first place at the end of the 70-minute-long Pro 1,2,3 race. Horowitz, who graduated from UCSB in 1997 and now lives in Santa Barbara, said he felt very proud to claim victory in an area he knows so well.
“This is just really exciting to get to race in I.V.,” Horowitz said. “It’s always really good to win in your hometown. There’s no other way to describe it than ‘awesome.'”
Craig Zimmerman, another Velo Pro/Kona rider, won the largest cash prize of the day – nearly $200 – for his first-place finish in the Men’s 4/5 category.
“It’s a fantastic race – really tight and fast,” Zimmerman said. “It’s fun to do with lots of people lining the course because the energy really gets you pumped. This is a blast.”
Ausman said the UCSB Dept. of Recreation helped coordinate the event’s staff of about 60-80 volunteers, who worked to secure the course and direct traffic during the race. He said event organizers distributed fliers several days before the race notifying people whose cars were parked along the course that their vehicles would be towed if they were not moved before Saturday.
IVFP Lt. Sol Linver said the IVFP towed more than 20 cars starting at about 4:30 a.m. on race day. Linver said the IVFP also provided extra officers to help support event staff on race day, but overall problems were minimal.
Firestone, who attended the event, said the community’s favorable reaction to the Classic is a strong indication that it could quickly become an I.V. tradition.
“I think it’s a great day,” Firestone said. “I’ve heard nothing but good things – the racers love it. This could very well be an annual event, and I’m very excited about that.”
However, not all locals were as receptive to the bike race’s arrival. Ron Gleiberman, general manager of Silvergreens, said the restaurant’s business suffered due to the road closures, and he said he was upset that race organizers did not do more to coordinate with local establishments.
“It couldn’t be more frustrating,” Gleiberman said. “Customers can’t park in our lot, we can’t get delivery drivers through – it has just been more difficult. Maybe next time, at least promote the businesses who are helping out.”
The owners of several other businesses in downtown I.V., including I.V. Deli Mart and S.O.S. Liquor, expressed similar complaints.
Ausman said he hopes event organizers can work to improve coordination with local businesses in the future, and make the Classic something that all of I.V. can support.
“It’s disappointing to hear that, but I understand where they are coming from,” Ausman said. “I definitely would like to work on it – I want this to be a community event, and I want it to help business in the area, not hurt it.”
Overall, Ausman said he felt the event was a tremendous success, and would like the cycling team to host it again next year.
“I think it was great,” Ausman said. “I’m exhausted, but it was awesome.”