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April 27, 2015 | by Dan McKernan

Amgen Tour of California, will stage the Tour's first ever high-altitude individual time trial in Big Bear Lake on May 15, 2015. It also marks the third time in six years that Amgen Tour of California has chosen Big Bear as its host city for a stage race. This elite professional road cycling race ranks as a top-five road-cycling event in the world, just behind Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana. Amgen Tour of California has become more than just a race for the community of Big Bear Lake in the past six years. too. Today, Amgen Tour of California is recognized by community leaders in Big Bear as having a strong influence on its residents and visitors alike to get active and live healthy lifestyles. On any given day from April to October it's a common occurrence to see people riding bikes in and around Big Bear Valley.

Ever since Big Bear hosted its first Amgen Tour of California in 2010, internationally known professional cycling teams have trained in and around Big Bear Valley. Some choose Big Bear for high-altitude training, while others ride the mountain roads to get away from the city and take in the natural scenic surroundings. As the Cycling Capital of Southern California, Big Bear provides the ideal location for every type of cyclist from casual to professional, whether it's a leisurely Sunday afternoon ride with a group of friends or a thorough training session for the next big race. It doesn't matter what type of terrain either, because Big Bear provides ideal conditions for both asphalt and dirt!

There are many Big Bear residents who credit Amgen Tour of California as a major influence on the local community. Since 2010, Big Bear has witnessed the birth of Big Bear Cycling Association (BBCA), an active organization that has developed many cycling-related programs and activities. Both locals and visitors alike appreciate BBCA's midweek and weekend rides that includes its Community Rides each Saturday morning April to October. BBCA has established a ride-to-work initiative and produces major events such as Tour de Big Bear and Big Bear Cycling Festival. Some key mountain biking events that have sprouted up recently include Big Bear MTB Gran Fondo and Grizzly 100. Of course the annual Kenda Cup series draws racers of all levels to the mountain. In the coming years, local Big Bear promoters expect to add even more cycling events and races to the calendar.

The one event that stands out as the granddaddy of cycling events in Big Bear is Tour de Big Bear. This event draws nearly 2,000 cyclists who choose to ride various routes and distances in and around Big Bear Valley, including some of the same routes professional cyclists rode during Amgen Tour of California. Tour de Big Bear also anchors the Big Bear Cycling Festival, which is the only week-long cycling festival in the United States.

BBCA invests its proceeds from Tour de Big Bear into cycling infrastructure improvements in and around Big Bear Valley. Some achievements include the installation of a dozen bike racks in Big Bear Village creating a cycling-friendly ambiance. Also in the Village, is a full fix-it station in front of The Copper Q. The organization is credited for "Share the Road" signage on main highways throughout Big Bear Valley, as well as "Share the Road" decals on all city vehicles, public buses, and Big Bear disposal trucks. A major contribution from BBCA is new and improved bike routes and the Big Bear Cycling an Outdoor Activities Map. Another key role is the organization helped coordinate a south shore trail network with 350 trail-identifying signs and "you are here" poster-sized signs, not only for cyclists but for all outdoor enthusiasts. All of the listed improvements are for one common goal, which is to make it more fun than ever for casual recreationists to professional riders.

Even the City of Big Bear Lake City Council and City Manager ride bikes on a regular basis for recreation and exercise. In fact, The City of Big Bear Lake City Council recently approved a non-motorized transportation plan that focuses on improvements for all types of recreation including ways to improve roads and highways for an even safer riding environment.

The future looks bright for cycling in and around Big Bear too, especially because the BBCA pro-actively promotes bike programs at schools and produces youth-oriented events. Some of the notable programs include Lids for Kids, which gives youth an opportunity to get free bicycle helmets, or the ride-to-school bike scholarship program that promotes healthy lifestyles and riding as alternative transportation.

About the Amgen Tour of California

The Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race created and presented by AEG that challenges the world's top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course that traverses hundreds of miles of California's iconic highways, byways and coastlines from May 10-17, 2015. The teams chosen to participate have included Olympic medalists, Tour de France contenders and World Champions. Amgen Tour of California is listed on the international professional cycling calendar (2 HC, meaning "beyond category"), awarding important, world-ranking points to top finishers. More info

April 27, 2015

News tag(s) { Free Activities/Events Special Events Sports Events }

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