APPLE VALLEY — The air may have been chilly early Saturday morning, but things heated up quickly along the Victor Valley Bicycle Tour routes, says rider Dane Redmond.

The Victorville resident was one of the first three cyclists to cross the 62-mile “Metric Century” finish line Saturday at Civic Center Park from where the tour also began. This year’s third-annual tour included four total routes — a 10-mile “Family Fun Ride,” 25-mile “Intermediate Ride,” the Metric Century and the 100-mile “Standard Century” — designed for participants of varying ages and abilities. It also featured “perfect weather,” Redmond told the Daily Press.

Taylor Vaccari was the first to cross the Metric Century finish line, followed by Redmond and Chris Davy, an Apple Valley resident who says he’s cycled routes in Portland and Vegas and calls the local tour one of the “nicer places to ride.”

“It’s challenging but fun — safe and scenic,” Davy said. “It’s a good course design — whoever laid that out was awesome.”

The route’s designer was Michele Rivas, a management specialist with the City of Victorville who organized the technical aspects of Saturday’s tour. She told the Daily Press there are numerous standards considered in planning out the tour which crosses roads in Apple Valley, Hesperia and Victorville.

“We try to keep it long stretches without lights and stop signs, which you can do here in the desert,” Rivas said, noting that similar tours in places like Orange County wouldn’t be possible for such stretches. While the cumulative routes are the key to planning out the tour, the event itself is aimed at raising awareness of cyclists and the cycling community at large as a “normal” part of local traffic.

“When you have an event like this, people who aren’t cyclists become aware of them on the road,” Rivas said. “I think the sport itself is growing and it’s something everybody can do, regardless of age or ability.”

It’s that ease of involvement that makes promoting awareness all the more important, Rivas said. Throughout the Victor Valley, road signs purchased with funds raised from last year’s tour remind motorists of a state law enacted in 2013 that mandates vehicles must leave 3 feet of clearance for cyclists.

“A lot of motorists aren’t aware of the law — they don’t realize, when they pass that closely, how dangerous it is,” Rivas said. “There’s also a slip-stream — a suction-like effect (when cars pass too closely to cyclists). The clearance is the equivalent of a car door and that’s what we try to do with this ride: make people aware.”

Tour treasurer and Victorville City Manager Doug Robertson reinforced the need for cyclist awareness among motorists, the driving force for his participation in the annual event since its inception.

“My belief as a cyclist is that the more drivers see cyclists, the more it becomes part of the norm,” Robertson said. “Drivers can better understand how to drive when sharing the road with bicycles.”

Tour chairperson Thurston “Smitty” Smith said the turnout — nearly 200 cyclists participated — of Saturday’s tour effectively helps boost the cumulative mission and proceeds will continue to further support and secure the Victor Valley’s cycling community.

“We want to put more bicycle lanes up, grow more and more routes and continue to bring more great sponsors to what we’re doing,” Smith said.

This year’s event aimed to include more families as cycling units, further bringing cyclist safety to light locally, Rivas said.

“We have different lengths of rides to incorporate people, from advanced to beginners, so people who haven’t tried can come and try it now,” Rivas said. “And once you come out, you see how fun it is. It creates community.”

Source: Martial Haprov, Daily Press