Professional cyclist George Hincapie greets fans at the Hyatt on Friday and says he thinks he's ready for Saturday's ride. Photos by Mikel McGinnis.
Santa Clarita Valley cyclists are gearing up to end the year with a 100-mile challenge.
Dozens of riders lined up Friday evening at the Hyatt Recency Valencia to pick up their pre-registration packets for A Ride for Life, the New Year’s Eve ride and expo happening Saturday at Central Park.
The event gives cycling enthusiasts a chance to ride with one of the world’s best cycling professionals, George Hincapie, plus raise funds for two charities: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley.
Kim Fuess picked up her rider packet Friday night. She said she’s excited about her first 100-mile challenge.
“It’s a great way to end the year,” said Fuess, who has been training for the event with regular rides of up to 80 miles.
Early registrants pick up their ride packets Friday.
City officials said more than 500 people are signed up to participate in the ride, which offers a 30-mile route, a 60-mile route and the more challenging 100-mile route through the Santa Clarita Valley. More people are expected to sign up at the walk-up registration area Saturday morning before the race.
Hincape appeared at the Hyatt Valencia to take pictures with fans and sign autographs. He admitted to being a little out of shape for the ride.
“I think I’ll be OK for tomorrow,” he said. “We’ll see.”
Hincape has been on the winning team of the Tour de France nine times in his career. He has been a professional rider for 19 years and says he’s set to retire at the end of 2012.
“That’s the plan, at least,” he said. “I’ve had a long career, more than I’d ever imagined, and I’m fairly certain it’s time to call it quits.”
He said he hopes to help his team gain another win at the 2012 Tour de France and get a few more individual wins under his belt in the upcoming year. Meanwhile, he’ll say goodbye to 2011 with hundreds of cyclists in Santa Clarita on the 100-mile bike ride.
Local resident Kim Fuess has been preparing for the 100-mile ride.
All riders will take off from Central Park in Saugus on Saturday at 8 a.m. and return at different times throughout the day depending on the length of their route and the time it takes them to complete it.
Event Director Luther White said riders should begin returning to Central Park at 10 a.m. He expects the last group of cyclists on the 100-mile course to finish around 2 p.m.
They’ll be welcomed back with music, food and lots of activities.
“Our goal is to create an environment, when each group of riders comes in, activities begin to grow,” White said.
An expo at Central Park begins at 10 a.m. with a dozen food trucks as well as bungee jumping, a rock climbing wall and a deejay.
For the kids, there will be 5-K bike and adult walk starting at 11:30 a.m. Entry fees include a T-shirt and medals for the children.