Lodi's inaugural Cycle Fest was a day filled with happy racers and onlookers in Downtown Lodi.
"For a first-year race, it was phenomenal," race director Damian Gonzalez said. "To have the big names that showed up today on a first-year race, we were very fortunate, because normally, those guys would only come out to events that are established."
Bicycles were whizzing by along School Street between Elm and Walnut streets all day long. Racers also rode on two blocks of Church Street and one block on Sacramento Street.
"I'm glad to see criterium racing come to Lodi," said Cliff Shirk, who used to watch a big race for 20 years in Manhattan Beach. "I've done road racing and the triathlon - bicycling, running and racing - in Southern California."
But Sunday's Lodi race was a "criterium" race - which is a closed figure-8 course less than a mile long.
"It's a great event," race announcer Michael Hernandez said at mid-day Sunday. "I like the way they designed the course. Downtown is really cute."
Hernandez noted how safe it was to cross the street and the shade that was available at several locations. The intersections were safe because race workers were careful to hold up pedestrians whenever bicyclists were approaching.
"It is just going to double in size every year," said David Phillips,, co-owner of Michael-David Winery, who gave out 6-liter wine bottles to the winners in each adult category, and even competed in the adult beach cruiser race.
"It is fantastic for the first annual to have some of the top riders in the world there," Phillips said. "Part of the whole wine and tourism thing in Lodi is that we want to bring in running and cycling events, swimming events - the whole gamut."
At least one Downtown merchant, Zoop-a-Loop, opened on Sunday, just for the Cycle Fest.
"It's great. I love these kinds of events in Lodi," said Barbara Monahan, whose daughter, Tricia, owns Zoop-a-Loop.
City and race officials apparently did a good job allowing easy access for people attending services at St. Anne's Catholic and First United Methodist churches. However, some said that turnout at church was lighter than most Sundays because of anticipated traffic problems associated with the race.
"That happens at the Street Faire twice a year," Lodi resident Kathy Schlenker said after Sunday's Methodist church service.
AnnaBelle Pugh, who has driven to the Methodist church for services from Wallace for about 10 years, said she went to Hutchins Street Square and took a special city shuttle to church that city officials arranged last week.
"I usually park in the city parking lot (across the street from the church)," Pugh said. "I had a feeling I probably didn't have any access to that. I allowed a little extra time."
A parishioner at nearby St. Anne's who identified herself only as Rita said there were no traffic or parking problems. Several pews were empty for the 10:30 a.m. Mass. Rita said it might be because some parishioners came to the 5:30 p.m. Mass on Saturday to avoid traffic on Sunday.
News-Sentinel sportswriter Joelle Milholm contributed to this report.
"I like the course. It's a great figure-8 course. It's great to get the Downtown involved. It has tight turns. It's a good setup for the sprint."
- Matthew Martinez, of Lodi
"It means a lot for Lodi. I like the experience of maybe meeting a racer."
- Jason Grammer, of Lodi
"I love bike racing, and many people in my family like bike racing."
- Teo Martinez, 9, after competing in the kids' beach cruiser
"I was going to go to Hutchins Street Square, but I found some spaces right here (by the church). There were three or four spaces available."
- Kathy Schlenker of Lodi, who has attended services at First United Methodist Church since 1950