After taking a year off, the Lodi Cyclefest will return to Downtown Lodi on Sunday.
The event will take over several blocks of the downtown area for races from 8:30 a.m. until the end of the final race, which is set to begin at 3:35 p.m. Event coordinator Damian Gonzalez expects more than 300 riders to participate.
“For the wineries, it brings people from outside of Lodi to Downtown Lodi, and they realize how many restaurants and tasting rooms are there,” Gonzalez said. “It generates new customers and awareness to the Lodi wine region. Many of these cyclists aren’t pros, they’re working, not riding expensive bikes — they want to blow off some steam, get competitive, have fun, eat some food.”
The race is a sanctioned USA Cycling event, which means riders can get points in an effort to advance in the rankings. Riders making a push at going pro, or just looking to rise up the ladder, will be pushing themselves through the streets of Downtown Lodi to get ahead in the sport.
Gonzalez said the USA Cycling sanction will attract a lot of riders who might otherwise pass it up.
“There’s usually several pro teams there because we have a good amount of prize money, and it’s a short race for them,” Gonzalez said. “They can come out and have a good time. Most people who race are doing it to have a good time, so they go to the downtown criterions.
“A lot of races take place in industrial parks, where you get your points and go home. Where here, there’s a festive atmosphere.”
Part of that festive atmosphere is a beer garden that will have brews from Lodi Brewing Co., Dancing Fox and Five Windows on tap, along with food from Arteaga’s Market. Fans can sit outside at a number of downtown restaurants and watch the races go by, cheering while they eat.
The start/finish line is on School Street between Pine and Elm, with the course starting north and turning west right away on Elm Street. One block later, riders turn south to travel along Church Street, then cut left along Oak Street for a block before turning south again on School Street. A one-block square goes east on Walnut, north on Sacramento and west on Oak Streets, then turns north on School to the start/finish, creating a figure-8 track that doesn’t meet in the middle.
Luckily for the riders and organizers, the rain that has pummeled the area this week is expected to clear up by Saturday, leaving a dry road course for the races.
Among the elite area teams expected to compete is Michael David Winery’s Delta Velo, of which Gonzalez is a member.
All told, the day will feature nine races — Men’s 35+, Men’s 45+, Men’s Cat 4/5, Women’s Cat 3/4/5, Men’s Cat 3/4, Kids 4-13, Men’s 35+ Cat 1/2/3, Women’s Pro and Men’s Pro. The kids race is free, the non-pro races are a $35 entrance fee and the elite/pro races are a $40 entrance fee, with wine as a prize for all events other than the kids race. The pro races feature a $1,000 prize each.
Online registration is open until the end of the day on Friday, and race-day registration is an additional $10. USAC registration must be presented at registration.
“We mostly do it for racers and the cycling community,” Gonzalez said. “The racers are really happy that it’s back. Many of them say it’s their favorite races of the year.”
Gonzalez added that the event could always use more volunteers to help things run smoothly, and hinted that volunteers will have breakfast and lunch comped. Anyone interested in volunteering can call volunteer coordinator Ward Covert at (209) 986-4540.
For more details or to register, visit www.deltavelo.com.