Kalon Kelley and Bill Lindberg wondered if their chains were stretched to the breaking point after they committed to starting the Santa Barbara Century bicycle ride last year. The course they set up went through 13 different jurisdictions, and they sought permits from each one. “The last month [before the ride] was crazy,” Lindberg said. “It was nuts.”
But it all came together. They signed up 875 riders who did either the full century (100 miles) or the metric century (62 miles). They found many volunteers from area cycling organizations and churches. They raised $42,000 for charity. And they gained the confidence to make the event bigger and better.
The 2011 Santa Barbara Century starts and finishes Saturday, October 22, at Leadbetter Beach. The riders will go east through Carpinteria, then wind their way into the hills and up Gibraltar Road, across Camino Cielo, down to Tucker’s Grove, west to Ellwood, and back through Goleta and Hope Ranch to the beach.
Kelley, 72, and Lindberg, 71, are a pair of vigorous and goal-oriented individuals. Kelley, a retired computer engineer, was an avid trail runner who completed two early runnings of the Western States 100. Lindberg participated in numerous sports during his career in education, real estate, and banking.
“I rode the Wildflower Century in 1975 as a fundraiser for Westmont College,” Lindberg said. “It was very arduous. I almost died.” But he and Kelley started doing bicycle rides six years ago, after they became acquainted at their church. “It’s amazing how the body can adapt at an older age,” Lindberg said. “We’ve ridden 20,000 miles together and done maybe a dozen century rides. But none of them are as beautiful as Santa Barbara.”
Not only is the course a picturesque combination of coastal and mountain roads, it is famously challenging — the 6½-mile climb up Gibraltar Road is comparable to the toughest segments of the Tour de France, a fact acknowledged by Lance Armstrong when he did training rides here. That stretch will provide what the organizers describe as “a competition within the ride.” The riders and teams that post the fastest times up Gibraltar will win special jerseys. “The difficulty really attracts elite riders,” Lindberg said. The metric century, which avoids the climb to Camino Cielo, is far less daunting.
“Our biggest joy is helping charities,” Lindberg said. Last year’s beneficiaries — Bici Centro, which teaches the basics of cycling and provides refurbished bicycles to low-income residents, and Sports Outreach, an organization founded by former Westmont soccer coach Russ Carr that works with children in Uganda — will be joined by Isla Vista’s Community Development Corporation, the Los Padres Forest Association, and COAST, another bicycle-advocacy organization.
“Our sponsors take care of the expenses,” Lindberg said, “so all the proceeds [from entry fees] go to the nonprofits.” Among the niceties provided free of charge are $10,000 worth of nutrition from Clif Bar and 38 brand-new Giant bikes that visiting riders (16 states and four foreign countries are represented) will be able to test on the roads.
Kelley and Lindberg head a six-person board of directors, an organizational improvement over last year when, Kelley said, “It was just Bill and me, with the help of our wives.” But there’s still plenty of work to do, Lindberg added wistfully: “Our only disappointment is that Kalon and I are too busy to ride it.”
FOOT SOLDIERS: Hundreds of runners will take to the streets on November 12 during the third annual Santa Barbara International Marathon & 1⁄2 Marathon. Race director Rusty Snow reports that Moninda Marube, the Kenyan who dusted the field in the 26.2-mile main event last year, will return. He will be challenged by 2011 San Francisco Marathon champion Michael Wardian.
GAMES OF THE WEEK: Several Dos Pueblos High volleyball stars missed a tournament last weekend because they were homecoming princesses. They’ll be back in action tonight (Thu., Oct. 20) when the Charger girls visit Santa Barbara in what has become a classic rivalry. … Even more classic is the football clash between the S.B. Dons and San Marcos Royals, dubbed the Big Game. It takes place for the 52nd time on Friday at San Marcos. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. … UCSB goes for a rare sweep of Long Beach State in women’s volleyball Saturday night at the Thunderdome.
FAN OF THE CENTURY: Jerry Harwin attended the first Big Game and countless other Santa Barbara sporting events dating back to 1945 when he became a regular attendee at UCSB basketball games. Harwin, cofounder of the S.B. Athletic Round Table and a major force in the establishment of Elings Park, celebrates his 100th birthday Saturday, October 22. “I’m still dancing,” he said this week. Gaucho basketball cheerleaders can attest to his nimble condition. They award pizzas to the fans who are most animated during a time-out at each game. “In the last three or four years, Dad has won 23 pizzas,” said Jerry’s son, Joel Harwin.