San Bruno Mountain Hill Climb

By: Lyle Nisenholz

You were sitting in your parked car as you watch other cars roll into the bleary lot. It is a chilly New Year's Day morning as you sat shivering. You saw hints of a sage covered hill side. After building up courage and sucking down a Red Bull you stepped outside and assembled the bike and cruised to the porta-potty while viewing others already humming their trainers. The veil of cold haze began to lift revealing the initial ramp of Guadalupe parkway; here you spun to warm up with other riders you recognize from the summer, or donít.

Now you are assembling with the mass of riders at the bottom of the hill. Organized from category for mass start; once the race begins you will be a non-category horde of cyclists. So begins one of the most special events in American bicycle racing.

A bundle of New Year's nerves, or is it the cold, as the horde surges forward towards the grayness. Perhaps the first two hundred meters you feel nothing as you look for a line of riders matching your ambition. With the cool breeze a small yet useful pace line forms as you turn left through the stop light.

Now you feel the resistance of the road as your small group churns up the sweeping right on Guadalupe. You pass some who shot up too early; other riders from sputtering groups join yours.

Now you enter the park as the road levels off. Perhaps now you hear your breath and realize your initial effort as well as the gasping of others in the cool morning. The road kicks up after the turn around and some riders attack with their momentum through the tree covered grade; others search out their rhythm and pedal speed. Within 100 meters you are really climbing, digging and yanking up on the pedals. Just as you are finding your climbing comfort zone, your little group breaks up as riders begin to go turbo. Pass the infamous radar dish that signals the final grueling stretch, you are out of the saddle, your body is swaying and you are sweating in the chill.

Then itís over, you are panting and coasting, heart settling down. You notice that you are above the clouds that are breaking up revealing a New Yearís view of the Bay Area few will ever get to experience. You join your cycling friends in a special celebration that is unique to cycling and road racing. The San Bruno Hill Climb, a fitting event from the home of the American road racing scene.

Burlingame Criterium

The recent history of bicycle racing on the Peninsula is both varied and colorful. In the late 70's and early 80's the Peninsula Velo Club promoted the only "all women's" stage race in the country sponsored by Self Magazine. This race included the old "Pinky's" road course that wandered thru Pescadero and the La Honda hills on the coastside. Some of the course was on dirt roads that turned to mud with the coastside fog.

During the mid 80's the criterium and circuit locations varied. Some races were held near the Burlingame Recreation Center and Washington School while one year there was even a circuit race thru the residential area of Burlingame. In 1983 the race included Mary Ann Martin from Colorado who went on to become the first (and only) American winner of the Tour de France Feminine.

In 1987 the Peninsula Velo Club became promoter of the Burlingame Criterium on the present "downtown" course. The course was immediately popular and in 1989 and '90 was sponsored by Coors ("Silver Bullet Criterium"). Since then the charm of downtown Burlingame, the tight, challenging turns, and the long, fast sprint finish have produced many exciting memories for racers and spectators.

We need volunteers to help with various race duties, such as marshalling, registration, setup and break down - click here to volunteer.

Ryan Phua Memorial Kids' Ride (Burlingame)

This year, the Burlingame Criteriumís Kidsí Race is renamed in memory of Ryan Phua, one of twin sons born to cancer survivor John Phua and his wife, Michele Phua. This fun and exciting bike ride is a special event for all kids 12 years old and under.

A Message from John and Michele:
Ryan was a healthy, charming little boy who made our home sparkle with excitement. He loved trains, playing the ukulele, and getting into trouble with his twin brother Matthew. At the age of two and a half, Ryan went to sleep one night and never woke up. Our family misses his smile and laughter in our lives and home every day.

We want to celebrate Ryanís life and help make a difference in the lives of families who have lost a loved one or have a loved one who is battling cancer. Please honor Ryanís short life with a donation in any amount to Ryanís memorial fund established with the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF). The fund will be used to expand local Bay Area funding opportunities for programs, including but not limited to community survivorship, palliative care and end of life care—programs that are very important to our family. Thank you for your generosity; we are so touched by the support of our community.

copyright 2008 peninsula velo