MH Grand Prix bike race returns to downtown

Morgan Hill
– City officials may be trying to slow down traffic in downtown
Morgan Hill, but for one Sunday in April it’ll be all about
speeding through the tree-lined thoroughfare.
Morgan Hill – City officials may be trying to slow down traffic in downtown Morgan Hill, but for one Sunday in April it’ll be all about speeding through the tree-lined thoroughfare.

After a decade-long hiatus, the Morgan Hill Grand Prix criterium will return to the downtown, and bicyclists will rip through town at speeds approaching 40 mph.

Sponsored by locally-based Specialized Bicycles, the criterium is set for April 10 from 8am to 6pm. It will feature a range of cycling competitions including professional road and mountain bikes and kids races. There will be races for men and women in various skill categories, as well as a masters competition for bicyclists aged 35 and older.

The racers will compete for an estimated $3,000 to $5,000 in prize money.

And, for the anticipated thousands who are expected to attend, there will be exhibition displays offered by event sponsors, and cycling and sports industry companies. There will be no admission charge.

According to organizers, additional details are still being worked out.

Specialized spokeswoman Ariadne Scott said the event is expected to draw 300 to 500 cyclists and an estimated 2,000 spectators. Scott said bringing back the event, the brainchild of the local bike company and backed by Mayor Dennis Kennedy, has been in the works since last year.

“We’re trying to share our passion for racing and this is the perfect opportunity for that,” Scott said. “There will be something for everyone. We want this to be the kickoff for an annual event.”

Tom Simpson, race manager Pilarcitos Cycle Spor, t said the local criterium will join a roster of 35-40 similar events in Northern California stretching from Monterey to Sacramento, including the Burlingame criterium and the Cherry Pie criterium in Napa.

Morgan Hill’s Don Langley, a member of the Morgan Stanley/Specialized/24-Hour Fitness Racing Team, said he’s looking forward to competing at home after traveling all over the United States and to Europe for bicycle racing events.

“It’s great because it’s my hometown race,” Langley said. “It’s nice not to have to travel.”

The 42-year-old Live Oak High graduate and 20-year cycling veteran competed in the original Morgan Hill criterium 10 years ago and is helping plan the event this time around.

Langley said one of the local event’s big attractions will be the race course, which begins and ends at the corner of Monterey Road and the Third Street bridge.

The circuit will wind through downtown, featuring nine turns and a short hill climb in just over a mile.

The grand finale will take place on the tree-lined downtown portion of Monterey Road, where the pack will sprint full-out for the finish line.

The exact course is yet to be determined.

“It’s a great course – downtown with hills,” Langley said.

Entry fees will range from $25-$30 depending on the racing category.

MH Grand Prix details: call the event hotline at (650) 302-6310 or visit the Web site at www.morganhillgrandprix.com.

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