Peaceful, Easy Feeling

Marcela Mantilla of Gilroy rides through Bonfante Gardens during

Close to 900 Cyclists Turn out in Force for Bonfante Ride
Gilroy – Around 300 to 400 cyclists were expected to participate in the first-ever Bonfante Harvest Ride Saturday.

In reality, more than double that amount gathered at Bonfante Gardens for the inaugural ride, making it a success and raising about $10,000 for charity .

“It was a little overwhelming,” said Susan Bassi, coordinator for Bassi Productions which helped orchestrate the event. “In the couple weeks before the ride, our numbers exploded.”

The ride, which Bassi coordinated with ride director Curt Hentschke, had events for all ages and ability levels. There was a children’s race inside Bonfante Gardens and 25-, 50- and 100-mile rides for adults.

Bassi said 80 percent of the race participants were from outside the Gilroy area. While most came from all over the greater Bay Area, there were also riders that traveled from out of state from as far as Connecticut.

“Cycling clubs like our area. It’s scenic and has less urban congestion,” said Bassi about the popularity of the event in its first year.

A highlight of the ride was a stop at the Gilroy Hot Springs, which had been closed for nearly 20 years.

Local sponsors, which included Specialized, Kaiser Permanente, Pearl Izumi and Nob Hill, donated resources to the event.

Bassi said the money raised will go to about 20 different local community groups, including Gilroy High School clubs and teams, the Hammerheads triathlon team and Gilroy Community Services. Additionally, the kids’ race raised money for the kids of Hurricane Katrina through the American Red Cross.

After a very popular first year, Bassi hopes to see the Harvest Ride become the benchmark “last ride of the season” in the Bay Area.

“It’s good for the community,” she said. “We get a lot of sponsors.”

Additionally, the Bonfante Harvest Ride could help Gilroy become an even more popular cycling spot, along with the help of the city.

“The City of Gilroy is really planning to expand bike paths and make this a major cycling community,” Bassi said.

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