Sunday, February 18 , 2018, 6:40 pm | A Few Clouds 58º

 
 
 
 

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Fiesta Cruiser Ride Draws Hundreds of Cyclists on Annual Trek to Isla Vista from Stearns Wharf

Unsanctioned ride includes veterans and newbies alike, along with a few costumes, liquor store stops and law enforcement citations

An estimated 1,000 bicyclists took to the Santa Barbara streets Sunday morning as the annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride headed west to Isla Vista. The unsanctioned, loosely organized Fiesta week tradition began in the 1970s. Click to view larger
An estimated 1,000 bicyclists took to the Santa Barbara streets Sunday morning as the annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride headed west to Isla Vista. The unsanctioned, loosely organized Fiesta week tradition began in the 1970s. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

A swarm of bicycles took off from the base of Stearns Wharf on the Santa Barbara waterfront Sunday to close out Old Spanish Days festivities with the annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride.

Santa Barbara police estimate that up to 1,000 cyclists may have taken part in the unsanctioned event, which rides up State Street before making its way to UC Santa Barbara and Isla Vista roughly 12 miles to the west.

Although the Cruiser Ride has been an unofficial Fiesta tradition since the late 1970s, having so many bikers taking to the streets — which aren’t always closed down — results in safety concerns, an extra law enforcement presence and traffic citations.

The event is good for the local cycling community because it encourages residents to get out on bikes, said one rider, a man named Tom who declined to give his last name.

The long-time participant, sporting a home-made skunk costume and beret, added that he loves dressing up differently each year.

A number of cyclists also came armed with music speakers, and many made stops at liquor stores along the route, a Cruiser Ride tradition.

In addition to scores of long-time riders, publicity and word-of-mouth brought out new cyclists.

“I’ve heard all the hype and wanted to see what it was all about — just try it out for myself, basically,” Manny Negrete told Noozhawk.

“Every year I try to do something different for Fiesta — like pick a different event that I’ve never done before, and I read about this a couple years ago,” rider Cyndi Burt said. “And this year, we’re trying this bike ride as our different activity that we’ve never done.”

An estimated 500 cyclists started out at the Metropolitan Transit District lot on the 500 block of Haley Street, before heading to Stearns Wharf and starting the ride at noon, SBPD spokesman Sgt. Riley Harwood told Noozhawk.

Harwood said that officers reported an uneventful ride with polite and respectful cyclists. Only four citations — a small number for the event — were handed out, he said.

According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, the most common traffic violations authorities have encountered over the years include neglecting to ride as close as practical to the curb and not obeying red lights and stop signs.

The hardier Cruiser cyclists not only made it out to the far west end out the route, but return to the start. Harwood said that the bikers who returned made it back in small groups without issue.

The SBPD reported 175 citations for all of Fiesta, down from last year's 224, and far below 2013's 579.

Thirty-two Fiesta-related felony arrests were also made, according to SBPD data, along with 98 misdemeanor arrests and five DUI arrests — all of which were lower than 2015's numbers.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

The famed Dolphin Statue at the base of Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf was the starting point for the annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride to Isla Vista, 12 miles away. Click to view larger
The famed Dolphin Statue at the base of Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf was the starting point for the annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride to Isla Vista, 12 miles away. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)
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