Bright sunshine greeted bicyclists participating in the 37th annual Solvang Century on Saturday as they pedaled through northern Santa Barbara County en route to raising funds for charity.
The Solvang Century starts and ends in the Santa Ynez Valley, with various routes taking the cyclists into the Lompoc and Santa Maria valleys for a recreational ride, not a race.
Up to 3,000 riders traveled along one of four routes of varying distance and difficulty — 100 miles, 70 miles or a Metric Century, 55 miles and 51 miles.
A rain-or-shine ride, this year’s route lacked some of the challenges such as heat, winds and rain provided by Mother Nature in the past.
Riders also could attend a Cycling Festival with massage therapists, food, music, beer and more. The festival opened Friday night and continued Saturday for participants.
The Solvang Century has become so popular that organizers now wrestle with “bike bandits” — cyclists who participate but don’t pay the registration fee of $95 for early sign-ups or $115 on event day.
Official participants received assorted identification tools so ride organizers could keep track of who was supposed to be there. Scofflaws who ducked paying the entrance fee can expect to see their pictures posted on the Bandit Riders website and stamped with “Bandit Freeloader Thief” in bright red.
In addition to raising funds for charity, ride entrance fees cover liability insurance, law enforcement support and the permits required to put on the ride. Organizers say the unofficial riders also take advantage of the food, water and other services offered on the routes.
The Solvang Century event was started by a nonprofit cycling club formed to encourage the activity as rehabilitation for those recovering from heart attacks, coronary bypass surgery and other forms of heart disease.
SCOR — it stands for “Specialized Coronary Outpatient Rehabilitation” — members promote safe cycling and emphasize the heath benefits of cycling and related activities.
Funds raised by the Solvang Century help send children with severe congenital heart disease to Camp del Corazon on Santa Catalina Island, Camp Taylor in Modesto and Camp Bon Couer in Ponchatoula, La. The camps let the youths experience summer camp activities in a medically supervised environment.
The organization also provides donations for other charity-related activities.
— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.