Century race provides scenic views, challenge

More than 250 riders expected to participate in Saturday?s race
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Staff Writer
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It?s not often that the rolling hills of the Auburn area, filled with reminders of the Old West, are confused with the French countryside, but the Gold Country Century managed to do just that in its first run last year. ?We?re using the same two courses that we used last year because people loved them so much,? said Betty Bennett, GCC director. ?In fact, one of the comments that we got from a gentleman in Santa Rosa was that at the first rest stop he felt like he was in France.? The first rest stop happened to sit atop a hill that overlooked several vineyards in the Penryn area and provided a welcomed relief for a race that extends 68 miles. The Gold Country Century, which is put on by the Sierra Foothills Cycling Club, returns Saturday for its second run with races for all abilities. The race will include options for the full 68-mile trek, the half metric 33-mile route and a 3-mile family fun ride. In all, more than 250 riders are expected to participate in the race with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the youth sports programs at Auburn Recreation District and The Boys and Girls Club. The race begins and ends at Auburn Recreation Park and offers two challenging routes for the longer races. The full race will take riders down Auburn-Folsom Road into Granite Bay then back up through Loomis, Penryn and Ophir before returning to Auburn. The half metric follows much of the same beginning course as the century but shifts around the Penryn area to bring riders back to Auburn. ?This is the first time I?ve ever done a ride like this,? said Valerie Harris, former Auburn Police Department Chief of Police, who took up riding about a year ago. ?(I did this) to support the Sierra Foothill Cycling Club?s effort for a community ride and it is for a personal challenge. I?ve really taken a liking to cycling and this is a good opportunity for me to continue to challenge myself to become a better cyclist and more fit.? Harris will race in the full metric century. The family fun ride will take young and old through Old Town and Downtown and will be led by Auburn Police Department Chief of Police John Ruffcorn, who will ride his bike behind a squad car. There will also be rolling street closures to keep families safe. ?One of the things that we?re most excited about is the family aspect of the event?? Bennett said. ?We did that last year and the kids in my neighborhood are still talking about it because they felt like, ?We?re racers. They closed the streets for us.?? Gold Country Century Riders can register online at Goldcountry or at Auburn Recreation Park from 4-7 p.m. Friday and starting at 6 a.m. Saturday. Registration starts at $10 for the family fun ride and goes up to $55 for the metric century, which includes a barbecue lunch.