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Thousands Line Street to Spot Amgen Cyclists

Posted: February 24, 2008 2:39 a.m.
Updated: April 26, 2008 5:02 a.m.

A stretch of McBean Parkway adjacent to the Town Center mall in Valencia was transformed into an Olympic-styled village Saturday as part of the 2008 Amgen cycle race's visit to Santa Clarita for Stages 6 and 7.

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Thousands of cycling fans took part in a celebration of the bike as Amgen Tour of California made its ways through Santa Clarita on Saturday.

While the afternoon saw only cloudy conditions, the evening rain forced officials to cancel the Rock the Bike event on Saturday, which was set to feature Arizona rock band Gin Blossoms in an outdoor performance at the parking lot outside JCPenney at Westfield Valencia Town Center.

Phil Lantis, Arts and Events coordinator for the city, said the concert was canceled shortly after Rock the Bike began because of safety concerns with the electrical cables. The cost of the stage equipment was also taken into consideration.

Soon after the announcement of the cancellation, the dozens of attendees in the concert area left.

Lantis didn't think the Gin Blossoms' performance would be rescheduled because their stop in Santa Clarita was part of a concert tour.

Regardless of the cancellation, the Amgen events during the day drew in a host of spectators who lined McBean Parkway to watch the cyclists zoom by to the finish line.

City spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said the city was "very excited" to be part of the Amgen Tour.

She said that taking part in cycling competition not only creates tourism benefits, but gives Santa Clarita a way to showcase its goal of creating a healthy lifestyle.

She highlighted the 32 miles of bike trails and various parks that contribute to the healthy Santa Clarita community.

Because this is the second year that the city of Santa Clarita has served as a stop on the internationally-recognized cycling competition, Ortiz said local residents have become more familiar with the Amgen Tour.

The city also used its experience from the 2007 Amgen Tour when it came time to plan this year's.

Because of last year's problems with traffic and road closures in parts of Valencia, Ortiz said they tripled their outreach efforts in notifying citizens about changes in traffic patterns, which included street signs and mailers sent to all Santa Clarita homes.

Rick Gould, director of parks, recreation and community services for the city, said the improved traffic management system gave the city control of traffic in popular intersections.

Before the cyclists moved into Santa Clarita at around 2 p.m., visitors kept themselves busy with the morning Family Ride where up to 400 families rode their bikes from City Hall to the McBean Parkway finish line.

The Kids Zone at Town Center Drive gave youngsters the ability to go through an inflatable obstacle course, slides, a bungee-jumper and a rock-climbing mountain.

A Health Net Lifestyle Festival was also held throughout the day giving bike enthusiasts a chance to watch extreme bike demonstrations and meet with various vendors.

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