Kern’s Bicycle Race Sunday


With a soupcon of hyperbole, race director Alex Baum calls the bicycle competition “the American equivalent of a one-day Tour de France.” In the absence of Alps or even Pyrenees, Baum exaggerates somewhat; nevertheless, Sunday’s Kern’s Classic International Cycling Road race is hardly a pedal in the park.

Stretching 150 kilometers (more than 93 miles) from Pepperdine University in Malibu to Griffith Park (where a number of events precede and follow the competition), the race chugs through the Santa Monica Mountains and cruises down the wilderness of Ventura Boulevard on a course designed to separate the hardy from the not-so-hardy. Indeed, it is one of the few one-day road races in North America sanctioned by the United States Cycling Federation, and consequently it attracts top racers from this country as well as from France, Mexico and a number of other international powers.

At Griffith, meanwhile, an 8 a.m. 5-kilometer run and a “Kids’ Fun Run” will be held at Travel Town; criterium races over a 1.7-mile course (start and finish at Park Center) are on tap for cyclists of various categories, as is a celebrity criterium race, set for 2 p.m.; a health-and-fitness “comprehensive exposition” is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Park Center, and a continuous health-and-fitness “stage extravaganza” (aerobics, fashions, music) will be led by Suzi Chaffee, actress and former Olympic skier.


Centerpiece, however, is the 8 a.m. road race, with a $15,000 purse and prizes for “king of the mountain” stages (“king” is he who reaches each of the four toughest climbs first).

Past and present Olympians expected to compete include Davis Phinney, Thurlow Rogers, Alexi Grewal, Roy Knickman, David Brinton, Mexico’s Youskimatz brothers and France’s Laurent Thierry.