Hundreds of cyclists pedal to Costa Mesa for grand prix race named to honor H.B. teen

More than 400 cyclists participated Sunday in the Taylor Elizabeth Clifford Memorial Grand Prix in Costa Mesa.
More than 400 cyclists participated Sunday in the Taylor Elizabeth Clifford Memorial Grand Prix in Costa Mesa, where they competed for rankings and cash prizes.
(Michael Khoe / Islandcyclist Photography)
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Hundreds of cycling enthusiasts and professional athletes pedaled to Costa Mesa Sunday for the Taylor Elizabeth Clifford Memorial Grand Prix, a daylong opportunity for riders to compete, rise up in the rankings and ride off with cash prizes.

Organized by Upland-based event planner Majestic Cycling, the 1.1-mile closed-circuit course featured a finish line near the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Sunflower Avenue that transported more than 400 riders along nearby Cadillac, Scenic and Hyland avenues, temporarily closed to car traffic throughout the event.

Majestic owner Alfie Sanchez, who organizes various races throughout California, said Sunday’s event hearkened back to a similar grand prix cycling race held on the exact same streets in 1990.

Among the top women cyclists in Sunday's Taylor Elizabeth Clifford Memorial Grand Prix in Costa Mesa was Laurel Rathburn.
Among the top women cyclists in Sunday’s Taylor Elizabeth Clifford Memorial Grand Prix in Costa Mesa was former pro rider Laurel Rathburn, a San Diego resident who retired from the sport in 2018 at age 23.
(Michael Khoe / Islandcyclist Photography)

“We actually started this back in November, trying to get everything together, chipping away at the permits,” he said of the planning effort. “The city was very supportive and excited to have something like what we’re doing.”

Sanchez explained the grand prix was named for the daughter of a dear friend in the cycling community, a Huntington Beach teen who died from an overdose the morning of March 2, 2005. Her father, Bart Clifford, participated in Sunday’s race and honored Taylor with a tribute.

Former Huntington Beach cyclist Bart Clifford, center, holds a plaque honoring daughter Taylor, who died in 2005 at age 15.
(Courtesy of Majestic Cycling)

“She was a good kid, a good surfer and she was so young,” Sanchez said. “We’re looking for a recovery home or something in the future, where we can help donate money as we grow this event.”

In a 70-minute Men Pro 1-3 race, Inglewood professional cyclist Dante Young, riding for team Miami Blazers, scored a first-place win, followed by decorated UK motorcyclist Scott Redding (team SRCT Thriva) in second place and Adin Papell, from the team iSpeed-Felt placing third.

Among those who rode in the Women Pro 1-3 race, 27-year-old San Diego resident Laurel Rathbun with team Incycle Mamis crossed the finish line first, while Kendall Ryan took second place for her team L39ion of Los Angeles and Holly Breck (team DNA PRO CYCLING) secured a third-place win in the 50-minute race.

Costa Mesa resident and retired cyclist David Worthington served as one of three announcers at the grand prix, narrating the progress of 16 different races held for cyclists of different ages and experience levels via livestream.

Top winner of the Women Pro 1-3 race, Laurel Rathbun, center, with second-place's Kendall Ryan, left, and Holly Breck.
(Courtesy of Majestic Cycling)

He said he hopes the races can return to Costa Mesa, where civic leaders have in recent years focused on street improvements and projects designed to make the city more amenable to bicyclists.

“You’re transforming an ordinary stretch of road into the ultimate bike party,” Worthington said ahead of Sunday’s race. “There’s something that happens — maybe it’s the endorphins. It’s like a fallout of energy and excitement. It’s a real thrill, it’s a mosh pit. I try to script these things, and I fail every time.”

Sanchez said Tuesday he’s already thinking about making the Taylor Elizabeth Clifford Memorial an annual event and possibly returning to Costa Mesa City Hall to inquire about permits for another race in July.

“It went phenomenally. Everybody was happy with the turnout. A lot of people said this was the best event we’ve had in a long time,” he said Tuesday. “There was a big wow factor. We’re definitely looking to be doing this twice a year in Costa Mesa.”

For a full list of Sunday’s races and results, visit