About 2,000 bicycle riders will hit the streets of Long Beach on Saturday, May 11, pedaling to help children suffering from cancer.

It is the 10th annual Tour of Long Beach, with rides at every level, from the 5 mile Family Fun Ride to the better than 100 mile Cruz Gran Fondo to Laguna Beach. Organizer Tony Cruz said the goal is to raise $50,000 for Parents Without Cancer and the Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Institute at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.

Cruz, a former Olympic cyclist, helped found the Tour of Long Beach with Mark Bixby and Charlie Pederson.

"Charlie came back all fired up from a charity ride," Cruz said. "It was just a simple meeting around a table. We approached the children's hospital (Memorial Miller Children's Hospital), they were excited, and we were off."

Cruz became Long Beach's bicycle ambassador through the Office of Sustainability, helping with Beach Streets and other events. He still has that position, and has launched Cruz and Associates, an event planning company, as well.

He said that in addition to the new beneficiary, there will be new finisher medals, as well. An etched bamboo center will be surrounded by a bike chain, with every medal handmade using recycled materials.

There will be celebrity grand marshals for each of the four rides. (Cruz emphasized they are rides, not races.) Justin Rudd will lead the 5-mile Family Fun Ride and Second District City Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce will be at the head of the 30-mile Tour of Long Beach. Public Works Director Craig Beck will lead the 62-mile Metric Century to Newport Beach and back.

Cruz will start the Gran Fondo, but said he is looking for another pro rider to take the entire trip to Laguna Beach and back so he can be at the Finish Line Festival. There will be support stations along the routes, as well.

The start line for all the races is on Shoreline Drive and Linden Avenue, between the Long Beach Arena and Marina Green Park — where the Finish Line and festival are located. That festival will include a free bike valet, live entertainment, a kids area, a vendor village and a beer garden. The festival will stay open until 4 p.m.

Rides start at 6:30 a.m. with the Gran Fondo riders getting a early start. Day of package pickup closes at 7:30 a.m., when the Metric Century riders start. At 8 a.m. the first of four waves of Tour of Long Beach riders leave, with the other waves following at 5 minute intervals. The Family Fun Ride starts at 8:30 a.m.

Fundraising takes place in two ways. Riders can pledge to raise $100 or more get a discounted entry fee. The fees themselves raise money as well, and that amount has been rising since registration opened on Dec. 1. The final rates from now to race day are 100-Mile Cruz Gran Fondo: $130, 62-Mile Metric Century: $110, 30-Mile Tour of Long Beach: $90 and Family Fun Ride: $8.

To register and for more information, go to www.touroflongbeach.com.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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