Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

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Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street
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By Robert Bernstein

The Fiesta Cruiser Bike ride is the biggest and longest running event in Santa Barbara that I had never heard of! An article in the Independent by Casey Kellogg traced it back to Fiesta 1979 and claimed that the ride grew to 1,200 riders by 2012. Back in 2016 I learned about this ride and gave it a try. And this year I was back to try it again.

Here are all my photos and videos!

I have been bicycling since I was six years old and have been president of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition. I do the Thursday Bike Moves rides. Yet, I had no idea about any of this. Although I saw a few people at this Fiesta bike event who I knew, my impression is that mostly this is a whole different crowd!

As in 2016, the police were out to be sure the cyclists obeyed the traffic laws. In 2016 I saw them issuing several tickets along the way. But this year everyone was on their best behavior. The police facilitated the riders in the congested downtown area and I did not see them issue any tickets. The cyclists took care to obey the laws and allowed motorists to pass.

It all started out with riders gathering at the Dolphin Fountain at the foot of Stearn's Wharf before noon.

It was a bit of a surprise when the unofficial parade of bicyclists started up State Street a few minutes before the "official" noon start time.

The biggest challenge for riding skill was the first mile up State Street through downtown. Riders were shoulder to shoulder and had to take care not to hit each other.

The hill after Mission Street was the toughest climb. Especially for those on traditional single-speed cruisers.

At the top of that climb was the first pause to rest, have a drink and catch our breath.

After we crossed Las Positas it was pretty smooth going and people were very spread out.

Interestingly, this was the only place that had a collision. A bike trailer hit a cyclist and knocked him down. Some scrapes and bruises, but he was back on the ride.

At 12:38 PM I arrived at Talevi's Wine and Spirits at the corner of Hollister Avenue and Nogal Drive. Back in the late 1980s our business was next door and this was Miratti's Liquor if I remember correctly.

Here is a short video I made of people arriving and then of me wandering among the first arrivals

People kept streaming in for the next half hour of so. They bought drinks and snacks at Talevi's and hung out and mixed and mingled.

This young woman blew me away when she told me she was eight months pregnant, yet she was right with me in the first arrivals!

Everyone was very friendly and happily posed for photos

At around 1:05PM the first to arrive were getting restless and started to head out for the second half of the ride.

The second half of the ride was on the wonderful Obern Trail all the way to Goleta Beach on a smooth path with nature all around!

As we crossed this bridge a little girl and her father were taken by surprise that so many other people were out for a ride!

This young man showed off his wheelie skills there

The final stretch of the Obern Trail runs alongside Ward Memorial Drive. I stopped to take photos of the riders. And I got this video that ended with a young man doing a wheelie right at me!

My hike leader friend Diane was out for a ride on her recumbent tricycle and was caught by surprise by the crowd!

When we arrived at Goleta Beach fisherman David Bagley had some sockeye salmon for us that his son had just caught up in Alaska. Here he posed with Spencer and Gigi who rode a tandem with a boom box trailer for music.

Around 3PM I headed up to Isla Vista on my way home. I stopped at Sushiya which has good sushi and is run by a friendly family. A couple Kim and Henry from the ride came in as I was finishing up. We ended up talking for another half hour or so as they shared stories of their rides and other adventures. Here they kindly posed with their old mini-tandem Schwinn:

The ride traditionally continued out to the bluffs past the end of Isla Vista. Then over to the "jumps" in the area near Old Family Student Housing near Storke Road and El Colegio Road. But an electronic sign on the path from Goleta Beach to UCSB warned bicyclists not to go out there. A few other riders headed out to Isla Vista. But most seemed happy to hang out at Goleta Beach.

A fun and safe bike ride as a final farewell to Fiesta!

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biguglystick Aug 07, 2019 12:08 PM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

I know Kim and Henry! The unofficial Mayor of I.V. I wish the cops would just let the bikes RIDE THROUGH instead of stopping at every light. What a pain. The bikes would get through so much faster that way and it would be easier on everyone. I missed the ride this year, but it sure is fun. What great pics! Thank you.

a-1565206996 Aug 07, 2019 12:43 PM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

BIGUGLY - why should bikes get a free pass to break the law just because you think it would be way "faster and easier?" Yeah, the law is a real pain in the butt, huh?

sbpajuco108 Aug 06, 2019 06:07 PM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

This is a fun safe bike ride every year it’s for everyone family, friends and neighbors even come out and wave ad we all go by. It’s a great community ride of bike riders just having fun for a day all together. I saw Robert go by he looked like he too was having fun.Cant wait until next year it will be the 40th year so next year will be EPIC let’s be the biggest bike ride in a one day event. I would also like to say thank you SB Police for being there and making this a safe bike ride for all we do appreciate you being there and letting us have fun on bikes!

a-1565135744 Aug 06, 2019 04:55 PM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

Saw this downtown and found the noise of it to be overwhelming so got away from State Street and wasn't impacted. Thank goodness I was out n about because it really overtakes one of our main arteries for a while. Looks fun for those riding and I'm glad everyone had a safe ride!

yin yang Aug 08, 2019 01:26 AM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

Be aware of the motorcycle toy run and stay off the streets!
It's usually the first week of December.
It only benefits the Unity Shoppe.
Ear plugs are available at all drug stores.

DBD Aug 06, 2019 01:42 PM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

I have taken part in this ride many many times and it is has to be one of the most diverse events this city has ever seen. From young kids to old people, people of all sorts of races, religions, political affiliations, sexual preferences, etc.....all out having fun. smiles everywhere. Glad to be a part of such a unifying experience. I wish we could come together like this more often during the other 364 days!

a-1565120455 Aug 06, 2019 12:40 PM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

I've done this ride several times..
With the amount of drugs & alcohol consumed in front of the children in attendance, I'm surprised C.P.S. hasn't been called.

AdamVant Aug 06, 2019 11:51 AM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

Every time I see one of these events, I am reminded of the late George Carlin: "I'm tired of ... Earth Day, I'm tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren't enough bicycle paths."

Alexblue Aug 07, 2019 12:55 AM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

LOL adamvant--THAT'S what triggers you? People riding their bikes? What next, you going to get triggered at someone walking their dog, having a picnic, going for a surf? Oh, the horror! Maybe you should get out of bed and try some of it, bro, you'll feel better.

a-1565116197 Aug 06, 2019 11:29 AM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

A bit off subject, but do the kids in IV still ride home from the downtown bars naked? We would do it often in the summer and fall months in the mid-90's. Riding with 20 gals and guys, clothes in the basket on the front of our cruisers, naked and loaded on those bike paths...ahh, the memories!

a-1565123553 Aug 06, 2019 01:32 PM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

Don't know about that, but one night we saw a nude guy (20s) riding his bike up Milpas. Nice looking guy, which is preferable if others have to see you peddling your butt around town. Right near Haley St. That was many years ago----maybe 10 years or so.

a-1565123913 Aug 06, 2019 01:38 PM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

"It isn't a law to wear helmets." WRONG.
Helmet-wearing while bicycling is the law in CA, but for age 17 and under. I'm guessing there were loads of teenagers on this ride sans helmet. My s.o. cracked his head open on the 101, has the nice big scar to prove it, and still rides around town w/out a helmet. Some people . . .

Flicka Aug 06, 2019 10:14 AM
Annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride Takes Over State Street

Wonderful seeing your photos and videos. Vie and George Obern worked long and hard to get this bike trail, and did incredible work to keep out mountain trails open and establishing new ones. At the opening of this trail Vie and George rode a tandem bike through the ribbon, effectively "cutting the ribbon" for the grand opening.

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