Ah, Brentwood. Where you can take your kids for pony rides on Sundays. Where new Porsche Carerra GT’s sit side-by-side with shabby chic vintage Land Rovers in tree-lined driveways. Where the parking enforcement officers drive hybrids. Where you can cut your ex’s throat with a stiletto knife and get away with it. Where the streets are blocked for a grand prix bicycle race.
That’s right. This past Sunday, a considerable section of western San Vicente Boulevard, between South Barrington and South Burlingame, was blocked off for the first annual Brentwood Grand Prix bicycle race. The race, divided into age and ability categories including kids, 60 year old-plus “masters,” and male and female professionals, took place all morning and afternoon on the 2.3 mile loop lined with orange cones, hay bales, and volunteer officials in brown and green Grand Prix logo t-shirts.
Things were very quiet where I stood at the western tip of the race course. There were maybe a dozen spectators, one volunteer, a few cops, and, surprisingly, a number of recreational bikers cycling through the cones to enter onto the race course. The quiet would ensue until, every ten minutes or so, a couple of race leaders followed by the “peloton” would whiz by, brake to navigate the sharp u-turn at our end, then click into a higher gear and zoom off.
I understand that things were way more hopping at the other end, with registration tables, race teams gathered under canopies, and an expo area with food and merchandise. But hey, I really like the smell of hay, so the bucolic west end of the race course was more suited to my tastes. Plus, I was treated rather well. It may have been my straw hat and belt-mounted camera holster, but one person came up to me and asked if I was a race official. Another biker/spectator shouted at me and asked if I wanted a sandwich. And then, when my camera turned up with a dead battery, local photographer Michal Story saved the day and offered to email me some of the pictures she was shooting at the race. Michal shoots portraits and all kinds of photos, and she really has a talented eye.
Next year, I’ll try to bring a group and set up a picnic on the grassy median strip on San Vicente. Or maybe I’ll make my “official” status official and be a race volunteer. I hear the sandwiches are pretty good.
(Photos by Michal Story. Used with permission.)