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Aug 16 and more: Twilight Rides at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Get details here on 2016 Twilight Ride AKA Twilight Cycling dates, hosts, activities, what to bring, rentals, parking, history, and more.

The Twilight Rides are “a safe and relaxed atmosphere for families to get out and enjoy a ride together,” as assured by Ann Bixler, vice president of event operations for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  And the Twilight Ride venue is also famous for its “challenging 11-turn 2.238 mile course for competitive cyclists.” Something for all ages and stages of biking! As Ann states, “The natural-terrain circuit provides flat areas, 300 feet of elevation change for climbing and the legendary Corkscrew turns which drop the equivalent of nearly six stories in a breathtakingly short length of track.”

The happy faces of young observer Avalin—the baby pictured above; her brother, Devin; and their parents, Tyler and Dena Donnell, testify to the Twilight Ride being a family-friendly event.

Avalin, of course, was a bystander still. But what about for Devin and other children old enough to be on a bike? Are the Twilight Rides really a fun experience for them? Watch a video of one local girl, Juliette, via a Monterey County Weekly 9-11-15 story, “One local girl’s wild Laguna Seca ride….” Kids who may prefer a slower pace have fun at the track too; check out young Miles in a photo below.

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When are the Twilight Rides / Twilight Cycling dates?

Dates are subject to change. For any changes to those listed below, check Mazda Raceway’s Twilight Ride webpage.

As of January 4, 2016, all 2016 Twilight Cycling dates are Wednesdays with the exception of the August 16 ride, which is a Tuesday.

2016 Twilight Rides

When a month’s special host is listed as TBA, it’s anticipated that other Monterey County bike community leaders will likely serve as hosts. Check back here or check with Mazda Raceway for updates.

  1. January 13 (5-7 p.m.) – Special host: To be announced (TBA)
  2. February 3 (5-7 p.m.) – Special host: Salinas High School Cowboys Racing Also present will be Fast Freddie from the Amgen Tour of CA, part of his social media tour; and a women’s race team from the Midwest, in CA for a winter camp.
  3. March 16 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) – Special host: Don Chapin / Monterey Bay Racing
  4. April 27 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) – Special host: Little Bellas
  5. May 18 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) Special host: Amgen Tour of California Public Ride – 
    Cycling at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will go professional prior to the May 18th Twilight Ride. This date, the facility serves as the finish line location for Stage 4, the halfway point of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California. More info on the Mazda Raceway site here.

  6. June 15 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) – Special host: NPS Foundation Cycling Club
  7. July 13 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) – Special host: DC-10 / Doug Chandler
  8. August 16 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) – Special host: NPS Foundation Cycling Club
  9. September 7 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) – Special host: California Custom Sheds Cycling Team
  10. October 5 (5-7 p.m.) – Special host: Monterey Off Road Cycling Association / MORCA
  11. November 9 (5-7 p.m.) – Special host: NPS Foundation Cycling Club
  12. December 7 (5-7 p.m.) – Special host: TBA

About the hours

Hours are usually 5:30–7:30 p.m. when days are longer; and 5:00-7:00 p.m. typically November through February. And again, dates are subject to change, so confirm by checking Mazda Raceway’s Twilight Ride webpage.

Who’s hosting a particular month’s Twilight Ride?

In addition to the special hosts listed alongside Twilight Ride dates above, Bay Bikes is a monthly co-host. From October through March, Light and Motion is an additional co-host.

You’ll often find representatives from the following local groups either serving as special host for a monthly ride or just showing up to enjoy the ride: Gears4Good, Monterey Off Road Cycling Association (MORCA),  NPS Cycling ClubVelo Club Monterey, Salinas High School Cowboys Racing, Monterey Bay Lightfighters Composite Mountain Bike Team, Ghost Tree, Monterey Bay Racing, California Custom Sheds Cycling Team, and Little Bellas.

Press releases about a particular month’s Twilight Ride host may be provided by Mazda Raceway and published on their website. (See example.) And the Master Calendar for Bicycling Monterey County occasionally includes additional details about a host’s plans for that month.

Activities

Monthly ride hosts are diverse, and so are each month’s activities! On-track activities may include time trials, criteriums, and coasting competitions. Off-track activities range from barbecue suppers to costume contests and giveaways or raffle prizes.

What to bring

Bring your helmet and a bicycle, along with a $10 participation fee.

All ages are invited to the Twilight Rides. Helmets are required for all riders on the Mazda Raceway track, regardless of age.

Bicycle rentals

Longtime Twilight Cycling partner Bay Bikes will be present to rent bikes and helmets (which are required for participation for all-age riders).

Contact Bay Bikes to be assured of rental availability for any specific Twilight Ride date, or to request a reservation for a specific sort of bike rental.

You may also rent a bike within about 10 miles of Laguna Seca, at places such as Adventures by the Sea, Bay Bikes, or elsewhere.  Click here for the rentals section of the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide. Rentals typically include a helmet.

Bicycle lights

When daylight is shorter, October through March,  Light and Motion team members plan to be on hand renting their LED bicycle lights. (Contact L&M for details.)  Light & Motion has been pioneering state-of-the-art portable lighting systems for 20 years. In 2008, they launched a line of LED bicycle lights designed and built right here on the Monterey Peninsula.  (I’m a fan of their lights myself. See “Night Ride Home.”)

Where to park if you don’t bike to the event?

Unless you’re up for tackling the hill to reach the track, you may want to drive—or carpool with friends— to reach the Twilight Rides. You won’t feel like a wimp if you don’t ride your bike to the track; most Twilight Ride participants don’t. (Example: See a photo of young Miles below, alongside the bike rack of his dad’s truck.)

See May 2011 flier below, which includes an illustration that points the way to the usual motor vehicle parking area, the Paddock. Rarely vehicles cannot be parked in the Paddock. Those occasions are when Twilight Rides fall on one of the track’s main event dates, as the Paddock will already be full with team transporters. (There may even be world-class race car drivers biking the Twilight Ride with you, as they train for that weekend’s event. When? April brings the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix; August, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion; September, Mazda Road to Indy; and October, Pirelli World Challenge.)

For such dates, here are two alternate parking suggestions:  park right outside the Paddock in the lot known as Blue 2 (it is a hill, and it is dirt). Or, park in the lot known as Red 9 (which is flat and paved), and then ride your bike over the Start/Finish Bridge. Download a PDF of the Mazda Raceway map, to locate these parking areas and landmarks: 2015 Facility Map

Questions? Contact Mazda Raceway for parking updates or with any other questions about parking or other facilities.

The May 2011 flier below—provided by that month’s ride host, the Naval Postgraduate School Foundation Cycling Club—has a handy illustration that points the way to the usual Paddock parking area. It also shows the alternate parking areas, 2 and 9.  Click on image to enlarge.

Click on above image to enlarge it.

If you’re coming from Monterey-Salinas Highway 68, look for the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca marquee.

History of the Twilight Rides

For the seventh consecutive year, in 2015,  Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is hosting people who bike for monthly Twilight Rides. The raceway’s Twilight Rides are a partnership with community cycling clubs to create a safe, fun place to bike for people of all ages and skills.

“The thousands of area cyclists who have tackled the challenging 11-turn 2.238-mile course are pleased that we are continuing this program,” said Ann Bixler, Vice President of Event Operations for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “The raceway’s beautifully smooth pavement with no traffic concerns is a dream for any cyclist.”

Check out a Youtube of the Twilight Rides at the NPS Cycling Club website:  http://www.npscc.org/index.cfm/cycling_club.htm

About the venue

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was established in 1957. The world-renowned raceway has been operated since its inception by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP), a not-for-profit 501c(4) corporation. Each race season, SCRAMP donates its net proceeds to the volunteer groups that help put on the races.

Contact Mazda Raceway with questions about the track and its facilities, or about Twilight Rides.

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Below, learn about one of the Twilight Rides
hosts:  Naval Postgraduate School Cycling Club.

Among the most active bike advocates in Monterey County are members of the Naval Postgraduate School Foundation’s Cycling Club.  Click here to learn more about how they serve as local bike advocates!

The Naval Postgraduate School Cycling Club hosts Twilight Rides regularly.  At the top of this post are Devin, Tyler, Avalin, and Dena Donnell at the March 2012 ride.  Below they are at the May 2011 ride, when Dena was expecting Avalin.  To see Dena “Biking through Pregnancy; click here.”

Kids and bikes: NPS knows that’s important!

Why does NPS Cycling Club help teach scouts bike skills, help with Police Activities League (PAL) bike fairs, and otherwise encourage kids biking?

Safe Routes to School–allowing kids to bike or walk as part of their daily routine–are often hard to come by these days.  Kids need exercise, and being outdoors on a bike has many other benefits as well!

Think most kids these days just sit around playing with their video games and other tech toys?  Not Devin Donnell, age 11–at 10, he had already completed a fifty-mile Gran Fondo bicycle ride in Monterey.

And like Devin, young Miles Hooper (pictured in the three photos below), has also rounded the Mazda Racetrack at previous Twilight Rides hosted by the NPS Cycling Club.

It’s clear Miles is becoming familiar with not only riding but with bike equipment too–such as how to help with the bike rack on his dad’s truck.

While Miles and his dad were volunteering at the PAL Bike Fair in Seaside, Miles spent many hours encouraging hesitant children by his example.  He returned to the course repeatedly throughout the day to practice his bike skills.

Here are a few more examples of the NPS Club members serving as bike advocates:   promoting HER Helmet Thursdays, attending municipal planning meetings to be sure the voices of cyclists are heard, and participating in new Bike Week events.   Even the bike corrals on the NPS campus show that the Naval Postgraduate School is a bike-friendly place!

HHT - closeup - cropped 060

Below:   NPS cyclist Seth Hooper at the PAL Bike Fair, answering questions about the Club’s activities.


(Photo provided courtesy of Javier Chagoya of the Naval Postgraduate School.)

  1. Paul Swift says:

    Hi

    We live in England and are visiting the Laguna Raceway to see the sports cars race in September. My wife and I are keen to join in the Twighlight Cycle around the track on the 6th September. Can you tell me if there is a possibility of hiring bikes and helmets at or near the circuit please.

    Kind regards, Paul and Kim.

    Gloucester England.

  2. marilynch says:

    [Jan 8, 2014 update: Per Mazda Raceway’s 1/8/14 press release, “Partners Bay Bikes and Light & Motion are also on hand each month to rent bikes or loan out lights.” Contact Bay Bikes for details regarding those on-site rentals. Regarding Light & Motion loaner lights, those are typically brought only in months when daylight is short, as mentioned in the above post. If you’d like to be certain loaner lights will be available, contact the month’s host or contact Light & Motion.]

    So glad you’re interested in biking during your visit. While we have some good biking weather every month of the year, September is typically an especially beautiful month here.

    There are bike rentals available about 10 miles from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Rentals commonly include a helmet, and helmets are required for the Twilight Rides for all ages, as you apparently noticed. The Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide has a section on Bike Rentals. You may want to start by calling Adventures by the Sea and Bay Bikes. Feel free to email me or call with any other questions.

    And thanks for this inquiry, which prompted me to add that info to my Twilight Rides post.

    Welcome to Monterey County!

    Mari

  3. Paul Swift says:

    Hi Mari.

    Thanks for the info. We will be in arriving from San Francisco in a hire car and we will need to get the bikes the 10 miles to the circuit and get the bikes back the same day, time is tight!!! Really keen to do the circuit on a bike. I will give ‘Adventures’ a call.
    Thanks again for your help, Paul and Kim. You never know we may see you there.

  4. marilynch says:

    You’re welcome, Paul. Consider asking your “hire car”/rental car company for a bike rack for your car–they may have one available. See rental car tips in Bicycling Monterey’s bike-and-ride section: http://marilynch.com/blog/tips-for-tourists/the-bike-and-ride-option And let Adventures or Bay know your specific timing and needs; they’ll accommodate you anyway they can. [See 1/8/14 update below re Bay Bikes on-site rentals for Twilight Cycling.]

  5. Asa Widmark says:

    I’m Swedish and I was so happy to see that there is a Laguna Seca Twilight Ride while I’m in Monterey, June 12th!
    A rented bicycle will be my only means of transportation during my 5-day stay. Would it be “reasonably safe” to ride the bicycle back to my Monterey Downtown hotel after the track ride?
    After all, it’s not like it’s in the middle of the night, is it?! The distance doesn’t worry me. (I’m on my way out for a 5-mile ride with my dog on a Swedish winter road right now…)

    Regards
    Asa (“upper-middle-aged” woman)

  6. marilynch says:

    Welcome, Asa. Daytime, yes, most experienced and well-equipped cyclists would be comfortable riding alone to the track. For the return trip, which will be partly in the dark, most people would recommend biking with some fellow riders.

    Biking to Laguna Seca from a downtown Monterey hotel, here are a few pointers:

    Get over on the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail (the dedicated multi-use trail/”bike path”). Take the trail, which runs parallel to Del Monte Ave, toward Seaside–all the way to the Del Monte Ave and Canyon del Rey intersection (you’ll see the tall Embassy Suites hotel at that intersection).
    • Canyon Del Rey/Highway 218: After leaving the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail and crossing Del Monte Avenue to reach Canyon del Rey Boulevard, here’s what you’ll discover: Canyon del Rey is a wide road, though without painted bike lanes until you reach Fremont. From Fremont to General Jim Moore Boulevard (your turn-off), Canyon del Rey has painted bike lanes.
    • Canyon del Rey is a mostly flat route. After you’ve crossed Fremont, you’ll soon come to a little downhill swoop that lands you at the Frog Pond Nature Preserve—a fun stop—just beyond the Del Rey Oaks City Hall. Continue on Canyon del Rey past the Frog Pond until you reach the traffic signal at General Jim Moore Boulevard, which is on your left. Make that left turn at the signal and head north on General Jim, which has a painted bike lane. (General Jim runs from Canyon Del Rey in Del Rey Oaks to Inter-Garrison Road near the center of the former Fort Ord—and in the process, it crosses South Boundary Road, the road you’re looking for.)
    • Make a right off General Jim onto South Boundary. There is a painted bike lane on part of South Boundary, and at other times, just a reasonably good shoulder. Expect a steep climb on South Boundary. From there, refer to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca website maps.

    Return trip: In the Serious Cyclists section of the Bicycling Monterey site, you’ll find Jan, Devian, and Frank; you might contact these helpful locals to see if any of them, or their riding buddies, are biking to the 6/12/13 Twilight Ride. If so, chances are they’d be happy to bike with you.

    Or, contact Velo Club, MORCA, or NPS Cycling Club (also in the Serious Cyclists section) to see if any of their members are biking 6/12–or are hauling their bikes to the track and can give you and your bike a lift home.

    For other bike-and-ride options, check the MST bus schedule, which may have service changes before then. Or, depending on your hotel, you might inquire about the possibility of a hotel shuttle picking you and your bike up after the Twilight Ride.

    If you have other questions, feel free to phone me when you get to town.

  7. Asa Widmark says:

    Wow! Thank you very much for that very extensive and useful reply! I don’t know what made me thing of Monterey as a Bicycle friendly place, but it seemed my instinct was right!
    I have so much to look through on this page, and pages linked to from here. Good thing I discovered it 3 months ahead of my trip and not the day before! 😉
    Once again: Thank you!

  8. marilynch says:

    You’re welcome! Having visitors from all over the world is wonderful for us, and we especially appreciate those who bike, at least for part of their visit.

    You can see Christine van Burken of the Netherlands biking north on the coastal trail (scroll down this “Dress Up Challenge” post) and a young family from Holland biking downtown Monterey. After your visit, please feel free to share a photo with us of a Swedish visitor biking at the Twilight Ride, or elsewhere in Monterey County! 🙂

  9. Korben Dallas says:

    Um… For some reason none of such articles ever include the most requested information people come to such web sites for: how do we participate in such ride if we come from somewhere else by car? Where do we park our cars? Does Laguna Seca provide parking facilities for Twilight Ride participants on site? Or are we supposed to park somewhere off-site and then cycle to the track?

    How does the whole thing work for people who don’t live on the outskirts of the racetrack?

  10. marilynch says:

    Hi, Korben. Thanks for pointing out that it isn’t easy to find on the web info on where to park at Twilight Rides.

    There’s a May 2011 Naval Postgraduate School Foundation Cycling Club (NPSCC) flier that I’d left in the post, to make it easier for people to know where to park motor vehicles. Thanks to your question, I’ve moved that NPSCC flier up higher in the post, so it’s easier for people to notice.

    I’ve also added alternate parking suggestions for times when the usual paddock parking area would be unavailable. Included too now is PDF of the facility map, courtesy of Ann Bixler of Mazda Raceway. If you have more questions about parking or other facilities, you may want to contact Mazda Raceway. Their contact page includes driving directions too. http://www.mazdaraceway.com/contact?profile=695

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