SAN DIMAS - The charming streets of Old Town were transformed Sunday into the route for the most prestigious and grueling three-day bike race in Southern California.

Race director Al Wiscovitch said the field this year was faster than ever.

"We've had some national champions here, some world champions, and the top junior racers in the country are here this year," he said. "This is not a race for the weak. It does everything to challenge you. "

The first day's races, on Friday, were time trials; on Saturday, racers tackled the 84-mile road race; concluding with Sunday's Criterium around the streets of Old Town.

"On Day 2 we have the infamous quad-busting road we call Cannon Avenue" said Wiscovitch, now in his seventh year as race director.

"We call it 'the leg breaker.' It really puts cyclists out there. They go around the whole lake. It just takes so much out of you. If you're not prepared for this event, you will get dropped.

Throughout the three-day race, some 1,000 men and women cyclists, both pro and amateur, took on the grind that is the San Dimas Stage Race.

Nick Steel, second-place winner in the 40-minute Criterium Stage, said the three-day race was the hardest thing he's ever done.

Steel, 43, of Thousand Oaks, competed in the 17-mile ride with 53 other cyclists at an average speed of 25 mph.

"I started riding road bikes about three years ago," he said. "I decided I wanted to race and have been practicing about 15 hours each weekend. "

Sitting astride his BMC Race Machine and wearing his silver medal, Steel said he will be back next year.

Awards are presented to winning entries five deep in each of 11 categories, according to Wiscovitch.


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