11th Annual Top Hat Classic Bike Tour Starts Here April 28

The pleasant weather of spring has returned to the Bay Area and with it a variety of recreation opportunities for the whole family. The latest event to move to Hacienda is the 11th Annual Top Hat Classic Bike Tour, which starts in the park on Saturday, April 28. The event, which offers riders routes of different lengths and difficulties through the East Bay, is sponsored by the Northern California Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Over 2,200 cyclists are expected to participate in the ride, which begins in Hacienda at PeopleSoft Plaza, the three-building complex at the corner of Hacienda and Stoneridge drives. Four different routes will be used with distances of 10, 25, 50, or 75 miles.

The 10-mile route is relatively flat, making it a perfect route for beginners and younger children. The 25-mile route takes riders over the wildflower-filled foothills of Mt. Diablo while the 50- and 75-mile routes will see riders shaded by the redwood trees of the San Leandro hills. The 75-mile route also travels through the Briones Regional Park.

The day begins in Hacienda with a continental breakfast. Other refreshments will be served at rest stops that event organizers have set up along the way.

A Success Story

The Top Hat Classic has been a tremendous event for the regional Multiple Sclerosis Society. Since it began in 1991, the tour has raised over $829,000, according to the organization's Dana Stern. She adds that people are very enthusiastic about the event.

"It's an outdoor fitness activity, a way to meet new people and see old friends and ride together, all for a great cause," she notes. "You can be a novice rider and participate in the 10-mile ride, or an advanced rider for the 25-, 50-, or 75-mile ride. There's something for everyone."

Volunteer Opportunities

For those who prefer to participate without pedaling, plenty of opportunities exist. More than 300 volunteers are also needed to help with the ride and carry out tasks such as dispensing free water and juice along the course. Riders and volunteers alike will have fun at the finish line party with its delicious food and great entertainment.

And Now, a Pledge Break

Cyclists are encouraged to solicit pledges to the Multiple Sclerosis Society and those doing so may qualify for prizes such as bike shop gift certificates of up to $550, a paid trip to ride in the Society's Tour of Champions in Florida, cycling gear, and Top Hat sweat shirts and T-shirts. Riders earn an additional raffle ticket - and another chance to win - with each $25 they raise in pledges.

Registration for the event is $35 prior to March 31 and $50 thereafter. Start times on the day of the event vary according to the distance of the trip. For information and online registration, visit the event web site at www.msconnection.org . Underage children must have their registration forms notarized and those under 16 must ride with an adult. Riders receive free t-shirts to commemorate the event.

For additional information, call Dana Stern at (510) 268-0572 x 121.

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