Mike Czerwinski, who logs 200 miles a week on a bike, will tackle the 50-mile route during the Tour de Palm Springs on Feb. 12.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY MIKE CZERWINSKI
For several hours on Feb. 12, Mike Czerwinski is going to be busy.
The desert cyclist will participate in the 24th annual Tour de Palm Springs, which features distances from 10 to 100 miles and takes riders through several Coachella Valley cities. Czerwinski, who will pedal the 50-mile route, is no stranger to covering long distances on two wheels. He says he rides close to 200 miles a week.
And while he can try and pack some things to take with him for the trek, there are limitations. “As a cyclist, a 100-mile ride, it’s hard… you’re by yourself,” he says. “It’s hard to carry enough food and water for 100 miles. [In this event] there’s a stop area about every 20 miles. The food is incredible, and they’ve got great restaurants that participate. It’s super organized.”
The event can attract riders from out of state and out of the country, making it as much a social event as one with a purpose. “You pedal through every city in the valley and it’s incredibly scenic and gorgeous,” Czerwinski says. “There’s a lot of places to pull over and do photo opps.
The upside to riding for hours? “The course is relatively flat, which is good,” Czerwinski says. “The challenging thing is the wind, it gets windy out here. There’s so many riders that kind of band together and you can draft off each other.”
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY TED DZIERZEK
Ted Dzierzek has been participating in Tour de Palm Springs for more than five years.
Valley resident Ted Dzierzek also plans to pedal 50 miles, noting the community feel to the event builds on its intent to make a difference with organizations in need.
“There are so many people involved, it’s overwhelming but great, in my opinion,” says Dzierzek, who says this is his seventh year participating. “There are volunteers, vendors, donors, law enforcement, medical… So many people [are] involved.”
Begun by Tim Esser, who owns his own air-conditioning and heating business in the desert, Tour de Palm Springs has grown from 400 riders the first year in 1998 to more than 1,000 prior to the pandemic. More importantly, the event has raised valuable dollars for Coachella Valley charities, reaching $179,000 in 2015 donated to 80 non-profits. Overall, the event has raised more than $4 million since 1999.
“The start line has all these high school bands, someone sings the national anthem, there’s a ceremony and hundreds of riders,” says Czerwinski . “It’s one of the largest charity rides in the country. It’s a huge event, well executed, and a lot of fun.”
Tour de Palm Springs is not just about cyclists, however. Walkers are encouraged to register as well. There are 1- and 3-mile walks, and participants are encouraged to bring a sign listing their favorite first responder, veteran, or an American flag. The event actually starts at noon Feb. 11 with a Vendor Expo followed later in the afternoon with a march on Palm Canyon Drive between Tahquitz Canyon Way and Baristo Road. A raffle will be held with an E-bike and gift cards among the prizes.
For information, visit tourdepalmsprings.com.
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