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It was a day of cycling fun, excitement and a few injuries, as some 7,500 cyclists — both amateur and professional — took to the streets of Sonoma County on Saturday for the fifth annual Levi's GranFondo.

The top male and female finishers were three-peaters, having both finished with the top times the past two years as well.

Neil Shirley of Valencia finished first overall, in 4 hours 37 minutes and 14 seconds, a new record for the event. Alison Tetrick of Mill Valley was the first female finisher at 5:25:12.

Shirley is formerly a pro racer and is editor of Road Bike Action magazine, while Tetrick rides professionally for Exergy Twenty12 Professional Cycling.

The event, now it its fifth year, drew riders from all 50 states and six continents, said organizer Greg Fisher.

Riders were asked to call out their homes at the start of the race. Kazakhstan, the Czech Republic, Taiwain and Singapore were represented, as were American cities throughout the country, many in California.

"Someone even called out Narnia," Fisher said.

Before the event, organizers and the event's namesake, Levi Leipheimer himself, encouraged participants to ride safely, a practice that is made all the more difficult because of the volume of riders.

Two of those riders formed a union during their race.

Mike Reid and Michelle Young of Redding tied the knot on the cliffs at Portuguese Beach, all decked out in their finest cycling wedding attire.

He wore a silver bow-tie skin suit and she a white outfit with a frilly skirt resembling a tutu.

Leipheimer became certified to perform wedding ceremonies for the event and officiated the pair's nuptials.

About 30 friends attended the affair, which Leipheimer called "an authentic and original wedding."

The starting point, as usual, was near the Finley Center at Stony Point Road, just south of College Avenue. A sea of cyclists packed the roadway all the way back to West Ninth Street.

Walter Clarke, 50, of Phoenix was happy to be at the front of the line for general riders — just behind VIPs and professional riders. Clarke, who works in real estate, said it was his first GranFondo, but he knew enough to try to get in the front.

"It's a lot safer; you're with riders who know what they're doing," Clarke said. "You have so many different levels and you get pilot error ... there's a lot of crashes"

Throughout the day, emergency radio dispatchers rattled off a slew of injuries that occurred at various points of the GranFondo route. They included collarbone injuries, chest pains and one man who passed out after the race. No serious injuries or major crashes were reported, Fisher said.

Peter Nelson, a 28-year-old hardware engineer who works in Silicon Valley but lives in San Francisco, was among the VIP riders, which included those who worked for companies that were event sponsors. Nelson said it was his second GranFondo and he was looking forward to riding King Ridge northwest of Cazadero, a segment that involves more than 9,000 feet of climbing.

"It's the longest ride I'm doing this year," he said. "Some of the co-workers that I'm riding with are a lot faster than me, so I'll see if I can keep up."

The hill was a challenge for eight cyclists from the Sacramento area who entered together.

"It's a beautiful ride — except for that hill," said David Ransom. "We're used to going these distances, but not that hill."

He said after the race that his thighs "still won't talk to me."

His friend Kathy Hemeon the landscape along the 65-mile route was unparalleled.

"It has every environment in California except the desert," she said.

All eight of them enjoyed the festival afterward, and all answered the same when asked what they're doing to recover: "Beer."

For safety, the event featured 150 event marshals, experienced cyclists who are familiar with the route and offered safety advice to riders. When the event started, the marshals were dispatched two at a time every 30 to 40 seconds.

The event — which is timed but is not considered a race — features three routes of varying difficulty. The toughest and most popular, a 103-mile ride from Santa Rosa and back, includes King Ridge. There are also 65- and 32-mile routes.

The GranFondo is primarily a fundraiser that since its inception has raised about a $1 million for nonprofit organizations. The vast majority of that money stays local, Fisher said. Organizers also estimate it generates more than $3 million in economic activity by way of more than 1,000 hotel rooms that get booked, as well as restaurant meals and other revenue.

More than 15,000 people attended the daylong festival at the Finley Center, where cycling-related wares were for sale and several restaurants manned booths.

Many of the riders cycled to the event from their hotels, while others parked their cars in the neighborhood near the starting line.

Jason Burrow, a resident of Little River Avenue, said he wasn't bothered at all by all the cars parked along the streets of his neighborhood.

"Not for one day. By the afternoon, they're picking up and getting out," he said, adding that he's never had any problems with people parking in driveways.

But not everyone was happy.

Belinda Andrews, a broker associate with Century 21 in Santa Rosa, said she had scheduled a painting contractor to work on a house off College Avenue at Fulton Road. The painters could not get to the site because part of West College Avenue was closed to vehicle traffic.

The event seemed to be unaffected by Leipheimer's admission last year that he took performance-enhancing drugs during his pro cycling career. When introduced at the event, he was cheered by cyclists and festival-goers.

Leipheimer, who rode in the front of the pack with a number of professional cyclists, kicked off the race.

He said the race tries to be "good neighbors," and donates to local charities to thank Sonoma County for allowing 7,500 riders to "cut across their landscapes."

"Every year we give money to multiple schools, fire departments. ... It ties the whole community together," he said.

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