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Cyclists ride for one of their own

  • Cyclists during a memorial ride travel south on Petaluma Hill Rd near the spot where the late Steve Norwick was fatally injured during a hit-and-run. (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

Some in the large, helmeted crowd still were processing the death of their friend.

Others didn't know Steve Norwick, but wanted to show respect for the man and share his love of bike riding.

About 200 cyclists turned out Sunday morning in memory of Norwick, 68, a newly retired Sonoma State University professor who died this summer after being hit by a car while on his weekly Friday morning bike ride.

"It's a real honor to see how many people have been thinking about my husband and what happened to him," said Marthe Norwick, standing in the crowd with her bike helmet on, ready to ride.

On June 8, Norwick was riding with a friend along Petaluma Hill Road, headed for breakfast in Penngrove.

A pickup truck struck Norwick and knocked him from his bike. He died 12 days later.

Driver Robert Cowart, 68, who didn't stop, was later arrested. He's been charged with felony hit-and-run and manslaughter.

Sunday's ride marked one month since the collision.

Arriving in packs and in singles, the riders met up in the courtyard of the Spreckels Performing Arts Center on Snyder Lane in Rohnert Park.

Many in the crowd knew Norwick. They included former students, colleagues and family friends. But there also were people in the crowd who had never met him.

Doug Sanders of Petaluma didn't know the professor but had wanted to honor him.

"I'm an avid cyclist," said Sanders. "I'm paying my respects."

At about 10 a.m., the crowd broke into four groups, which then fanned out for diverse rides incorporating aspects of Norwick's life.

Sunday's routes included a 14-mile silent ride, a 38-mile regional ride and a 12-mile ride into the hills east of SSU that Norwick regularly took geology students on to help them get a sense of terrain.

A large group of riders chose a 10-mile route incorporating Norwick's weekly Friday morning bike-to-breakfast path with a swing onto Sonoma State University grounds to pass Norwick's old office.

"We'll go to the places that were important to Steve," ride leader Vin Hoagland told a group of more than 50 who were joining him.

Hoagland, also a retired SSU professor, was a longtime friend of Norwick's and a regular on the Friday rides.

He told the group they also would stop for a few moments of silence at the Petaluma Hill Road site where Norwick was hit.

Marthe Norwick and daughter Rebecca Norwick were participating in that ride.

Lorie Silver of Sebastopol chose to participate in the 10-mile ride.

"I was a student of Steve's in the late '70s," said Silver. "I'd consulted with him throughout the years. He was a friend.

"I wanted to see the exact ride he did every Friday."

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com.

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