A cycling celebration
Published: Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 4:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 20, 2012 at 7:15 a.m.
Nearly everything associated with cycling, from brightly colored riding gear to vintage and new bikes to a mountain-bike race at a hastily built velodrome, could be found Sunday at the third annual Sonoma County Bike Expo.
“It is a celebration of everything that has to do with cycling,” said Gary Helfrich, executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition and organizer of the event. “People really don't know how intense the bike scene is here.”
The expo got rolling with an early morning 10-mile ride that drew 70 people, starting and ending at the Second Street parking lot at D Street, where 70 vendors filled the lot.
Andrian Tamblin of Santa Rosa rode there with his family.
“It has everything for the tourist who comes here to ride, to the elite pro athletes,” Tamblin said. “There looks like there are lots of good deals on bike gear.”
Jeremy Sycip of Santa Rosa and other bike builders had a full shop set up to build a steel frame for a raffle winner.
Calfee Designs of Monterey had bikes made with frames of bamboo, a cheap and plentiful material that they are teaching residents to use in Third World countries to construct inexpensive bikes for transportation.
Rick Marraffino rode from his Rohnert Park home to see what was new in the world of cycling.
“I always rode as a kid and I am trying to do more of it,” Marraffino said. “It is amazing how innovative bicycles get year to year.”
Some cyclists used the expo as a way to empty out their garages of old and unused parts.
“This is out of our garages and backyards, from the five of us, we ride bikes all the time,” said Loren Soltes of Santa Rosa, who was in a booth with tables of old parts. “We are into recycling and reuse. It is not about the money, it is about keeping the parts going.”
There were several vintage bikes displayed and for sale by Gary Meneghin of Walnut Creek.
Alongside a Schwinn Spitfire from the 1950s, of which Schwinn turned out 250,000 a year, was a rare 1936 Elgin Skylark, one of only 25 left, an art deco beauty with a speedometer, fender light, skirt guards and a leaf spring under the seat.
“A bicycle is a person's first ride, it represented freedom when you were 8 or 9,” Meneghin said. “People see these bikes and it brings back that feeling.”
On Second Street, Bike Monkey, an organizer of bike races and the Levi Leipheimer King Ridge GranFondo, built a 300-foot track with plywood banking of 55 degrees to stage match races for mountain bikes.
“It is just called a crazy contraption, we just came up with the idea and made it a reality,” said Carlos Perez, Bike Monkey founder.
Two riders at a time rode a four-lap race, rocketing into and out of the banked turns.
“You have to learn to look through the turn, you have to whip your bike through the turn,” said racer Tom Hammond of Santa Rosa, describing the unique style of riding.
For many, it was a family event on a pleasant day.
Larry Atil of Santa Rosa, who rides with the Red Peloton cycling team, arrived with his 4-year-old child in a bike trailer and 7-year-old on a small mountain bike.
“This is just for fun, we love bikes,” Atil said. “There are bikes, a chance to ride, perfect weather today. You can't ask for more.”
You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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