Never mind what anybody else says, Elias Perez said to his son, Carlos. Do what you want to do. Do what makes you happy. If you don't want to fit in a box, don't. If you don't want to be a good little solider and follow marching orders, don't. Be yourself, not someone's idea of you. Growing up in Calistoga, home schooled, Perez heard those words of independence so much, it seemed like background music.

"As a kid you think you aren't listening," Perez said, "but you are."

Seven years ago, at the age of 26, Perez put those words to action. A software engineer for a large company, Perez saw his future. There would be a lot of money in it; in fact, there already was. Certainly there was job security; name an aspect of human existence that doesn't have computers influencing if not controlling it.

"But I didn't feel I was accomplishing anything meaningful," Perez said. "It freaked me out."

Tuesday morning, seven years later, Perez sat in front of his computer screen. There, right there, was the evidence Carlos Perez had found something intensely personal, meaningful and, clearly, rewarding. It was registration for Levi Leipheimer's 2012 King's Ridge GranFondo.

One minute into the registration, 400 people had entered the website to sign up. In eight minutes, 1,000 people were on the site. Within 10 minutes a rider e-mailed: "There's talk in the office about a co-workers' water breaking. Who cares? I have to register for Levi's GranFondo. This is important!"

Within 20 minutes 1,570 riders completed registration for the Gran route, 275 for the Medio route and 60 for the Piccolo. By 10 a.m., just one hour after registration opened, 30.6 percent (2,293) of 7,500 slots for the Sept.29 event were filled. At 11 a.m. a chart showed the origin of entries: Ireland, Italy, Barbados, Brazil, Cyprus, Taiwan, Japan, Austria, Guam, Britain, Canada and, of course, the United States. By 5 p.m. Tuesday, 3,750 completed entries were received.

And this time, for the first time in the four years of the Fondo, the server on registration day didn't crash. For the first time in four years no one was texting, "QUICK, CARLOS NEEDS ADVIL PRONTO!" His Fondo website held its own. At one point 1,100 people were on it to register. The dark days of hair-pulling and fingernail-yanking were over. Spending well over 200 hours writing new software programs and reconfiguring the website since the 2011 meltdown, Perez has sensationally beaten back the doubts that registration for such a big event could ever be conducted smoothly.

Yes, the Fondo was most certainly Leipheimer's idea, but it was Perez who provided the sweat equity, with much help from what might be described as The Carlos Cabal, among them Cheryl Wallace, Jennifer Picard, Kim Dow and Greg Fisher. Perez quit corporate America to make a difference and this certainly would qualify: $250,000 was donated to charity from the 2011 Fondo.

"When you do something you're passionate about," Perez said, "it resonates. So even when you screw up like we did, people will stick with you because they know why you are there. But if you are in it for the money, people aren't nearly as forgiving."

Seven years ago, long before the Fondo, Perez founded Bike Monkey. How he came to call it Bike Monkey? No clue. The idea just popped in his head. And his business plan was an unconventional as his company's title. Perez didn't structure every decision with a profit-margin as the driving force. No, in fact, his notion of running a business was counterintuitive to prevailing theory.

"I wanted to accomplish something for the community," he said.

Seven years ago the North Bay cycling community was like so many of its type across the country. It was an area with dedicated riders. It was an area with a long cycling history. And it was an area with an enthusiastic but diffused center; clubs existed, events existed, the love existed. But along came the harmonic convergence: The Amgen Tour of California, Levi's GranFondo and Bike Monkey. All intersected to become a single, organic form of influence, to where one breathes, they all breathe.

"The community needed some glue," Perez said. "It was natural that it happened."

Sure, maybe, another Bike Monkey might have come along. Levi and Amgen are powerful presences after all. But it was Nona and Elias' kid who connected the dots. The result is nothing short of a standing ovation. Perez is at the center of the Leipheimer movie to be released later this year. He has a magazine, works with the city of Santa Rosa, is responsible for the registration of the Stephen Cozza fun ride and the Boggs Mountain ride. After four years Perez has developed event registration software that should be considered a prototype in the industry.

Perez has taken his father's repeated advice and his zest for the technology — he wrote his first program when he was 5 on a Texas Instruments computer his father gave him — and developed a brand endemic to the sport.

To understand cycling in this area, to determine the fitness necessary to accomplish varied routes, to negotiate the labyrinth of bike shops and rides, Bike Monkey is a good place to start. A clearinghouse, you might say.

"Worked like a charm," e-mailed one registered Gran rider Tuesday. "Good monkey."

Yes, Carlos, good monkey. Nice monkey. Hard-working monkey. Have a banana. In fact, have two. Then again, don't listen to me. Do what makes you happy. That's what your dad would say.

For more North Bay sports go to Bob Padecky's blog at padecky.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.