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Santa Rosa Vintage Bike Club pedals through yesteryear

  • The Santa Rosa vintage bike group rode from the Veteran's Building to Sebastopol for their monthly trip on Sunday, November, 4, 2012. The bikes range in age from 1937 to the late 1960's. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

The bicycles are five decades old or older, often rusty. Fat tires are the norm and they hail from the days of rugged steel frames with maybe a hint of Art Deco styling.

They are the ride of choice, though, for monthly cruises put on by members of the year-old Santa Rosa Vintage Bike Club.

"It's all about the bike," said Loren Soltes of Santa Rosa. "We are not trying to build pretty machines, we are custodians of these vehicles and trying to bring them back to life."

Vintage Bike Ride

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Soltes is one of the five founding members of the club, made up of guys who as collectors of old bikes kept running into each other at swap meets at the Veterans Building in Santa Rosa.

Over coffee, they decided that once a month they'd take their old bikes on an an easy-going cruise from the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa, usually on the Joe Rodota Trail to Sebastopol.

The bikes range from garden-variety Schwinns of the 1950s to the rare 1918 Pearce that Soltes owns and often rides. Many were found alongside backyard fences or in barns and in various states of disrepair.

The challenge is to get these old bikes back on the road.

"We take a step back. We make it a point to not be in a rush and enjoy the essence of what the old bike is. We go nice and slow," Soltes said.

They started with five riders and now have had 35, with participants coming from as far away as Stockton and Pleasanton.

The club has a Facebook page, but is otherwise informal. There are no dues, no bylaws, no officers and no membership cards.


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