Here, We Ride

Trail buff or road warrior, Santa Rosa is the coolest town on two wheels.

So clip in, tighten your helmet, go full screen, press play and prepare to soar through an often bird’s eye view sampling of Santa Rosa’s most dramatic bike rides.


The fabulous Dirt Crits

Late on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in the heart of Santa Rosa, there are bicyclists of all shapes and sizes lining up to test their mettle for a few hot laps of good old-fashioned bike racing in Howarth Park.

The Dirt Crits, Santa Rosa’s longest running mountain bike race series, are in full swing. This is the eleventh race of the year, the penultimate battle before summer starts its gradual fade into fall. The smell of sizzling hot dogs permeates the air. The vibe is cheerful, laid-back and convivial as the kids line up to race, their faces lit up with excitement. Astride all types of mountain bikes, from steel hand-me-downs to carbon fiber racing machines, they listen intently as Chris Wells (current Dirt Crits organizer, Bike Peddler manager, and nicest guy in the world) announces the rules and prepares the young racers for takeoff. The crowd of parents, fellow racers, and onlookers cheer as the Juniors charge off the line in a cloud of golden dust.

The Dirt Crits began at a time when mountain bike racing was at a lull in the United States. Road biking was king, but even so, pre-Tour, pre-Fondo Santa Rosa was a ghost town when it came to cycling events. The mountain biking boom of the 80s and 90s had quieted down, and long-running races such as the Rockhopper were gone. Duncan Arnot Meyers moved back to Sonoma County in 1999 and decided to start an event similar to the ones he had been racing in Durango.

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“The City was very cool about helping me do everything to get it going. I pulled it off solo the first year, then Pedro Rusk and Chuck Scarpelli started helping me the next year. They ran it together for a few years before the Bike Peddler took over.”

Chris Wells started racing the Dirt Crits in 2002 after moving to Santa Rosa from Chicago. “I’d get off of work, race over there, and catch the A race. I’d get lapped by everybody, so I wanted to race in the B’s. So the next year, I talked the Bike Peddler into sending me there to support. I helped Pedro and Chuck out for a couple of years and then I took it over. Carlos Perez started showing up to the races, and then he began Bike Monkey after that. He wanted to try out some timing stuff at the Crits.” As it turned out, Carlos’ “timing stuff” became the foundation of Bike Monkey as the local race-production powerhouse responsible for well-known bike events such as Levi’s Gran Fondo, Boggs Enduro, and the Annadel XC.

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That homebrewed, DIY approach to racing is a key element in mountain bike culture, an element which Wells is glad to share with riders of all levels and abilities. As he puts it, “The Dirt Crits are a way of introducing people to this culture, this community. It’s a race, but there’s not a focus on getting first, second, or third place. It’s not just an introduction to mountain bike racing, but an introduction to mountain biking in general. What’s cool about this course is a six-year-old can do two or three laps on it, but it can also be interesting for pro-level racers. It’s just ten bucks, you’re not going to lose anything, and you discover that racing’s not that scary. It’s about showing up and giving it a shot.”

If you’d like to give it a shot, Dirt Crits ride every Wednesday through August, at Howarth Park, with bye weeks June 7th and July 12th. For details and more information, visit Bike Monkey or the Bike Peddler (605 College Avenue).


Return of The Iron Men (and women)

You don’t need abs of steel to enjoy IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Rosa, the physically grueling but scenically beautiful professional triathlon coming to town on May 13th.

This year’s IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Rosa picks up where the Vineman event left off last year, with a course that starts in the cool, clean waters of Lake Sonoma and winds its way through blooming vineyards, under towering redwoods, along windy back roads, through quaint wine country towns and into Downtown Santa Rosa’s newly renovated Courthouse Square.

The split transition race begins at Lake Sonoma with a 1.2-mile swim. Athletes will then transition to their bikes, setting out on the 56-mile course. The City of Santa Rosa hosts transition two, where athletes will begin a tree lined half-marathon along the Santa Rosa Creek trail. The finish line is at the new Courthouse Square. So, if you haven’t seen the new park, come down and see some seriously tuckered out triathletes break the tape.

If you’re up for the challenge of competing, you can register here.

But if, like us, you’d rather sip a cool beverage and be a spectator, you can watch the swimming leg along the shores of Lake Sonoma. To see some serious power cycling, find a spot along the bike course as it passes through famous grape growing regions, including the Russian River Valley Region, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley. As for the run, it’s a two-loop course, and each loop will return near the Courthouse Square for ideal spectator viewing with the Finish on the north side of the Courthouse Square.

Volunteer opportunities, course maps, road closures for the day and more can be found here, on the City of Santa Rosa website.

You can also track your favorite athlete online on race day. Just visit ironman.com and click on ‘Live Coverage’ at the top of the page and select the correct race. Select ‘Athlete Tracker’ and you can search by bib number or last name.

Here’s the promotional video if you like your information with dramatic music and breathy announcers.


Trail House Rocks

Bikes and beer are a big part of what makes Santa Rosa Santa Rosa. And now they come together in the perfect blend of cycles and suds at the new Trail House.

Every so often, something comes around that grabs your attention on multiple levels, thereby compounding it’s desirability. This can be as simple as discovering wine-flavored ice cream, where two previously unaffiliated trains of interest collide with spectacular results.

Long story short, Trail House, Santa Rosa, had that effect on me. It started to dawn after seeing their early stage social media, often depicting keg pickups at some of my favorite local breweries.

But these are the NorCal Bike Sport guys? What are they doing building a lethally awesome draft arsenal?

A hopeful thought crossed my mind: could it be they were in the midst of opening a business that happily married two of mankind’s greatest assets? This isn’t reckless hyperbole either – if you stop reading and Google ‘bikes and beer’, your computer will strain under the heaping content devoted to this much praised duo.

As it turned out, they were in fact crafting a legendary temple for all those who appreciate good eats, brews, and the outdoors. Being that I hold coffee, bikes, and beer closer than some human beings, my excitement was brimming.

Who is to blame for all these good decisions? Enter NorCal Bike Sport/The Bike Peddler’s Glenn Fant and Shane Bresnyan.

If you’ve bought, serviced, raced, or even just ridden a bicycle in Santa Rosa over the last ten years, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of these guys or benefitted from their expertise. Together they have devoted a majority of their adult lives to enriching those around them through two wheeled machines, and with this newest venture, are upping the ante.

Inspiration came from years of riding the world famous trails and roads around Santa Rosa and always yearning for the perfect spot to decompress and connect with like-minded individuals. You really can’t blame them – can you imagine a ski resort without a lodge?

Although Glenn and Shane had seen a few business models in the ballpark, nothing was close to their ideal vision, and the dream remained elusively intangible, hovering just above an already busy schedule of running two of Santa Rosa’s most respected bike shops.

A big hurdle was nailing down the right location, which they insisted must be close to the highly regarded trails of Annadel.  After five years of fruitless searching, the current Montgomery Drive location became available and they pounced, business plans in hand. What followed was a tireless back and forth with county officials and other necessary entities, all with the goal of bringing their ideas together and making the concept a reality.

A winning combination soon took shape. Trail House now stands as a coffee spot, bike shop, clubhouse, and craft beer tasting room all rolled into one; best part of all – it looks great. It takes only a couple of steps inside sister store NorCal Bike Sport to realize these guys pay considerable attention to interior design, and with TH, they’ve dialed it in like a well-tuned racing bike.

On top of their own touches, Glenn and Shane collaborated with Brett Harrison and Specialized Bikes, whose detail-oriented style fit snugly with their vision. Considering the space hadn’t received much love since the mid-80s when it was a Press Democrat newspaper dispatch center, this was no easy task. To facilitate the significant building transformation and often thick red tape, local standout Kirby Construction was enlisted and together they produced a seamless flow between front seating area, bar/kitchen, and bike shop.

Although Trail House carries a smaller inventory than NorCal and The Bike Peddler, mechanic work is unlimited and of equal quality to any other bike store. On top of repair and supplies, they also offer demo bikes from brands like Specialized, Santa Cruz, Kona, and Ibis.

Don’t ride? No problem. You don’t have to love bikes to love Trail House. Its relaxed atmosphere is a great place to read, work, and catch up with friends. Hunger is easily thwarted by an attractive menu of sandwiches, pizza, burritos, and various breakfast items.

Moreover, because the menu was designed by cyclists, coffee and beer offerings are taken extremely seriously. The ever-rotating draft list brims with quality, local brews, and Plinys with your friends taste that much better when you don’t have to fight your way to the bartender, Black Friday style.

The last word goes to Shane, who took the time to share some insight on his lifelong passion:

“Cycling is an amazing outlet. It can be used to clear your head, and bring you back to Earth after a long day or week. Races can elevate you to the highest highs, or the lowest lows. Rides bring people together that normally wouldn’t ever interact. Rides also allow you to connect with places you live or visit on a level that brings a higher of appreciation of these places. This is our community. People from all walks of life, coming together because of the bicycle and cycling. Seeing all of these folks come together at the Trail House is flattering. Trail House is also drawing people who don’t cycle, but now that they are here might become a little more interested. We are planting that cycling seed and watching it grow.”

Check ‘em out!

TrailHouseSantaRosa.com
4036 Montgomery Drive
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
707-843-4943
Sun – Thu:  7am – 10pm
Fri – Sat:  7am – 11pm