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).


Out of Order 2 - Mural Exhibit

May 20th, 2017 5-11pm – 575 Ross St. Downtown Santa Rosa

Four years ago the former Santa Rosa Printing warehouse became an art gallery for one night only. This free exhibition with work by more than 40 artists hailing from Sonoma County to the United Kingdom was brought to life by Santa Rosa arts advocate, photographer and curator Roman D'Argenzio. All the artist donated their time, paint and creativity to the project.

With a habit of bringing pop-up art events since 2008, D’Agenzio had a three year run with a monthly art show and dance party on Third Street called Kaleidoscope. D'Argenzio now runs The Corner Store Collective a contemporary art gallery in Downtown Santa Rosa that has been presenting solo shows at their gallery from 2013 to present.

This Saturday D’Argenzio is at it again with Out Of Order 2 . After 5 months of planning and preparation a 4,000 sq foot warehouse will experience a mural exhibit takeover with “more artists, more color, new murals and more walls”. Over 45 artists from all over the Bay Area have created an art show of gigantic proportions. Look for aerosol art, fine art, wheat paste, mixed multi-media sculpture and interactive installations. This free event is open to all ages with donations greatly accepted at the entrance.

Featuring artwork by:

Aebol, Aiden Kringen, Ash Rose, Bely, Berds, Berg, Broke, Bud Snow, C4, Cels, Celowe, Csaw, Erlina, Othman, Fils, Fugeezee, Gary Paintin, Gats, Ghost Owl, Hepos, Hero, Ian Harper, Impres, Isly, Jpee, Jake, Lizzy & Rory, Lois Goff, Luke, Match, Matthew Barnes, Morgan, Mike, Naan, Nail, Quake, Ras Terms, Repo, Reside, Roar, Ricky Watts, Sadis, Saif  Azzuz, Scratch n Sniff, Sean Nicholls, Spoze, Steve Wilkos, Upfuk, Ucme, Vader66, YumYum, Zeam, and One38.

D’Argenzio has this to say about the show, “I am very excited about the cohesiveness of the overall interior and exterior. I think the outside wall (by California’s “The Lords Crew”) is something cool and vibrant that Santa Rosa desperately needed. Its great to see the actual artists of the arts community come and dedicate their time and energy on something truly for the communities viewing pleasure...one of the beautiful things to me about these particular forms of art is that unlike most art the artists choose to remain anonymous. This helps the viewer focus solely on the art itself and nothing else.”


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.


Restaurant Week Review: Yeti

I wasted no time whatsoever diving mouth-first into this year’s Sonoma County Restaurant Week, and promptly at lunchtime on Monday afternoon found myself at Yeti Indian and Nepalese Restaurant, in Santa Rosa.

I’ve been wanting to try this place for while, but their location is a bit odd, albeit incredibly convenient in the grand scheme of things. At the intersection of Farmer’s Lane and Highway 12, this bright yellow building exudes a welcoming cheeriness, while inside the space is invitingly dark, with dark wood, rich red and gold upholstery, and a friendly, professional staff.

I ordered the Yeti Special Lunch Set, which allowed me to sample several different items in smaller portions. First came a perfect little salad, which looked as though it had been prepared by salad fairies, each with their own special job: this one adds the slice of avocado; this one adds the fancy-cut cucumber, and so on. All of it was topped with a delicious homemade mustard dressing, made with mustard (obviously), vinegar, garlic, honey and mint, which gave this simple salad a satisfying nudge into the ‘beyond ordinary’ category.

Next came the Mulligatawny style Dal Pot soup. This small bowl of pureed lentil, cream and spiced vegetables was packed full of flavor with just the right amount of kick to make me perk up and take notice, without hurting my taste buds.

As for the Lunch Set itself – because the soup and salad were an added bonus yaaaaaay! – everything was beautifully presented, and delicious. The lightly-buttered naan was soft, warm, and therefore the perfect scooping vessel for the smaller dishes. Yes, I used a fork as well…sometimes. The Dal Bukhara (lentils) were simple and paired nicely with the perfectly cooked rice; the vegetables curry dish managed to pack an impressive variety of vegetables into such a small dish, and my favorite Indian dish, Saag Paneer (creamy spinach curry with homemade farmer’s cheese) disappeared faster than I’d care to admit here.

But let’s talk for just a moment about the chicken. Anyone who has ever tried to feed me knows that I shy away from meat involving bones or being eaten with my hands. I’m just a low-maintenance food eating kind of gal. But for the sake of a full review for you, dear readers, I picked up a leg of Tandoori Chicken, bit in, and am forever a changed woman. Bursting with flavor and fall-off-the-bone tender, this was by far the best chicken I have ever tried. In short order I’d abandoned the proper use of utensils and was tearing away at this delicacy like it was caveman times again. I’d do it again, too.

After this herculean amount of eating, I didn’t think I had space for the surprise dessert which had also come as a bonus to the meal, but again: full review – you’re welcome. I was delighted after the first bite to discover that it was a very delicate dish of fresh apples in a light yogurt; a perfect, light way to end the meal.

I was so thrilled for the chance to try Yeti Restaurant, and cannot wait to return. Considering they are open 7 days a week from 11:30am – 3pm for lunch and 5pm – 9:30 for dinner, this should be easy. A few other notes to keep in mind are their buffet, offered on Saturdays and Sundays, and their daily Happy Hour from 4 – 6, offering $4 and $5 drinks, and appetizers ranging from $5 – $7.

And of course, open all week for Sonoma County Restaurant Week, offering $15 lunch specials, and $29 dinner specials!

Yeti Restaurant
190 Farmers Lane (near the Flamingo Hotel)
Santa Rosa, CA 95405