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Still a best-seller

Notes: I wrote this piece in honor of the Tour of California bicycle race that rolled into Santa Cruz on February 16, 2009. It first appeared on my Tour of CA blog on I believe that Santa Cruz is so important to cycling that it's worth sharing this here (and maybe adding to it as I round up more material). You might find it interesting to learn that I knew of Santa Cruz's reputation as a bike town when I first got into cycling because it's where the author of Anybody's Bike Book, the number-one bike book in the early seventies, came from (oops, I just gave you the answer to one of my quiz questions below).

Doing my best Alex Trebek imitation, I thought it would be fun today to offer a little pop quiz of sorts to test everybody's local knowledge - cycling smarts, that is. Once you know the answers, I think you'll agree that our fair city deserves to be home to the Tour of California as long as they run the race! A #2 pencil is not required to take this quiz, and there are only ten questions. (Answers are below, but no peeking yet. Hint: all this stuff happened from the late 60's to the early 80's, so think back.)

1. What Santa Cruz bicycle shop was among the first in the country to import, sell and promote handbuilt road bikes from soon-to-be famous makers, like Hetchins, Bob Jackson and Harry Quinn, and in so doing helped launch a road riding/racing craze across the country?

2. What Santa Cruz cyclist and author wrote the best-selling bike repair manual of all time helping legions of new cyclists understand and care for their 10-speeds, and what's the title of his book?

3. Which Santa Cruzans were partly responsible for introducing the sport of cyclocross to America?

4. What Santa Cruz cyclist and former UCSC professor wrote the first book on bicycle wheelbuilding, making it possible for anyone to lace, true and tension wheels, formerly seen as nearly impossible for the average home mechanic?

5. What cyclist, and former Bicycle Trip staffer, was building and riding off-road bicycles under the name Red Bush well before anyone had seen a "mountain bike."

6. Which Santa Cruzans joined forces to design, test and produce the first successful mountain-bike suspension and what was the brand?

7. What Santa Cruz framebuilder, now a gourmet chef down south, was the key to Mike Sinyard and Specialized coming out with the first mass-produced mountain bike, the Stumpjumper?

8. What former Santa Cruz resident and cyclist made the area crazy for bike racing by going into race promotion, bringing great road races to our county, and still runs races throughout the state?

9. Which Santa Cruz engineers, cyclists and companies deserve major kudos for introducing and perfecting composite technology (carbon fiber), which is what virtually every Amgen Tour rider races on today. 

10. What world-renown bike route passes directly through Santa Cruz?

1. The Bicycle Center, now known as Sprockets, but formerly located across the street. Owners Roger and Marcia Sands filled their Mission Street store with beautiful handbuilt British ten-speeds and helped launch a road-riding velorution in NorCal.
2. The late Tom Cuthbertson and his classic book, still available, is Anybody's Bike Book. Tom also wrote helpful Mac computer manuals and was a wonderful storyteller.
3. Tom Cuthbertson and Dan Nall went to England in the early 70's to try out a "new sport," and were so excited about it, upon returning, they helped start the first cross racing series in Santa Cruz. They even brought back cross bikes to race on, and these helped local framebuilders copy the designs to make more. Later, Surf City racer Laurence Malone, a 5-time US Cross Champion, became the first American to crack the top-20 in the World Cyclocross Championships.
4. Robert Wright. His book was called Building Bicycle Wheels.
5. Ross Shafer who went on to found Salsa Cycles. His first off-roaders had 650B size wheels, later 26-inchers became the norm. Now, 650Bs are making a comeback.
6. Paul Turner and Keith Bontrager, their fork was called RockShox.
7. Tim Neenan of Lighthouse Cycles, a fine road racer and expert framebuilder. His frames had a lovely little lighthouse as the head badge.
8. Robert Liebold and his promotion company was/is VeloPromo.
9. Kestrel and Calfee Design, and their owners and engineers like Preston Sandusky and Craig Calfee who worked so hard to invent, refine, perfect and produce the incredibly light, strong and smooth-riding carbon dream machines we enjoy today - can you believe sub-14-pound race-ready bikes?!
10. The Pacific Coast Route (formerly called Bikecentennial Pacific Coast Route). It runs from Washington to Mexico and right through town. This is the route I finished my cross-country bike tour on, that led me to find and stay in Santa Cruz.


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