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 Cruzio.com. 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
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
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
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
10. What world-renown bike route
passes directly through Santa Cruz?
1. The Bicycle Center, now known as
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
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.
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
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.