Cycling club spins into first anniversary

Sierra Foothills riders focused on Amgen, road safety as membership grows
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
-A +A
For the half-dozen enthusiasts who started a cycling group in Auburn last year, it’s been a great ride. As the Sierra Foothills Cycling Club celebrates its first anniversary on Feb. 4, the membership numbers nearly 270. “We knew there was an interest and a need, but the rapid growth really surprised us,” club President Larry Matz said. “I think we can attribute that to not only general interest in cycling in Auburn, but tremendous community support. The Amgen event coming through last year and starting in Auburn this year generated even additional interest in cycling. We have some of the nicest roads and areas to ride. So all of that came together.” Along with Matz, the initial group included Vice President Joe Hernandez, Secretary Ted Moore, Treasurer Bill Beadle, web master Larry Merlo and membership coordinator Ann Downey. There are monthly meetings, an informative website and lots of opportunities to ride for every level of expertise. “One of the things we did not want to do is make this a competitive club,” Matz said. “It is a recreational club. There are very strong riders and there are beginners. We make sure everyone is able to successfully complete the rides. We don’t race.” The membership stretches from approximately Colfax down to nearly Granite Bay, with the rides taking in that region. The club is also an educational resource. Meeting discussions cover traffic safety, nutrition, fitness and other useful topics, Moore said. The Amgen tour is a major focus. Last year members organized an impromptu ride just prior to the pass-through of the stage in Auburn. “That included then-Mayor Bridget Powers and a number of other (officials), plus television personalities who rode with us from Nevada City to Auburn,” Moore said. “We got some nice (video) footage. The footage put together for Amgen included some of the club footage. That showed a real spirit of wanting Amgen to come to Auburn. I saw both videos that were done and we’re on them so it is great.” This year, the club is planning a similar outing. “(It will be) an organized ride that will go down part of the racecourse and then come back to Auburn,” Matz said. “It is starting and ending at Recreation Park. We’re working with (Auburn Recreation District) on that. We’ll have a full-metric century (100K) and a half-metric (50K) so people who want to do a shorter event will have that opportunity.” Back at the park, there will likely be a tricycle ride for children on the newly paved pathway around the park and maybe a 3-mile ride around town for others, he added. “The important thing is to promote cycling and the Amgen and bring people into town for the race,” he said. The club has a special website dedicated to the event, goldcountrycentury. com. Club members are also coordinating closely with the Auburn Chamber of Commerce on planning for Amgen. Three club members — Century Ride Director Betty Bennett, Matz and Hernandez — are on the chamber subcommittee that is raising the funds that Amgen requires to put on Stage 3, Moore said. At the same time, Matz is looking to expand activities for the club, such as multi-day rides. “Maybe camp and ride for three or four days,” he said. “There are lots of options. There’s an interest in that.” Matz and Moore are also quick to acknowledge the support of Auburn’s three cycling shops. “They offered discounts to our potential members and offered to sponsor our club,” Moore said. Moore returns that support. He bought his Felt bike at Victory Velo, a Trek from Bicycle Emporium and his Cannondale mountain bike from Auburn Bike Works, he said. Lisa Kodl, owner of Auburn Bike Works, said she’s seen a lot of interest in the club. “I do a lot with the club and we sit on the committee together,” she said. “I think it is a tremendous asset.” Both Matz and Moore put down a lot of bike tire tread. Matz estimates he rides about 5,000 to 6,000 miles a year. Moore clocks 60 to 70 miles a week. But they emphasized that you don’t have to cycle that kind of mileage to be part of the club. “Other members ride 150 to 200 miles a week, while others maybe as little as 10 miles,” Moore said. For Matz, the cycling club is a great social activity as well as a way to maintain physical fitness. “It’s a great group of people, a lot of friendly people,” he said. “It’s also safer to ride in groups. You’re more noticeable by the people. Motorists are more likely to see the group. There’s always the opportunity to help each other if there’s a flat tire or (other problems.)” Moore enjoys sharing a sport he loves with others. “I was always riding quite a bit, but it is nice to see all of us wearing the club jerseys and riding together,” he said. “We share information about safety and we have interesting speakers come to our meetings.” The club is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a dinner Feb. 4 at the Masonic Hall in Auburn. Tickets are $17 and anyone interest in cycling is welcome. Reach Gloria Young at ------------ Sierra Foothills Cycling Club What: One-year anniversary party When: 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4 Where: Masonic Hall, 956 ½ Lincoln Way, Downtown Cost: $17 per person Info: RSVP to Betty Bennett at rsvp@ by Feb. 1 On the web: