Locals gear up for Amgen

By: Sara Seyydin, Journal staff writer
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Leslie Maita-Galyardt rode 22 miles the first weekend she took her new road bike for a spin. Maita-Galyardt, of Auburn, is new to cycling, but that didn’t stop her from hitting some challenging trails. She is one of the many local faces who have been inspired by the world-class cyclists in the Amgen Tour of California. With the buzz about Auburn becoming a host city Maita-Galyardt decided it was the perfect time to renew her interest in cycling. “My husband has always ridden and I have a friend who started and said it was really fun,” Maita-Galyardt said. “And of course Amgen takes over our town and it’s really fun. We were out there last year cheering them on.” Maita-Galyardt got her light-as-air Felt bike and gear at Victory Velo in Auburn. Victory Velo bicycle mechanic, Aron Yevuta of Auburn, said he has noticed an increase of business related to the boom in cycling interest in the U.S., along with the community’s anticipation of Amgen. “It has impacted our business in a pretty decisive way. We have Amgen-specific gear and are seeing people come in just for that,” Yevuta said. “The two are kind of going hand in hand. We are also just experiencing a ton of growth in the U.S.” Mayor Bill Kirby also purchased a bike at Victory Velo recently. He said he is hoping to do some of the fun rides leading up to Amgen. “I have always had a bike, but never really biked seriously. I had back surgery eight months ago and the doctor said it was good for my back and knees,” Kirby said. His participation in the rides will ultimately depend on his back. In the mean time he has ridden his Specialized Rubaix Comp road bike around at the airport and recommends people try trails along Lake Natoma or the American River. “I’ve heard a lot of people say they are interested,” Kirby said. “I ended up getting my bike at Victory Velo, but I recommend everybody shop around at Auburn Bike Works, Bike Emporium and Victory Velo.” Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris started taking spin classes at Pacific Fitness in Auburn to gear up for what she called “the biggest cycling event in the nation.” “It’s partially because of Amgen and the enthusiasm,” Harris said. “I have a bike. I just don’t get it out very often. I have used this as a motivator.” Harris is also interested in joining the Sierra Foothills Cycling Club, which celebrated its first anniversary in February. Without Amgen, Harris said she wouldn’t have met her spin instructor Betty Bennett or gained insight into the cycling club. She also noticed the unifying affect it has had on Auburn as a whole. “I think it has had a positive, cohesive type of effect on the community, not that the community didn’t function that way before,” Harris said. “People have gained an understanding of how the committee people are working to make sure Auburn stays a strong community.” Maita-Galyardt, Kirby and Yevuta all agree that padded pants are essential for any rider going on extended rides. Yevuta underscored the importance of wearing a helmet, no matter how experienced a cyclist may be. Placer County put out a bike map that is available at most local bike shops for free. The Sierra Foothills Cycling Club also lists options on their website. For those who want to be fully prepared, Victory Velo offers classes on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month to help people learn how to change flats and make small adjustments to their bikes. Auburn will host the Stage 3 start of Amgen Tuesday, May 17. Several kickoff events and rides have been scheduled for the weeks leading up to it. Saturday, May 14 the Gold Country Century Ride and Family Festival will be held at the Auburn Recreation District Park. A three-mile family fun ride and local celebrity trike race are among the festivities slated for the day. For more information on the Amgen Tour of California, visit For more information on the Stage 3 start in Auburn and events leading up to it, visit Reach Sara Seyydin at ______________________________________________________ Upcoming Bike Auburn Events Saturday, April 2- Bike Auburn Fundraising Dinner at Gold Country Fairgrounds Sunday, May 1- Sutter Auburn Foundation Criterium in Downtown Auburn Saturday, May 7- Bike Fest 10 a.m.-noon at EV Cain Middle School Saturday, May 14- Stage 3 Gold Country Century Ride & Family Festival at Auburn Recreation District Park Sunday, May 15, 12-5 p.m.- Vino Vello Benefit Gala, Winchester Country Club Tuesday, May 17- Amgen Tour of California Stage 3 start, Downtown Auburn For more information, visit or