Water the roots

September 13, 2013 § 5 Comments

Call it the low season, call it the beer season, call it the ‘cross season, call it the off season if you must, but it should also be the season, however briefly, to thank those who’ve spent so much time and energy watering the grass roots of cycling.

SPY Optic

Who pours more energy, more money, more enthusiasm, more style, and more quality product into all of the SoCal cycling disciplines than SPY Optic? No one. Whether they’re funding a new women’s squad, sponsoring ‘cross races, offering up high quality primes, or donating a cooler of beer, SPY has reminded us every single day this year that great things happen when we focus on happy.

Dorothy Wong

If any person defies the physical law that you can’t occupy two different spaces at the same time, it’s Dorothy. She’s a passionate cycling advocate. She’s a tireless race promoter. She’s a dog lover. She’s an advocate for gender equality in sports. And she puts on one hell of a ‘cross race. If thousands of people now look forward to the “on” season of cyclocross from September through February in SoCal, it’s thanks to Dorothy.

Rahsaan Bahati

He’s the only pro I know who thinks that ordinary people on bikes are just as important as the speed freaks. Rahsaan does the local rides, shares his encyclopedic knowledge with the youngsters and the crusty masters wannabes, and does it all with class, style, and impeccable fashion. In addition to his outreach to youth through the Bahati Foundation, Rahsaan has the magic touch of making people want to be better, and he’s touched so many lives it’s almost unbelievable.

Connie Paraskevin

I’ve written about her before, but this woman defines commitment and perseverance. She’s one of the few who sees bike racing as a touchstone for other, more important things in life, not as the end-all, be-all that many coaches hold up as the goal. Connie gives kids skills and experiences that make them better, stronger, healthier people, whether they continue cycling all their lives or turn to something else. She does it quietly, for the pleasure of the result.

PV Bike Chicks

They pick a target, then they hit it. Their target? Getting more women interested in cycling. PV Bike Chicks has grown to become a force on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and environs. They provide encouragement, support, training opportunities, education, and plain old good times to any woman who wants to get out and pedal. Plus, they make a mean carrot cake!

Jim Hannon

He’s a one-man whirlwind powered by his wife Debbie, who has the strength of a thousand Jims. Jim has taken the Beach Cities Cycling Club and ramped it up into an inclusive club that numbers over 500 riders in the South Bay. Jim’s efforts have led to more than 214 miles of dedicated bike routes in the South Bay, and he does it by building consensus, making friends, and never taking his foot off the gas. He shares his knowledge and resources with incredible generosity and makes the roads safer for every single cyclist out there.

Chris Lotts

Some call him stubborn. Some call him funny. Some call him irreverent. Everyone calls him crazy. Now in his 400th year of race promoting, Chris swings the bat a dozen times each year to provide quality, convenient, affordable racing to cyclists in SoCal. He does it with a flare all his own, and he makes no apologies. Quick to take offense, he’s just as quick to kiss and make up. Without Chris and his commitment to local bike racing, we’d have a shit-ton fewer opportunities to race our bikes, and even fewer funny stories.

Greg Seyranian

Big Orange used to just be a masters racing team. It’s now the most inclusive and the largest bike racing club in the South Bay, and it’s all thanks to Greg and his open door policy. No snobbery, no hierarchies, just a welcome and an opportunity to learn how to race your bike. Sure, that ugly little orange thing on his saddle is annoying, especially when it’s riding away from you. Sure, his endless lectures on “tactics” make your eyes roll back in your head like dials on a slot machine. But when you crash out, flat, or get a boo-boo on your butt, Greg’s the guy who will stop and take care of you. And feed you beer.

Robert Efthimos a/k/a Sausage a/k/a C.P.

There’s a reason more and more West Siders are riding in the South Bay now, and the reason is Sausage. He’s one of those people who make riding fun. With hilarious and skilled videos that capture the camaraderie and silliness of bicycling, Robert has a way of making people want some of what he’s got — and what he’s got is kindness, self-deprecation, and a good pair of legs.

Martin Howard and the Long Beach Freddies

Martin and his gang have put on their first full season of grass roots racing at Great Parks and Eldo, and it’s been a huge success. Neither cracked ribs, deflated lungs, or ambulance trips in the middle of 500-mile beatdowns have kept these guys from relentlessly promoting the message of fun and healthy competition on bikes. Hats off to you, after the tube gets taken out of your chest!

Cycling Illustrated

This phenomenal, homegrown cycling publication is the manifestation of extraordinary talent and hard work by guys like BJ Hale, Danny Munson, and the rest of the CI crew. The online and print versions keep us apprised of the news and keep us excited about what’s happening on the bike in SoCal. They do it on a shoestring, but it feels like a major masterpiece, and in between the brushstrokes they also hold down jobs, families, and (allegedly at least) real lives. We owe you.

The Anonymous Ones

They’re the individuals who donate to cycling foundations, who dig into their hip pocket to fund a bike racer, who contribute silently to the bicycling causes about which we all care. They do it without fanfare and in anonymity. Rather than leaving their name on a building, they prefer to leave their mark on a life. I know many of you, and admire you most of all.

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