It’s not very often that I get to meet my heroes. I have them. However, not many because I try to keep the barrier to entry high enough that I can discern between hero and badass. The two, while similar, are not the same.
What makes a hero, a hero? A hero(ine) is someone who does something in flagrant opposition to what everyone else says can or can’t be done. A la: “women can’t ride bikes.” So what does woman do? Rides a bike. But not just rides a bike, but rides a bike at the risk of becoming a social outcast.
Living in the bay area and being a cyclists is like living in the land of heroes. I think it is because the weather is so great, the scenery so beautiful, the cities so bikable and the trails so magnificent that it is only natural that so many people would choose to live here, cycling greats and neophytes alike.
Let me tell you something. I am a late to the dirt kind of gal. My sisters two took me on a mountain bike ride when I was fifteen. They were living in Chico, CA going to school and on the university mountain bike team. The word “Angelfire” meant nothing to me. I know, it’s heresy, but I shy not from what I once was. I’ve since learned, though never been. Not only did they so lovingly procure a bike, some clipless shoes and a chamois for me to use but they took me on one of the scariest and hardest rides of my life. (Full disclosure, I’ve never ridden Downieville either.) This was my baptism.
I left bikes alone for a while, save riding to school or messing around with some berms in the field next door. Nothing big. Then in college, times got real tough and my broken bank couldn’t afford to take the MUNI to school anymore. 2005, enter the bike. Flash forward to 2011 (?). I meet a very special lady, Heather Pugh at the old Pushbike shop on 22nd and Shotwell. She’s going to a cross race the next morning. I say, I’ve never been. She says, you should try it. I say, I don’t have a bike. She says, you can borrow mine. I ask, what size doe you ride. She says, 52. I ask, what kind of pedals do you have. She says, Time ATACs. Naturally. So we make a plan to meet early in the morning and ride to Golden Gate Park for my first ever, BASPCX race. It was awesome. Flash forward to Team JOrtz and the rest is herstory.
But all through that time, from to 2006 to 2011 and even a bit after 2000 when I would hang out with my sisters and they college mtb teammates I would catch snatches on a name on the wind, in the puddles and hanging from the pine branches of the Northern California mountains, “Jacquie” “Jacquieeeeee” “Jaaaaaaaaacquie.” I knew not the significance not the greatness this name meant to import. But I was curious. I read a wikipedia article and thought, “holy shit, this woman is the reason I can ride.” This woman is the reason I can ride without hassle and heckle. This woman is the reason I am allowed to race. She joined the races men didn’t expect her to join and beat them at their own game! Then tried to keep her out of the races cause she kept beating them so handily!
I got the chance to meet my hero. And then we went on a funny ride together in the name of booze. And now, I am proud to say, we are friends. Jacquie Phelan lives just north of the SF Bay Area in a lovely little mountain bike town, whose fame is based on trails, mom-and-pops, the ever elusive sunshiny warmth and sky-high home prices. She started a lovely little club called the WOMBATs (check it out ladies, it’s a real hoot!) and tours the country giving chats and teaching ladies how to shred with panache and confidence.
What’s that, dear reader? You say you’d like here this Pachamama talk? Maybe even meet her? Well lucky you! The local bike advocacy group having a little blab thang this 25th of July and gosh darnit, SHE’LL BE THERE! Boy are you in for a treat. Here are the deets:
Legends of Cycling
An evening with five world class bicyclists in Oakland
What does Bike East Bay have in common with Gary Fisher, Ryan Leech, Nelson Vails, Jacquie Phelan and “Fast Freddie” Rodriguez? All of us are working to make the world a place where people of all ages and abilities feel inspired to jump on a bike.
I am very excited to bring you Legends of Cycling, where you will be able to come and meet some of the world’s most celebrated cycling legends and hear from them directly about how they continue to inspire others to ride. I hope you will join me for this exciting first time addition to our Pedalfest weekend.
You will enjoy stories and career highlights from our legendary guests including the father of the modern mountain bike Gary Fisher; four-time U.S. National Road Race Champion Freddie Rodriguez; three-time National Off Road Bicycle Association Champion Jacquie Phelan; mountain biker and trials rider Ryan Leech; and Olympic Silver Medalist and U.S. Bicycle Hall of Famer Nelson Vails.
Check out the fun links below to videos from three of our legends’ careers. Take a look at one of them and tell me you don’t want to come to our party and meet these outstanding individuals! In addition to speaking of their careers and sharing battle stories with guests, our five VIPs will also talk about how they continue to engage and encourage more people to get started riding.
Tickets are available for $45, and you will enjoy food from Rosamunde Sausage Grill paired with beer from New Belgium Brewing Co. as you look out over Oakland’s waterfront above the Market Hall in Jack London Square.
I look forward to seeing you there! Be one of only 200 people to attend this special event. Don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook. I hope we will also see you at our 4th annual Pedalfest on Saturday, July 26.
Bike East Bay
I know the $45 price tag is a bit steep but if you can afford it, I highly recommend buying a seat. If you go, please take a picture of Gary Fisher’s outfit and post it in the comments section below! $10 says he wears a yellow and red plaid suit with a hot pink tie.
Yours in herstory,
PS, sorry for the font change, but isn’t it rather nice?!