This is a collection of our "WHY WE RIDE" front page pieces we've done over the past couple of months. Unfortunately it's not complete; I didn't start this until after I'd already done (and discarded) maybe 10-15 of them. --Mike--
contador in focus, andy fuzzyWHY WE RIDE #31



Today's adventure in France took us up the Col du Soulor/Aubisque, first stopping at the top of the Soulor for food & drink, and then moving on to a quieter area on the relatively-gradual climb up to the Aubisque, where there are a couple of tunnels famous for being inhabited by cows. Thankfully, no cows in the tunnels today, but neither are there lights, which is why, in the picture, you see Jakob Fuglsang and Andy Schleck without sunglasses. We took a lot of photos of cyclists exiting from this tunnel, and an interesting thing struck home. Most of the really gunning for something kept their glasses on. For example, in the breakway group ahead of these guys, all but one guy (Barredos) kept their glasses on. Including Lance. Barredos ended up losing a few seconds because of this and had to chase to get back on.

The other thing you'll notice is that the camera chose to focus on Alberto Contador. Smart camera. Unless Andy does something really spectacular (like Lance made us think could happen today), he could end up not even being in the top-3 when the race gets to Paris.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is an official Tour de France "rest" day. The riders recuperate from the savage hills they faced today and think about the even-worse nightmare that awaits them on Thursday- a hilltop finish atop the Tourmalet. Andy Schleck's last opportunity to retake the Yellow Jersey and put enough time into Contador, Sanchez and Menchov that he has a chance at not losing everything in the final time trial on Saturday.

Our game plan? The 'Tour rest day will feature a ride (nothing too nasty) and laundry. The weather forecast is for showers all day, and that might be enough to keep us off our bikes, we'll see. Thursday, we'll ride up the Tourmalet as far as we can to get a good spot for watching the carnage. Kevin would like to be at the actual top, but so would 500,000 other people! Friday we take a train to Bordeaux and may have time to quickly reassemble our bikes and see the stage finish, but the main point to being in Bordeaux will be for the final time trial the next day! Then we pack up our BikeFriday travel bikes for the last time and take the train into Paris Sunday morning and head out to see the finale.

Can you see the Tour de France without a bike? Yes, but as my son (Kevin) would say, it wouldn't be the same. You wouldn't feel the heat of the sun as it finds that spot your sunscreen didn't cover. You wouldn't get to calculate whether you've got enough food & water for the trip. You wouldn't get to hike a half-mile detour across a rocky field because the Gendarme said the road was closed and that answer was simply unacceptable. You wouldn't experience the agony of seeing those kilometer signs go by ever-more-slowly as the pitch gets steeper and you're 10 miles into a 16 mile climb. In short, according to Kevin, you wouldn't have earned it. --Mike, in Lourdes, France.



It wasn't quite what we expected, as we were heading back from the coast over Tunitas Creek and came up to a bunch of sawhorses across the road with "road closed" signs draped across them. This after climbing about six miles, with just one mile to go! So of course we go past the barrier and are soon greeted by a huge tree that had fallen across the road. Getting past wasn't easy; it took about 5 minutes, but that sure beat not getting past it.

The photo on the right shows us approaching the tree, from the west, while the photo on the left shows another cyclist exiting the other side. Like I said, this is one big tree!

Good thing the Tour of California wasn't coming through today (5/9/10). --Mike--



I've said it before, I'll say it again. Life goes by at exactly the right speed on a bike. This is just one more example, the view from Skyline Blvd (Highway 35), about a mile south of Sky Londa.

The cars have special scenic overlooks where they can pull over, turn off the engine, turn off (hopefully) the loud music, get out of their cars and enjoy the view, thankful that they can get in their car and drive to a place like this.

But on a bike, it's one continuous sweeping vista passing by at just the right speed. And it's not just the view that's spectacular, but also the experience of breathing air that hasn't been processed by a car's climate control system, and the sounds and feel of the gentle breezes through the grass and trees.

People travel many thousands of miles for spectacular views, roads with more bikes than cars, and the nearly-endless variety of routes that can be built using nearby roads. You just need to get out there and ride.




How easy it is to forget what a special area for cycling this is. People travel many thousands of miles for spectacular views, roads with more bikes than cars, and a near-endless variety of routes that can be built using nearby roads. This was the view on west-side Old LaHonda this past November 29th. At the far right you've got someone taking a photo of the faces carved into the hillside; on the left you have people who have stopped to admire the view of the coastal mountains and the Pacific Ocean beyond. All types of bikes too, including inexpensive hybrids & mountain bikes with kickstands. And my favorite thing in this picture? Shadows. Any day you can see your shadow is a great day to ride! What's keeping you from an experience like this?



Every ride is an adventure on a bike,   some more so than others. This photo is from a "more so than others" ride my son and I did during the Tour de France.

It started out like the typical everyday ride in France. A nice routine; wake up at a reasonable hour, check the map one more time to make sure the day's plan is going to work, and  ride to the nearest bakery for pastries & orange juice. Then head out from Albertville to Annecy, about 30 miles away, to watch the individual time trial and see if Lance has got a chance against Contador.

Afterward, we headed back to Albertville around the opposite side of the lake, catching up to a few pros who were returning to their team bus (how cool is that?). The weather began to turn nasty (hard rain but not too cold) but it doesn't matter, the adventure, the thousands of other cyclists, the different languages spoken (which, if you're a cyclist, is never an issue)... as they say, it's all good. Slightly downhill path for many miles, with a mild tailwind.

But you're not expecting to see lions & tigers & bears! In fact, you first ride right past them, replaying in your mind what you saw. Yes, right on the bike path, trailers filled with circus animals. I got maybe 200 meters down the road before putting on the brakes and telling Kevin we have to go back and check this out.

08/28/09- SO HOW DID YOUR DAY START? I'll admit to sometimes being a bit disenchanted with how many hours/week I have to work, and wonder if I'll ever have a 5-day workweek instead of 6+. It comes with the territory of owning a business. On the other hand, being able to ride on Tuesday & Thursday mornings, at a time when most would have to be at work, definitely helps offset that. How do you put a price on being able, twice a week, no matter what, to ride some of the most beautiful roads in the world? And that's what I've been able to do, for 30+ years now. Sure, it might not be good to figure out just how many thousands of times I've ridden that loop, and yet each time is different, each time there's something new to be seen.

Part is ritual; Tuesday & Thursday mornings I get up at precisely 7:05am, get dressed in my cycling clothes and then check the view from the kitchen window to see if I'll need leg warmers or a jacket. Make a bottle of Cytomax, unplug the Garmin computer from the USB port on my workstation, put a few dollar bills, Kaiser card, driver's license and credit card into a plastic baggie, and then a quick check of the computer for any emails telling me not to wait for a regular who can't make it (not that it would matter; at 7:45am on the dot we leave). At 7:30am I'm on my front porch getting on my shoes, gloves & helmet and inflating my tires, after a too-quick look to make sure there are no serious cuts & gashes, and at 7:35 I zero out my two bike computers (yes, two, I have both a Garmin and a Trek Incite 9i that has much bigger/easier to read numbers for speed) and head over Jefferson to the start. Within 30 seconds I have a good read from my legs, which either feel good or... not. And a couple minutes later I know if my heart is responding appropriately when I pour on the gas. That's probably the best indicator of how the ride is going to go. On a good day, my heart rate ramps up smoothly, almost on demand, as I push harder on the pedals. Everything in sync. On a not-so-good day, it's difficult to get the heart rate up, or when you do get it up, it doesn't want to come back down when you back off on the gas. That's the ritual.

But the ride up Kings, south on Skyline to 84, down the backside to west-side Old LaHonda, back up to Skyline and down 84 into Woodside... that's never ritual. Anywhere from 3 to 10 people show up for the ride, and how they feel affects the pacing and dynamics. And beyond that, even subtle changes in the weather (temperature, fog, breeze) all combine to make each ride unique. In fact, one of the ironies is that, the more times you do a ride, the more likely you will recognize the subtle things that make each ride different. Heading down 84 towards the coast, for example, you might have a 3mph tail wind if there's an offshore flow, or a 3mph headwind if it's a cooling breeze from the coast. 3mph. Not much. Could even be less than that, and yet it's plain as night & day to the veterans on our ride.

I've said before that the world goes by at just the right speed when you're on a bike. And every time I ride, whether I'm feeling great or not-so-hot, it's still the same. Each ride a unique experience, each ride something you can look back upon and say, well, at least I did something worthwhile today. Today, helping me with yet another unique and wonderful experience, were Billy, Kevin, Karl, Eric, Steve & Millo.

It's time to ride. Find a way to incorporate a few rides each week on a regular schedule, and make that ride a priority in your life. That reliable thing you look forward to, no matter what. It's always there for you, because you decided that's the way it's going to be. Don't overdo it. If you can reliably only get in one ride a week, then come up with a time for that one reliable ride. Don't pretend that you can ride four days a week and then end up missing a couple, and soon, most. Because soon you'll have no time at all for riding because so many things are able to bump it from your schedule. Like the Nike ad says, Just Do It. And then invite some others to join you. Extra motivation on those few days where you think about sleeping in, but then remember that there may be others out there depending on you to help make their day a little bit better too!

07/26/09- VENTOUX WAS UNREAL, as always. What's it like being way up high on a mountain that stands alone, a mountain where the trees give way to white rock that gives a false appearance of snow permanently capping it, a mountain that threatens to collapse under the weight of many hundreds of thousands of people, more than I've seen even on Alpe d'Huez?

It's got to be one of the most-unreal experiences imaginable. The sun burns, but it's cold at the same time. The ride up is one of relentless steep grade, but when you ride it, you have a choice for how hard, and if or when to stop. What the races go through boggles the mind.

We planted ourselves almost directly across from the Tom Simpson memorial, seen in the left side of this photo. On the right we have the two brothers, Andy & Frank, with Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong firmly attached to their rear wheels. This was the last chance to rearrange the top-3 positions, but nobody cracked. In a couple days I'll have a chance to get pictures up from the various days we were there, including the finale in Paris. For now, it's 1:19am, got another early morning tomorrow, time to try and get some sleep after a shower to get rid of that icky feeling you get from being around too many people smoking. Yes, in France, people still smoke.

Oh, I should point out this photo was taken by my son, Kevin, not me. My pictures were all about the riders, and didn't quite catch the essence of Ventoux itself. Many cool photos of agonized & contorted faces & interesting reflections in sunglasses, but no wide shots showing what the mountain is really like --Mike--


And today's ride had a lot of "joy" to it. It was time to expand Kevin's (that's Kevin in the picture) universe to include roads & hills not in his back yard, so we set off for Scott's Valley and did a 50 mile ride with about 5700 ft of climbing, including the infamous Alba Road out of Ben Lomond and Mountain Charlie, a fun, twisty one-lane road the heads up to Skyline.

This was also the warmest day of the year, running 91 to 97 degrees (in the shade) for most of the ride. I'm sure many were sitting at home wishing they had air conditioning, but we were surprisingly comfortable riding. Yes, we drank a lot, and on the drive over 17 to Scotts Valley, we even hid a cooler, filled with ice & water bottles & Mountain Dew, at the top of the Mtn Charlie climb.

As we were enjoying our secret stash a couple other cyclists rode by who were very appreciative of our offer of ice cold water and Mountain Dew (we'd stashed more than we needed for just ourselves).

Next time you're planning a challenging ride, you might consider a strategically-located secret stash yourself. And definitely include more than you need, so you have something to share with other cyclists that might come by. --Mike--

If you're a Chain Reaction customer (or live close enough to be one), you know that this is one of the best places on the planet for cycling. We've got great mountain biking, road biking and family fun all around us... in many cases, you can leave from your front door! Check out our past WHY WE RIDE pieces for inspiration. Then go ride!
Chain Reaction can supply you with the right bike, properly fit, and back it up with exceptional service. And Cycle California magazine has a great page with links to the various clubs & rides in the area. 

Sign up for our email list to get advanced notice on our sales. We've just added a new e-list, just for super-duper specials... sometimes new components exchanged on bikes, sometimes special purchases. We've also put up a page detailing the various elist groups we offer.

02/24/09- WHY WE RIDE #37- DON'T MISS A DAY!
The weatherfolk can say what they want about how we need the rain and how we're in a drought, but truth is, sometimes you just get tired of gray & drizzle (or even real live rain). And that's what makes days like this so memorable.

You go to bed not knowing what you're going to find in the morning, but you're hopeful. The weather report says to expect a day without rain, the first in several, but followed by... more rain.

But that's yesterday and tomorrow. This morning, the sun is shining! The roads are still a bit damp, but the air is incredibly clear, and the suns rays shining through the the tress is the stuff of postcards.

It's a ride I do every Tuesday & Thursday morning, no matter what the weather, and I'm beginning to understand what it means when they say "Don't miss a day." If it's not the sounds of the noisy creeks after a heavy rain, or spotting a couple of coyotes, or beautiful views of the coast, then it's the friends you're riding with. There's nothing that beats getting out on your bike.


March 11-13th the League of American Bicyclists held its annual National Bike Summit in Washington DC. This is a very big deal; 550 cycling advocates and industry people (as a bike shop we're "industry") converging on Congress to make the US a more fun, more convenient and safer to ride bicycles. We promoted road projects that keep the needs of cyclists in mind, championed the rights of the cycling commuter, secured funds for recreational trails and supported programs that encourage kids to ride to school. Here's a link to the agenda.

How well we did will be told in the months ahead. The mood in DC was quite different from years past, and not just because a new administration is in power. In many of the offices we visited, they were already up-to-date on our mission and the specific bills which, to some extent, stole some of our thunder! But that's a lot better than pretending we don't exist, or don't have to be paid attention to. We're now a legit force in DC. The mission now is to follow up on the contacts we made and make sure that good talk and intentions actually amounts to something.

Regarding the question about whether we "conquered" or not, the visit with Feinstein's office brought us the nitty-gritty reality of the political world. Her aide explained that they could support one of our bills ("Clean-T", an effort to promote alternatives to fossil fuels for energy) if we could get the author of Clean-T to withdraw a bill on carbon caps & trades that they felt inferior to their own. That's how it works in a finely-tuned long-running powerful machine like Feinstein's. But please, don't let that get in the way of trying to make a difference with a phone call or email or letter to your representative in Congress. They do listen and you do make a difference. --Mike--

January 12, 2009, 9pm- The Redwood City council votes unanimously to create a "Level 2 Complete Streets Advisory Committee" after more than two years of informal collaboration with a bicycle/pedestrian group. This wouldn't have happened without the hard work and tenacity of a number of active volunteers who truly believe that bicycling isn't just the answer for many problems, but also a way to enhance livability. Spearheaded on the Council by Barbara Pierce, everyone saw the value in a concept that we've been pushing at the annual DC Bike Summit for the past four years- Complete Streets. Roads designed for all users, including the young & the old, rich & not-so-rich, commuters & shoppers & people getting into shape. Besides the many cyclists involved, we owe great thanks to our liaison with the City, Susan Wheeler, who was there to help us understand how to effectively work with the city and stay on track. More to come on this soon.  --Mike--

12/16/08- WHY WE RIDE #57
A couple days ago it was 35 and wet on Skyline. This morning? 34 degrees, snowing at times, ice & snow on the road. Just another routine Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride!

The phone call came at 7:09am from Kevin, one of the regulars for the morning ride. "You're not really riding this morning, are you?"

Let me see... it is Tuesday, and I ride on Tuesday mornings. Pretty much no-matter-what. So yes, I told him, I'll be there. Even if he wasn't. Which, of course, he'd have to be, if I was going to be there.

So I pile on all the clothing needed to stay warm (plus four separate lights) and hit the road, a bit slower than normal, but feeling better than I expected. And when I get to the start of the ride, there's not only Kevin, but also Chris (who would have been all alone had I agreed with Kevin to skip the ride).

It started out in a light rain, but as we moved higher up Kings Mtn, the drops started doing that funny slow-motion dance on the way down. Still rain, but not rain acting normally. Something that only a cyclist, riding up the hill at a speed just right to notice such things, would know about. And then, at the wide clearing about 2/3rds of the way up the hill, it snowed. Significant, real snow. By the time we got to the top it had pretty much stopped, but there was plenty enough on the ground and in the trees to make for a real-life winter wonderland.

Driving up to Skyline in a car, you'd never notice the subtleties of the transition from rain to snow. You'd have your windows rolled up, heater cranked, and anxious to get to the top, where you'd search for some place with enough snow to satisfy your need to build a snowman. But on a bike, it's all about the journey. Your bike, your legs, your mind all working magically together to create an experience you won't get any other way.

Click here, or on the photo, to see a Picasa album of photos from this ride. --Mike--


12/14/08- WHY WE RIDE #53
It's 35 degrees and raining lightly up on Skyline, and we're enjoying it. We're actually comfortable at a time when most are fleeing the cold for the comfort of a warm couch with a remote control for switching between football games.

Of course there are days you check the weather outside and wonder why you, or anyone else, would want to ride on a day like this. But really, the trickiest part is timing. That last layer, the one that allows you to be comfortable out there? The one that essentially entombs you? Better make sure you made your last trip to the bathroom beforehand!

Once you get out there, the first thing that surprises you is that there are quite a few others as well! Next is that everything just seems a lot cleaner, fresher than the last time you rode. And then there's the fact that your bike is actually working pretty darned well (never mind the theory that one mile in the rain causes the equivalent wear of 50+ normal miles).

Besides, we're talking 35 degrees here. Check out the smaller photo, taken 12/22/1998 (10 years ago). That was the coldest-day ever for our Tuesday/Thursday morning ride, hitting 23 degrees at one point.

So I guess the other reason we ride is for the stories we can tell people afterward! --Mike--


10/19/08- WHY WE RIDE #4
Because this is not Spain, or Costa Rica, or France. No flight needed; it's just three hours from home.

If you live in Northern California, you really ought to get what you're paying for. And there's no better way to do that than on a bike! Shown here is a spot near Angels Camp, part of a benefit ride (Mr. Frogs Wild Ride).

Sweeping vistas, very few cars (and those I came across were very friendly), incredible climbs and thrilling descents.

Sure, each climb doesn't feature a small pub serving up sandwiches & cold drinks, but the towns aren't too far apart, and the stores have no issues taking US dollars and US credit cards.

The world really does go by at exactly the right speed on a bike.



09/21/08- WHY WE RIDE #402 Because someday it will be fun riding up Tunitas Creek!

Actually, the challenge of Tunitas Creek hasn't just been getting up it, it's been trying to get a photo that really defines it! The one here comes close, taken during the Tour for Woodside, an annual benefit ride for Woodside High School in Redwood City (which just happens to be the school both Steve and I have kids at).

Shown here is Vince, riding a Trek 2100 that I must have sold him quite some time ago, at least 12 years. That's the problem with the bikes we sell. They just last too long.

Tunitas Creek is one of the more-challenging climbs the area offers, as well as one of the most beautiful and car-free. For Vince, it came at the 80-mile mark of a 102 mile ride. I had it easy, since I was just out for a quick 60 miler.

It's no wonder road bikes are so popular here! --Mike--


08/17/08- WHY WE RIDE #397 Because we live in one of the greatest areas in the world for riding!

I've been a "road" biker for 41 years now, beginning in the way-back days on a 40-pound Schwinn Varsity that, along with a AAA "Bay and River" map, made me realize that, with a bike, the entire world was at your disposal. At least it seemed that way.

And now it's my job to get everyone else I can to feel the same way. Of course, the bikes are a lot better these days, and you've got a cell phone if you run into trouble. But the roads, they're still there, and once you head into the hills, they're surprisingly light on traffic. In fact, we have many roads that likely see far more bike traffic than cars!

Today's ride, up over Old LaHonda, down the other side to San Gregorio, and then heading up the lightly-traveled Los Lobitos Road and Tunitas Creek, provided a showcase for such roads, and we saw many of our customers along the way. Many bikes, few cars, great weather. If this is a cycling paradise, what is?

If you think you're not in shape for a great ride, think again. You don't have to be fast to enjoy our local hills, just persistent. Maybe we don't have a cafe at the top of each climb, like they do in Europe, but we do have Alice's on Skyline at 84, a great place to stop for lunch after your first climb up Old LaHonda. So find a friend and head for the hills. Your first time up, sure, you might want to stop a few times along the way to catch your breath. Or to admire the views! You will make it. And you'll wonder why it took you so long to discover our hills. --Mike--

7/04/08- WHY WE RIDE #92 Because cycling is one of those things that doesn't just turn back the clock, but keeps it from turning in the first place.

The first time I rode this particular stretch of the coast, just north of Davenport, I was probably 16 years old. It was part of the "Santa Cruz loop" that you did every chance you could, with various options that would make it anything from 100-125 miles. They were challenging, fun rides, big adventures for a teenager. New things to see, new heights (literally!) to climb.

That was then, this is now. 36 years later, and those same roads are still out there, and they're still an oasis from civilization & traffic, relatively unspoiled by the expanding population of the Bay Area.

And you can still do it. Raw strength & youthful enthusiasm has been replaced by patience & skillful use of resources (knowing how to pace yourself, making sure you carry enough food & water, you know, the sort of things you don't pay much attention to when you're 16 and think you're unstoppable).

It was a great ride, brought back great memories, and helped me to realize that that mortality thing... that clock you start thinking about sometime around 50... riding a bike is one of those few things can literally keep you from getting older, both physically and mentally. You can see a detailed report of the ride on our website, including maps & info on places to get food & water along the way.


6/01/08- WHY WE RIDE #3 Because local clubs do a fantastic job putting on organized events like the Sequoia Century!

I've probably ridden the Sequoia Century, in various incarnations, more times than any other organized ride. Run by the Western Wheelers, it always features a challenging course over our local mountains. Even the 100k/62 mile ride will cross the 100ft/mile elevation gain threshold that is traditionally used to describe a tough ride. And the longer ride, in this case a 112 mile event? Not for the faint of heart!

But with the great support these rides offer, you'll find you can take on a much tougher ride than you thought you could, and even have fun doing it.

The photo shows one of the steeper sections of West Alpine Road, which climbs from La Honda up to Skyline, ending just across from Page Mill. Doing it on your own, a climb like this can seem endless. But doing it with hundreds of other cyclists, of all abilities, and it becomes fun!

And if you are brave enough to try the 112 mile course, you just might come across a "water stop" at exactly the point you feel most desperate, stocked with hundreds of Cokes, Mtn Dews, Ice Teas, Sprites... all kept cold in two big barrels of ice. That's been our contribution to the ride for the last few years. But that's nothing compared to the efforts of the 200 volunteers of the Western Wheelers bicycle club who do everything they can to ensure a safe, fun ride for all.


5/15/08- THE ROAD IS LONG, WITH MANY A WINDING TURN (Otherwise known as "WHY WE RIDE, #819)

The song was made popular first by The Hollies and later Neil Diamond ("He ain't heavy, he's my brother"), and must have been written about local climbs like Old LaHonda and Kings Mtn (pictured here).

4.34 miles, 1600 feet of climbing for Kings Mtn, and 3.75 miles, 1200 feet of climbing for Old LaHonda, both with countless turns and switchbacks. It's those turns and switchbacks that make all the difference in the world, turning a mere physical exercise into something extraordinary and memorable.

Many people travel to France to experience the famous climbs of the Tour de France, including the legendary Alpe d'Huez with its numbered switchbacks. But truthfully, many of the world's greatest climbs are right here.

What do the climbs of France have to offer that ours don't? Really just one thing- it seems like every single climb in France has a pub or cafe at the top. What have we got? Well, there's Alice's at the top of 84... and that hot dog stand at the top of Highway 9. So yes, we're a bit lacking there. But it's easy enough to plan a ride that could stop at Alice's, or the incredible bakery in Pescadero.

So start planning to get out into the hills and really experience the best that cycling has to offer. Old La Honda, Kings Mtn, Tunitas Creek, Alpine Road (west side), Page Mill, Black Road, Alba, Felton-Empire, Mt. Hamilton, Mt. Diablo, Bohlman/On Orbit. Just to name a few.

4/13/2008- YOU MEET THE NICEST PEOPLE ON A BIKE! (Otherwise known as "WHY WE RIDE, #742)

Not a whole lot of time to squeeze in a ride in the morning, before taking your kid to... well, some "kid function." Could be baseball practice, or a 4H function, whatever. In this case, it's a workout session at the Velodrome (bicycle racing track) in San Jose.

So you call up a friend the night before (or email these days; if you're younger than, say, 25, you'd probably text message or IM) and set up a quick ride. No problem, who wouldn't want to go for a bike ride?

And what a beautiful day! It felt like the Indian Summer we never had this year. Everybody was out on the roads, including a whole lot of our customers, a number of which are seen here as I was waiting for Todd to show up for our ride. And have you ever noticed that people are almost never in a bad mood when they're riding? Actually, they're always in a good mood when riding! It's when they're dealing with a flat tire, which is technically not riding, that you might find otherwise. But today, even the guy I saw fixing a flat was in a good mood (and yes, I asked if he was OK and had everything he needed).

3/23/2008- WHY WE RIDE, #231

72 degrees, low humidity and great roads. It doesn't get any better. This is why you live in the Bay Area, and this is why you ride a bike.

Easter Sunday afternoon, out for a quick spin before an early dinner. You've got less than 3 hours, so you've got to go for quality over quantity. With more time, you'd do the Old LaHonda /Pescadero /Tunitas loop, but with just 3 hours, you go for Old LaHonda /LaHonda /West Alpine.

It was on the west side of Old LaHonda that I found someone else admiring the beauty of the day. A young woman stopped by the side of the road, looking out towards the ocean. It's a spot I've shown photos of on this website many times before, usually taken behind the guys I ride with on Tuesday or Thursday mornings.

2/26/2008- WHY WE RIDE, #92

It might happen right after you leave your front door, or it might be several hours into a long ride. But there's almost always some point in a bike ride where everything lines up exactly right and you feel better about life than anytime during the past week. Or maybe more.

For me, it's often this stretch of Old LaHonda road, on the "unknown" west side. Everybody knows the main climb to Skyline, from Portola Valley. But surprisingly few seem to have gone over the other side, where it turns into an almost-private one-lane road with just a handful of houses, more bikes than cars, and million-dollar views of the coast that, fortunately, aren't reserved for million-dollar houses.

Riding it in the morning is best, when the shadows are strong and the air is clear. It's a bit nicer heading west than east, since you'll be climbing at moderate speed and the road's narrow & twisty nature will be welcome rather than a challenge. But it's enjoyable either way.

You don't need a fancy road bike to enjoy each side of Old LaHonda; we see many hybrids and mountain bikes, as well as riders of all shapes & sizes. If it's your first time to Skyline, you might ride up Old LaHonda from Portola Valley, then north on Skyline to Sky Londa, west down 84 a few miles and then make the left turn onto west-side Old LaHonda and climb back up to Skyline.

Because your bike computer says you've burned off 6,330 calories!

This morning my son was off at camp so I got to do something a bit more challenging- a 62 mile loop through Pescadero and up Tunitas in fast company.

I learned long ago that "riding to eat" isn't such a good idea, as cycling is generally more efficient than you'd think, meaning you might still pay the price for doughnuts and other excesses.

But today's ride, showing an optimistic burn of 6,330 calories... which, even if you discount by 1/3, is still a pretty impressive figure for just 4.5 hours of riding...  there just aren't that many things you could do that would burn off even close to that many calories, and have fun doing it!

So if you're concerned about that over-indulgent Thanksgiving fest, or just trying to keep from adding girth as you get older, cycling may be just the answer. At the very least, you can pay a visit to the Pescadero bakery and grab a pastry (or two!) prior to riding back over the hill and enjoy it, guilt-free. --Mike--

Because it's cool to snag Tour de France route signs!

July 27th, 2007. This could be you in July, 2008! Why not? Why not make cycling part of a big adventure, and visit France during the 'Tour? You've listened to Phil & Paul & Bob do the coverage for years, and maybe you've even seen all the RVs that follow the Tour route, with the mandatory TdF route sign in the window (you can see two of them in our rental car).

There are many ways to experience the 'Tour. You can go with a Tour company like Trek Travel and have your every need taken care of, or do a more-reasonably priced option like Graham Baxter, Adventure Travel or our local Agile Compass.

Or you can do it on your own, the complete planes, trains & automobile thing. It's easier than you might think, even if your command of French is as bad (and limited) as my own. Which is really really bad, and really really limited! Start thinking about it now, and I'll try to put up a new resource page shortly which could help others who might want to do it on their own. And if you've got teenage kids who are getting into riding, you've got exactly enough time to get them into shape for such an adventure. If I can do it, you can! --Mike--



Because taking a wrong turn can turn can be the best thing that happens to you that day.

We'd ridden down Native Sons road before (one of Skyline's dead-end roads on the coast-side); a twisty little one-lane road that drops close to 1000ft on its way towards the coast. About halfway down the road is blocked by a large gate, marking the beginning of the private section that winds its way to the coast through Neil Young's property.

But today, because of heavy debris on the lower part of the road, we mistakenly went straight when we should have gone right, sending us down an even-narrower crazy little half-paved trail that ended at the ranch you see in the photo.

We never would have found that almost-magical spot, with its views of the hilltops just barely popping up out of the fog, had we not missed the turn. It's a whole different world out there, just an hour away by bike from the congestion and concrete of the city. The only way you'll ever find a place like this is on a bike (unless you're so dreadfully lost in your car that you'll be next Tuesday's headline on the 11pm news). It's funny how taking a wrong turn on your bike, when you're under your own power, becomes something fun, an exploration, something worthwhile. While doing the same thing in your car is, at best, a waste of time, and a serious intrusion on whatever it was you had planned to be doing. Proof that life really does go by at exactly the right speed when you're on a bike.
If you're a Chain Reaction customer (or live close enough to be one), you know that this is one of the best places on the planet for cycling. We've got great mountain biking, road biking and family fun all around us... in many cases, you can leave from your front door!
Chain Reaction can supply you with the right bike, properly fit, and back it up with exceptional service. And Cycle California magazine has a great page with links to the various club & rides in the area.



Because sometimes you want to explore your limits, and do something that really doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

That's why you ride an event like the Tour de Menlo. 50 miles, about 5000ft of climbing. And all of it, every single piece of climbing, in residential areas. Yes, steep roads built for no good reason other than that the area suddenly becomes extremely expensive real estate once you can get to it (just check out the views in the photo, up on Melendy Drive in San Carlos).

The challenging aspect comes from roads much steeper than would ever be built for everyday traffic, far more stop signs than you feel like dealing with on a bike, and there's just not all that much worth looking at (unless your idea of a good time is cruising around to look at what people have done with their homes, which is something my mom & dad subjected me to when I was a kid, and it wasn't much fun then, and it still isn't much fun now). 

09/02/07- WHY WE RIDE, EPISODE #111

Because there's something special to pass on to others.

Probably Dad & Son, enjoying the best cycling has to offer on a beautiful local road (west-side Old LaHonda).

Maybe you don't have or can't rent a kid to show them how great it is to ride a bike, but there are a lot of grown ups you might come across that you can make a difference for. On this particular ride I met up with a young lady named Sarah at the top of Old LaHonda.

She was heading into the great unknown, riding out to Pescadero, north to Half Moon Bay and back over the hill. First time for her, using directions she'd gotten off another website. Directions only; nothing to tell her what makes this particular route so special. No notes about the faces carved into the hillside on west-side Old LaHonda. Or the infamous Machine-gun-toting metal sculptures on Stage Road. So I rode with her as far as highway 84, showed her the face carvings, and made sure she knew about the metal sculptures that so many people ride past without seeing. The sort of things that you're never going to see if not pointed out to you, and best experienced on a bike.

Next time you come across a cyclist stopped at a crossroads (common at the top of Old LaHonda), take a moment and ask where they're going, and if they've been that way before. You'd be surprised how many first-timers there might be. And you'd also be surprised how many old-timers who have passed by the machine-gun sculptures and never seen them!

The cool thing about cycling is that you're moving through at exactly the right pace to experience the world. You see something in the distance and have enough time to study it and notice things that would be a blur if you were wrapped up in a ton of steel and glass traveling 60 miles per hour. And you're not moving through so slowly that it's boring, either. Bicycling isn't about sound bytes, nor is it an overly-long epic novel that doesn't, but often should, be marketed as an alternative to sleep medications. Life happens at just the right speed when you're out on your bike.

If you're a Chain Reaction customer (or live close enough to be one), you know that this is one of the best places on the planet for cycling. We've got great mountain biking, road biking and family fun all around us... in many cases, you can leave from your front door!
Chain Reaction can supply you with the right bike, properly fit, and back it up with exceptional service. And Cycle California magazine has a great page with links to the various club & rides in the area.


Against all the oddmakers and conventional wisdom, Discovery (formerly known as US Postal) came back with a win at the Tour de France, with a young (24 years old) Spaniard named Alberto Contador showing not only strength in his riding, but the ability to not crack under the pressure of cycling's greatest event.

And it wasn't just Contador that had the Discovery team feeling good about the future. Levi Leipheimer won the final time trial, nearly vaulting past 2nd place Cadel Evans in the overall standings.

For me, it was a fun 10 days away, catching up with the Tour de France in the Pyrenees and following it back to Paris. No tour group this time, just myself, my 14-year-old son, two bikes, trains, planes & automobiles, as they say.

There will be some good stories to tell in the diary section over the next few days, but first we have to make it home, which means lugging all our stuff down the street from our hotel tomorrow morning and hoping that the airport bus has room to take it all. And then hoping that there are no issues with our flight out (which for some reason United says we can't check in on-line for and have to see the agent at the airport).

But we've got tons of photos and memories and a feeling that you can think about doing the impossible (in this case, getting Kevin ready for two nasty beyond-category mountain climbs) (plus the logistics of hauling around bikes plus luggage), make plans, and actually do it. And, of course, it helps that we've got some great people back home at the shop taking care of things while I'm away. See you soon-   --Mike-- (PS: It's 8/4/07; we made it home in one piece, and even had Tour de France racer Chris Horner in the seat in front of us on the plane! And with a week post-tour behind us, it looks like Contador is likely free of any tour-stealing scandal. Let's hope!
07/23/07- I ASK YOU, DOES THIS (Rasmussen, the guy in the Yellow Jersey) LOOK LIKE A TOUR DE FRANCE WINNER? I THINK NOT! (Written two days prior to Rasmussen being pulled out of the race by his team, due to ethical issues involving the possibility of evading doping controls)

Normally this space is set aside for the "Why we Ride" series, but since this is Tour de France time, and I happen to be there for it...

Emerging from the fog, at the top of the newest epic Tour de France climb (the Port du Bales), is the "power group" of contenders, including Rasmussen (in Yellow) and the Discovery team's Contador (zipping up his white "Best Young Rider" jersey).

Rasmussen has been frustratingly consistent in the climbs so far, building up a lead of just over two minutes on Contador, the amazing 24-year-old Spanish rider on the Discovery team. But that lead is in jeopardy because-
  • Rasmussen not only cannot shake Contador on the climbs, but Contador has been mercilessly attacking the man in Yellow the last couple of days. If Contador can crack Rasmussen...
  • Rasmussen's time trialing has improved, but Contador excels at the discipline, and there's one more long time trail coming up, this Saturday.
  • Rasmussen frankly looks a bit wiped out, mentally. This picture (not taken by me; I was too busy trying to get fancy stuff and missed the best shots... this one is from my 14-year-old son Kevin, who simply takes pictures of things that he finds interesting... what a concept!) tells that story in spades, as the riders come over the top of the penultimate climb in today's stage.

So maybe I'll be eating these words, but what the heck, a bit of crow now & then should be a part of every balanced diet! I predict Contador to be in Yellow when the 'Tour finishes this Sunday.  --Mike--

And now, back to our regularly-scheduled message-

If you're a Chain Reaction customer (or live close enough to be one), you know that this is one of the best places on the planet for cycling. We've got great mountain biking, road biking and family fun all around us... in many cases, you can leave from your front door!
Chain Reaction can supply you with the right bike, properly fit, and back it up with exceptional service. And Cycle California magazine has a great page with links to the various club & rides in the area. We've also put together a page with past "Why We Ride" episodes.


Normally this space is set aside for the "Why we Ride" series, but I read earlier today that it's been exactly 40 years since the British cyclist Tommy Simpson died on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, from a drug overdose.

This year's Tour de France won't be visiting Mont Ventoux (the photo shows the Simpson Memorial near the top), but it cannot help but be dogged by the issues first brought to the forefront so many years ago.

It's said that Tommy Simpson's last words, after he fell to the ground, were "Put me back on my bike!"  His death was attributed to a combination of the high temps and an overdose of amphetamines, and led to the earliest crude attempts to detect doping by sportsmen.

It's important to remember that doping, and other forms of cheating in sports, are not limited to cycling. Track & field events have been a hotbed of illicit means to enhance performance for years! But it's cycling's very attempts to deal with the problem that draw most of the attention to it. And it's cycling's quest for the darned near impossible- a 100% clean contest- that has caused it to utilize questionable methods of detection and a low standard of "proof" that creates not just a possibility, but the likelihood of catching the innocent in their carelessly-flung nets. Yes, Floyd Landis comes to mind.

For now, I'm watching an incredible bike race and not feeling at all guilty about it. There may, or may not, be cheating going on. I would like to think that things are pretty clean right now, what with the intense scrutiny the riders are facing, but I don't really know. It could be that I'll eventually mirror the naive Dave Stoller's thoughts in the movie Breaking Away when he said "Everybody cheats. I just didn't know." But I hope not.
05/17/07- WHY WE RIDE, EPISODE #36

Because moments like this don't exist only in the movies.

You know how, sometimes, you see or experience something and think gee, if only I had a camera? If you ride a bike, you'll experience that all the time. And if, like me, you're often carrying a camera with you, you just might capture that moment.

Of course, a lot of times, whatever it is that makes it so special might not translate well for others. But every once in a while something comes along that a movie director might spend huge amounts of time & money trying to recreate (ok, fake). One of those times was in 2003, at the Tour de France. Another was on this particular day in May of 2007.

The sun has to be at just the right angle, and the fog or clouds at exactly the right height to allow the trees to filter the light just so. And if you happen to be in just that right place, at just that right time, it's not to be missed. This was that time, and that place.

The cool thing about cycling is that you're moving through at exactly the right pace to experience the world. You see something in the distance and have enough time to study it and notice things that would be a blur if you were wrapped up in a ton of steel and glass traveling 60 miles per hour. And you're not moving through so slowly that it's boring, either. Bicycling isn't about sound bytes, nor is it an overly-long epic novel that doesn't, but often should, be marketed as an alternative to sleep medications. Life happens at just the right speed when you're out on your bike.
04/22/07- WHY WE RIDE, EPISODE #12

Because "Bike riding's a GREAT way to see the world!"
Bobby Julich, American bike racer on CSC team

Burt (one of our Redwood City employees), Kevin (my son) and a bunch of other nice people were out there on Sunday, April 22nd, for the Primavera Century (100k in our case). Noteworthy was that we were out there at all; the weather reports had been questionable, to say the least. But it turned out to be a spectacular day!

And it was riding on Calaveras Road that Kevin turns to me and says "Dad, it really is a great way to see the world!"
I don't know if that was a turning point, a life-changing experience for Kevin, but it certainly was a milestone. Kevin was noticing mostly the birds. Small black birds with bright red "shoulder patches." Vultures circling overhead. A bunch of very large wild turkeys across a ravine. Things that he wouldn't see on a "normal" bike-free day. Certainly things he wouldn't experience sitting in front of a video game!

The cool thing about cycling is that you're moving through at exactly the right pace to experience the world. You see something in the distance and have enough time to study it and notice things that would be a blur if you were wrapped up in a ton of steel and glass traveling 60 miles per hour. And you're not moving through so slowly that it's boring, either. Bicycling isn't about sound bytes, nor is it an overly-long epic novel that doesn't, but often should, be marketed as an alternative to sleep medications. Life happens at just the right speed when you're out on your bike.
If you're a Chain Reaction customer (or live close enough to be one), you know that this is one of the best places on the planet for cycling. We've got great mountain biking, road biking and family fun all around us... in many cases, you can leave from your front door!
Chain Reaction can supply you with the right bike, properly fit, and back it up with exceptional service. And Cycle California magazine has a great page with links to the various club & rides in the area.
04/15/07- WHY WE RIDE, EPISODE #91

Because there's ALWAYS a train about to leave the station, heading where you want to go.

On the upper parts of Old LaHonda I came across a group of four heading in the same direction. A "train" I gladly latched onto, as it would make the run to the coast a whole lot easier (since there was a pretty strong headwind).

And that's what's so cool about riding a bike. You can catch a "train" like that if you're looking for company, or you can go it alone for that inwardly-thoughtful experience.

Trains are leaving constantly, and are always populated by nice folk like Susan, Mitch, Tommy and a guy whose name I forgot (amazing, given how bad I am with names, I can even remember 3 of the 4). (4/16- Susan just emailed me to give me his name- Joe) If you find the pace of a particular train a bit fast, you'll probably come upon one of the slower-moving freights pretty soon. If you're on a deadline and need a high-speed express, no problem, it's coming up fast behind!

Popular local "train stations" on the Peninsula would include Roberts Market in Woodside, the top of Old LaHonda, and San Gregorio General Store (shown above). The trains run most-frequently on weekends between 9am-noon.
02/11/07- WHY WE RIDE, EPISODE #35

Because there are cool little "secret places" to show people.

Pescadero is a special place for those who know. There's the incredible bakery that's worth the visit alone (Arcangeli Grocery Co, in the two-story brownish building on the right side of the road)... many rides are timed to hit the town just after it opens.

But there's also the infamous "Machine Gun Man" house, a couple miles south on Stage Road (en route to San Gregorio).

Best known for its metal sculptures of a man-gun toting man and woman (the woman can be seen on the right-side of the photo above, in front of a metal doorway with "WELCOME" below, while the taller, better-known Machine Gun Man isn't shown but is just to the left of the house). But even if you've seen it all before, there's still good reason to stop and check the place out. Today it was a large peacock, staring at its reflection in the 2nd-story window. One might title this picture "You're So Vain."
02/04/07- WHY WE RIDE, EPISODE #231

Because you can soar like the birds.

Well, that's not exactly how it feels when you're climbing up West Alpine towards Skyline. On this particular day, I was pulling a reasonably-hard pace, trying to get back in time for the SuperBowl commercials (isn't that what we watch it for?). But I'm noticing this one very large bird, probably a red-tailed hawk.

And what I'm noticing, as I'm forcing my way up the mountain, is that this Hawk is just floating in the air. Not a single beat of the wings; this guy's working the air currents. It was such an amazing thing that I stopped in the middle of the climb and just watched him, for maybe five minutes. Five minutes in which he'd float up, swoop down, catch another updraft, circle around a bit and repeat. Without once flapping his wings.

Sometimes it's nice to be out there on your own, and if you see something like that Hawk, just stop and watch. The cool thing about riding a bike is that you'll notice things like that Hawk. Things you'd never spot from a car, things you'd spend half the day hiking to see, but on a bike, in an hour or two, you're there. You just get on your bike and go for a ride. You might not soar like that Hawk, but I can pretty much guarantee your spirits will be lifted.  --Mike--
09/17/06- WHY WE RIDE, EPISODE #312
Because you CAN do it! You may think a ride up to Skyline is beyond your abilities, but odds are, you're wrong. You can do it. It may not be easy that first time, and it may not even be fun as you reach for a lower gear, only to find there are none left.

But there's that feeling you get when the top is finally in sight. Like the part of King's Mtn when you first see the yellow caution sign, telling you there's a stop up ahead. That can only mean one thing- the top! And that's the moment caught here, as Kevin dares to look up with hope that his hour+ trip up King's Mtn is over.

Don't be fooled into believing that you can't climb because you're not in shape. A bit of patience can help you accomplish almost anything, and some of our most-beautiful roads are up into the hills.

12/07/06- WHY WE RIDE, EPISODE #213

For beautiful mornings like this!

We've used a variant of this picture a whole lot of times on this website. It's the west side of Old LaHonda, climbing back towards Skyline. Around 9am, on a Thursday morning, part of our regular Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride you may have read too much about in the almost-daily diary.

As we were riding, admiring the crystal-clear view of the coast, with not a cloud in sight, we're asking ourselves, "How can it possibly rain soon?" It will rain, of course, and we'll probably whine about it, but we also know that, even in the middle of winter, there will be plenty of mornings just like the one in this photo.
12/17/06- WHY WE RIDE, EPISODE #622

Because you can look like this and not be mistaken for someone about to rob a bank!

No matter how cold it gets, we have to remember this is California, and while it seems cold to us (39 degrees at Sky L'Onda on this particular morning), there's a whole world out there that would see it as a mild winter's day; an excuse to get out of the house and do something (although it's too warm for ice fishing).

We can dress pretty easily for a 39 degree outing, and maybe not even look as extreme as what's seen here. It's certainly not an excuse to stay home! If anything, it's an invitation. An invitation to see things in a different light (literally, as the low angle of the sun at this time of year makes for spectacular views). An invitation to avoid those extra pounds that seem to go along with the holidays. And sure, an invitation to feel a bit, well, superior to those driving past in their climate-controlled cars, completely disconnected from our world by layers of steel & glass & sound.
01/09/07- WHY WE RIDE, EPISODE #4

Because YOU make the day.

It wasn't supposed to snow on October 10th. Or rain. Or even be cold. There wasn't supposed to be ice on my water bottle. It was supposed to be a nice weekend.

And that's just the thing. It was a nice weekend.

A great weekend even. Because I was on my bike, and when I'm on my bike, I feel like I'm in control. Of everything.

I never considered that either my bike or I wouldn't be up to what lay ahead. As they said in Apollo 13, failure wasn't an option. Instead, we (my bike & I) had a darned good time. I found out that Bontrager carbon rims & cork pads worked great in snow & slushy conditions. I found out that even the most absurd of weather conditions didn't have to ruin my day. And I got revenge on Sonora Pass for that day in June, 2001, when a freak snowstorm required that a group of us got hauled off the top in a van instead of finishing the ride.

Winter's here, and many will be hanging their bikes up until the skies clear and temperatures rise. But why? Even if you avoid riding in the rain (which some thing a sensible thing to do), there will be many more dry days than rainy. Cycling in the SF Bay Area is something you can do even in the winter. Those crisp mornings when the air is so clear you can see from Skyline all the way to Hawaii. The scenic roads that you avoid in the summer because of the traffic, but are lightly traveled now.

01/28/07- WHY WE RIDE, EPISODE #67

Because it's all right here.

Obviously, "epic" is in the eye of the beholder, and something that can be climbed in just a few minutes (vs half a day)... well, let's just call it an introduction to something grand.

Today's introduction is a little-known extension of the famous "loop" ride in Portola Valley. Only instead of staying on Alpine road as you're heading south past the Windy Hill parking lot, you make a right turn at the Sequoia's Rest Home (perhaps symbolic, since you're riding so you can put off your residency there for as long as possible). Willowbrook runs through a quiet residential neighborhood until it joins up with the "unknown" section of Alpine Road, where you make a right turn and and start a beautiful, gradual climb on a well-maintained 1-lane road alongside a pleasant creek. Almost exactly 2 miles of this and then it hits you.

Boom. You come to signs telling you that Alpine road ends just ahead (it actually continues as a dirt trail all the way to Skyline), and, to the right, Joaquim Road. Known affectionately as "Walking Joaquim" for obvious reasons. It's darned short to be considered sucha trouble-maker; a mere quarter mile or so. But that quarter miles pitches up towards 17%, and is one of those rare roads that you can look back at and say yep, that even looks steep. Top it off (so to speak) with a false summit, and you've got the makings for one of those "Yeah, I worked hard getting to the top of that one" hills! The bonus is found on the descent back towards the "regular" section of Alpine Road, which features a spot where you can easily hit 50mph if you're so inclined.
he interests of the cyclist are not forgotten in DC, thanks to the hard work of many unbelievably-dedicated cycling advocates, who descend upon Washington once a year for the annual National Bike Summit. This year over 400 people spent 4 days of their time and a fair amount of money to come out an lobby every single Congressperson and Representative on the Hill. California was well-represented, with over 50 attendees!

The cynic would say it doesn't matter, but the truth is, much has changed, for the better, over the past 4 years. General info may be found on the League of American Bicyclist website, but in general, we're working to get commuter credits for bikes just like car-poolers enjoy, continued funding of Safe Routes to Schools (a really phenomenal program to try and get kids to ride or walk to school rather than be driven) and a pilot program to determine how much gas can be conserved by shifting some car trips to bikes. We're also continuing to push for "Complete Streets" which basically means that, when a new road is built or an existing road modernized, the needs of the cyclists are taken into consideration.

It's not as sexy as telling the story about the latest carbon fiber Treks, but if we don't have the great roads to ride, or raise a new generation that doesn't know what it means to be outdoors and enjoy the benefits of exercise, well, frankly, shops like Chain Reaction Bicycles would cease to exist. So my apologies (both to our customers and staff) if things got a bit bogged down at the store in the middle of March, but if this event has made a natural cynic like me a believer, there just might be something to it. --Mike--

10/21/04- WHY WE RIDE. What can you add that's not in the picture? Beautiful clear morning on Old LaHonda (west side), friendly company (Kevin, Andrea & Ueyn) and a road to yourself. That's cycling on the SF Peninsula, a virtual paradise for road cycling (and if you don't have a nice road bike, we just might be able to help with that). Don't hit the snooze button, go ride!

If you assumed that we'd never have an event like the Tour de France here in California, with the best racers in the world going at it on leg-breaking courses, with thousands of fans coming from miles around to line the hillsides, well, it's possible you're wrong.

Sunday 5/23, The Amgen Tour of California concluded its 5th run through the state, this time moving to a supposedly weather-friendly date in May (it was in February through last year). Of course, this being California 2010, the cold & wet weather that would seem normal in February followed it to its new May dates for a couple of stages in Northern California, including the one in our backyard up Tunitas Creek!

Organized chaos? The event's promoters do a lot to organize things, but check out the action in this photo, taken on the big climb on the final stage. Someone costumed in a goofy-looking water bottle (we sell "CLEANBOTTLE" by the way!) the "Pope" running alongside, the race leader (Mick Rogers) looking a bit distressed at the front as he tries to fend off attack after attack from the other riders in the lead group, some of whom are mere seconds behind him in the overall time classification that determines the winner.

The race was not without its controversy, as Floyd Landis, the defrocked (disqualified for doping) winner of the 2006 Tour de France chose to use the Tour of California as a backdrop for allegations about doping by Lance Armstrong (and many others), and the disappointment to many fans when Lance crashed out of the race after just a few days. And then there was the TV coverage, with VS not showing the all-important Time Trial stage live, and cutting away to a hockey pre-game show just before the finish of the stage that ended in Santa Cruz! Please consider sending your comments to them here.

But overall this race has become bigger and better each year, and has even convinced some shop owners to travel around the state to watch it, riding all or parts of the course ahead of time and marveling at the strength of the riders and the appeal to spectators. --Mike--

27 YEARS AGO, FEBRUARY 1, 1980, this is what Chain Reaction Bicycles looked like. Our first day of business ended with $300 in the register (one of those cool antique-ish things). We started with Mongoose BMX and Shogun road bikes, later adding Centurion, which became Diamondback. We were turned down at our first attempt to carry Trek, told by a rather smug salesman that we weren't what they were looking for. We've obviously proved that guy wrong over the years, as we've sold more OCLV Carbon Trek bikes than any other dealer in the US!

Back then I stored boxed bikes in my garage and built several at home each night. And when we needed more room, we knocked out a wall and took over the space next door. And when that wasn't enough, we took over the apartments upstairs, literally storing bicycles in bathtubs!

But one thing hasn't changed. 27 years and Chain Reaction Bicycles is still one of the few shops where you can walk in anytime we're open and the owners are there, virtually every day. Mike in Redwood City, Steve in our Los Altos store. And that means a lot of other things haven't changed either. Like our dedication to making sure you enjoy the bike you bought from us, for a very long time. You don't have to worry about coming in with something not quite right on your bike and finding no familiar faces, nobody who cares. We've assembled a great staff, wonderful lines of bikes & accessories, and earned a few awards along the way (recently voted CitySports best bay area bike shop by their readers). And we'll probably be around when the next generation in your family needs bikes too. Thanks for helping us make a living doing something we really enjoy.  --Mike--
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