Words by Gary J. Boulanger
Photo by Gary J. Boulanger
Every year in late September, old friends and adversaries gather in northern California to share saddle time, beers, and food while talking about the good old days of racing on the road and track. The difference between this group and most, though, is the pedigree: several raced in past national championships, Olympics, world championships, and Grand Tours.
The Dino Ride, organized by San Francisco architect Tom Hardy since 1987, is an invitation-only event cherished by nearly 80 riders. Ages range between 15 years old (Sterling Guy, son of former roadie and mountain bike pioneer Otis) to 80 (Nikola “the Barb” Farats, our host this year in Santa Rosa). The route varies each year, and after enjoying Marin County the past few, we were treated to some spectacular Sonoma County roads, including a breathtaking (in more ways than one) dirt road climb up Willow Creek near the Russian River on the coast, off the scenic Highway 1.
Members of our peloton on September 23 included Lindsay Crawford, a 71-year-old former United Airlines pilot who was asked to race on the first all-American Tour de France team in 1981. Fate intervened, though, and that honor went to Jonathan Boyer, who assisted Frenchman Bernard Hinault to his third Tour victory. Berkeley native George Mount, 6th place in the 76 Montreal Olympics road race, always brings his smile and stories from his days racing the Giro d’Italia. Many in the group raced the original Tour of California, held in 1971.
Hardy’s intention with the annual Dino Ride is to keep the flames of cycling alive for his friends, many of whom still call northern and southern California home. Some are teachers, small business owners, machinists, framebuilders, coaches, advertising executives, mechanics, at-risk youth counselors, and house painters. Many are grandparents, and most everyone looked like they hadn’t gained much weight or lost much fitness over the years. California living (and riding) has that effect on people.
Last year, Greg LeMond and Boyer, former teammates and adversaries, added a new level of celebrity to an already celebrated bunch. Former Team 7-Eleven director Mike Neel has ridden the Dino, and this year mountain bike pioneer Gary Fisher joined the throng of nearly 80 riders, easily fitting in among the brethren. Unfortunately for Fisher, he rolled a tubular tire on a sharp and steep descent near Occidental, providing the only crash in the history of the Dino Ride. Battered and slightly bruised, the 61-year-old San Franciscan remounted his Trek and led us back to host Farats’ house, alongside Hardy and his lifelong friends, in time for some much-needed sustenance after 61 glorious miles in God’s country.