Pro cyclist, Levi Leipheimer, spokeÂ last week in Healdsburg at a Villa Chanticleer luncheon offered by our Chamber of Commerce. The purpose was to support and raise awarenessÂ of a proposed Healdsburg City Counsel application for theÂ League of American Bicyclists coveted “Bike Friendly Town” award. With all of my recent cycling enthusiasm, I couldn’t resist showing up to learn about and support Â this cause. But hey, I reasoned, meeting world famous Levi Leipheimer, Tour de France Stage winner, Olympic medalist, founder of 7,500-riders-strong Levi’s Gran Fondo, and three-time winner of the Tour of California wouldn’t be a bad thing either.
After paying the entrance fee, I joined a table near the podium and pulled out my sketch pad to draw. Three women from Dutcher Crossing Winery sat at my table and we started up a conversation about wine, cycling, and everything Healdsburg. They invited me to join winery proprietor Debra Mathy the following weekend on a bicycle tour of the scenic Dry Creek Valley. Sounds like great fun, I raved. I’ll be there!
Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Mo McElroy introduced RichardÂ Peacock, owner of Spoke Folk Bike shop, who proclaimed Healdsburg a fantastic place to bike, stating support for the bike-friendly measure. After Richard spoke, I showed him my recent sketch of his bicycle shop. He complemented the drawing, also remarking how much he loved my sketch of my vintage Cannondale bicycle hanging in the garage. He shared that it gives him just as much pleasure to fix up an older bike that has meaning to the owner as it does to sell an expensive new bike. Now thatâ€™s what I call dedication.
After a great lunch provided by Healdsburg newcomer, Sizzling Tandoor, Mo McElroy introduced the guest speaker. As Levi spoke in support of Healdsburg’s great potential as the number one biking destination in the country, the enthusiastic crowd erupted in applause. Essentially, he talked about Sonoma County’s beautiful rural roads and moderate weather that make it a perfect place to cycle year-round. Levi stated further, â€œI believe in Sonoma County. I believe itâ€™s the best place in the world to ride a bike.â€
During the presentation, I sketched Mo and Levi at the podium, and after the question and answer period, stopped to meet them. It was a great opportunity to inform them of the book Iâ€™m currently writing about local wine, bikes, and art, and of my support of bicycling in Healdsburg. And the best part is, Levi happily signed my drawing of him. How cool is that?