Local bike shop lends a helping hand
By ELIZABETH COSIN / Healdsburg Correspondent
When Richard Peacock was growing up in England, his favorite sport was cycling but his high school didn’t have a team. He was left to find something on his own and eventually he signed up with a local cycling club, though at 14, was one of the youngest members.
A few years after he and his wife, Liz, bought the Spoke Folk Cyclery shop in Healdsburg, Peacock was approached by HHS student Ryan Grutze who with three friends had begun to raise money to field a team. He agreed to help out in part because he wanted kids like Ryan to have the chance he didn’t have.
“When I was in high school,” says Peacock, who with his wife has owned Spoke Folk since 2006. “I was not interested in any of the “popular” sports. I wanted to get involved as a way of supporting high school kids that wanted an alternative to the standard high school sports of football, soccer, baseball and track. When I was a school I was not interested in any of the “popular” sports. I had to join a local cycling club where I was the only junior. I’ve been riding and racing ever since.
Now the program is currently in its third year with Spoke Folk providing help to the Hounds’ MTB program. The shop provides discounted bikes, parts clothing and accessories to team members as well as free pre-race tune ups. In addition, they provide technical and coaching advice and simple repair and service classes. Mechanic and cycling instructor Dan Harting leads some of the training rides.
“The program has grown incredibly since it started with just three riders,” says Laura Brown, the newly appointed assistant team coach. “The enthusiasm in the community has been great and a lot of that has to do with Spoke Folk. They’re our biggest supporters.”
Brown, who teaches English and Geometry at the high school’s Marce Becerra Academy, joined the team to help coach Bryan Davis, a math teacher at HHS. She’s a former instructor and participant in Team-in-Training and an avid rider who has taken part in 24-hour races. Richard and Liz recruited her to help out on the MTB team.
“I’m really passionate about working with the kids,” she says. “Seeing them enjoy the sports. Ryan really got it started and from his passion we’ve grown and it’s because of the him and the community, it’s gotten so far.”
Brown says the racing season begins in February, adding her big hope now is for more girls to sign up to the co-ed team which is currently all boys. But, she says, like everything else it’s a process.
And for Peacock, it’s all part of the bigger picture.
“We believe having a good, local bike shop is important,” he say. “We saw potential in expanding the existing offerings and giving people a real alternative to having to go to Santa Rosa.”
Peacock and his wife are both riders and continue to be active in the community and involved in racing around Sonoma. They found the Bay Area in 1986, moving to San Rafael where Peacock was working for George Luca’s Industrial Light and Magic. Later he took a job with a small engineering company in Healdsburg, now General Dynamics, and after a year of commuting, moved north.
They’ve been here ever since.
Since taking over Spoke Folk, they have become members of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition – Peacock was a board member for three years – which works to promote cycling and cycling safety in the area. This winter, the shop is putting on a film festival to benefit the coalition and the HHS MTB team. And Peacock also serves on the Healdsburg Transportation Committee representing the interests of cyclists.
Both Peacock and his wife and many of his employees are almost all avid riders and the shop sponsors many community rides – Thursday afternoons, for example, mechanic Doug McKenzie leads a “fixed” bike ride from the shop on a loop around the area. McKenzie has even created an online stolen bike registry which you can read about here.
During the year, group rides for beginners and advanced cyclists of all kinds are loosely organized and attract many local cyclists. There has even been indoor “spinning” classes. Most are free – all part of the plan to encourage the sport Peacock found at 14 and has loved ever since.