The Cyclery Leads in Trails--and on Wednesday Night Rides

<i> Rick VanderKnyff is a member of the Times Orange County Edition staff</i>

Richard Sparkman moved his bike shop, a nine-year institution in Long Beach, to Garden Grove only a few months ago, but already he’s making his presence felt in local cycling circles.

According to the Orange County Trails Coalition, Richard’s Cyclery is the first local bike shop to adopt a local trail, this one in Whiting Ranch Regional Park (near Lake Forest). The county-sponsored Adopt-a-Trail program encourages organizations and businesses to take charge of the maintenance of a specific park trail.

“Our attitude is, no trails, no sales,” said Sparkman. “We’re avid riders, and we want to keep the parks open.”

The shop has regular Sunday work parties, in which it organizes volunteers for trail clearing, rebuilding and a bit of riding (the next work party is in September).


The shop also organizes a number of free, weekly rides for both road riders and mountain bikers.

Wednesday evenings offer a couple of different options. At 5:30 p.m., a women’s trainer leads a road ride for women. She offers training tips and other guidance besides leading the one- to two-hour ride through the streets of Orange County. Routes vary, so it’s best to call ahead for meeting place and other particulars.

At 6:45 p.m., a mountain-bike ride is usually held in Whiting Ranch Regional Park. This time of year, about half of the two- to three-hour ride is in darkness, but in winter the whole ride is after sunset. The shop has a limited number of loaner headlights.

“Our night rides have been really fun,” Sparkman said, adding that the Aug. 10 ride at Whiting Ranch included a hunt for a missing person after the scheduled ride. The shop owner left around midnight, however, when the search-and-rescue copter took over and he never learned the outcome.


“We just do the same ride we would in the daylight,” Sparkman said, adding that group leaders know the trails intimately, so there is no danger of getting lost.

Because everyone rides more slowly, recreational riders can keep up with more-skilled riders. If anything, Sparkman said, the night rides boast “more camaraderie, because we’re all riding tight.”

The evening rides sometimes move to Crystal Cove State Park and other locations.

“We kind of bounce around, but we meet at Whiting 90% of the time,” Sparkman said.


Again, it’s best to call ahead for meeting location and time.

Recreational road and mountain bike rides are also held on weekends. Call for information.

* What: Group bicycle rides.

* When: Wednesdays: 5:30 p.m. for women’s road rides and 6:45 p.m. for mountain-bike rides.


* Where: Meeting places vary. Richard’s Cyclery is at 11943 Valley View, Garden Grove.

* Whereabouts: Call for meeting location and directions.

* Wherewithal: Free.

* Where to call: (714) 379-2717.