Nevada City

In 1973 my grandparents built a “historic” house (inexplicably, my grandmother was convinced that her brand new house was a historical landmark) in Nevada City, California. Every summer we would watch what we called the Father’s Day Bike Race. The Nevada City Bicycle Classic, as it is known by the rest of the world, is the second oldest race in the country and many a future star participates. Come to think of it, many a current star also participates.

We used to watch from the neighbor’s front porch and squirt the over-heated racers with a hose. I remember Ironman winner John Howard winning the race in the 70s. In the 80s, Chuckie V (Ironman loser – his best in Hawaii was 5th) and I watched Greg Lemond dominate his “hometown race.” One year we watched as Eric Heiden got off his bike to sit on the pavement, or tarmac for the Brits, after being lapped.

Lemond is the only person to win the race three years in a row. Last Sunday, Ian Boswell won the race for the second year in a row. So, on the rare occasion that my math is correct, Ian simply has to win next year to match Lemond. Then he has to win the Tour de France three times.

Katarina Nash handily won the Women’s Elite event. She lives in one of my favorite towns (Truckee) and was born in one of my favorite countries (The Czech Republic). She has participated in three Olympic Games: twice in cross-country skiing and once for mountain biking. After the race, we overheard Katarina telling another rider, “I’ve got to go see my dogs.” As fans of dogs and cycling and women and Truckee and the Czech Republic and cross-country skiing and the Olympics, I can safely say that the Heroes will be keeping our eyes on her.

The Nevada City Bicycle Classic once drew huge crowds. There were an estimated 20,000 spectators in the early 80s. This year there were a couple dozen. Two years ago Lance Armstrong won this race. I missed that race but I can assume there was a good turnout considering there would be a good turnout if Armstrong went to the grocery store or even to the john, the mellow john. Last year Floyd Landis was one of the many who lost to Ian Boswell. I am unclear on what kind of crowds Landis would draw – maybe similar to the crowds that stop to watch car accidents.

This race is a great race to watch. Crits are fun anyway because you get to watch the cyclists go by over and over. In Nevada City you can watch them barreling down West Broad Street for a few laps; then you can walk a few blocks to see them toiling up Main Street.

There are five races on Father’s day in Nevada City and they are all captivating in their own way. Watching a 10-year-old in the juniors race was inspiring, considering you couldn’t get a 10-year-old me to do so much as the dishes, and this race looks harder than putting plates in the Kenmore. Among the best parts of the women’s race were the smiles and “thank yous” as they rode their cool down lap.

Do you like white guys with dreadlocks? Do you like middle-aged men dressed like fur trappers, cowboys, and miners? Do you like ice cream? If you said yes to any one of these, you will love Nevada City. We ate a delicious lunch at Ikes Quarter Café. “Quarter” unfortunately does not refer to the price.