For the second year in a row, Specialized Bicycles threw down with two big bicycle rides acting as bookends to the
AMA Monster Energy Supercross series opener held at Anaheim Stadium. Each year "A1" plays host to fact racers of every variety; from motorcycles and bicycles to cars and trucks. Just as they did last year, they kicked-off the weekend with a mountain bike ride led by former 125cc and Supercross National Motocross Champion Johnny O'Mara. Saturday is taken up with the actual Supercross race at the Angel Stadium located within earshot of Disneyland.
Like Cannondale, who put on a group ride the daybefore the race went off, Specialized has long recognized the synergies that exist, both athletically and technologically, between bicycles and motorcycles. However, of all the bike brands, no other has jumped as deep into the world of throttle twisters as Specialized. Owing much to a partnership with super trainer Aldon Baker who brings the athletes he trains to the "Big S", Specialized has reaped huge marketing dividends by aligning themselves with a variety of some of the best motorcycle racers in the world.
The day after the Supercross started with wet roads and threatening skies, but eventually the weather turned for the better and close to 70 riders from the bicycle and motorcycle industries showed up for a great day on the road.
The ride started off at the Surf City Cyclery shop in Costa Mesa (above). Surf City is a Specialized dedicated dealer and it is a gorgeous location that has long catered to the motocross community. Amazingly, at 9000 sq. ft. the expansive location is actually the smaller of the two stores (the other is 11,000 sq. ft.).
Besides Specialized, the man most responsible for the Specialized ride is former Pro mountain bike racer and current trainer to the stars, Aldon Baker (right). In the last decade Aldon has trained some of the best riders in the world including James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto and Ricky Carmichael.
Besides the Pro motocross & road racers, the ride was joined by mountain bike former National & World Champions Brian Lopes (above) and Leigh Donovan.
Oakley's Mike Bell showed up with his son Sean, who at 15 years old is already an aspiring American duplicate of Andy Schleck. Mike Bell was a factory Yamaha rider and former Supercross Champion who won the 1986 Mammoth Mountain Kamikaze after he quit racing motorcycles. One week after the ride, Mike would be undergoing a full knee replacement on both legs - his 14th knee operation - and already he can't wait to get back on his bicycle.
Two of the big-name motocross riders in attendance were former 250cc World Champion Tyla Rattray (left) and current AMA Supercross Champion Ryan Villopoto (right). The previous nights Supercross opener didn't go so well for either rider, but they nonetheless hung strong on the ride. Both Tyla and Ryan are trained by Aldon Baker.
Not all the two-wheeled celebrities were of the throttle twisting variety. We were lucky to have Shimano's own Wayne Stetina show-up to answer tech questions and school some of the kids.
Former National Superbike and MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden (left) had one last week in America before heading back to Italy to take up his role on the factory Ducati team. Riding alongside him is former racer Jimmy Button (right) , who was representing Marco "Super Sic" Simoncelli, the brilliant Italian MotoGP rider who died in a race crash last year.
AKA "The Kentucky Kid", Nicky Hayden is all style and speed.
As is the reality for every ride in SoCal, there was no shortage of car traffic to contend with.
Luckily, the morning storm gave way to a beautiful, but chilly day. Here the pack rides down Pacific Coast Highway as the approach the Crystal Cove State Park.
With 20 miles down, this was the turn-around spot on a sweet look-out south of Laguna Beach. Luckily, the ride was guided by a "no-drop" policy...until it wasn't! By the time the time the group rode into the parking lot at Surf Cyclery, the original 70 rider pack had been whittled down to just six riders. Among them was RBA's own "Real Deal" Shirley and MotoGP contender and Tech 3 Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow, who is also a training partner to fellow Manx man, Mark Cavendish.
Road Bike Action's own Michael White, son of Tom White, shares a moment with our host Sean Estes from Specialized along with MW's new Allez Team test bike.
THE THROTTLE TWISTERS AT HOME
Despite some top notch competition, Ryan Villopoto is expected by many to become a three-time AMA National Supercross Champion by the time the series winds down in May. He obvious was healthy despite Saturday nights crashes.
Mike Bell not only won the Superbowl of Motocross at the Los Angeles Coliseum on his way to winning the 1980 AMA Supercross title, but he came back won the first ever mountain bike race that was held on the same track some six years later.
The day after he rode twice with Peter Sagan, three-time AMA Superbike Josh Hayes showed up for the Sunday ride to get even more miles in.
South African Tyla Rattray is part of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team. Racing a 250cc bike in the Supercross series this year, Tyla will switch to a big bore 450cc bike for the outdoor motocross series that starts in May.
Nicky Hayden and his factory Ducati.
Cal Crutchlow is thought by many to be a future MotoGP World Champion. The aggressive Manx man has a mean sprint on his bicycle.
This is a classic shot of Johnny O'Mara who led the Specialized mountain bike group ride the day before the Anaheim Supercross. And lest you think none of these guys have anything to do with cycling besides getting some free bikes, the mechanic yelling at Johnny to go faster happens to be none other than Jim Felt - the namesake to the Felt bicycle company!
Thanks to Specialized, Surf City Cyclery and all the two-wheeled champions for a great day.