Whether as a mode of transportation, a leisurely activity or a form of competition, the number of cyclists across the country is rising and that trend is just as apparent in Clovis. With paved running and cycling trails and bike lanes, there are plenty of opportunities to ride. For the more adventurous cyclist, there are also a number of good riding opportunities on the outskirts of the city. For the competitive cyclist, a criterium will be held this weekend.
The second Clovis Criterium will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 25 at Clovis Hills Community Church off Willow Avenue. A criterium is bicycle race on a circuit road course.
Tyler Pearce, event promoter, said he started the event when he realized there are a lot of cyclists in the community but not a lot of events. After traveling to some cycling events himself and realizing how expensive the sport could become, he knew he had to do something about it and approached the church.
“The church has just been super awesome to allow us to use their facility,” said Pearce. “Last year was pretty cool. We had a bunch of local racers that came out and had a good time. This year we’re trying to expand and get more people from out of town.”
Pearce said the Clovis Criterium has partnered with the Sequoia Cycling Classic, which is held April 26 in Visalia, and that partnership has drawn in more participants from across the state.
Even children will have a chance to participate. There will be an adventure zone where one to five-year-olds can ride striders.
“It’s a kid friendly and family friendly event, and we hope people come and check it out,” Pearce said. “I want to grow this event into something that is really big and not just be about racing but the race being the show and building an event around the show.”
Clovis’ very own Mayor Nathan Magsig is an avid cyclist who has competed in numerous competitions and can be found enjoying the more strenuous trails on the outskirts of Clovis such as one of his favorites - the 75 mile Pine Flat Loop - or heading north to Auberry, then on towards Millerton and the Sky Harbor Trail.
Magsig was not always a cyclist. He was first introduced to the sport in 2008. The AMGEN Tour of California was scheduled to come through Clovis in 2009, and Magsig said a group of cyclists approached Clovis City Council about participating in a 40 mile segment of the race - from North Fork to Clovis.
“I started riding at that time to help prepare for the event and really enjoyed it,” Magsig said. “After that event I continued riding and rode in my first criterium a few months after that event.”
He started racing for Central Valley Cycling and continued to race. Later he joined Momentum Racing, which later became Global CTI. He competed in a variety of races across California, state champion races, and local races such as the Climb to Kaiser.
“The Central Valley has incredible cyclists in our midst and to compete at the highest levels, you really have to be dedicated to the sport and spend 12-14 hours on your bike every week,” Magsig said. “It doesn’t mean you ride every day, but you need a coach and a solid training regiment to keep you at peak performance.”
To ride competitively and do well, Magsig said it takes sheer determination. In the last five years, he’s been involved in seven bicycle crashes that resulted in multiple broken bones, a punctured lung, and a broken femur that is now back together with a rod and screw - but he still keeps cycling.
“To race competitively, you have to be prepared to, when you’re injured, get back on your bike and race,” Magsig said. “What I enjoy about cycling is it’s a lot like life. You get out of it what you put into it, and the bike is a very honest instrument. If you don’t train well and try to race, you won’t do well. But, if you put in a solid effort and you are committed to the bike, you will do well in races.”
Kirk Bailey, manager of Clovis Bicycle Company, has been involved in the cycling world for years. Like many children, he began cycling at a young age as a means of independence. Never the type to just sit around, Bailey joined the army when he grew up. While serving as a crew member on an army helicopter that was supporting the National Guard in California, the helicopter suffered engine failure and crashed. Bailey’s leg was shattered, and he nearly lost it. After spending six months in the hospital, he was released. When he went back to military duty, he could no longer run so he did alternate physical therapy - cycling.
When he later retired from the military as a 20 year veteran, he continued to participate in cycling and major events such as ultra marathon cycling. He worked as a professional race mechanic for 18 years and was a mechanic on the Tour de France race from 2000-2001. He said the work was grueling. They would get up between 5 and 6 a.m., pump numerous spare tires to have available to cyclists, follow the race on a motorcycle five to six hours a day - with no bathroom breaks - and, at the end of the day, wash all the wheels and head to the next city to set up.
“At the end of three weeks there, I was ready to come home,” Bailey said.
Bailey also worked as a mechanic on a couple Tours of California and the Redlands Bicycle Classic. Now, he prefers to spend his time more quietly at the bicycle shop in Clovis. Every day he utilizes Clovis’ paved trails, riding his bike to work and back with his pug Crank riding along behind in a little red trailer.
Bailey said he has noticed more people cycling in the area, and he has also noticed more women becoming involved in the sport. Another draw to cycling that he’s noticed is saving on gasoline.
“When gas went down, everyone stopped cycling, but the ones that were committed to it - it didn’t really stop them,” he said.
For more information on Clovis trails, see visitclovis.com/pdf/ClovisTrails.pdf. For more information on the Clovis Criterium, visit facebook.com/clovishillscrit