* Editor’s note: This is the first of a three-part series looking at the evolution of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, its current offerings at Third and B streets and Community Day on Saturday, presented by the Hall and The Davis Enterprise.
Less than three years ago, the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame was a faded memory that lived in boxes in a storage shed in New Jersey.
Founded 20 years ago to showcase the contributions of the Garden State to the history of cycling, the facility evolved into a cloudy vision of what cycling meant to the United States.
That first attempt at a full-blown Hall of Fame in Bridgewater Township ran into a problem finding appropriate housing and, after some years in a storefront presentation, was committed to crates. Those crates wouldn’t be opened for almost six years, until the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame was awarded a new home in Davis.
Now, the Hall of Fame staff and The Davis Enterprise have joined forces to present the inaugural free-admission Community Day on Saturday.
The normal $5 entrance charge is waived, allowing local residents to tour cycling’s new national shrine for free between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“What working with The Enterprise allows us to do is really get the word out that we’re here, that we’re open and we want the community to be a part of this,” Executive Director Joe Herget said.
“As long as we can open the doors and let the people come explore, free of charge, and do these open community days … it’s a great way for us to give back to the community.”
The Hall of Fame — part museum, part membership organization and part advocate for all aspects of cycling — celebrates and preserves cycling’s history, promotes safety and fitness while encouraging participation in all cycling activities.
In that nationwide search for the new site, Davis earned the honor over 10 other applicant cities.
Dan Kehew and his California Bicycle Museum, which featured the historic Pierce-Miller cycling collection, jump-started the city’s application. When UC Davis, city officials and private contributors joined the process, Davis clearly outshone other hopefuls like Dayton, Ohio;Greenville, N.C.; and Worchester, Mass.
Davis was chosen as the future home in recognition of the community’s strong connections with cycling, according to former Hall of Fame President Dawn Wylong.
The city pioneered the creation of bicycle lanes in California more than 40 years ago, and the Davis Bike Club hosts premier cycling events — including the annual Davis Double Century and the Fourth of July Criterium, one of the oldest races in the western United States.
Once the massive U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame mothball collection arrived in town, it took almost 10 months to ready the facility, which opened at Third and B streets on April 24, 2010.
A few months later, Herget (a Pennsylvania resident) was given a two-year contract to direct operations.
The Hall is now open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, in conjunction with Davis Farmers Market hours.
Anthony Costello of Davis, the recently installed president of the Hall’s board of directors, took over for New Jersey resident Wylong last year.
Costello and Herget want to see regular hours at the Hall of Fame increase. They both say they’re happy with the reception the community has given the new facility and believe as new docents and other volunteers sign on, the role of the nonprofit facility will grow.
Special appearances by biking legends have dotted the first-year calendar, an expanded educational outreach is bringing more and more elementary school classrooms for tours and Herget says his facility “is a terrific meeting place … or reception venue.”
A wedding was even held there last November.
Notes: Lance Armstrong, Diamond Jim Brady, Nancy Burkhart, Greg LeMond and Pop Brennan all had a hand in the treasures now safely tucked into Davis. As the artifacts and memorabilia move from boxes to the display floor, exhibits change. “There’s enough in storage and being given to the Hall with each passing month that we can keep our displays new and interesting,” Herget adds. …Normal admission is $5. …Visit the facility website at http:///www.usbhof.org.
— Cory Golden contributed to this story. Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or (530) 747-8047.