The legacy of the late Steve Larsen, a Davis cycling-community icon, has been memorialized in the form of Spirit Rider — a steel and powder-coated arch of inspiring design that will stand over a bicycle park in his name at Ron & Mary Brown Stadium at Davis High School.
Designed and sculpted by Shingle Springs artist Keith Peschel, the arch was lifted into place on Friday. More than $125,000 in community donations and sweat equity combined to fund the plaza.
Larsen, who died during a workout in 2009 near his adopted home in Bend, Ore., was one of cycling’s most versatile competitors — said to have been the only American ever to ride in world championships in five different disciplines.
“The arch will be part of the city’s Art in Public Places collection and is the first city-sponsored public art piece to be located on the grounds of a Davis school,” Davis Public Relations Manager Bob Bowen told The Enterprise.
The completion of the Steve Larsen Plaza at the entrance of the three-year-old Brown Stadium includes rack-style parking for 125 bikes, more than a dozen trees and the impressive, 25-foot-high arch that features two cycles — one embracing road racing, the other paying homage to recreational and mountain biking.
The project began with Davis resident and cycling enthusiast Lydia Delis-Schlosser.
Delis-Schlosser, a friend of Larsen’s, originally wanted to do something to help raise money and awareness for Phase 1 of the construction of Brown Stadium.
It was around that time that Larsen died …
“It was then that I approached the (Davis High) Blue & White Foundation to see if I could do a bike rack and plaque in honor of Steve,” Delis-Schlosser said.
Schlosser received encouragement from then-schools Superintendent James Hammond and cycling enthusiast Joe Krovoza, before his election to the City Council, to do more. Krovoza suggested “Why not do a whole plaza?”
“The magnitude of the project grew, thanks to a lot of people. So many got behind it and it evolved,” Delis-Schlosser recalls, adding that “the more than generous contributions” of local engineer William Larson has been a key to the project’s success. Grants from Sutter Davis Hospital, the Yolo/Solano Air Quality District board of directors and local orthodontist Matthew Molitor were keys as well, she said.
An official dedication of the plaza is scheduled for noon Friday, May 3. Larsen’s widow Carrie and their five children will be in attendance.
Larsen is a 1987 Davis High graduate who, with Carrie, owned Wheelworks. He was a sponsor of the Mad Cows Triathlon racing team and an organizer of many of this city’s numerous cycling events.
About those sleek bike sculptures on top of the arch…
“(There) are two fluid bicycles that seem to be in motion,” Bowen points out. “(They embody) Steve’s versatility and success in his sport. The steel-arch structure with a colorful finish also features sculpted sprockets and spokes. A plaque on the artwork states: ‘Be fast. Be bold. Embrace your goals. Above all, follow your dreams.’”
Delis-Schlosser says the completion of the project is “very personal,” adding that she’s delighted it has well captured her late friend’s spirit, in several ways.
“It’s very symbolic: how it evolved and the extent of the project … it’s so Steve,” the local designer and project consultant explains. “Steve never did anything halfway. (He) did everything the best he possibly could — and more.”
Delis-Schlosser says the arch signifies another collective, community triumph: “Going after your goals. We had a lot of bumps in the road, but so many people helped us get through this.
“It’s really emotional. It means a lot to me, to honor the kind of guy Steve was…”
Notes: Spirit Rider, according to Delis-Schlosser, “represents the strength, integrity, energy, passion, commitment, determination and success of those who believe in themselves and never give up.” …Larsen’s résumé was extensive. A host of junior and pro victories were later augmented by road and XTERRA mountain-bike triathlon triumphs. …Other groups and individuals who were key in making the Steve Larsen Bike Plaza possible, according to project managers, were the Davis Civic Arts Commission, the city of Davis, Davis High School students, Davis Firefighters Local 3494, Mark Deamer, AT&T and Yolo Arts.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-747-8047.