Doug Thayer was a Davis kid who always had a flair for art.
Throughout high school, his talent emerged. So promising was his work that he attended Southern Oregon University, majoring in art.
Meanwhile, Thayer’s parents Rob and Lacey were bicycling enthusiasts. Doug loved riding, too, especially after his folks set him up with an old, rigid mountain bike when he was 10. Father and son would trek to Winters and back. A year later, Doug’s dad took Thayer into the wildness to ride.
By the time he was at Davis High, the youthful Thayer was busting new trails on a single-track rig that he would make do through college.
While in Oregon, Thayer realized the Great Outdoors had back roads he’d never before seen. Thayer, his rugged bike in tow, got farther and farther off his art track — and deeper and deeper into the forests and valley around him.
“It’s where I really caught the bug,” Thayer told The Enterprise this week, adding that he enjoys snowboarding, too.
Fast-forward to 2014 …
Thayer, 33, last month captured the first leg of the California Enduro Series (on Peavine Mountain near Reno, Nev.) which pits some of the best mountain bikers against some of the Sierra Nevada’s sternest cycling courses.
In winning the pro men’s division, Thayer finds — at his advanced age — he’s really pretty good.
Riding semi-recreationally, Thayer now ponders just how far to go with mountain-bike racing …
“I’m at the stage where I really don’t get paid,” he explains. “I’m more an aspiring pro. I’m not sure if I’ll ever make money off it, but my results keep getting better.
“I guess I’ll keep doing it as long as I enjoy it … as long as I can be competitive.”
But along the way, real life seems to be creeping into Thayer’s calendar.
Residing in Tahoe City with his wife Sarah for the past eight years, the 1999 DHS grad installs and maintains hot tubs, but remember that art major?
Sarah and Doug have begun to build a business called Shredhead Printing, featuring Thayer’s artwork on colorful hats. Thayer says the initial response — mostly at Truckee open markets this summer — “has been outstanding. We’re hoping to expand to shirts and fine-art prints. I’m getting to use my art degree, finally.”
Hot tubs, making everyday wear artful, mountain mashing … so many trails to travel.
Thayer’s past success (a 2012 downhill victory at the Kirkwood Super D among his finest hours) has led to sponsorship: Cycle Paths (Truckee) and Rocky Mountain Bicycles (Vancouver, B.C.) and a place in the third stage of the California Enduro Series on Aug. 30 at Northstar.
(Thayer passed on stage 2 thanks to a friend’s wedding.)
So, if he gets another top-podium placement later this month, will Thayer put more emphasis on his biking exploits?
“If I was a single dude, living in a van, I’d give it a good shot. But right now, I’m just doing the best I can,” Thayer explains, knowing his 9-to-5 job and weekend markets with his art crimp his practice time.
Notes: Thayer’s brother Neal lives near Sarah and Doug and is a recreational mountain biker. His sister Stephanie is a Davis resident who “is an around-town rider,” says Doug. … Thayer says first-class mountain bikes can cost as much as $10,000. His isn’t chopped liver — a $5,000 beast that can stand the downhill thunder. … So why should somebody try mountain biking? “It’s exhilarating, it gets you out in nature, requires coordination and physical endurance. It’s a good, good cardiovascular and full-body workout,” says Thayer, who adds: “But first of all, it’s really fun.” … Thayer fans can find and order Doug’s work at www.shredheadprinting.com.