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National Bike Month inspires locals

Event highlights Loomis' need for more biking, walking paths
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Spandex bike shorts and colorful jerseys aren’t required to ride a bike to work. Just ask Greg Obranovich, of Loomis, who thinks jeans and a neon-colored jacket are just fine for his regular 4-mile commute to Sutter Roseville Medical Center. “As a kid in Napa I rode my bike everywhere. I wore jeans then. My friends and I would take off on our bikes all day with our fishing poles and go to the lake. I always enjoyed it,” he said of biking. Obranovich, who serves as a Loomis planning commissioner, is just one of many locals recognizing National Bike Month in May by pedaling as much as they can. Town councilman Russ Kelley, a bicycle enthusiast, is celebrating Bike Month by committing to ride 200 miles in May and is disappointed with Loomis’ lack of biking and walking paths. Kelley is on a mission to have the town add shoulder space on roads for bikers and walkers whenever capital improvements are made. “We talk about walking and biking places in Loomis, but we can’t. Walking and riding bikes is a transportation option we need,” Kelley said. “You take your life in your own hands between the bridge on Horseshoe Bar Road to the stop sign (where Horseshoe Bar and Laird roads meet.) It’s very dangerous.” With Kelley’s encouragement, the town is reviewing what needs to be done to widen roadways to the town’s right-of-way. “We can start building paths using leftover materials to build up the shoulder. Then, when capital improvements are made they can add up to five feet of biking-walking trail,” he said. Kelley said a bike trail will be included in plans for Taylor Road between Sierra College Boulevard and downtown Loomis, as part of the proposal being drawn up for the railroad property. He said some grants are available for bike trails and for “pathways to school areas.” Kelley identified the town’s best trails as those on Taylor Road, from King to Del Oro High School and on “King between Barker and Humphrey.” Joe Bittaker is an admitted bicycle fanatic and owns 16 bikes – his favorite being a 1973 orange Holdsworth Professional. The collection consists of 1960s and 1970s road bikes and includes a vintage 1948 Italian bike used by a professional racer. Most of his bikes have been purchased on Ebay. The Loomis resident rides a reproduction of a vintage Schwinn cruiser from his home off of Laird Road to his office at Landmark Construction, on King Road. Bittaker calls the bike a “behemoth” and said it weighs about 60 pounds including its fenders and three baskets. The business owner said he carries everything from groceries picked up at Raley’s, to boxes of business proposals he recently delivered to Sierra College, and even cases of wine from Secret Ravine Winery. “I can carry a ridiculous amount in those baskets,” he said. He also owns a beach cruiser outfitted to carry a 9-foot surfboard and a 10-foot kayak. Bittaker bemoans the bike trails in town and said most are not wide enough for children bikers. He said he would not allow his own children to ride on the Loomis portion of Laird Road until they were adults. “Many people refuse to ride the curvy section of Horseshoe Bar. Once you’re on the county roads it’s much better,” he said. Bittaker began his adult biking in the 1980s when he used riding to help him quit smoking. He also participates in numerous charity races each year, but said, “I’m the least serious racer out there.” Visit bikecommutemonth.com to sign up for the area’s Million Mile Challenge and view participants in the Sacramento area. BICYCLE FACTS World record: 152.2 miles per hour Bike count: One billion worldwide It’s the law: Bike helmets for minors under age 18 1690 First bike-type vehicle invented, had no pedals 1840 First real bike invented by a Scottish blacksmith 1900 Bike with same size tires makes debut Source: didyouknow.org, CA Department of Motor Vehicles