Schmeck has seen cycling come full circle

Community Portrait
By: Michael Kirby
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Auburn’s Carter Schmeck has been involved in cycling for the last 25 years, and in that quarter century he has seen a dynamic change in the popularity of the sport. With the wildly successful Amgen Tour of California bicycle road race roaring through Auburn this Sunday, thousands of people will line the route through Placer County to get a glimpse of some of the best riders in the world, including champions like Lance Armstrong and three-time Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer. Schmeck remembers a time when cyclists did not garner such acclaim. “In the time I have been involved in cycling, I’ve seen it just explode,” Schmeck said. “Twenty-five years ago if you saw a road biker on the road, he was just in the way. Now when you see a bicyclist it reminds everyone of someone they know. It might be your son, brother, nephew, daughter or wife ... seems everybody rides or knows someone that does.” Schmeck got serious on a bike in high school. He is a 1988 graduate of Del Oro High School where he played four years of football and used his road riding for training. “I would get a few snickers because bicycle training was not yet mainstream, it was a little untraditional,” Schmeck said. The training paid off and Schmeck was a red shirt freshman at UC Davis in the 1988-89 football season. “But I found out at Davis just how small and slow I was,” Schmeck said. The bicycle thing was working out much better than football for Schmeck. It was a good fit for him, and he had already won a few bike races, becoming successful on the racing circuit. Schmeck raced with Auburn’s Velo Freni, sponsored generously by Auburn’s Bill Marengo and the Bicycle Emporium, which Schmeck managed. In his senior year at UC Davis, Schmeck rode for the university’s team and, playing a major role, helped UC Davis win the National Collegian Championship in 1994. Schmeck took advantage of an offer to ride in Europe and raced in Belgium, living with a family and really seeing how bicycle racing was done on a world level. Schmeck has had the opportunity to race against Lance Armstrong early in his career, and once had a chance meeting with three-time Tour de France winner and semi-local Greg LeMond on Auburn-Folsom Road when Schmeck was in high school. “There has been a real cultural change in the way society views bicycling, especially the health benefits involved in cycling,” he said. Schmeck’s degree is in exercise physiology, and regularly he gets out and enters races in the CAT 1-2 Pro Masters 35-plus bracket and does well. “Sure I’m older. I don’t take the chances I used to, but it’s real fun. I see guys at races I used to race against 20 years ago, and we’re still having a great time, still competitive,” he said. Schmeck is quite the entrepreneur and in 1997 opened Mobile Rock, bringing portable climbing walls to events, and in 2007 became part owner of Rocknasium, a climbing gym in Davis. His company supports and sponsors a couple of cycling teams. Schmeck lives in Auburn with his wife and business partner Taylor, and still gets out a couple of times a week to ride.