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Issue No. 6 | May 2023


Spotlight: Alex Fuentes

The first face you might see when visiting a Mill District Velo ride is that of Alex Fuentes. Chances are, he’ll have a big, welcoming smile on his face. We’ve been so lucky to have Alex as a part of the team this Velo season as a massive support of Velo Operations. His genuine love and passion for cycling shine through; he’s happy to be amongst the cycling community and that enthusiasm is infectious. We wanted to share some more about Alex, how he found cycling and his favorite Sonoma County insider ride spots.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Hayward, CA but never actually lived there. My mum was in the airline industry for more than 30 years since leaving Australia in the late 80s, so we moved around a bunch. I’ve lived in the Philippines for the first part of my primary/elementary school years and spent a lot of summers in Sydney, NSW (which is pretty much my family’s second home).

Most of my time growing up has been spent in Northern California, in Fairfield (Solano County), which is where I really got into cycling.  Sonoma County living is pretty recent for me and I’ve spent the last 6 years here in Monte Rio.

Outside of being the fun behind-the-scenes person responsible for set up of a lot of your favorite Mill District Velo rides this season, I do work a day job in Marin county four days out of the week at a large biotech firm. There I am a Technical Lead for the large scale biomanufacturing department where we produce hemophilia medicine correctly and compliantly within FDA guidelines and all that fun stuff.

What brought you to Sonoma County?
Honestly, the riding brought me out here. I grew up going to Bodega Bay to camp every year as a kid with my grandpa and never realized how great the riding was around that part of Sonoma county alone.  It wasn’t until I joined the UC Davis cycling team and attended the annual Team Training Camp (which is based out of the UC Davis Marine Biology Lab in Bodega Bay) that I realized how amazing Sonoma county was.

I never knew climbs like Coleman Valley Rd., Kings Ridge, and Old Caz ever existed. I think I was forever changed after attending that camp. Later after the camp, one of my team mates, Larissa, told me there were events called Grasshoppers and I should attend one.  From there, things kind of blew up in my cycling world.  I never knew that road bikes could go off road and doing so could be so much fun.  I just wanted to be out in Sonoma more and more. Eventually there came a point where I was out here so often that I started to think about living here and it happened.  And it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Why do you ride a bike?
I honestly started riding a bike in high school because we only had one car that my mum used for going to work.  I did commute to school. But I was really into fishing and was in the fishing club in middle school up until high school. A lot of the places where I wanted to fish were far away from where I actually lived, like Lake Solano and Lake Berryessa. At the time, I only had a mountain bike (that I put slicks on)to get from my home in Fairfield to Berryessa. I definitely would get strange looks from some of the local roadies.  Eventually riding on its own would become more fun.

Just as I did then, I still ride a bike for the freedom and adventure to go places you wouldn’t be able to go or see with a car. I also love how cycling can have several disciplines within itself and allows you to kind of find yourself within it. It brings people of different backgrounds together so easily. I’ve ridden several places locally and overseas and despite differences in language or customs, cycling never failed in bringing people together;  group rides were group rides, pacelines were pacelines, and cycling was cycling.

In addition to the social aspect, I love baked goods as well as coffee. Pastries and donuts with coffee are my weakness. Naturally, I also like to ride to cafes/bakeries that happen to be really far away.

Where’s your favorite ride stop and why?
My favorite ride stop is Lightwave Cafe in Monte Rio, hands down. They are conveniently located on Bohemian Highway to connect to a lot of West County’s greatest (route) hits.   They also have the best flat whites in Sonoma county. Actually, all their coffee is amazing. In addition to that, the pastries are great as well as the many other things on their menu, like bagels and croissant sandos. But I love their coconut curry over rice after a long ride.

Depending on the day, I’ll either start my ride from there (since they are located down the street from my house) or end it there. If it’s a weekend, I usually start the ride from there because that is when they have special cheesecakes on the menu. I try to be there right at opening time because the cheesecake sells out really fast and it is an absolute delight to the senses; A Ratatouille moment.

The owners, Ori and Gal, are also the sweetest. So please check them out and say “Hi!” plus let them know that I sent you. 🙂

What is your favorite ride route?
This one is really tough because I have so many and up to now, I am discovering heaps of new routes. If it had to be one ride route, it would be the Willow Creek route (from Bodega to Occidental).

The route starts at the corner of Highway 1 and Willow Creek Rd. where the former Indian restaurant used to be (I recovered from many bonked rides here on garlic naan and tea). The initial road section is pretty rough, but a lot of it had been repaved over the past few years. It really keeps you on your toes if you want to go fast on this section.  The best part is going through the gate onto the dirt and climbing up toward Occidental. There’s a whole lot to see amongst the trees and it’s a fun climb on any bike (especially a road bike) . This route is pure Sonoma County theatre at its best. It’s really crazy to think that the dirt section used to be a passable option for cars to travel from the Jenner/Bodega Bay area to Occidental a long time ago(try to find the old rusted car buried amongst the trees on your climb up).

My ideal day in Sonoma County would consist of inviting friends to meet up at one of my favorite bakeries, Gold Coast in Duncan’s Mills, for a cheeky morning coffee and pastry when they open. After a copious amount of carbs being consumed and chatting about nothing and everything, we would take off up toward the coast and veer left toward Occidental on gravel via Willow Creek, blast down toward Occidental and back toward Monte Rio to grab extra water/food somewhere along the way to keep us fueled on the trek to Old Caz road. Old Caz Rd. has a punchy climb up to a gate that leads to an amazing gravel descent and creek crossing. Depending on everyone’s mood, we would either keep going up Fort Ross or King’s Ridge at a photo pace. If we were feeling especially casual, then we could proceed to the final stop of the day which is the mandatory secret swimming hole.

This entails riding to the secret swimming hole, hiding the bikes in shrubbery so as to not arouse suspicion with the local constabulary, and jumping in with your bibs. This is an absolutely amazing essential on warm West County days (which is happening now by the way). :)). Jump on in, the water is fine.


Also in this Issue

Update from The Kings

Thank you so much for a wonderful spring. From the Chef Cycling Series, to Coffee with the Kings rides, Grasshopper Adventure Series collabs and the Toaster’s Rides, we were so happy to host something for everyone.

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Ted’s Training Tip

Gone are the days of pumping your tires to 120psi and bouncing like a pogostick down the road. Recent changes in the industry see rims and tires getting wider.

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