The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame held its annual induction ceremony at Freeborn Hall on Sunday. The ceremony marked the first time the event had been held west of the Mississippi River.
The keynote speaker for the event was Levi Leipheimer. Leipheimer won the bronze medal in the road time trial for cycling at the Beijing Olympics. A world-renowned cyclist and native of Santa Rosa, he also placed first overall in both the 2007 and 2008 Amgen Tour of California.
Leiphemer said that of all bicycling communities in the United States, Davis is the model.
“Davis is the leader of the pack,” he said.
Mike Plant, one of the inductees of 2008 present on Sunday night, also spoke highly of Davis‘ bicycling tradition.
“Just walking around Davis,” Plant said, “the number of bikes is very impressive.“
Plant was a former member of the American speed skating team in the 1980 Olympics. After retiring from speed skating, Plant began a career in the world of cycling and is now the president of USA Cycling, the national governing body of cycling.
The other inductees included Cheri Elliott, Jeanne Golay, and Jimmy Walthour.
Cheri Elliot was active during the 1980s and 1990s. She won four BMX World Championships and is considered a BMX pioneer by the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame.
Jeanne Golay raced during the 1980s and 1990s as well. She is a five-time World Championship medalist and has won nine National Championship titles in road racing.
Jimmy Walthour, who died in 1983, was inducted for his accomplishments in track racing during the 1920s and 1930s. Throughout his career, he competed in 89 six-day races, placing first in 14 races and second in 15 races.
The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame is a national organization created to promote the sport of cycling in America, including road racing, BMX biking and mountain biking.
Founded at Somerville, New Jersey in 1985, the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame has been searching for a new permanent capital.
Bob Bowen, public relations manager for the city of Davis, confirmed that Davis, in cooperation with Davis‘ own California Bicycle Museum, is being considered as a potential new home for the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. Many in the cycling world are paying attention to Davis right now, Bowen said.
Among the participants in next year’s Tour of California will be Lance Armstrong, six-time Tour de France winner. The tour will begin in Sacramento on Feb. 14, with the second stage starting in Davis on Feb. 15. The tour is expected to draw many international participants and is well on its way to becoming the largest cycling event in the United States.
The Hall of Fame ceremony, coupled with Lance Armstrong’s participation in the 2009 tour, has shifted much of the focus of the American biking world to Davis. As a result, there seems to be a good chance that Davis could become the new home for the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, Bowen said.
The League of American Bicyclists awarded Davis its highest distinction, the Platinum Level Bicycle-Friendly Community. Davis was the first American city to ever receive this acknowledgement.
According to Bowen, moving the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame to Davis would have a profound effect on the city.
“Very few other cities have as great an emphasis on cycling as Davis,” Bowen said. “Were Davis to be the new home of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, it would be a real feather in our hat.”
RONNY SMITH can be reached at email@example.com.