Western Wheelers History
December 30, 2000
In the mid 90's I became very active in the Western Wheelers and
started collecting as many back issues of the Flat Tyre as I could and slowly working my way through them. I never did acquire issues
much before 1974 which described the very early history. I started talking with some of the old timers like Ellen Fletcher and Frank La
Fetra and discovered several sources of information. I had planned to publish an article in the Flat Trye back in 1995 but have managed to
postpone it till now. So only days before the end of the millennium, I am finally getting around to doing so.
One of the best is an article that was published in the "Menlo Park
Recorder" on May 30, 1973. This article describes the formation and philosophy of the club.
Next I contacted Skip La Fetra, who, I believe, is the longest continuous member of Western Wheelers (and still participating). We
met on January 23, 1995 at Togo's in Santa Clara to talk about the 1973 article and get Skip's recognitions. Following is a summary of
his comments (with some of my own).
Skip joined WW around 1970 when he was a sophomore at Woodside High School and has been a continuous member ever since. He went to
Stanford in 1973 and is now  a Home PC System Manager at HP. He was on the board in 1971 or so to represent the younger generation.
He did several centuries and the Davis Double in those days but does not have a lot of time left over now for bicycling.
The club was formed by students from Menlo-Atherton around 1968. Roy Peterson ran the club in the 1970-1973 time frame (one man show). His
wife, Carol and son, Eric were very active. Carol Peterson became very active in the club before her son Eric did.
My understanding of their activity is
"The before time"
Roy Peterson becomes very active
Roy and Carol are very active <=== this is when I (Skip) joined
Roy, Carol, and Eric are very active
Roy passes away
Eric goes off to college, etc
Carol remains very active
Carol becomes inactive (withdraws or passes away? I can't remember which)
Club goes different direction?
Skip wrote some articles for the Flat Tire, as it was called then.
Some of the members at that time
Herb Messler, Ted Johnson (dt ?), Mike Harding, Ben Lefkowitz (1973), Mike and Steve Jacobowski (owners of Chain Reaction) (1960/9) ,Frank
and Jan La Fetra (1972/3), Chris Wiscavage (dt ?), Howard Messiner (197?). Skip has some pictures of early members.
Original club philosophy was social rides with some charitable and
advocacy activities as secondary. Many individual members were deeply involved in advocacy then, as they are now.
One of the early "standing" rides in the 1970-1972 time frame was the Tuesday Night ride which met behind Sugden & Lynch (was
Josylin's) bike shop on Santa Cruz Ave in Menlo Park. After the bike shop closed
the site was taken over by Menlo Sports. The group grew from 6-7 people up to 20. The ride languished and stopped and then started
several times. The Tuesday Evening Ride often rode the Portola Loop. Other popular destinations were Mt. Eden loop, often with a short stop
at Wildwood park just off of Hiway 9, looping Sand Hill to Whisky Hill over to Woodside Road, taking the Alameda north and climbing Jefferson
(in Redwood City).
Howard Meissner (need to check on this) started the "Thursday" group back in the mid-1970's. [He led the rides until 1991 when he became
ill. Pete Blasberg coordinates this group today with different people leading the rides for a month at at time. - RAB note] - [No,
apparently, Arlene and Dave Marshall started the Thursday group. - RAB note]
[Pete Blasberg and Carol Shaw started a Tuesday morning group in 1993 which meets at the Westmoor Shopping Center at Fremont and Mary. This
group grew from 2 to 15-20 through 1995 and rides the Portola Loop every Tuesday. -RAB note]
The original WW century was called the San Andres and was co-sponsored with the
Valley Spokesmen(?). The first event was in 1971 and was a 100 mile ride starting at Mitchell Park or possibly Gunn High School
with a route similar to the Sequoia. The route was different and became more difficult each year. The name was changed to Sequoia
later. The original ride was a moderate, family-oriented ride and a goal was to raise money for charity.
Other notes of interest
The Valley Spokesmen and Skyline clubs were founded prior to 1970.
Palo Alto had bike lanes with raised curbs in the 70's. At one point, in time, bicyclists were forced to ride on the sidewalks.
Flat Tyre mailing parties go back to the '70s.
The Palo Alto Parks and Rec department used to co-sponsor the Club century.
December 01, 2004.