2023 Bike Champion of the Year: Bill Petty

During National Bike Month each year, Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition (SCBC) recognizes one individual who inspires others to embrace biking and gives back to our bike community. Our 2023 Bike Champion of the Year Bill Petty is a dedicated bike commuter, Climate Rider with SCBC’s Green Fondo fundraising team, and weekly rider with the Santa Rosa Taco Tuesday Ride.

When you meet Bill Petty, you will soon discover that he’s one of the most joyful people you will ever meet and that he will go out of his way to help anyone who wants to start cycling.

Bill’s bike commuting journey began in 2010. Prior to that he was an occasional mountain bike rider. Then Jack Hartnett, Len Hirshi and Ron Van de Kraats of the Santa Rosa Cycling Club convinced Bill he needed to give road cycling a try. For the past eleven years Bill has made bike commuting a passion that has led to one-of-a-kind experiences such as bike voyages to 49ers football games.

What stands out with Bill is he shares the joy he experiences biking and inspires others to join him. A Service Advisor at Hansel Subaru, Bill rallies a team of coworkers to participate in Bike to Work Day every year. In 2017, he rode to Windsor to meet up with coworkers and then picked up more along the route; a total of seventeen joined him.

In 2018, he formed the team Sonoma Strong for the Bay Area Bike Challenge, which placed first in Sonoma County for the most daily rides and miles accrued.

In 2019, Bill brought back team Sonoma Strong to take first place once again. Bill showed his dedication to supporting new riders for Bike Month as their team captain.

“Biking is my morning coffee!” Bill does not drink coffee. Instead, he uses his morning bike commute to energize him for the day. Bike commuting provides time to enjoy the early morning and evening hours. During that time Bill can reflect on his goals for the day and prioritize what he needs to accomplish. On the ride home it’s time to relax and reflect on how the day went; by the time he’s home the work day is far behind him.

Bike pilgrimages to 49er football games

Bill is part of the 49er faithful, with a tradition of biking to night games. On game day he leaves between 3:30-4:30 a.m. and then rides the entire 127.5 mile to the stadium –  almost nine hours of traveling through five counties. When Bill gets asked how it’s possible to bike all the way to Levi’s Stadium, his answer is:

“If you want to do something then, set a goal and achieve it. Nothing is impossible. If you put your mind to it then you will find a way to accomplish that goal.”

Bill loves all aspects of bike culture. When he and his wife Stephanie and their two dogs Abby and Daisey joined the Santa Rosa Taco Tuesday Ride last year it was only a couple of months before Bill bought and started customizing his own stretch bike. On Saturday April 22nd Bill will be leading the North of the Gate Community Bike ride with Santa Rosa Taco Tuesday founder Juan Chavez.

Encouraging new riders

Along with inspiring coworkers, training friends for their first century ride, and helping new riders embrace bike life, one of Bill’s biggest accomplishments was encouraging his wife Stephanie to start biking with him this past year. He says it has been one of the most rewarding journeys he’s ever experienced.

“A big accomplishment was the day that I finally got Stephanie bit by the cycling bug. In years past she was always worried about slowing me down, even though I assured her that I enjoy riding fast or slow. But she never seemed to enjoy riding. Then out of nowhere it clicked, she hopped on my e-bike and came back smiling. I think one of the key factors that allowed her to enjoy the ride was that I got a cart to tow the dogs. She loves taking the dogs out for rides and our dogs love it too.  I know I spend a lot of time riding. I am thankful that she understands how much cycling means to me and I am so glad she joins me on rides frequently now.”

Bill Petty shares his love of cycling and all the benefits and joy that it brings to his life. He is tireless in his efforts to encourage and inspire everyone around him to embrace biking. His investment in helping others learn how to bike commute, train for big rides and get inspiration from Bill’s bike story is why we’ve selected Bill Petty as our Bike Champion of the Year.  

“Thank you for sharing my story. I am very thankful for the joy cycling has given me. I hope it makes people smile and a good reason to hop on a bike.” – Bill Petty