Coffee and Conversation – Fuel for Cyclists

IF EVER you doubted the stimulating properties of the coffee bean — look no further than Montclair Village on a Wednesday or Sunday morning.
Gathered inside the biggest coffee shop in Montclair is a group of cyclists ready to roll. They’re called the Royal Grounders, and they’re fueled by the same black brew that the rest of us use, only they seem to get more mileage.
“Our cycling ‘tribe’ started about five years ago,” says local attorney Howard Neal, “as an informal group of mostly Montclair residents.”
They convene for their coffee at 8 a.m., then ride north to Lake Temescal and up to Skyline Boulevard. And that’s just the beginning.
“When we started riding five years ago, that was all us 40- and 50-somethings could manage,” Neal laughs, but soon the boomers were biking to the steam trains in Tilden Park, then over the hill to Orinda.
In fact, the ‘tribe’s’ inspiration is Lafayette cyclist Joe Shami, who at 70 bikes 400-500 miles a month. And the group keeps on growing, with founder Ron Scrivani pumping out regular e-mails about cycle trips throughout California. From Solvang to Yosemite, they put the pedal to the metal in some of the state’s most stunning scenery. But one thing remains the same. Coffee and camaraderie begin each ride at Royal Ground in Montclair.

COPS ON CORNERS: If some of you were stung by big, fat U-turn tickets last week in the village, look for more of the same.
Montclair’s beat officer, Felicia Aisthorpe, says she’ll not only be looking for vehicle violations, but will be ticketing jaywalkers in the next few weeks. The fines are hefty and plenty of people have given Felicia a piece of their mind, which is not fair to her. We might as well face it, the law is the law. And quite frankly, nothing is more annoying than a motorist who makes a sweeping U-turn right in front of you. It needs to stop.

CRIME SCENE: Speaking of cops, merchants are still talking about the action in Montclair recently when police rounded up the suspect in the Knitting Basket robbery. Acting irrationally and muttering something about being a member of the band “Motley Crue,” he reportedly grabbed money from the tip jar at Noah’s Bagels. When merchants realized where they’d seen him before, they called police, who hurried to the scene with guns drawn, and hauled him away.

RAFFLING PRIUS: Thanks to reader Heather Marchman for letting me know that Oakland’s Bentley School is raffling off a brand new Toyota Prius. Yes, a silver hybrid beauty will go to the lucky number holder, with tickets selling for $100 each. The drawing will be held April 2 and the chances of winning are much better than the state lottery, since only 1,250 tickets will be sold. Proceeds go to scholarships and teacher enrichment programs. For more information, visit the Web site at

TOOTING MY HORN: Faithful readers know the “Town Crier” rarely boasts, but this is just too good to keep quiet. While walking the other day, a gal stopped me to say: “Do you know who you look like?” I couldn’t imagine and wasn’t sure I wanted to hear, but I indulged her. “From the side, you look just like Grace Kelly,” she exclaimed. I went home feeling lighter than air, hoping all along that she didn’t need glasses.


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