By BOB NORBERG

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

I had the good fortune Wednesday to ride with the Caravaners, a Maria Carrillo High School student club which rides to school

Levi Leipheimer and Bob Norberg.

twice a week from Skyhawk Park.

And it was even better fortune to have pro racer Levi Leipheimer leading the peloton of students all dressed in yellow down Yerba Buena Drive and Calistoga Road.

But the Caravaners were the stars.

Read the PD story and see photos from the ride.

This eco-friendly club has a straight-forward message, that riding is healthy and good for the environment, so leave the car home sometime.

For kids who are now getting their drivers licenses, a rite of passage for teens, that is a very big deal, acknowledged Marc Hagenlocher, a friend of Leipheimer who arranged his ride with the Caravaners.

The club has about 40 members who signed up during the school’s club day, and their twice weekly commutes to school usually average 10 to 15 riders, according to co-president Simmar Nijjar.

With Leipheimer riding, his way of giving the students some well-deserved recognition, the number Wednesday swelled to 40.

Nijjar hopes that attention can go a long way toward overcoming the idea that somehow riding to school is uncool.

“That is big deal for us, it shows how the Caravaners are gaining popularity, it will show how every school can have a Caravan club that will greatly increase the bikers riding to school instead of driving cars,” Nijjar said. “That would help the environment a lot.”

Leipheimer mixed easily with the students and signing autographs. In turn, he was presented with a Caravaners jersey.

“I was impressed with how mature they are,” Leipheimer said later.

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or bob.norberg@pressdemocrat.com.