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Bike shops are rallying around the Amgen Tour of California to give cyclists the opportunity to rub elbows with the pros, participate in group rides and try out the latest in bikes and equipment.

“It brings an opportunity to the cycling community that doesn’t exist on a day-to-day basis,” said Mariko Fischer of Echelon Cycle & Multisport  in Santa Rosa.

“You can see the professionals training in the area, and it brings all the vendors to town. We have Zipp coming out, we have Felt coming out,” Fischer said, referring to top-of-the-line wheels and bikes.

Echelon is one of several shops using the buzz being generated by the 115-mile race, the first stage of the eight-day race that has its start and finish in downtown Santa Rosa.

“It is definitely fun with so many events going on, so everyone can get out and mingle. Cycling can be a pretty solitary sport,” Fischer said. “This is cycling community events for a week, morning, noon and night. It builds community, it builds our commerce and it raises awareness of cycling.”

Echelon on Saturday will have Felt bicycles, the bikes ridden by Team Exergy, at the shop for people to try out from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., along with a group ride at 11 a.m.

On Sunday, the race day, Echelon will have bikes fitted with SRAM Red gears and shifters and with Zipp wheels for use.

The store also has a 31-mile ride at 11 a.m. Sunday that starts at the shop, 125 Fifth St., follows the Amgen tour route through Windsor and returns to downtown Santa Rosa and across the race finish line. It is free and limited to 100 riders. Registration is on the events page at www.echeloncycle.com.

Norcal Bike Sport in Santa Rosa is having a demonstration of Specialized bikes, which are used by the Omega Pharma-Quick Step Pro Cycling Team, at 10 a.m. Wednesday. There also will be a group ride from the shop, 425 College Ave., that may include some of the pro riders.

The bike shop is holding a party from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday for fans to meet members of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team, which includes Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa.

The Trek Store in downtown Santa Rosa will hold a party from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday for members of Team Radioshack-Nissan-Trek, which includes defending tour winner Chris Horner, and the Bontrager Livestrong team, the team of Ryan Eastman of Petaluma.

It is a benefit for the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. Tickets are $14 for coalition members and $20 for non-members and can be ordered at www.eventbrite.com/event/3429956091.

The Rabobank pro team will be at the Windsor Bicycle Center, 830 McClelland Drive, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday for autographs and to talk to fans.

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