Four-time U.S. National Road Race Champion Freddie Rodriguez (aka Fast Freddie) rode in the Amgen Tour of California eight times and the Tour de France seven times during his 20-year cycling career. Nowadays, the retired pro, husband, father, and Amgen Tour of California ambassador keeps busy with his cycling apparel company (Fast Freddie Apparel), his foundation to inspire underprivileged kids through cycling (Fast Freddie Foundation), and his cycling club. We asked Rodriguez about his favorite things in California and he shared his thoughts below.
Where do you live? Berkeley
Why there? I grew up in L.A. and Whittier, California. One of my best friends through racing, George Hincapie, had moved to North Carolina, which is where I met my wife. She was going to University of California, Berkeley. I fell in love with the culture and the diversity and the riding and the food. Basically, I was chasing love.
Who or what is your greatest California love? My wife Annie brought me back to California and exposed me to the Bay Area, which is so beautiful—we have the oak trees, diversity, food, weather, you name it. Here is what love is.
What is the biggest misperception about Californians? Through Hollywood we get the misperception that it’s all glitz and glamour. But really, it’s down to earth and simple. We tend to want to be more about culture and lifestyle than you would perceive through Hollywood.
What is the stereotype that most holds true? That we’re outdoorsy.
What is your favorite Golden State splurge? Peet’s Coffee. It started here in California with the grandfathers of coffee culture, and every time I get a chance, I go and get a nice deep-roasted coffee.
Time for a road trip—where are you going? Truckee. It’s the perfect blend of small town with everything you need from food to the outdoors, whether you’re going for winter skiing or summer bike riding and canoeing. The outdoors is what they’re all about, with a great community of people.
If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be? To try everything. That’s the beauty of California—we have so many different experiences. We have a culinary experience in Emeryville [Public Market Emeryville] that started out as little pop-up food carts and it’s turned into a gourmet ghetto of really nice restaurants from brewpubs to Latin to ramen to sushi to Italian pizza. Basically you walk into that place and you can pick any style.
How do you define California style? Diverse, multicultural, and a little bit of everything.
Best California song? From when I was younger, remember the show The O.C.? “California” by Phantom Planet has always stuck with me.
How would your California dream day unfold? Planning a family day. It’s a Sunday, with nothing else going on, and I get on my bike and the family packs up the car. I would ride through San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge, down through Sausalito, hit Highway 1, and enjoy the climb up Mount Tamalpais and drop into Stinson Beach to meet them. We’d play a pickup game with soccer balls, I’d surf with my son, and end with a beer watching the sunset.