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The California Questionnaire: Freddie Rodriguez

The California Questionnaire: Freddie Rodriguez
The cycling legend shares his favorite places to ride and kick back in the Bay Area and beyond

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.

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Erica Davis/Getty Images

Northern California

Discover the San Francisco Bay Area

A crimson bridge, cable cars, a sparkling bay, and streets lined with elegant Victorian homes—San Francisco is undeniably one of the world’s great cities. Located along the Northern California at the state’s distinctive bend in the coast, the region has an alluring magic that stretches beyond the bay to diverse cities with nightlife and trend-setting cuisine.

"I left my heart in San Francisco, High on a hill, it calls to me." —singer Tony Bennett

The Bay Area is also home to some of the world’s finest wine country, including Napa Valley and Sonoma, plus waterfront towns, dramatic beaches, and the tech-savvy southern end of the bay known as the Silicon Valley, where lunchtime ideas at Google, Facebook, and Apple, turn into the next brilliant innovation. 

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Erica Davis/Getty Images

Half Moon Bay

This delightful little beach town possesses serious surf DNA and is just a short drive from San Francisco

Half Moon Bay is situated 45 minutes south of San Francisco on Highway 1, but it might as well be half a world away. Home to the world-famous...

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Eiojo Torpe/Getty Images

Sausalito

Explore this quaint town that’s just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco

Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, a steep hillside covered in chaparral and eucalyptus drops from Highway 101 to a flat, sunny shoreline, two...

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4 Awesome Wine Country Resorts

Luxurious spas, farm-to-table dining, and easy access to dozens of wineries—these Napa and Sonoma resorts offer the indulgent getaway you need

Ready for some “me time” amid decadent surroundings? Reserve your spot at one of these spectacular Wine Country resorts.

Farmhouse...

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Chao Kusollerscharlya/Shutterstock

Spotlight: Berkeley

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See a stunning museum, shop, and feast in the Bay Area’s most outspoken city

A haven for backyard artists and coffee-shop philosophers, Berkeley has deep roots in the Flower Power movement of the 1960s and ’70s. But...

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Make memories at some of California's family-favorite beaches

Sand, water, and kids—it’s a natural combination for easy family fun. This sandy dozen offers appealing, family-friendly features, such as calm water for new swimmers, tide pools for intrepid...

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Alex Farnum
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Russian River Brewing Company

CALIFORNIA QUESTIONNAIRE: Natalie Cilurzo

The co-owner of the wildly popular Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa shares her story, along with a few Golden State favorites

Natalie Cilurzo will never forget the day everything changed for the Russian River Brewing Company. It was February 5, 2010—the first Friday in...

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San Francisco's cable cars are the country's only mobile National Historic Landmark.
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Taste the delicious dishes from these amazing California chefs

From a candy-colored pastry shop to Michelin-starred dining rooms, top restaurants run by celebrity chefs dot the Golden State. And even if you don’t know these chefs from the TV...

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San Francisco has only one drawback - 'tis hard to leave.
Rudyard Kipling
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Kid-friendly fun zones, special kids' menus & amazing wine for the grownups

Sure wine country is romantic, but now it’s a surprisingly great destination for families too, with a growing number of vineyards trading in elegant tasting rooms for kid-friendly fun zones that...

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John/Flickr
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World-class accommodations in world-class locations

Head to the heart of California’s cities for luxurious stays at world-class accommodations. From San Francisco’s historic hotels to celebrity hot spots in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, California’s...

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Lynn Gately/Flickr
San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth.
William Saroyan
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Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisanal cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets...

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Laura Flippen
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From Gold Rush history to the 8th wonder of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

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Amy Meredith/Flickr
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Courtesy of Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Performing Arts

Museums, music, and a hint of bohemia

Nested near the city’s cupola-topped City Hall, impressive performance spaces in San Francisco present some of California’s—and the world’s—...

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Courtesy of San Jose International Airport

Spotlight: San Jose

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Tech savvy, international flair

The first hit of this city’s unmistakable techy-ness starts right off the bat—if you get here by plane. Meet Space Observer, a 26-foot/7.9-meter-...

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Tai Power Seeff

Livermore

Ranches, vineyards, and relaxed appeal east of San Francisco

With warm sun and wide-open spaces cradling vineyards, ranches, and wine-country estates, the Livermore Valley makes an appealing destination just...

It's simply a very romantic place. Just one look at any of those streets, and you couldn't be anywhere else -- it's so beautiful, and there's that location, and the sense of the free spirit. ... Who couldn't become ravenous in such a place?
Julia Child
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Old-fashioned fun in the Golden State

Historic oceanfront playgrounds, classic city-park charmers, boisterous adventures—smaller theme parks and attractions offer an array of ways to play.  These smaller parks offer old-...

Safari West
Tai Power Seeff
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Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you're in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you'll find it here. Want to sample fresh produce? Try our farmers...

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According to legend, Winchester Mystery House's maze of passages and building oddities were designed to confuse the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles.
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Kids get an inside look at wildlife, space, and more

From cool ways for your kids to learn about wildlife, to an insider’s look at a space station, to a chance to walk through a rain forest or learn about the night sky, there’s a bumper...

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Peter Alfred Hess/Flickr

San Francisco Bay Loop

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Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind-the-scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of worth-the-...

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Michael Saechang/Flickr