Crazy Bear co-owners Xavier Lassalle and Gerald Boisse don’t close down shop for Halloween. They dress up and encourage riders to do so as well for this special Brewsday bicycle ride.

Crazy Bear co-owners Xavier Lassalle and Gerald Boisse don’t close down shop for Halloween. They dress up and encourage riders to do so as well for this special Brewsday bicycle ride.

by Ashlyn Ledbetter
photography by Abelina J. Nuñez

One by one, bikes are being unloaded from car racks. Groups begin to gather at both ends of the parking lot. Minor adjustments are made to seats and gears. Riders circle the lot, checking their bikes. Then, they pull up their compression sleeves and ready for what could be their best ride yet.

This is what you will find when you join in a group ride at the local La Verne bicycle shop, Crazy Bear. With an easily accessible shop and a friendly staff, Crazy Bear remains a fan favorite for bike rides, buying a bike, renting bikes, maintenance and finding accessories. “You always mess something up, and they’re always willing to fix it. They’re really good at what they do, and they’re very honest,” says Kenneth Pucci, University of La Verne’s PEG TV Access Station Manager. While the shop has many features, it is really the four weekly rides that bring riders together. The most popular bike ride gathering is the Brewsday Ride, which launches on Tuesday nights.

“I found Crazy Bear because they had a Tuesday night ride, which was really cool. Group rides are different from just riding on your own. It’s a little bit slower; it’s a little bit different pace. But it is pretty cool, and I met some really nice people through that. But I also got to know the guys from Crazy Bear,” says Pucci. Not only does Pucci ride with Crazy Bear, but he also partnered with them to sell his custom maps. “I made maps for the local trails around here. They sold a bunch out of there so I kind of got to know them through that,” he says.

First-time customer Larry Way brought his bike into the shop for a quick gear adjustment. He watched as riders gathered for the ride. Within just 15 minutes of bringing his bike in, Way was out the door with a smoothly shifting bike. But he was not leaving. He saw the gathering, decided to join and started putting on his compression sleeves. “I’m just getting into this, and pretty soon my wife is going to start coming so I just wanted to check it out and see how it all works,” says Way. He has been an avid rider for about 15 years, and when looking to explore new rides, his friend recommended Crazy Bear. “I just got a new bike, so I’m feeling a little nervous because it doesn’t have that many miles on it,” says Way.

Across the parking lot, also getting his bike out of his SUV, was rider Bud Reeves. He was ready to go, wearing the black and white MTB jersey designed by Crazy Bear co-owner Xavier Lassalle himself. “I’ve been riding with Crazy Bear for about two years now,” the mechanical designer at Process Insights says. Reeves and another group of riders—all wearing Crazy Bear MTB jerseys—say they were drawn to buy the jerseys especially for the perks that come with them. “When people buy the jersey, they get a discount at our store for a year, and then they get a discount on their beer. So, it’s a good promotional,” says shop co-owner Gerald Boisse. The shop employees believe that their Brewsday Ride is the most popular of the four. Every Tuesday night, people of all ages are encouraged to come ride and end the night at the La Verne Brewery, located next door, for food and drinks.

The Tuesday Brewsday Ride has a “no drop” policy, so nobody gets left behind. They all stick together the entire ride. The turnout for this 6:30 p.m. ride ranges from 12 to 30 people, and it’s always open to join. The riders usually enter Bonelli Regional Park and ride the paved roads around Puddingstone Lake. Bikes are available for rent so all you need to bring is your helmet. “The cyclist community has very fun people. It’s great to hang out, and sometimes we go to races in other states and stuff. It’s awesome,” says co-owner Lassalle. 

The shop’s name takes after Lassalle as people call him the “crazy bear.” Lassalle was raised in France before coming over to California. Since he was not motivated to go into academic areas, his stepdad, who was involved in the French cycling community, set Lassalle up with a mechanics position where he soon became an expert mechanic, even making custom bike frames. And the name “Crazy Bear?” Says Lassalle, “That’s me in the morning before my coffee. My friends call me the Crazy Bear. And I was thinking the animal of California is a bear so I thought it would be funny to have crazy bear as the name.”

Before the shop opened, Lassalle owned a bike shuttle service where he would shuttle bikes up to the local mountains. At the time, Boisse worked as a bike mechanic at a San Dimas bike shop. Soon, working side by side, Lassalle and Boisse hit it off and decided to open their own shop in La Verne. Crazy Bear is about to mark its third year in La Verne. Not only does the shop offer family-friendly riding, but it also offers more advanced training as well. Thursday rides climb Marshall Canyon, tour Bonelli Park and roam areas in Glendora. The rides on Sundays are designed for gravel riders, and they tackle tougher terrain intended for more experienced riders. Sunday’s ride consists of riding between 30 to 50 miles, depending on the terrain. There is typically more travel involved on Sundays. “Sometimes we are in Castaic, but we really could be anywhere,” Lassalle says.

Crazy Bear Bike Shop sells an assortment of items from merchandise, gear and bicycles. The shop has a good variety of bikes like IBIS, Bianchi, Marin and even the recently trending eBikes. Even though the owners are somewhat “old school” in their personal bike choices, they embrace eBikes because of how they have opened the riding community to people of all ages and fitness levels. “I have an eBike, and what’s interesting is during group rides we eBike guys will go ahead and do a couple extra trails before meeting back up with the group at the end,” says shop employee Rick Johnson. The eBikes are featured in the shop, and the owners take pride in matching bikes to people’s riding styles.

The Tuesday ride is over. It is 8:30 p.m. But they are not going home. Not yet. Riders begin to start loading up their bikes then head over to the La Verne Brewery for a celebratory drink. Biking can be a solitary sport. But not here, not tonight. When you ride with the Crazy Bear, there is more to the experience. You are part of a community of riders.

Rides take place every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. All are welcome to join in and ride with the crazy bear owners and their friends. Up-to-date riding information can be found at crazybearbikes.com.

Best Trails Near La Verne

La Verne mountain bike cyclists know the best trails, and it is time you do too. If you are looking to get into cycling, make sure to check out these top local rides.

With the city touching the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, one of the most popular off-road rides is the Marshall Canyon Trail. This 7.8-mile ride is rated a moderate level and features both flat and hilly terrain in a natural foothill environment. Another local favorite is the Bonelli Trail. Circling the Puddingstone Reservoir, this is a 9.42-mile ride, both on pavement and dirt. It has a variety of terrain styles and is also a common hiking area.

Kenneth Pucci, ULV station manager and an avid cyclist, adds these freshly checked out new spots. “I’ve recently discovered the “Wash.” It’s off Padua Avenue, and there’s a really cool long trail. It’s like almost two miles down [to Foothill Boulevard]. It’s pretty fun,” says Pucci. Along with the Wash Ride, Pucci also recommends the local Potato Mountain trail. Potato Mountain is a west side sentinel peak at the entrance to San Antonio Canyon, located above Claremont. The EV Mountain trail takes you to the top of Potato Mountain for a nice view. Its reviews claim to be a moderately challenging trail that is 5.8 miles long. The EV Trail connects with both the Claremont Loop and Marshall Canyon.

Ashlyn Ledbetter is a senior communications major at the University of La Verne.

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Abelina J. Nuñez is a senior journalism major and photography minor at the University of La Verne and editor-in-chief of the Winter 2024 La Verne Magazine.