Centuries past

Definitive moments in the history of the Chico Wildflower Century

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Definitive moments in the history of the Chico Wildflower Century

In 1975, a loosely organized group of cyclists supported by the now-defunct Chico Bicycle Shop at Ninth and Main streets formed and decided to call itself Chico Velo Cycling Club. It would be another six years before the group kicked off the first Chico Wildflower Century in 1981. That first year, due to a huge rainstorm, 137 riders started and only 65 finished. From those humble beginnings, the Wildflower has evolved into Butte County’s largest and most iconic cycling event, a ride regularly recognized by Bicycling Magazine as one of the 10 best centuries in the country. Now, each April, thousands of cyclists young and old, competitive and casual—spandex warriors, couples on tandems and fixed-gear enthusiasts—meet at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds and ride together through the county’s beautiful and varied springtime landscapes. With the help of local longtime members of the cycling community Steve O’Bryan, Karen Goodwin and Chuck Elliot, Chico Velo recently compiled this list of important moments in the Wildflower’s history:


A pseudo-organized group forms Chico Velo Cycling Club.


Ed McLaughlin

The first Wildflower Century is held; weather is inclement.


To improve chances of favorable weather, Wildflower date moved from mid-March to last Sunday in April.


Start/finish of ride moved from One-Mile Recreation Area to the CARD Center.


Start/finish moved from CARD to Elks Lodge/Manzanita Place.


Chico Velo achieves 501c3 nonprofit status and establishes a mission of bicycle advocacy and education. Ed McLaughlin is hired as manager.


First Fleur Sauvage, a 125-mile “super-century” including Jarbo Gap on Highway 70.


Start/finish is moved from Elks Lodge/Manzanita Place to Silver Dollar Fairgrounds.


Last Fleur Sauvage, which is eliminated due to risk of riding with high-speed traffic on Highway 70.


Flatflower routes (30 and 60 miles) moved from north of Chico to south of Chico; 12-mile Childflower added.


Ed McLaughlin is paralyzed in a bike accident on a ride in Lower Bidwell Park.


Wildcat 100 and Wildcat 125 “super- century” route to Stirling City is added in honor of Chico State’s 125th anniversary.


For the first time, more than 4,000 riders enter the Wildflower.


Live music and Fork-in-the-Road event added on Saturday, first Ride Guide included in CN&R.


WildFest (curated by the CN&R’s Arts Devo) becomes official preride party.