Every cyclist on a Sunday group ride knows the familiar sounds of clicking gears and shoes snapping into pedals. But this is no ordinary ride.
Hrach Gevrikyan and his wife are the founders of Pasadena bike shop Velo Pasadena. As a former professional road racer and a 13-time Armenian National Champion, Gevrikyan has made it his mission to give back to his roots. He's raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to support young cyclists in his native Armenia.
"There always comes a project, and always we try to do what we can to be involved as much as possible with Armenia. That's the goal we have," said Gevrikyan.
In 2020, war between Armenia and Azerbaijan broke out, killing hundreds and brutally injuring thousands more. Many of the same cyclists Gevrikyan had supported for years lost limbs in the conflict and lost the ability to cycle.
So he shifted his focus from shipping bikes, tires and other cycling equipment to Armenia, and started fundraising for expensive adaptive cycling equipment.
"He's been donating generously, sponsoring teams generously, because of his personality and his compassion," said Greg Bakalyan, a charity ride organizer.
Together with partners Armenia Fund, Bob Smith Toyota and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Velo Pasadena organized a special charity ride with one goal: to raise funds and sponsor bikes, gear and travel costs for two Paralympic cyclists to compete in the 2022 European Youth Summer Olympic Festival in Slovakia this July.
Dozens of cyclists showed up, riding through Pasadena, La Crescenta and the Angeles National Forest, pedaling for a purpose greater than themselves and raising over $10,000 in the process.