A local family will be recognized tomorrow, July 14, when the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis unveils an exhibit dedicated to champion cyclist Norman A. Hill.
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Hill is the grandfather of Vicki Rios, 59, of Pollock Pines. Rios’ family has had memorabilia on Hill kept away for years and now most of it — photographs, article clippings, one of his bicycles, a trophy, some jerseys — will be on display at the exhibit.
“Even though my grandfather can’t see it, I’m glad my father (his son) can see it,” Rios said.
An often overlooked sport, and one of the most popular spectator sports from 1890 to 1935, is cycling. Hill, born in 1906, was the one to beat in the world of six-day races and a spectator favorite in the 1930s.
Moving East from San Jose (after a short stint as an employee of Thomas Edison), Hill quickly climbed the cycling ladder, dethroning the defending U.S. National All Round Champion in 1933 and winning two more all-round titles in 1935 and 1936.
Hill retired from cycling in 1937 after injuring three vertebrae during a crash at the Buffalo Six-Day Race. He became a racing referee and then went on to General Motors where he worked his way into management.
In 1996, Hill was given the ultimate honor of being inducted into the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in the category of Veteran Road & Track Competitor (pre-1945).
“My grandmother broke her arm the night before she and my grandfather were set to leave to accept the award,” Rios said. “[My grandfather] wouldn’t leave her so my cousin, Paul Lees, Jr., accepted the award for him.”
The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame was moved from Somerville, New Jersey to Davis in 2010. Last July Rios’ father, Norman Hill, Jr., was contacted by the director and plans were set in motion. Seventy-nine years after winning his first national title, Hill will be honored with an exhibit showcasing his accomplishments. Hill passed away in 1996 but his family is glad to see tribute being paid after so many years.
“I’m so glad we can do this, especially for my father,” Rios said. “Seeing it finally come together, it’s going to be very emotional.”
The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, located at 303 3rd Street in Davis, is open Tuesday through Friday from 1-5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. For more information, visit its Website at usbhof.org or call 530-341-3263.