Volunteer of the Month: Barney Berglund

 

Barney-Berglund

Barney Berglund was instrumental in bringing the Amgen Tour of California to Santa Barbara.

For his near-lifelong dedication to the sport of cycling; his indomitable spirit and impassioned leadership commitment to the local Organizing Committee in originally bringing the Amgen Tour of California to the shores of Santa Barbara in 2006 and now again next week — Barney Berglund is being recognized as a Presidio Sports Volunteer of the Month.

Barney Berglund

Barney Berglund

“We knew we wanted to bring the Amgen Tour of California back and Barney was one of the first people to whom we turned,” says Kathy Janega-Dykes, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission.  “His cycling expertise is a key ingredient that was needed to help ensure our success.”

Stage 4 of “The Tour” is an 83.6-mile stretch next Wednesday (May 15) from Santa Clarita to the Finish Line along Cabrillo Boulevard.

Then the Stage 5 Start is at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday (May 16) here again by the shore and ends 115.4 miles up the coast in Avila Beach.

“This is the first time since 2006 that we’ve had a Finish and a Start,” says Berglund.

(The Tour also came through Santa Barbara in 2007 and 2008 — Starts only.)

Santa Barbara is also one of four cities this year to host the Breakaway Mile  feature for those touched by cancer — 150 participants will walk from East Beach and cross the Finish Line together as 128 top cyclists zoom to town.

It will all have new meaning for Berglund — as he is fighting his own private battle.

Earlier this year — the searing back pain originally thought to be musculoskeletal in nature — was confirmed by a February CT scan to be a baseball-sized mass on the left side of his abdomen and a rare form of cancer – retroperitoneal sarcoma.

Two chemo treatments at UCLA’s Medical Center  have zapped his strength and his energies, but certainly not his will to live …

“Barney knows that having the Amgen Tour of California (ATOC) pass through Santa Barbara encourages cycling, promotes health and fitness, adds to the character of our community and benefits our local economy. Santa Barbara and the ATOC are fortunate to have Barney.”
–Dan Rudd
Co-Chair Amgen Tour of California, 2008

Or his will to ride.

“I think it’s (the chemo) working, so far. The back pain is gone. We should know more later this week,” Berglund told Presidio Sports.

On good days, the rides are now little jaunts on his road bike to Summerland’s Padaro Lane …

Or on his beach cruiser around town.

Riding has always been a labor of love, starting as a young boy growing up in the Midwest …

“My first real bike was a black Schwinn Speedster 3-speed that I got for my seventh birthday and I could barely reach the pedals,” he says.

“And I still have it!” he shares with a big smile.

In high school, he started riding more seriously — his lightweight Peugeot 10-speed further exploded his horizons.

“I was riding all the time. My parents thought I was crazy to give up tennis and other sports,” he claims.

Then in college, Berglund really shifted into high gear …

That was the latter 70’s at Colorado College in Colorado Springs — the same time the Olympic Training Center  opened nearby. In 1978, the Center officially became USOC administrative headquarters.

He and housemate, friend and fellow physics major, Lennard Zinn (who went on to enjoy a pro cycling career and later become a noted custom bike maker and also distinguished writer for VeloNews) would sometimes join the Tuesday night Criterion practices at a big industrial park that would often include Olympic athletes, such as speed skating Gold Medalist Eric Heiden and his sister, Beth.

It all fostered an incredible zeal for cycling …

After graduating with a physics degree and later, an MBA degree-in-hand, Berglund joined Corporate America and enjoyed a 17-year ride with Texaco that took him from Denver to New York to Copenhagen.

From there, he later joined a Swedish real estate firm before returning to the States in 2000 as a consultant.

With family in San Diego, he decided that Santa Barbara would be a great place to raise his three kids — Jonas (now 26), Willie (now 23) and Erika (now 19).

Plus, he wanted to get back to cycling a little more seriously beyond riding just to keep in shape.

After a four-year stint as an entrepreneur, stand up paddleboard distributor and retailer (Blueline Paddlesurf) — he now serves as Chief Financial Officer for WestPac Campus Communities.

I remember when the representatives from AEG, the Tour promoter, first came to town to pitch the Tour of California. Unlike many cities, which welcomed them with open arms and immediate subsidies, folks in Santa Barbara were not so sure. The one person who committed early and then came through big for the event was Barney Berglund. That first tour in Santa Barbara was a huge amount of work – not just the logistics, but also helping educate and motivate locals on why the Tour was a good thing. To have Barney willing to lead the effort again is a real testament to his commitment to cycling and to our community.
– Joe Howell, local triathlete and community leader

And although he has now had to give up some of his community commitments, he’s never lost his love for the open road….

Says Berglund:

“I’ve always enjoyed the freedom of riding a bike and to explore places far from home. For the beginner, riding can be a little scary with traffic and the worry of crashing on a steep descent, but just when you think you can’t go any further you’re amazed at how far and how fast you’ve gone. Cycling is a great endurance sport — you get to experience the flats, the hills and the weather and even curse the rain, all under your own power and you always feel better when you’re done.”

With his current health challenges, he’s relied on a couple of special friends to help see Santa Barbara through its Amgen Tour of California commitments.

“Jack Bianchi and Susie Willett have stepped up as co-chairs,” says Berglund. 

Both are no strangers to the sport …

“And they’ve done a wonderful job in taking up what is a chaotic and fulltime effort. But I know that they will appreciate how worthwhile it all is when the race comes to town,” he adds.

“Barney has always been a top cyclist and was out in front of it (bringing The Tour to Santa Barbara) the whole time,” says Bianchi.

“We are a team of three,” embellishes Willett of she, Berglund and Bianchi.

“I have passion for cycling and love bringing the sport to town to showcase these high-level athletes,” Susie says. “And on a personal note, I am very glad to help Barney out.”

“Terry Dahl has also done an excellent job as Volunteer Coordinator,” furthers Berglund. “And they still need people to help as road marshals and in other ways. If you can help, please sign up HERE. ”

Yes, our newest Volunteer of the Month has savored cycling nearly all of his life to explore new worlds far from home …

And with the Amgen Tour of California back in Santa Barbara next week, Barney Berglund has worked hard, once again, to bring that world home to us …

VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH


Pacific Western Bank in Santa Barbara

This monthly series is made possible by Pacific Western Bank

Volunteers often go under-recognized even though they are extremely important to the athletic community.

So important that many of the sporting events and organizations key to our lives wouldn’t be possible without those who donate their time to assist others.

Presidio Sports and Pacific Western Bank have joined forces to change that. This monthly spotlight series is our way of thanking those that selflessly give themselves for the benefit of many.

To all volunteers making a difference, we salute you.

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