Valentine's Day Special: How I Fell in Love with Biking
By Karen Kefauver
I enjoy seeing kids’ fascination with bikes. Sometimes when I’m downtown locking my sparkly purple bike to the rack, I’ll spot a toddler tugging on a parent’s hand, veering towards me on the sidewalk, trying to get a closer look at my mysterious, two-wheeled contraption. While they’re transfixed, I’ll spin the wheel and ring the bell for their added delight. Makes me smile every time.
I was once that little kid. Although I can’t remember precisely when I fell in love with cycling, it’s been decades.
This month, I’m celebrating my passion for cycling and sending a special Valentine to the Santa Cruz cycling community.
Long before landing in Santa Cruz in 1993, I grew up riding in my hometown of Bethesda, Maryland. I followed in my mom’s tracks, riding my bike instead of driving whenever I could. (She’s still an avid cyclist at 76). My bike was my ticket to freedom, cruising the neighborhood with friends until dusk. Later, as a teen, I discovered bike touring thanks to two trips with the American Youth Hostel Association. At the University of Vermont, I even learned to ride on snow and ice.
But it wasn’t until I settled in Santa Cruz that I evolved into a true cyclist. In fact, the sport has steered the course of my life at nearly every juncture during my 26 years here, both personally and professionally. My years of freelance writing are bracketed by bicycling; starting with writing about cycling as an editor for Good Times newspaper, volunteering with Bike to Work; then later, years of freelance travel writing led to cycling adventures in Mexico, China and Peru. More recently, I wrote a bicycle column for eight years for the Santa Cruz Sentinel and now I’m thrilled have this bike column with Growing Up in Santa Cruz — and publisher Brad Kava is a fellow cyclist!
Socially, the bicycle community became my hub and some of my closest friends are those same cyclists I met when I moved here in ‘93. I also raced cyclocross, cross-country mountain biking and triathlons. And yes, romance blossomed on the bike scene, too.
I love how cycling continues to shape my life and encourage you to embrace bicycling if you haven’t al- ready. Here are some fantastic local resources to get you rolling. Happy trails!
Santa Cruz Cycling Club
The club offers regular rides of different lengths, plus clinics for adults new or wanting to brush up on their cycling. Signature event: Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge, July 20, with four routes ranging from 45 to 127 miles. santacruzcycling.org
Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz
MBOSC supports, preserves and expands trail access and promotes responsible mountain biking in Santa Cruz County through advocacy and trail building. Signature event: Santa Cruz Old Cabin Classic mountain bike race at Wilder Ranch State Park, May 4. mbosc.org
Cyclists for Cultural Change
CCE’s goal is furthering peace and international understanding through exchanges between people with a shared interest in cycling. Tours, programs and grants available. Signature event: 30th Strawberry Fields Forever, May 19, with three routes, from 30 to 100 miles.
Trips for Kids Santa Cruz
Kids who may not otherwise have the opportunity for mountain biking are provided with equipment, transportation, mentoring and skills instruction to have fun outdoors and tackle challenges. tripsforkidssantacruz.org
And a Few More...
Little Bellas, empowers girls to mountain bike with mentors, littlebellas.com Project Bike Tech, for high school students to learn on the job skills, projectbiketech.org and Girls Rock Ride, mountain biking for women, girlsrock-mtb.com
Karen Kefauver is a freelance journalist and social media coach based in Santa Cruz since 1993. She’s an avid mountain biker and bicycle commuter. www.karenkefauver.com