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Falling in Love with Bicycling


Bicycling West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz with my friend Gerri Dayharsh.

How did I come to love being on my bike?

Here’s how it all started….

Since my youngest years, I have loved biking.  I was born on a farm, then moved to a small town.  I could easily bike its entire length, and did.

On summer evenings, as darkness neared, Dad’s familiar whistle would call me home from the park where I’d be playing with neighborhood kids.   That was when I’d fly home on my bike, loving the thrill of bouncing over various curbs and embankments along the way.

I remember my first tricycle, and my first two-wheeler, a used bike.  After Dad fixed it up, Mom painted it a shiny dark blue–a stand-out color, as in clearly not a new bicycle.

What stands out more in my mind was Dad also fixing up another bike at that time for Mike, a fourteen-year-old boy who walked many miles into town to deliver the Grit newspaper.  Dad had delivered papers himself as a young boy and probably remembered that a newspaper bag got heavy.  Mike was pretty darned happy when Dad surprised him with the bicycle.  But that’s another story!

Later, the summer I was twelve, I was thrilled when Dad brought home for me a brand new Schwinn.  That bike went off to college with me five years later.  I was bummed when it was stolen outside my dorm, although the bike was locked.   Thankfully, the  campus police recovered it.

Santa Cruz, where biking won my heart

In Santa Cruz, I decided to spring for a new bike, a red Univega that I purchased from the Bicycle Trip I was both fortunate and good about using a lock, and I put a lot of miles on the Univega before I made it a spare for guests.

My pal Gerri Dayharsh and I worked together at Well-Being Magazine, which had its editorial offices on the west side of Santa Cruz until the magazine was sold to Vegetarian Times and moved to New York City.  At lunchtime Gerri and I might bike to the taqueria across from the foot of the wharf.  Or coworker Sharon Kenny and I would head to the nearest beach and take a quick dip.  Another favorite was playing hooky with the publisher and biking up to Davenport.  I  still love that north coast ride! (Ask my daughter, who’s had to wait for me en route to San Francisco–she’d drive while I biked partway.)

Mari and Sharon

The biking West Cliff photo in this post was published in Well-Being in conjunction with a feature Gerri wrote about cycling.  And thanks to my parents, I found it in a box of mementos.

They’d kept this one too, of their daughter on the cover.  That photo was taken on a break in the workday, when the publisher said, “Wanna go up to Bonny Doon and see some yurts?”  When he started shooting photos as we hiked along this stream, I didn’t realize his plans.

I lived a car-free life for a few of the five years I lived in Santa Cruz.  After Well-Being moved to NYC, I worked for the Elvirita Lewis Foundation in Soquel, which made a nice 15-mile round-trip daily commute to work from my Santa Cruz apartment.  Sunsets on weekdays usually found me biking to Natural Bridges.  And weekends were meant for biking to Capitola, with beach stops at Twin Lakes and Sunny Cove en route.

Santa Cruz is where I really fell in love with bicycling.  How could I not?  Biking on the sunny side of the bay, knowing the power of my own legs, feeling so free….What’s not to love!

Technology competes for my time

The content on the Bicycling Monterey website, all WordPress-ed, requires a lot of hours at the screen. Added to that are many more tech hours, an apparent necessity today in addressing local bike advocacy needs (or just about any major project).   When you add up the hours for this volunteer gig, regular work, and the many other reasons  it seems necessary to use techno tools today, that’s a lot of screen time! 

Ironically, as the Bicycling Monterey projects expanded–e.g., launching HER Helmet Thursdays in fall 2009–I found myself spending fewer hours on my bike and more hours at the computer.  While the projects are satisfying, the computer time is not my favorite part!  I really am a Lead Pencil Girl Gone Techno.

What I enjoy most is being out on my bike and talking with people on the bikeways all over our county.

So what’s the Rx?  I am acquainted with an IT wizard who spends many hours of tech time each week, barring vacations.  Yet he is visibly in optimal health and living a life of great joy.  I asked him one day how he stayed so in balance, in spite of his work requiring so many hours steeped in technology.  His secret?  Staying faithful to regular time outdoors—in his case, kiteboarding, surfing, bicycling, and more.

Sometimes we find ourselves pulled into intense periods of work in order to accomplish a goal.  As an infrequent occurrence, that may be okay, as long as the overwork habit doesn’t set in.

It’s important to remind myself:  Local bike advocacy needs are met, year after year, by many people in the Monterey County bike community.  That means…

It’s more than fine to take that ride

Every time I think I have to stay at the computer screen, even though I’m no longer enjoying tech tasks, I can tell myself it’s more than fine to postpone it.  As my 103-year-old neighbor, Harold Lewis, would say:  The world won’t stop spinning if it waits another day.

What can’t wait is more and longer bike rides, for it’s my love of bicycling that inspired and fuels this project.

When you see a pause in my online activity, know that I’m taking out more time for reconnecting with nature, and myself, on two wheels.

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The Bicycling Monterey site and projects are provided as a public service. Volunteers and contributions are welcome and appreciated.

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Canadian musician Sarah Factor took a spin along West Cliff Drive in 2011 on my old red Univega. That trusty bike continued serving as spare wheels for guests until 2013, when off it went to be put back into regular use, for someone without a bike.

Photo credits:  Top photo,  Kevin Woodward; middle photo, David Copperfield, for Well-Being Productions. And bottom photo, moi.

This post was first published in 2010.
  1. Mary Davis says:

    Great article, Mari. Your story reminds me of my first bike too. What a great experience! I wish everyone would write an article about their first bike, don’t you?
    I am available to help in any way that I can–but, at the moment, I am not mobile. Old age-arthritis-whatever! I can do many things from home though. Let me know how I can help so you can have a GREAT SEPTEMBER!

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