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Monterey Park Cycling: For South Salinas kids, “Your community is your classroom,” and you get to class by bike!

11/5/16 update: As reported 11/4/16 by Monterey Park School on Twitter – @montparkschool – the Monterey Park bike club was recently exploring the Salinas train museum. 

To my knowledge, Monterey Park Cycling Club, Salinas is the first public elementary school bike club in Monterey County. Please contact me if you know of others. For more examples of Salinas youth leading the way in Monterey County bike community firsts, click here.

8/7/15 update: In 2014, Principal Ron Dillender moved from Monterey Park elementary to serve as principal at another Salinas elementary school, Lincoln Elementary. And you bet, he started a cycling club there too! In 2015, he took a new position with the district office, and he now serves as a Principal on Special Assignment. He had school cycling clubs from about 2003-2015. If you have questions for him about starting an elementary school cycling club, contact Ron at the Salinas City Elementary School district office.

Guest post by Ron Dillender

May 17, 2013

Gather round 2012-03-02_16-06-22_6 (2)

The Monterey Park Cycling Club in Salinas started three years ago when I became the school principal at Monterey Park Elementary School, a public school for grades K-6 that is one of the Salinas City Elementary Schools.  I brought the bike club experience with me, part of my background at other schools where I had also worked as a school administrator. 

First seeds sown

Ten years ago as assistant principal of a school in Southern California, the principal and I asked together what we could do to help the students become more active and motivated.  We took our mutual love of cycling, combined it with those goals, and created a cycling club for students.  A number of teachers and other staff joined us.  It was incredibly successful, and I knew I wanted to make it part of whatever school I served. 

Teaming up with another Salinas educator

When I moved to Salinas, I was so grateful to find another dedicated educator and cyclist, Cliff Siegel, who has helped the tradition continue by giving a great deal of time, expertise, and dedication to making our club at Monterey Park equally successful.

Learning by bike–and loving it

The goals of the club are to promote safety, a love of our community, and a love of cycling.   The Monterey Park Cycling Club goes out about once a month and visits different locations and landmarks in our area. 

We’ve biked to a variety of places. We’ve visited various schools, city hall, the county courthouse, parks, local businesses, and even a local cemetery to see the burial place of John SteinbeckWe have biked to the National Steinbeck Center, the Salinas City Elementary School district office, and Hartnell College. Monterey Park Cycling has biked with the Salinas High School Mountain Bike Team too.

We are still going strong and look forward to even more rides in the future.  If anyone has any suggestions for future destinations or rides, feel free to contact me at:

rdillend@salinascity.k12.ca.us
Monterey Park Cycling Club at Steinbeck Center May 2012

Editor’s notes:

·         Thanks to Ron Dillender for responding to Bicycling Monterey’s request for this guest post, after some children wearing Monterey Park Cycling t-shirts [see comment on this post] came to the 2013 Intergenerational Ride celebrating Bike Week. (Want to write a guest post too? Click here!)

·         To my knowledge, Monterey Park Cycling Club, Salinas is the first public elementary school bike club in Monterey County. Please contact Mari if you know of others. For more examples of Salinas youth leading the way in Monterey County bike community firsts, click here.

·         Occasionally people hear “Monterey Park” and think of the city by the same name in Los Angeles County. In Monterey County, Monterey Park is a South Salinas neighborhood, and school.

Gathered on the sports yard

Children cannot wait

Why bike with children? Click on that “Why bike” link to see lots of reasons. Perhaps this quote, shared by Ron Dillender, will inspire you to invite a child to bike with you today!

“Many things can wait.  Children cannot.  Today their bones are being formed, their blood is being made, their senses are being developed.  To them we cannot say ‘tomorrow.’  Their name is today.” -Gabriela Mistral

Bike Club 4 (2) in classrm

Some related posts on this site

Consider that many kids in our county can’t afford bikes; maybe you can help!

* * * *

Below, a May 2014 update:

“When people say, ‘tip of the helmet,’ do they mean: tip it back like this when you get your picture taken,  so your face can be seen?”

These delightful girls from the cycling club of Monterey Park, South Salinas were the youngest riders of approximately 40 people who braved the wind and savored the sun on the 2014 Intergenerational Ride for Bike Month. (See that post for more pictures of these girls.)

In 2013, they attended the Intergenerational Ride too,  and biked five miles round-trip. In 2014, they made it eight miles. Way to go!

You mean we don’t always have to come to places like the coastal trail to bike car-free? You can do that at Ciclovía Salinas? We wanna go!

Monterey Park girls at Intergenerational Ride 2014


This post was first published on May 17, 2013.

  1. Gordon Babbitt says:

    Mari,
    Thanks for the exposure of the Monterey Park Elementary School’s Bike Club in your 2013 Intergenerational Ride report. My family joins our kindergartner on their rides. We also accompany her the 3/4 mile back and forth to school every day and have missed only 5 times this past school year.
    The Intergenerational ride this year was a blast except that we turned around about 2.5 miles into it due to our girls abilities vs the hills. We look forward to participating again next year.

  2. marilynch says:

    Hooray! It’s the family of those precious children I spotted with the green Monterey Park Cycling t-shirts! Thank you for coming 5/11, and I look forward to riding with your girls next time.

    Thanks also for being bike-to-school role/roll models for other families. Really appreciate your sharing that info with us.

  3. Miki McCabe Inbody says:

    To all the vehicles on the road in Salinas: Please share the road and watch out for all cyclists (especially those sweet faces in green shirts). Love this post!!!!!

  4. Again in 2014, Monterey Park children participated in the Intergenerational Ride for Bike Month. They were the youngest riders, and this year, in spite of wind, they progressed to the four-mile point (more than half-way!) before biking their return trip to Ft Ord Dunes. See the post for the 3rd Annual Intergenerational Ride to see these dear children on their little tandem: http://marilynch.com/blog/may-10-intergenerational-ride-for-bike-month-in-monterey-county-2014.html

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