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One Person's Trash is Another Cyclist's Treasure

By Karen Kefauver - Sentinel correspondent
December 10, 2010
Link to Sentinel article

Recycled Tire TreasuresNot everyone would be thrilled to receive a big box packed with used bicycle tubes and tires, but for Lauren Junker, it was as if Christmas had arrived early.

"I think my business was mentioned on a recycling website," she said. Then with a laugh, "I got a big box from Washington D.C. filled with about 20 tubes and tires."

For the founder and creative force behind Totally Tubular Design, a small company that makes purses and wallets out of bicycle inner tubes and tires, old rubber is an ideal gift.

When Junker and her husband Scott Junker moved from Thousand Oaks to Santa Cruz almost a year ago for his job in the cycling industry, Lauren decided to leave her career as a full-time teacher.

After they relocated, she was determined to continue feeding her passions for racing triathlon and creatively using recycled
materials.

"It went from being a hobby to a business," said Junker, who currently operates the business out of the garage of her Seabright home.

In 2006, after she broke her grandmother's sewing machine trying to stitch through rubber, Junker realized she needed more
powerful tools.

She met her husband at a bike shop.

"He saved old tires for me," she said, and Junker soon followed his business advice. "I began to work more efficiently. The products have evolved and the style has changed. The focus is on recycling and making something cool."

Custom bags are popular, said Junker, adding that her best-selling item is a "large tire case that is about 7 inches by 5 inches tall. It has inner tube and tire and it's great for both girls and guys."

For her creations, which include wallets and bracelets made from recycled bicycle rubber, she relies on a variety of suppliers. Among them are local bike shops such as Family Cycling Center and Sprockets.

Her products are for sale locally at the Spokesman, Artisans Gallery, the Craft Gallery Annex in Capitola and Childish Santa Cruz in Live Oak.

When she's not sewing rubber with a machine used for industrial car upholstery, Junker, 28, is busy training for her first Ironman triathlon in Idaho this June. Even with a few marathons and half-Ironman distance races under her belt, the nine-year veteran of triathlon expects the longer distance race will be a challenge. She has signed up for group triathlon workouts with coach Terri Schneider.

"I met my husband through cycling -- we have that in common. Swimming keeps me balanced and running is my passion. It's all
good."

Spin City Cycling Updates: Cross, Dojo and Kids

When Santa Cruz weather turns rainy and thoughts turn to holiday feasting instead of everyday training, plenty of cyclists stay busy working on causes important to them.

Santa Cruz resident Winona Hubbard and a corps of dedicated volunteers hosted the second annual CXing Barriers at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in Bend, Ore., on Wednesday. The event's mission is to provide a venue for older women racers to mix and mingle.

"It's actually selfish," said Hubbard, a competitive cyclist and a frequent volunteer with Santa Cruz County Cycling Club. "My goal is to have fun, but I also want to keep women in the sport so, when I am 70 years old, I will have people to compete against."

Meredith, the top American finisher in the Cyclocross World Championships, was the featured speaker of the event. The USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships continue through Sunday. Check for results at www.usacycling.org.

Closer to home, it's a busy time for Rob Mylls, founder of the Bike Dojo, which he launched in June 2009. The locally owned business has a new location in downtown Santa Cruz at 1101 Pacific Ave., Suite G.

The entrance is from Cathcart Street at the University Town Center.

The Bike Dojo is a gym with spin classes and virtual reality bikes, and which hosts a community of cyclists, which go on organized rides, according to Mylls.

Safe cycling and happy New Year.

Karen Kefauver is a freelance sports and travel journalist based in Santa Cruz and an avid cyclist. She blogs about cycling for the Sentinel at www.santacruzlive.com/blogs/outside.

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