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By Karen Kefauver – Sentinel correspondent
December 25, 2009
Link to Sentinel article

A Wish List for Santa CruzAs 2009 speeds toward the finish line, it’s time for reflection and planning for the year ahead for cyclists of all stripes.

Here in Spin City, I offer you food for thought about your upcoming plans. Or, if you have had your fill of holiday calories and are trying to lighten the load on your bicycle, get moving with one of these four cycling-inspired plans:

Mark your calendars for international bike events in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties so you can be part of the action.

The biggest news of the year for regional cyclists is the return of the Amgen Tour of California to Santa Cruz in 2010. Last year was the first time the city was chosen to participate in the TOC. Despite the torrential downpour, thousands of fans gathered to cheer the world’s top riders across the finish line on Front Street.

In 2010, the race will take place in May, instead of February, with Stage 3 of the road race starting in San Francisco and ending in Santa Cruz [location TBA] on May 18.

A few weeks earlier, cycling fans will flock to the Sea Otter Classic. The world’s biggest bicycle festival is gearing up to
celebrate its 20th year, April 15-18, at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area.

Hundreds of locals participate, volunteer and watch the races, which range from beginner to pro level in road biking,
mountain biking — cross country, downhill, dual slalom, mountain cross, short track, as well as trials and a jump contest. I have gone every year since 1994 and think this one will be special.

Burn off some winter fat by shopping locally at the great bike stores in Santa Cruz County. There are too many to list here. I have been to most of them in order to spread my business around. While you can often find cheaper deals online, support the folks who dedicate their time and energy to helping cyclists in our community. Consider buying your gear, bikes and accessories at their shops.

I still have to visit the newest shop which had its grand opening earlier this month: Epicenter Cycling, located in Aptos Station, at the entrance to Nisene Marks State Park.

If you have not visited the new location of the Bicycle Trip, check it out. They moved down the street to a super chic space closer to Whole Foods at 1001 Soquel Ave.

Wear your helmet — always! It’s the law for kids under 18 to wear bike helmets, and I wish their parents would set a good example by always wearing a helmet too. I hear all kinds of excuses: “It messes up my hair,” “I am a careful/excellent cyclist,” and “I am only going a short distance.”

My reply: Your hair will look really bad when it is all shaved off for brain surgery, it doesn’t matter if you are a good
cyclist, someone else can hit you, and many accidents occur on short jaunts. I am passionate on this topic, in part, because two members of my family have brain damage. I have watched these vibrant young men’s lives become derailed as a result. Ideally, cyclists would be safer and not have to wear helmets all the time. If you want to work toward this reality, then take action by volunteering for Bike Week or writing to your city council person asking for safer streets to ride.

No more excuses — get moving! Santa Cruz offers amazing rides and safe bike lanes for road riders and fantastic, legal trails for mountain bikers.

Sometimes joining a group makes it easier to get on your bike and pedal, so check out the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club, the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz and The Bike Dojo.

Plus, for beginning road cyclists who are 18 years or older, a free, eight-week program starts on Jan. 20 and continues for the next seven Wednesdays. Hosted by members of the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club, the first meeting will take place Jan. 20 at Lighthouse Field on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz.

We’ll start with seven miles and over eight weeks work it up over the course of eight Wednesdays beginning. Class begins at 10 a.m.

More info here: http://www.santacruzlive.com/blogs/outside. I’ll see you out pedaling on the trails and roads!

Karen Kefauver, www.karenkefauver.com, is a sports and travel freelance journalist. She blogs weekly about bicycling for the Sentinel at www.santacruzlive.com/blogs/outside.

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