May brings to Santa Barbara America’s closest equivalent to the Tour de France — the Amgen Tour of California. If you’re like me, you’ll spend the afternoon of May 15 waiting to see 128 colorfully clad cyclists scream down San Marcos Pass before sprinting to a shoreline finish on Cabrillo Boulevard. But cycling isn’t merely a competitive endeavor. It has been and continues to be a means of transportation; a symbol of women’s suffrage; a carbon reducer; a form of recreation, meditation, adventure, exercise; and a vehicle for artistic expression.
Stories about cycling in Santa Barbara, in all these various forms, abound. So when we started to put together an issue dedicated to CycleMAYnia, I had as many ideas as there are beach cruisers in Isla Vista. Alas, a newspaper is only so big, and I have only so much time, so some of the stories will have to wait for future issues. In the end, I chose two stories about two figures who exemplify a decidedly open, unpretentious approach to the bicycle.
One is Ed France, the executive director of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition. “Our advocacy is not about being die-hards,” said France, who hopes to make the bicycle the default mode of transportation for trips under a mile, not the domain of exclusive subcultures. The other figure is less of a household name. Rudolf (Rudi) Jung will never speak in front of the City Council. And he doesn’t, like France, know the average monthly cost of car ownership ($500 if you are curious). He just knows he’d rather ride a bike when possible. And when he’s not riding, he’s humbly designing and crafting beautiful handmade bicycle frames in his garage. He even donated one — a 50 cm women’s cyclocross frame that was painted by tattoo artist Jake Vantiger — to be auctioned by the Bicycle Coalition. It is currently on display at Bici Centro on 506 East Haley Street.
There’s no doubt Jung, like France, agrees that whether you avail yourself of one of his own creations, the offerings in any of Santa Barbara’s excellent bike shops, or the recycled steeds at Bici Centro, the conclusion of Mark Twain’s 1884 essay on learning to ride a bicycle still rings true: “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.”
When more than 250 cyclists in Stage 5 of the 2014 Amgen Tour of California reach the city limits on Thursday, May 15, they will be whizzing by at 50 mph on the downhill side of Highway 154. Once they level out, they’ll have to negotiate several sharp turns before stretching out into a fast sprint from Shoreline Drive to the finish line on Cabrillo Boulevard, between Garden Street and Calle César Chávez. For the latest on Amgen 2014, see amgentourofcalifornia.com. — John Zant