Bike to Work commuters climb to the top at UCSC

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UCSC students Darrow Feldstein, Kevin Condon and Molly Austin celebrated Bike To Work day on Thursday. (photo by Dan White)

UC Santa Cruz students, staff and faculty braved the big, sweaty hill leading up to campus, and rewarded themselves with free breakfasts, during the annual Bike To Work Day, an eco-friendly event that sent more than 6,000 commuters into the streets of Santa Cruz County.

The Thursday-morning bike celebration drew such a good crowd to various breakfast sites on campus that at least one of them  – the breakfast spot at the campus Women’s Center – started running out of certain food items earlier than expected.

Molly Austin, 21 (College 10, sociology), was working the event for the first time. She freely admits that bike awareness came to her gradually, after being car-dependent for years. "I used to insist on driving to high school even though I lived three blocks away,’’ she said.

It took a group of bike-oriented friends to make the difference, she said. "It was a 180-degree change," Austin said.

Austin handed out apples, energy bars, and cups of juice to an energetic group of riders including Kevin Condon, 21 (Stevenson, environmental science/economics), who just so happens to be president of another group celebrating self-powered transportation – the UCSC Kayak Club.

Condon, who lives off campus, said he gets so much satisfaction from riding a bike that he thinks of it as a lifestyle choice more than an ideological one. Yes, he has to fight his way up that infamous hill, “but when I’m done with class I get to go down that hill. I see the whole bay, I put my hands up, and I’ve earned that view. It’s a great way to relax after class.’’

"The Hill" was a topic that came up frequently at the Women’s Center breakfast stop-over. But the riders also pointed out that bike commuters can also take advantage of a bike-friendly shuttle that will do the heavy lifting for those who can't make it to the top.

For more information on this annual event, see http://www.bike2work.com/s_cruz/