Bicycles dust cars in sixth annual ‘Commuter Race’

Bike to Work hosted its sixth annual Commuter Race Tuesday.
During which, I and my borrowed hybrid bicycle competed against a Toyota Prius hybrid, a Zenn all electric car, a regular bicycle and a tandem bike duo. All the bikes beat the cars by a good 10-20 minutes during the treasure hunt-style race that began at the intersection of Front and Cooper streets, made stops at The Buttery on Soquel and Branciforte avenues and again at New Leaf Market on 41st Avenue before crossing the finish line at the tiki on the Capitola Esplanade. With a time of 36 minutes, I came in third place behind the tandem team, which had a time of 22 minutes. The regular cyclist beat me by four minutes. Meanwhile, the Zenn came in fourth place at 42 minutes, followed two minutes later by the Prius. The rules were to follow road laws and be safe. I would like to think I would have come in before or around the same time as the regular cyclist had I not waited in line to pick up a pastry at The Buttery and an apple at New Leaf. The other participants said they told the cashier they were part of a race, gave them enough money to cover the item and split. Wish I had thought of that. It was fun, though. And Tuesday’s weather made for a great ride. My chariot was a Twist Express by Giant, on loan from The Bicycle Trip on Soquel Avenue in Santa Cruz. It’s not an electric bike, or e-bike, which is basically a motorcycle, explained Aaron Jacobs, store manager. "All you have to do is hit the throttle and take off," he said, noting that no pedalling is needed. In contrast, hybrid bikes, which have been on the market since last year, provide the best of both worlds, he said. The rider benefits from a cycling-style workout, but with little boost. Its motor activates only when the cyclist pumps the pedals. While I felt the difference, I could have used a little bit more help up the hills. All the race participants chose their own route. Since my bike had a Sentinel video camera affixed to it, thanks to the handy work of Bicycle Trip mechanic Nate Trumble, I chose the route with the most vehicle traffic. I took Soquel Avenue to Capitola Road to 41st Avenue to complete the tasks. After that was over, I took Jade Street to 47th Avenue to Portola Drive and coasted into Capitola Village. In the video, you’ll see how I zoom by bumper to bumper traffic. There was one close call with a motorist, who didn’t hear my bell ringing as I approached Soquel and Seabright avenues. While trying to obeying traffic laws, I did take to the sidewalk briefly one time to avoid the lane-jockeying of cars and buses. Look for the video to pop up soon on the Street Smarts blog.


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4 Responses to Bicycles dust cars in sixth annual ‘Commuter Race’

  1. Lon Arriola says:

    News Fraud!!

    When I saw the article in the paper on Monday regarding this bicycle race ‘Dust off the bicycle, its bike week’, ‘The fun kicks off Tuesday, with a “Commute Race’ I hopped at the seemingly exciting opportunity by not only dusting off my favorite mountain bike but also by enthusiastically purchasing a $175 motor for it to show off some ‘variation’ in the race.

    The article had several unrealistic and misleading claims regarding the race: ‘To celebrate the 22nd annual event, Bike to Work is holding a plethora of events. In case you haven’t seen the posters and brochures plastered all over town, here’s a quick rundown of whats happening this week. The fun kicks off Tuesday, with a “Commute Race.” The race begins just before 5 pm at Pacific Avenue and Cooper Street.”The race’s goal is to demonstrate how long it takes people to traverse the county using various modes of transportation during peak drive-time traffic’ ‘on Wednesday, cyclists are invited to help feed 5,000 people during “Food Delivery Day”‘

    Looking forward to this supposedly exciting race my brother and I hurriedly installed the motor on my bike just in time to make it downtown in plenty of time to enter in the race and hopefully show off some commuting ‘variation’!

    We made it to Pacific and Cooper by about 4:30pm. No sign of any bike race. From the statements in the article regarding posters and brochures being all over town and also feeding 5000 people on Wednesday I was expecting a large Wharf-to-Wharf style event with hundreds if not thousands of people. Around 4:55pm we noticed a small gathering of people at the corner of Front street and Cooper Street. There were a couple of bikes, and since it was almost five, and we had not seen any type of bike race activity at the corner of cooper and Pacific as the article had stated there would be, we thought we’d walk over and see if that was ‘the race’

    Well it was. As we walked up to the small circle with our bikes some old dude was giving some speech about who he was or something, and then said ‘lets all introduce ourselves then’ and the circle of people closed, shutting us out. The old dude pointed to about five people who said their names, as we craned our necks and tried to figure out why we were being ignored. The group was obviously excluding us so eventually i physically stepped up and said to the old dude ‘are you in charge of the race? can we participate?” “NO, no, he said, instantly, barely even giving me a glance.” “I was hoping to try out my new motor” i said politely “Well those are two stroke, they’re not even green motors” he rudely spat at me. In fact it is epa certified, dude, thank you very much. I didn’t say that but i should have, it’s true. Anyways then he was like “sorry guys, not this year” and then turned away from us.

    The group included Ramona Turner, the lady who wrote both of these articles, and it looked like a couple other news people were also ‘in the group.’ So basically these news people are writing a news article about themselves, the race is a complete fraud. Somebody fire these people for writing stories about themselves in the paper why, why do we have to read this crap.

    Well, when they started , we started, and we made it to Capitola in about five minutes, safely and obeying all traffic laws. So at least we smoked their snail mobiles.

    See you next year, when our 2nd annual motor bike race smokes your snail race for the second year in a row.

    -Lon 831-531-4127
    also you can get a motor for your bike at:

  2. Fritz says:

    Ramona, you rock for reporting this. Well done.

  3. NSD says:

    Even though it’s bike-to-work week yes if they want to compare modes of transportation they should include scooters, motorcycles and your machine. However

    > … we made it to Capitola in about five minutes,
    > safely and obeying all traffic laws.

    cannot be true. It’s 4.6 miles taking the shortest route, and just over 5 if you visit the two stores on the race.

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