At 2141 Newcastle Ave., what is known to some as the Jepson Building, is home to the Cardiff Bike Shop, owned and operated by Eric Contreras. Contreras’ early years were spent in both Cardiff-by-the Sea and Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley and bicycles were the primary mode of transportation. His bicycle represented independence. He rode everywhere, as did everyone in those days, and school bike racks were always full.Contreras recalled riding from Monterey Park to visit his grandparents four miles away was an adventure. He remembers taking his little brother and having to watch out for him crossing streets and showing him it was safe to go down steep hills.His parents started coming to Cardiff-by-the-Sea in 1964 and the family camped in the newly opened San Elijo Campground while they looked for Cardiff property to buy as a vacation home. The purchased a house on Liverpool Drive. His parents, both school teachers, used the home for vacations and school holidays and the garage was soon full of bikes for he and his three brothers to ride to the beach to go surfing, fishing and exploring.In 1980, when Contreras finished college, the Liverpool house became his residence and he and his wife Alana, who have been married for 25 years and have four children, still live there.
Contreras started acquiring bicycles about 20 years ago and as his family came along he wanted one for every member of the family, then one for every day of the week and when it became one for every day of the month, it was time to open a bike shop.
He began building his collection from thrift shops, swap meets, garage sales and networked
with several vintage bike shops. Now his son Alan, vice president of acquisitions, uses the Internet as a source of possible purchases but Contreras says bikes seem to find him through his website and word-of-mouth.
There are approximately 45 bikes in the shop at this time and 90 percent of them are Schwinns.
Contreras describes the bike shop as a labor of love. He works a full-time day job and still finds time to work in the shop afternoons and weekends restoring and repairing bikes.
He finds that people are amazed to see so many vintage bikes and will stop in and literally have a trip down memory lane remembering the bikes they had when they see his collection. A recent purchase is a pre-World War II Schwinn 1938-1939 model that he is restoring.
Interestingly enough, Contreras’ bike shop is next door to the former home of the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library where he remembers winning the summer reading prize a couple of years in the mid 1960s while in elementary school. The librarian at that time was Mrs. Grevelding. The library will be celebrating 98 years of serving the community from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 17.
Plan to stop by the Cardiff Bike Shop soon, hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and closed Monday.
Contreras will give you a tour and perhaps you will find a bike you remember from your youth and decide you need to take it home to explore the streets of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, the place we lovingly call home.
Irene Kratzer is a A founding and life member as well as past president of the Friends of the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library. Irene has lived here since 1982.