CARLSBAD — If nothing else, San Diego has the weather going for it. Sure, we’ve been burdened with more than the usual amount of rain, but even then, it’s still a better climate than most other places in the country. And it beats Santa Ana wildfires.
To celebrate weather and fitness overall, the city of Carlsbad has an official Bike to Work Day on May 18.
Craig Williams, Carlsbad’s transportation manager, explained that it’s a big event in Carlsbad, but also countywide, and even nationally. “SANDAG organizes a local Bike to Work Day event each year in May,” he said. “The San Diego region has been participating in Bike to Work Day for more than 20 years, and we have hosted pit stops in Carlsbad for the past several years.”
The pit stops are strategically placed in an effort to encourage, and hydrate, some of the newer cyclists who participate. “Pit stops offer fun breaks for new and experienced bike riders to rest and pick up a free T-shirt, snacks and encouragement,” Williams said. “For many people, Bike to Work Day is the first time they try biking to work. Having a place to stop along the way makes the ride to work much more enjoyable.” This year, there are seven pit stops in Carlsbad alone.
Bike to Work Day is a national event, set to coincide with the warm spring weather found in most places (sorry, Maine). It was first established in 1956, and coincides with Bike to Work Week, as well as Bike to Work Month.
The benefits of pedaling your commute are numerous. There’s money saved on gas, fewer pollutants into the air and, of course, cycling is a great cardiovascular workout.
According to the San Diego Sport Innovators association, San Diego is North America’s cycling capitol. They estimate 1.1 million cyclists in all of San Diego county, or one-third of all residents (37 percent of whom can be classified as “frequent” or “avid”). There are hundreds of miles of dedicated bike paths, hills galore and even a velodrome. Tightly clustered pelotons are such a familiar sight; most drivers inherently know to keep an eye out for the two-wheeled counterparts with whom they share the road.
Not surprisingly, retailers and repair outlets see a surge in business once the fair weather arrives. Paul Dunlap is the general manager and owner at Velofix: “All three major segments of cycling are entering full season in the April timeframe — road, mountain bike and triathlon. As riders are feeling the season change, they are more active on their road and mountain bikes. The first tris of the year are scheduled and bike tune-ups are key. New sales begin to pick up, as well as component sales.”
Velofix is a road-based repair and maintenance service that’s been around for the past 17 months. Asked how often a cyclist should get their bike tuned up, Dunlap said: “This question really comes down to mileage ridden and riding style. Generally a customer should schedule a tune-up four times a year, with one of those being a major tune up/overhaul. The different types of bikes and riding styles require various schedules of maintenance, with mountain bikes requiring the most.”
San Diegans take cycling seriously. Williams explains that 2016 showed more than 9,700 visits to the 100-plus pit stops across the county. Asked if he’d be participating in the day, Williams said: “Yes I will! It’s especially fun to see fellow city staff participate to show our residents that we believe in practicing as well as promoting alternative ways to get to work.”