Sixth Annual Bike the Bay: Local Teens Ride from Santa Cruz to Monterey
On June 26th, a group of local teens will do something many of them never thought possible — pedal their bikes nearly 100 miles from Santa Cruz to Monterey and back.
This is the sixth year of Bike the Bay, an annual youth ride organized by Green Ways to School. Green Ways to School, a program of Bike Santa Cruz County, works to encourage youth leadership and alternatives to driving in middle and high schools throughout the county.
The ride brings together a diverse group of youth from throughout the county, many of whom are involved with projects promoting biking. Max Bushnell, a junior at Harbor High, has been working to promote cycling in Santa Cruz for the past year as an intern with Bike Santa Cruz County. “This will be the longest ride I’ve done, and I am really looking forward to it. I’m hoping it will give me a chance to meet some kids from other schools who are passionate about biking.”
The tour is a transformative experience for many who participate. Traveling 100 miles round trip on a bicycle is no small feat for someone who may not have ridden more than 10 miles in a day. The trip affords spectacular views, a powerful connection to the local landscape, and the joy of reaching Monterey County’s 18-mile Coastal Trail after a hard day of pedaling.
“That’s my favorite part of the trip,” says Green Ways to School director Tawn Kennedy. “After meandering through back roads and a short section of Highway 1, getting on the Monterey bike path is a real treat, and I notice everyone’s spirits pick up. I look forward to the day we can most of the route on the Coastal Rail Trail.” The Coastal Rail Trail, or Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail, will eventually provide an off-street path spanning Santa Cruz County, and will one day connect to the Monterey Coastal Trail. When that connection is made, riders could travel safely away from traffic most of the way from Santa Cruz to Monterey. Two segments of the trail are currently funded, and the County of Santa Cruz is applying for a grant to build the Seabright to Live Oak segment, which if funded would provide students with a great start to future Bike the Bay rides.
Bike the Bay aligns perfectly with Green Ways to School’s mission to empower youth and change the way we think about transportation. After 100 sweaty miles, these teens know one thing: if you can bike the bay, you can ride anywhere, and if you can ride anywhere, you can do anything.