Epicenter Cycling - Santa Cruz Bike Shops

Santa Cruz Locals Making a Difference

1730 Mission St, Santa Cruz 831.423.9000 - 8035 Soquel Dr, Aptos 831.662.8100

Epicenter Cycling, with bike shops in Santa Cruz and in Aptos, is your home for Trek bicycles, electric bicycles, bicycle rentals, bicycle repairs, bicycle fitting, and bicycle service. We carry electric bikes, pedal-assist bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, urban bikes, comfort bikes, dirt jumpers, women's bikes, kids' bikes and beach cruisers from Trek Bicycles, Electra Bicycle Co., Vintage Electric, Blix Bicycles, Fit Bike Co., Wallerang, and Haro. Our friendly and knowledgeable crew is here to assist you seven days a week. Locally owned and operated by family and friends.

Bikes Change Lives : Michele Lamelin

Let’s make this perfectly clear: I was never a fan of riding bikes. Not when I was a kid, not as a young adult, and certainly not as I approached middle age.

I had no desire to own a bicycle as a child, being perfectly happy to tromp around the woods on my own two feet, building forts and looking for salamanders under rocks and logs.

The neighborhood kids all had bikes, and in fact, the Druin brothers’ mother would join her kids in launching off a berm that divided our backyards. (We're talking 1976 ... this woman was well ahead of her time!) My mom would watch from our kitchen window and shake her head at the “silly antics” of this grown woman.

Fast forward to 1988 when, in my mid-20’s, I moved from rural Connecticut to an urban neighborhood in San Jose, California. Unable to afford a car at first, I purchased a brand new bicycle at my local bike shop. I just wanted a basic ride that would get me to and from my studio apartment in Willow Glen to my boyfriend’s house in Saratoga. How I wound up with a mountain bike is beyond me (I should be ashamed to admit the model name Trail Breaker was lost on me), but that’s apparently what I purchased, with no intention of putting those wheels to dirt. In fact, the idea of riding a bike on dirt didn’t even occur to me – that’d be Crazy!

In 1990, I moved into the foothills of Saratoga, on horse property that backed up to Fremont Older Open Space Preserve. Riding a spirited Arabian mare out on those trails was always an adventure, as these Crazy People on bicycles would come whipping through the eucalyptus groves and along narrow tracks along the ridgeline. Did I mention CRAZY? !!

Not long after that, I found myself coerced onto a bike fairly regularly by my then-husband, John. We’d ride neighborhood streets and paved bike paths, with John towing our infant son in a trailer behind him. Oh, how I hated cycling, but I sure gave it a good try. John would gift me with progressively wider and cushier new saddles every Christmas in an effort to make me more comfortable. Nope, didn’t work.

Fast forward again to 2005 ... different husband, same bike ... Rick somehow made pedaling around Yosemite Valley sound romantic and fun, so off we went … for 20 miles. 20 freaking paved miles! On that same old steel beast I purchased in the late 80's. No bueno!!! Never again!!!! Bicycling sucks!

Until … Dirt.

I discovered Dirt in 2008. Rick had started mountain biking with a buddy, and I thought I’d be a good lil wifey and give it a try so my spouse and I would have an activity to share. I started off on my ancient steel steed with its ginormous saddle on the flat Ohlone Bluff trail along the coast in Wilder. From there, I worked on my climbing skills by pedaling Rick’s full suspension Trance up a nearby fire road. I remember how proud I was when I finally made it to the top without having to take a break!

One day, a friend from my horse barn asked if she could join me on my next ride up the fire road. Lindsay, in addition to being an accomplished horsewoman, was apparently one of those Crazy People Who Loved Riding Bicycles, whether on dirt or asphalt. I was happy for the company and we climbed on up to the top. As I was turning around to head back down the way we came up, Lindsay pointed to what appeared to be a hiking trail, and said “Have you ever been down there?” I looked at her in disbelief, and she just nodded toward the trail and said, “Follow me.”

And following her changed my life.

Roots and rocks and drops OH MY! Yeeeeeeeee !!!!!

I became addicted straight away. I’d wake up at 3am thinking about my local trail systems and working them out in my head, later drawing maps of them on paper placemats at restaurants. Driving along in my truck, my heart would leap at any glimpse of dirt path. I embarked on a mission to ride anywhere and everywhere, organizing group trips with my mountain biking “tribe” to legendary places like Kernville, Hurricane, Downieville, Oakridge and more.

Mountain biking brought me to life, at mid-life. I swear it’s the Fountain of Youth, as I feel younger and healthier (on every level!) now at 51 than I did decades ago. My closest friends are those I met through mountain biking, and they have become my family. Out on the trail, I experience church, gym and therapist couch all at once. On the ascents, my mind goes on creative overdrive, and some of my most inspiring ideas are dreamed up as I earn my turns. On the descent … it’s pure, unadulterated freedom. Just me, my bike (Maynard, the love of my life!) and the Dirt. I’m that grown woman my mom shook her head over, getting giddy over launching small drops.

And oh yeah. I'm single again. But that old diehard Shogun Trail Breaker is still around ;-)

Bikes Change Lives : Lawrence Saiyo

Go to college. Get a job. Get married. Have kids.

I was brought up with these idealisms, this plan to “succeed and prosper.” It is engrained into kids growing up all over the country.

I did terrible in high school, mainly due to daydreaming about single track and using my study time as ride time. I had no plans for the future. I just wanted to ride my bike. In fact, I still kinda don’t have plans. I still just want to ride. Because it’s the only thing I know is a for sure thing in this life.

I don’t get why people judge me - and others like me - for choosing to live this way. My father lived his life using the “succeed and prosper” method. If you ask my father: do you think you’ve ever been happy your whole life? Do you feel like you are really living, not just surviving his answer would be. “No.”

In observation of most people's lives, I see that they don’t have what they want from life. Most of them are buried in student loans and mortgages, divorcing their wives or husbands, hating their desk jobs, are in terrible shape, and they’re straight up unhappy. What is up with that? I don’t understand why someone would choose to live their lives with so much bad. They tie it up in a bow and call it “the American Dream.” They say that they’ll do things “someday.” Before you know it, you’re sour and decrepit. Don’t wait for retirement to enjoy your life.

Let’s just do this guys... Take your retirement early. Do something you really really love, for once in your life, before the chance is gone. Be with the people you really want to be with. Do the things you really want to do. Be the person you really want to be.

The person your bike thinks you are.

As for me? I’ve cut my losses. No college and student loans for me. No plans. I’m just going to ride my bike, through thick and thin, because I know I’ll end up on top (wherever that is) eventually, and have good work to show for it, and the passion to really appreciate it.

I encourage you to experience all the things your bike can do for you, because the chance will be gone before you know it.

Bikes Change Lives : Sarah Hansing

I think it goes mostly without saying that I rely on riding bikes in order to stay sane and happy. Here is a story that I shared in Dirt Rag magazine a few years ago – the story of how I started mountain biking, mostly by accident:

You see, I had this great idea of mountain biking through Europe (yet another in the series of Brilliant Plans Designed to Help Me Avoid College). So, I went into the closest bike shop I knew of, and promptly fell in love with a shiny mountain bike. Which I bought. You know, to ride through Europe. Even though I had never mountain biked before. Or been to Europe.

I hucked that bike off of some sweet curbs, thank you very much. And of course, I always rode through people’s lawns, instead of on the sidewalks. Sometimes, I was so brazen as to ride into the picnic table area at the local city park, and ride down the pavilion’s two cement stairs (three, if you count that dirt lip just before the first stair).

As my trip to Europe drew closer, I was pretty sure that I was a badass mountain biker. Pretty sure, that is, until about a month before I left on my adventure. I began working at the very shop where I had purchased my shiny bike. And I was taken to something my “friends” at the shop called “singletrack”.

Where I promptly crashed.

Hard.

And continued to crash.

Often.

And I hated my friends for trying to kill me. And I couldn’t wait to go again. And I couldn’t wait to make all of my unsuspecting, non-biking friends try it, too.

Bikes Change Lives : Shasta Webb

When you learn to ride mountain bikes in a community of very talented riders, it’s easy to convince yourself that you suck at riding.

For about a year after I started riding dirt, I felt like a total beginner. I vice-gripped the brakes down most descents, I tipped over pretty much every ride, and I’d walk my bike on areas I thought were too technical.

After a while, even though I had made a bit of progress, I still felt like a helpless novice. So, naturally, when a co-worker at Epicenter encouraged me to try riding Berm Reynolds, a trail several degrees of difficulty beyond my comfort zone, my initial reaction was incredulity. In my mind I was still at bunny hill level. But with some coaxing, my mindset shifted. Maybe I could try it. I might be slow, I reasoned, but every trail is worth a try.

So, with two co-workers leading the way, I attempted Berm, and it was fairly disastrous.

Unaccustomed to sharp, wall-ridey turns, I rode off the trail several times. I psyched myself out before steep chutes and awkwardly clambered down them on foot. I approached small booters and slammed my brakes on right before them. All in all, it was a C minus at best. Returning back to work that day, I felt I had let myself down.

I resolved to try it again.

A few weeks later I went back. I was anxious the entire ascent, replaying in my mind the features of the trail I could remember. I told myself to stay calm, lay off the brakes, and follow my friend’s line.

When we dropped into the top portion of the trail, I felt like I was in a trance. I looked ahead, quieted my mind, and rode the trail without thinking. When we stopped about halfway down, I was blown away at how much better I was riding. Deep breaths, a looser grip, and some encouragement had completely changed my experience. When I made it through the lower section of trail unscathed, I knew I had left behind many of the doubts that plagued me before. I had overcome my fear, and I finally saw how far my riding had come.

Bikes Change Lives : Todd Watts

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Over the course of years and many opened and abandoned blogs, I’ve detailed the events which motivate my cycling habit. I ride now for pure pleasure, with the added benefit of feeling much younger than I should at this age.

The condensed version of my early cycling life consists of a Schwinn Stingray, green banana seat and sissy bar jacked up high, to a steel truck of a ten speed used to lug papers on my route in junior high school, to a mountain bike used on a 45 mile commute each day between school, work, and home.

Then, a vacuum.

Life happened, kids were born, bills mounted, work consumed my life to pay for that consumption. Bikes and I parted ways, the gap being filled by other coping mechanisms, like cigarettes and drinking and not sleeping.

For like a decade (I kid you not).

Cycling poked its head into my life every once in awhile and asked if I wanted a ride, but I looked up and away, feigning ignorance or invisibility. “I’ll get to you later,” I’d say to myself.

In May 2004 my drinking career hit a speed bump while at a golf tournament in Pueblo, but let’s be honest, it was a drinking tournament at a golf course. I just about accidentally killed myself that weekend. That Sunday night I had my one and only panic attack. When you’ve dialed 9-1 with a finger hovering over the final 1 and you’re not sure what’s really happening, you call mom. Damn the truth and the pride and the dignity and all other things which drinking robbed me of, I wanted to live.

Mind you, this was just the zenith of my drinking. A wake-up call. I drank daily, but this wasn’t my everyday life.

Had there not been a doctor appointment the Monday following (podiatrist, unrelated), I don’t know where I’d be right now. He refused to treat me until I went to a GP immediately. My blood pressure was 210/130 and I was green. I must’ve smelled like a bar mat at closing time on a Saturday night.

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This event inspired The Trip in 2005. Having lost my father to Parkinson’s Disease in 2002, I was snowed in the weekend of the memorial service and could not get a flight out to California. There was no closure. To draw that circle closer to complete, I set out to raise some money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation on a bike ride to Dallas to see my kids (the same trip I made over a decade over 35 times). A Giant Rainier was my steed, modified for road riding. Not having a ton of vacation to use, I squeezed in as many miles as possible over eight days. Over a 750 mile course, I rode 380 miles in five days with mom driving SAG.

Following that endeavor, I slipped back into a night lifestyle, but continued to ride to work. Becoming healthy was a slow process for me.

Years later, and now a teetotaler, bikes are an addiction. I don’t ride to be healthy, but for fun and peace of mind. Healthy is a side-effect. Before being certain of a move back to California, I brought a bike with me on a trip earlier last year. On the trip back around Labor Day, I rode every day in what would soon be my new arena. It pains me to know that three perfectly nice bikes are being left behind (stored in the garage), dormant, just yearning to be out on the open road.

That ride in 2005 gave me time to think about my dad’s life, as well as my own. The open road opens my mind, hence the addiction. We all like to be happy and to release the stress of our lives. For years those stresses were suppressed with Jägermeister, Marlboro, and chili cheese fries. Now there’s nothing better for me than waking after a solid eight and climbing on a bike as the sun rises. This would have sounded terribly dull and impossible fifteen years ago, when I was supposedly younger and healthier. The truth is that I’m in better shape now than during Pararescue training in the Air Force.

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Living at altitude and sporting grey carpet on my chin also features the added benefit of catching kids on hills (most, not all) and surprising cat-callers (nods to the ladies).

It’s not the same kind of ‘fun’ as playing NTN trivia at 1:00 a.m., drunker than the collective Rat Pack and discussing the finer points of Van Halen’s lead vocal situation (why did it matter so much?).

If it weren’t for bikes, I’d be at the same crossroads as in 2004, when reality was elusive. How would I cope?

I’m sure I would find a way, but from this vantage it is unimaginable. This is why helmets and hyper-awareness on the roads are my mantra. Injury timeouts at the height of the cycling season is like the opening page of The Cat In The Hat. Sitting still, looking out a window.

This is why I ride.


Todd Watts works at Epicenter Cycling as "The bearded bike builder." You can find him rocking out to Sinatra while turning his wrench.  He's a jazzy dude with jazzy taste in music and a cat named Phoebe.

Read more of Todd's awesome word assemblage on his blog: The Caffeinated Cyclist

 

 

Bikes Change Lives : Kathy Ferraro

I feel as though I have always ridden a bike. I can still remember learning how to ride a two wheeler as a 5 year old, maybe it's the old family movies that have instilled this vision as part of my story. When I turned 16, a time when a few kids received cars for their 16th birthday (I lived in Cupertino - home to Apple), my parents gave me a 10 speed bike from Sears. I was ecstatic!

Bicycles always meant freedom and adventure to me and this bike let me roam farther afield than my previous recycled Schwinn Cruiser. When I was 18, I went on a six week bicycle tour offered through the local community college. We cycled with all our camping gear from Seattle to San Jose via the San Juan Islands, along the Washington, Oregon Coast & down the California Coast. It was a real turning point. I decided that when I grew up I wanted to be a bicycle tour guide. Which I did for about 10 seasons after graduating college for various groups. This lead me to a full time career in Outdoor Recreation at UCSC. After that trip I felt that I was a "cyclist" and there was no going back.

When thinking about the many "rad People" that I have meet while biking, what really comes to mind are the many friends I have made as a member of the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club. As a semi retired person I didn't realize how much fun it was to meet a whole new group of new friends who shared a passion for cycling, adventure and friendship. I can't imagine another sport that would have given me the same sense of connection. I enjoy cycling with this group on a weekly basis and the camaraderie of the club. It's great and I would encourage anyone to try it.

One of my favorite places to go on a bike that is only accessible via two wheels or your own two feet is Wilder Ranch. I am always awed by the beauty of the surroundings every time I go. I often pinch myself because I feel so fortunate that this is in our own backyard. After traveling to many places by bike, it ranks high on my list. If you haven't been there then you should. Besides the natural environment, ocean, forests, sweeping coastlands, there is the bounty of wildlife I have seen there, bobcats, coyotes, birds of prey and more.

Q: So, why bikes?
A: Why not?

Bikes Change Lives : Peter

We had a lot of adventures this year on our bikes: cycling to San Francisco, cycling through Big Sur to Morro Bay, cycling San Francisco again… and cycling three weeks in Maine!

For us, the 90 miles along the coast from Santa Cruz County to San Francisco is a really awesome experience right outside our home. Our first time going up the coast, we left La Selva Beach and got to Costanoa early afternoon and hiked in the area.

The following day we passing through Half Moon Bay taking the new trail around Devil's Slide into Pacifica. From there, you've got to climb some pretty steep hills until finally catching site of The Great Highway. Here, you can either cruise along the highway, or take the adjacent hike/bike trail passing the SF Zoo until reaching the Windmill at Golden Gate Park.

There, it was springtime on our first visit and the area was awash in blossoming tulips in every color and numbering in the thousands. After taking pictures, we picked up our bikes and cruised along JFK Drive enjoying the horticulture, the monuments and buildings, and the people of San Francisco until reaching the Panhandle and making our way to our night's lodging.

On our second trip to SF we left La Selva earlier, and made it all the way to Half Moon Bay State Park's Hike & Bike campground. It was late by then, and the wind and the fog was blowing in off the ocean. A easy meal of hot soup, nuts & dried fruit then chocolate for dessert. That night the cold ocean wind blew against our tent forcefully at more than 40mph. It was mighty cozy in our down sleeping bags, though.

In the morning we decided to (or now I'm told, I decided to...) take the old highway from Half Moon Bay to Pacifica in order to avoid the narrow two lane highway on either side of Devil's Slide.  

In my defense, it was, after all, an alternative route suggested on Google Maps. It wasn't until the asphalt had ended and we were pushing our bikes with fully loaded panniers and rolled sleeping pads atop our bike racks up a steep dirt fire road, that I really started to get a bad feeling about this route.

We finally reached a plateau with a nice view back on the coast and where we'd been an hour ago.  The dirt fire road twisted along the slopes of Mount Pedro as we ascended higher. The road then gave way to just a single track. Occasionally a mountain biker would pass and cheer us on, and then we'd see them looking back at us like we were really some dumb asses.  When there was nothing left to climb, the trail snaked high above Devil's Slide. Old WWII concrete observation post/rifle pillboxes could be seen below us.  

As we started to near Pacifica, we met a old local on a hiker who told us that the "road" had been used by motorcyclists in the 1930's, so the State Highway Department had dynamited the road on the hairpin turns, and that was why it was like a hiking trail rather than an abandoned road.

We survived, finally entering Pacifica six hours after we'd started. It was nearly 3pm, so we snacked on a late lunch, and headed up the hills to reach the Great Highway, then Golden Gate Park and our finally our day's rest.

It was a heck of an adventure!

Bikes Change Lives : Skippy Givens

Long long ago in a land far far away, I was an avid cyclist. I bought a 1976 Motobecane Grand Touring bike and would ride endless miles around western and central Sonoma Counties. After basically riding that bike into the ground I moved to Santa Cruz to work up at UCSC.

I discovered a love for Mountain Biking but it was short lived as life pulled me into different directions. As the supervisor of the UCSC Cycling Team and by working at the office of PE Rec. and Sports I was around sleek fast looking bikes all the time. Something that laid dormant in me was struggling to emerge.

One fateful day I walked into Epicenter Bike Shop on Mission. After meeting the owner, Shawn, I took out a bottom of the line Trek road bike. I was very impressed. It felt so crisp and responsive. Worlds away from the old Motobecane of my youth. Then Shawn directed me to take out the Trek 3.1 for a test ride. "I have no business getting on a bike like that". Shawn told me that I have nothing to lose, just take it for a ride. Once I got on the bike, I had an epiphany. Wow, this bike is incredible! So fast, smooth and responsive.

As I came back into the shop from that seemingly innocent test ride, I was transformed. I now ride that bike nearly every day and have racked up nearly 7,500 miles on it. Thanks for the test ride Shawn! What was lost is now found.

Bikes Change Lives : Hank Hansen

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When I was around ten years old, I received the ultimate Christmas present: a BMX bike. It was a chrome Robinson with red, white, and blue accents – it even had blue tires, which at the time was totally mind-blowing. There have been other Christmas bikes that came after, but the Robinson was undeniably the genesis of something big. I wish I still had it, but that’s a story for another time.

As a youngster in the Bay Area with my sweet new whip, it didn’t take long before I discovered the Calabazas bike park. In a way, I think it’s best that the park was completely made-over in the 2000s, because it gives immortality to my exaggerated memories of two-story jumps and near-vertical roll-ins. Calabazas wasn’t just a place to ride. It was a place to “ditch” Mom and ride the jumps that carved through what felt to me like a massive forest. It was a place where I could learn from the old kids how to spit and how to dress cool, which was way more thrilling than learning how to field ground-balls or do long division.

Today, I’m not a BMXer. When I do drop in for the occasional pump track lap, I’m quickly reminded that I’m not very good at making my bike leave the ground.

And yet, I’m definitely a bike addict, and it’s thanks in large part to the 20-inch-wheeled shred vessel that Santa brought me all those years ago. Without it, I might never have developed the desire to progress and explore, a desire that I rely on my bicycle to satisfy on a daily basis. And that’s a scary thought.

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Bikes Change Lives : Kenny Evans

When I started working at Epicenter Cycling as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed teenager, I was a youthful buck with legs made for pedalin'. Little did I know bicycles would take over my life in the way that they have. There are plenty of things I’m thankful for when it comes to being in the bike world. But I want to talk about how much I’ve gained from being around the Epicenter crew day in and day out. Zack shows me daily how to rhyme and flow, and he can backflip a trail bike.

Sergio inspires me not only with his cross-country beastliness, but also with his advice on the best seafood to buy. Matt, our dear racer child, has taught me so much about speed and fashion. Then there’s Silver, equally adept at instructing us on bike tuning, electrical circuits, or wicked guitar licks. John has taught me more about trials skills and the ‘aloha’ lifestyle than anyone I’ve ever met. And then, of course, there’s Darin, our wheel master and resident Def Leppard expert. Where else could you meet such an amazing, mind-expanding group of folks?

Not only has my knowledge of bicycles continued to grow with every day I spend at Epicenter, but my proverbial quiver of bikes is exponentially growing as well. The latest addition, my Transition Trans-Am all-mountain hardtail, is a totally different kind of ride than anything I’ve owned before. It just goes to show that the bike world always encourages you to keep evolving. I am stoked to see where these two-wheeled iron horses will take me next.