My New Love

By Gwyn Lurie   |   March 11, 2021

Last week I walked into Mad Dogs & Englishmen, the new e-bike shop on Coast Village Road, and fell in love. There it was in the corner, its sleek lines and jewel-green shimmer beckoning me. I’ve long loved the idea of bikes and the concept of living in a bike-friendly town. I sent my daughter to Santa Barbara Middle School, famous for its biking adventures, and I’ve advocated for BCycle’s local bike-sharing program as an eco and cost friendly option for getting around. But I’d never actually ridden an e-bike.

I own a bike that stands in my driveway, rusting and deteriorating from lack of use. My husband, however, regularly rides his road bike up into the hills behind Montecito. It allows him to indulge in his habitual snacking on crackers and other gluten-filled favorites without looking like a quarantine cautionary tale. He says his daily rides up Park Lane, Bella Vista Drive, and Ladera Lane are his time to think. (Read: his time away from us.) He talks about the mountains, the ocean views, and regales us with stories about the critters he encounters – coyotes, snakes, even a mountain lion. 

I’ve long wanted to accompany him on one of his rides but have never believed myself to be in good enough shape to make it up that mountain. That changed last week, when, for my birthday, my husband and my sister surprised me with the sparkling green beauty that had caught my eye in the shop.

As soon as I took the e-bike for a spin, I knew this was going to be a long-term relationship. I’m not one for hyperbole, but this bike has rocked my world. Now I can ride on our hilly roads, no problem, expending as much or as little energy as I want.

I called Bob Ludwick, President of the Coast Village Association, to talk about my new love and to inquire as to his feelings about BCycle’s bike-sharing program expanding into Montecito so that almost everyone can experience our village and its terrain by bike – from the not-quite-fit to adventurous seniors who are still active. I know from a planning perspective that these things can be complicated – like Ludwick’s feelings about e-bikers.

“To be honest, as a long-time cyclist, I whisper under my breath when e-bikers pass me only because I’m putting out a lot of energy and, well…”

So, Bob doesn’t like to be passed by people expending less energy than he is. But what does he think about bringing Santa Barbara’s new bike-share program to Montecito? “I don’t know where we would locate the hubs. But we’re about to undertake a long-term solution for some self-governance by upgrading the street. An e-bike station could be integral to how we design (the corridor). “The fact is,” Bob said, “we need charging stations, too. We need some not necessarily quaint infrastructure to support modern life. But we have to figure out how to integrate it, rather than tack it on.”

Next, I called Jesse Rosenberg, General Manager of BCycle, the subsidiary of Trek that’s responsible for Santa Barbara’s bike-share program, to find out where, if at all, Montecito fits into BCycle’s plans.

“Since moving back to Montecito and joining the BCycle team, I’ve been excited to see the system expand to different areas in Santa Barbara. There’s no better way to appreciate neighborhoods, including those in Montecito, than from the seat of an e-bike. An e-bike makes it possible to climb hills, get exercise, and experience the beauty we pass every day in our cars. I look forward to having BCycle stations on Coast Village Road,” she replied.

On my actual birthday, I finally got to accompany my husband on his ride up the mountain. Now I understand why he’s hooked. After a year of being stuck at home through such a hard time, looking out over our vast hills and ocean expanse announcing renewal and reset, I found myself breathing deeply for what felt like the first time in a long time. Then I rode on ahead, leaving my husband to his thoughts, and in the dust. 

I plan to lend my e-bike to Bob Ludwick for a trial run. Then let’s hear what he utters under his breath.

 

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