Students and community members participated in the Everyday Hero Bike Ride on Feb. 6. The event was meant to show biking as an option every day of the year. Organizers expected rain but were surprised by sunshine. Photo by Sal Ingram

“With most bikes my butt starts to hurt,” said engineering lecturer Karen Groppi, showing off her unique bicycle — and its cushioned seat, set low to the ground, the pedals directly in front of the seat — to the rest of the Everyday Heroes. “But I can sit on this bike all day.”

At 10 a.m. on Superbowl Sunday, 20 people — a collection of students and faculty — biked into the OPERS parking lot in the pleasant 70-degree weather. Some wore People Power T-shirts, and some wore reflector vests. Some wore helmets, some didn’t bother.

The Everyday Hero Bike Ride, sponsored by UCSC Transportation and Parking Services, was deliberately scheduled to commence on the rainiest day of the year. The goal for the ride was to educate cyclists about rain gear and encourage students to bike safely in all types of weather.

“It’s ironic that they wanted it to be rainy and it turned out to be gorgeous,” said second-year earth sciences and anthropology major Rachel Dailey. “They want to help us be prepared to bike in the rain, and instead they have to demo rain gear in the warm California winter weather.”

When a similar bike ride sponsored by OPERS and People Power was offered fall quarter, it poured rain. The students and faculty who showed up that day earned their stripes as “Everyday Heroes.”

Tawn Kennedy, who graduated from UCSC in 2007, usually leads bike rides for middle school students through People Power, a Santa Cruz county grassroots program that works to promote bike riding as a viable alternative to driving. Kennedy said he relishes the chance to share his knowledge of Santa Cruz bike routes with fellow riders.

“There are so many hidden bicycle [trail] gems in Santa Cruz,” he said. “There is so much to discover.”

Frank Proulx, fifth-year environmental studies and physics majors at UCSC and the unofficial bike mechanic of the ride, became an intern for People Power at the beginning of fall quarter through the environmental studies department.

“I know more about cities than most people,” Proulx said. “Biking connects you to the world more than you would surrounded by a box of glass and metal. I’m going to try to never own a car.”

Proulx, who bikes to school every day no matter the weather, said that one of the goals of People Power is to get every type of person on a bike.

“This is for everyone,” he said. “We have Zoe and Zach, our high school interns, and then we have Takashi in his 70s. [Students] should be encouraged. You never want to get in a car for something under three miles.”