Junction residents relying on pedal power
September 24, 2007
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” Three Grand Junction residents voluntarily gave up their car keys last week.
For the next three weeks, Kelly Zepp, Janet Penkaty and Eric Strickholm will shun motorized travel to pedal their way to work, to school, to the store or wherever they need to go.
Twenty-one people responded to a Brown Cycle contest advertisement in the Grand Junction Free Press last month calling for essays about going carless. The three winners ” Zepp, Penkaty and Strickholm ” were fitted with new threespeed Breezer Citizen bicycles and equipment from Brown Cycle on Sept. 3. The following Monday, they returned to the shop, turned in their car keys and rode away on their bikes. At the end of three weeks, they’ll retrieve their keys. If they successfully complete the challenge of going motorless, they’ll get to keep the bicycles and equipment.
They’re also not allowed to travel as a passenger in a motorized vehicle.
During the week, Zepp said she typically gets around on a motorized scooter; she and her husband gave up one of their cars a year ago when they moved to Grand Junction, in far western Colorado, from Pennsylvania. Zepp lives near Mesa State College, where she teaches math and English.
She said she really doesn’t bike much except for a six-week bike tour through Germany with her husband.
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“It was sort of a one-hit wonder,” Zepp said.
Strickholm, however, is an avid bicyclist.
He received his first brandnew bicycle in 1962, and has been riding ever since, he said.
“It’s the best way to find out about a town. You see things you wouldn’t see otherwise,” said Strickholm, 57. “Three weeks should be a piece of cake.”
When Strickholm told a Denver friend about the contest, his friend said, “What’s the challenge?”
“Actually, there is a challenge. I plan to be a few pounds lighter,” Strickholm said.
Aprogram by the Trek Bicycle Co. called “Bike Town USA” gave Brown the idea for the challenge in Grand Junction.
Brown proposed his idea to Joe Breezer, owner of Breezer SimpliCity Cycle Company. Breezer makes and advocates for commuter bikes for riding to work.
“He loved this when I shot this idea to him,” Brown said. “He called me back.”
Breezer gave Brown a good deal on the bikes.
Zepp’s and Strickholm’s bikes are have baskets, racks or panniers.
Outside Brown Cycle on Monday, Penkaty’s 4- and 7-year-old sons clamor excitedly on and around a big yellow tandem, while Penkaty holds 7-month-old Spencer.
“They’ve dubbed it the yellow banana,” Penkaty said.
Seven-year-old Joseph will help pedal the tandem that will pull the cart carrying his two younger brothers. On days when Joseph is in school, David, 4, will have a chance to add his own pedal power. Penkaty, 28, will transport her boys to school, preschool and soccer games.
A few weeks ago, Penkaty started biking with her boys, with a mountain bike a bit too big, equipped with a tagalong and a bike trailer.
The contest was ” good timing,” she said. “I knew I had to get a new bike.”
After buckling in the boys, Penkaty headed off slowly down Main Street, while her husband, Mike, a couple of friends, and Brown watched.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Brown said. “They’ll have a ball.”
On Oct. 1, Zepp, Penkaty and Strickholm will return to the shop to pick up their car keys and turn in a 400-word final essay titled, “Living Car- Free, How It Changed Me,” which will be published in the Grand Junction Free Press. The newspaper will publish a story about their biking adventures midway through the three-week period.
“I’m excited. It’s really high energy,” Brown said. “The Mesa State lady [Zepp] told her class, and they said to her, ‘We saw you driving last night,’ and she said, ‘No, it hasn’t started yet.’ They’re already holding her accountable.”