By Jennifer Ann Gordon
David Cluff is a UC Davis chemistry grad student who researches electrocatalytic reduction of CO2, which Cluff describes as “using electricity to make something useful out of CO2 again.” Cluff bikes the 24-mile roundtrip commute from Woodland to teach and research at UC Davis daily. During inclement weather, he uses the bike rack on the bus to give him the best of both options, staying dry and easy mobility once the bus arrives.
He started biking in earnest as a student at Utah State University when his car gave up the ghost, and his only options were to either bike or walk. During these years he would up pick his future wife, Carrie, for dates on a tandem. Romantic!
What started as enforced frugality latter became frugality by choice as he continued choosing to use biking or a combination of riding the bus and biking, even after buying a car and being able to afford another.
A college athlete, he was on the track and cross-country teams. He joined a local bike riding team after finishing his collegiate career to continue competing. His competitions so far have only included a triathlon and a century challenge (a 100-mile bike ride), but he’s looking forward to being part of many more in the future.
As an undergrad at Utah State University, he began rebuilding his own bikes. Cluff relishes “crafting and tinkering.” He said, “Seeing something broken work again, getting everything aligned and working just right, is very satisfying.”
While looking for further opportunities to learn about and work on bikes, he discovered The Bike Garage, a nonprofit that repairs, maintains, and sells used bikes. Cluff began to volunteer at The Bike Garage several Saturdays per month. (He purchased both his commuting bike and his new carbon-frame racing bike from The Bike Garage.)
Regarding buying bikes, he says, “A lot of the bikes you get at a bike shop are made for serious, experienced riders—they are largely overpriced and much more than even your regular riders will need—but getting your bikes at The Bike Garage is a really good way to start riding without a big investment. You can experiment with different types and models of bikes to find out what’s right for you before you go all in and break the bank.”
“When you bike, you feel great and you save money,” says Cluff. “Getting started is the toughest part. There’s a mental barrier—‘Oh, two miles, that’s so far.’ But you can start small and build up. One mile is not a big deal, then two, then three, ….”