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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 9:16 am | Fair 53º


Bike Monkeys Keep Santa Barbara Middle School Students Rolling Along

Breakdowns are bound to happen with almost 200 riders participating in the school’s annual bicycle trips, but a team of trained mechanics can fix that

Santa Barbara Middle School ninth-grade Bike Monkeys load bikes into a trailer for the school’s Fall Bike Expedition to Morro Bay.
Santa Barbara Middle School ninth-grade Bike Monkeys load bikes into a trailer for the school’s Fall Bike Expedition to Morro Bay. (SBMS Media photo)

A tradition at Santa Barbara Middle School is the Fall Bike Expedition. A group of nearly 200 SBMS riders packs up and leaves Santa Barbara for a week. Each student on the 2016 fall trip to Morro Bay biked a total of 74 miles over the course of seven days.

We pack all our things necessary for camping, like sleeping bags, tents, clothes and bikes. Then we drive to a campground where we stay for the week.

An important part of the trips are the bikes. The students — and trip staff and even parents — do a lot of riding. But the thing about the bikes is that they sometimes break down. On the trip, there are designated people to fix the problems: the Bike Monkeys, as they’re known around campus. The Bike Monkeys are trained to identify and fix bike problems.

If a student riding a bike gets a flat tire, they call a bike monkey from their riding group, which is 10 to 13 people. The Bike Monkey will need to get a patch kit or a new tube. It takes only a few minutes to fix a flat, but there are other problems — like brake and shifting problems — that can take more than a few minutes.

Days before the fall trip, Bike Monkeys tuned up and loaded all the mountain bikes into trailers to be driven up to Morro Bay. Once at camp, Bike Monkeys need to unload and place bikes in certain lines, according to wherever the students will be riding.

Half the time the thing Bike Monkeys only need to do is load and unload bikes into the bike trailers.

“I became a Bike Monkey because I wanted to help and give back,” said Alex Moosbrugger, a ninth-grade Bike Monkey.

“Also because I really like working with bikes and people, the two main components of Bike Monkeys.”

While riding, students get a lot more problems on their bikes than you might think. They get flat tires, chain problems, and brake and shifting problems.

Bike Monkeys are able to fix almost anything that they come across on the road with a special tool called an Alien. After Bike Monkeys are finished with their training and pass their test, they receive an Alien tool. It has all of the tools a bike monkey may need on the road, from a 5-inch Allen wrench to a tire lever.

The Alien tool symbolizes that you are a Bike Monkey. Another symbol of being a Bike Monkey is an official Bike Monkey T-shirt so people can identify them.

“Being a Bike Monkey means sacrifice and hard work,” Alex said.

Every Fall Trip, Bike Monkeys vote for captains. The captains lead the Bike Monkeys in preparation for and on the trips. The ninth-grade captains are chosen on the second to last night on the trip, and they lead the Bike Monkeys for the rest of the year.

There are three or four Bike Monkey captains chosen each year. This year, seven people ran for captain but only four were chosen, and the other three were then picked as mentors to all the Bike Monkeys.

Bike Monkeys don’t just fix bikes, they lead from behind. They’re like the cogs of the school.

Noozhawk intern Ethan Rivas is a student at Santa Barbara Middle School and a Bike Monkey. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

(SBMS Media video)

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