By trail or by road, Juhi Gopal, 23, takes to Irvine’s bikeways twice a week for rides that span 15 to 30 miles.

UCI graduate embraces Irvine’s bike culture

by TOMOYA SHIMURA

Irvine’s variety of bikeways that stretch from the mountains to the coast make it an ideal place to take up cycling. We asked Juhi Gopal, 23, how she discovered her passion while studying at UC Irvine.

How did you get into biking?

I started biking to get around campus. Then I joined the UCI triathlon team and was introduced to road biking.

I’m not a strong cyclist, so just finishing some longer rides and climbs is rewarding as I see myself improve. I usually bike with friends, and the social aspect and the shared experiences during a ride always make me feel great.

Tell us about your bike.

I recently got a Specialized Diverge. It’s a gravel bike. I get to do trails in addition to road cycling down Pacific Coast Highway with friends.

How often do you bike?

I bike about twice a week. Each ride is about 15-30 miles. I’m competitive with triathlons, but this past year it’s been a nice way to work out with other women. I developed a lot of friendships through biking casually and competitively.

I also commute to work sometimes. The trail connects from Back Bay to the University Trail and down San Diego Creek Trail. It’s a 16-mile commute.

What are the rest of us missing?

So much! I definitely appreciate the area I’m in more, whether it’s the trail and surrounding nature or even new restaurants and coffee shops I hadn’t noticed before.

Describe some of your favorite moments.

I love the morning fog. I also love riding down Back Bay in the evening and seeing the sun set over the water.

Why do you like riding in Irvine?

There are a lot of wide bike lanes throughout the city, and there are many options to be off the road completely.

Any advice to those considering getting started?

Just start! You don’t have to bike fast or go for high mileage. Consistency is key, and time on the bike will make you more comfortable.


MASTER-PLANNED FOR BIKES

Irvine’s Master Plan envisioned a citywide bikeway system that today ranks as the No. 1 system in Orange County. It includes:

1. On-street bikeways: Years before Irvine became a city, its streets were designed up to 15 feet wider than standard roads to accommodate alternate transportation. Today, Irvine offers over 300 miles of smooth, safe on-street bikeways.

2. Connecting trails: The Jeffrey Open Space Trail and San Diego Creek Trail are connecting trails that carry bikers from village to village and other destinations. Hicks Canyon Trail follows a creek bed to create a rural trail in the heart of the city.

3. Nature trails: Irvine’s open space preserves like Bommer, Limestone and Shady canyons
include carefully planned trails to minimize the impact on the land and still allow bikers access to tens of thousands of acres of wilderness.