Quick Take:

Santa Cruz County Bike Month begins May 1 with group rides, commuting education, cash prizes and more. We’ve highlighted this partial list of events, more can be found on the event website.

With indoor closures lingering, warm weather beckoning, and pandemic blues fading away, it’s the perfect time to hop on a bike and go for a ride. But it gets better: during the month of May, a short trip on two wheels could win you $100 in bike gear.

It’s all part of Santa Cruz County’s third annual Bike Month, complete with group rides, workshops, competitions and more.

“It has become a month of absolute bike celebration. It’s a lot — and it’s really fun,” says Matt Miller, the program specialist at Ecology Action, the local nonprofit which runs the bicycle program.

Ecology Action unveiled the full scheduled of events on its website — EcoAct.org/bikemonth/ — on Monday.

Several businesses have partnered with Ecology Action to host a variety of events throughout May. The Bike Church is hosting a women/trans/femme ride on May 6, the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History created a cyclist’s guide to wildflowers (perfect for the Mother’s Day Bike & Bird event), and Bike Santa Cruz County is hosting a bike-themed 10-day film festival starting on May 21.

For folks avoiding in-person events, there will be virtual workshops, such as “Intro to E-bikes” on May 19, and “Bike Commuting 101″ on May 12. More events are listed on the event website.

Each Saturday, small facilitated group rides led by experienced cyclists will teach locals the best routes and best practices for getting across town. The rides will span from Westside to Midtown, Midtown to Capitola, Capitola to Aptos, and one will wind through Watsonville.

“The idea is to expose people to a safe route, but then also to guide people through common traffic scenarios, intersections, and areas that are basically unavoidable if you’re trying to get across town,” says Miller.

The main event, which lasts the entire month, is the Santa Cruz County Bike Challenge. All folks have to do is ride a bike for at least ten minutes during the month of May, for any reason, and log their ride on the Love to Ride, Santa Cruz app or website.

Each Friday, several Bike Challenge participants will win $100 gift cards to the bike shops of their choice for achieving all sorts of milestones, from simply riding once during the week to successfully getting others to join in, too.

At the end of the celebration, one Santa Cruz County resident will win $1,000. There’s also a $2,000 prize for small businesses who encourage their employees to get out and ride.

Take time to enjoy the flowers

Also as part of Bike Month, the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum has created “A cyclist’s guide to the wildflowers of Santa Cruz.” The guide highlights bike routes throughout the county along with photos and information on what wildflowers to look out for along the way.