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Good-Time Spokespeople

The East Bay is famous for its commitment to the "two wheels good, four wheels bad"; philosophy. You have everything from the Critical Mass regulars who enjoy zines like My Bike Is a Pipe Bomb to the suburban families wobbling en masse down the Lafayette-Moraga Trail. Then there are the kids cruisin' the hood on banana-seat lowriders and the shaved-leg fluorescent crowd of Tour de France wannabes who hang out at North Oaktown's Royal Coffee. In other words, we have something for every species that knows how to balance.

Which brings us to the present: National Bike Month, featuring Bike to Work Day on May 20. More than 150 "energizer stations" will be scattered throughout the Bay Area to hand out goodie bags to bike commuters, and many local bike shops are offering 10 percent discounts on tune-ups for participants. For information, pedal your Web browser to 511.org/btwd.

If you're politically minded, check out the Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley Coalition, which works to promote environmentally sound transportation. Among other things, it operates Bikestation Berkeley at the Downtown BART station to help people incorporate bikes into their daily commute. A free membership allows you to stow your wheels in the attended lot during regular weekday business hours. The coalition also works to lobby government agencies on bicycle safety issues and push for new bike paths. For information, visit BFBC.org.

If you're comfortable with a wrench in your hand, try dropping by the Tinkers Workshop. Every Tuesday afternoon from 3 to 6 p.m., the downtown Berkeley workshop hosts a bike repair clinic, where visitors can learn to fix their own bikes, find spare parts, get help from a gearhead, or just putter around. The "earn a bike" program is particularly popular with kids and teenagers seeking a cheap ticket to freedom -- if you spend enough time helping to fix up old donated bikes, you'll get one to take home. Used bikes can be donated to the workshop, but call first (510-644-2577) before dropping them off at 1336 Channing Way in Berkeley.

For more advanced riders, there are several bike clubs around, including the Fremont Freewheelers (FremontFreeWheelers.org), the Grizzly Peak Cyclists (GrizzlyPeakCyclists.org) in Berkeley, and the Valley Spokesmen (ValleySpokes men.org), based in Dublin. All sponsor a variety of organized rides of varying levels of difficulty, and some even have racing teams. Check 'em out, then get moving.

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