By Wendy Kitts / Photos by Kristina Yamamoto
"We wanted to cruise the boardwalk one afternoon, but she didn't have a bike," says McElroy, creator of Passenger Pegs, a new bike accessory that adds another element of fun to peddling around the beach. "Round pegs were available, but I knew they were uncomfortable, because I'd ridden on them. That day I came home and drew a design on cardboard."
Born in Long Beach to international schoolteachers, McElroy was raised overseas. The world was his playground-Ethiopia, Thailand, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. A resident of San Diego since his late teens, he had one constant in an otherwise globetrotting childhood: spending every summer in California with his grandparents.
"My grandfather was a carpenter and an inventor of sorts. He and I would spend time in his work shed building things," says McElroy, who now lives in Mission Beach. "He taught me how to work with wood and make designs."
Skills that have served this one-time dog whisperer, well in his life.
"That's how my skateboard company started," he says, referring to the now defunct Sherman's Shrimp & Skate Company. "Someone showed me a skateboard he made in his garage, and I said I could make one better."
McElroy, a bio major from San Diego State, and his partner, an English major, couldn't take the company to the next level-despite selling his specialty longboards worldwide. "Neither of us knew business," says McElroy, who still gets a kick out of seeing his boards around San Diego.
"All it takes is five minutes to attach the pegs," he says of his patented, foot-shaped platforms that pivot up and down with the rider. "It gives a more comfortable ride for your passenger."
Available nationwide, the lightweight pegs are designed to hold up to 200 pounds and are made to withstand the environmental challenges of life by the ocean.
McElroy is currently working on a peg prototype for multiple-gear bikes. And although he's not sure where his inventions may lead, he does know he's not meant for the corporate world.
"I couldn't dream of going into the same building for 15 years, sitting in a cubicle and having a cul-de-sac existence," says McElroy, who credits living and working at the beach with keeping him young and inspired.
"A friend once said, 'Live by a college and you'll stay young.' A place filled with young people; people with vision."
Ride on, Dude. Ride on.
The San Diego Bicycle Coalition wants to take you for a ride
The fifth annual Bike the Bay excursion starts and ends at Embarcadero Marina Park South (behind the Convention Center); crosses the Coronado Bay Bridge; takes riders on a scenic tour of San Diego, Coronado, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista and National City; and culminates in a party with live entertainment, food vendors and a Karl Strauss beer garden.
"It's a fun, community ride that's open to people of all riding abilities," says Andy Hanshaw, executive director of the nonprofit San Diego County Bicycle Coalition (sdcbc.org), the county's largest bicycle advocacy group and beneficiary of Bike the Bay proceeds - which topped $50,000 last year.
Registration costs $50 for SDCBC members and $55 for non-members. Proceeds support the rights of all people who ride bikes, whether for transportation or recreation.
"There's no competition and no winner," says Hanshaw, though he probably wouldn't mind crossing the finish line first, let alone scoring another 50 grand to keep it wheel for San Diegans for yet another year.