Moon Cycles: queer-owned bike shop in Arcata offers alternative space in male-dominated industry

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Correction (2/4/22): Co-owners Sage and Sprout did not meet while looking for a job but instead meet years prior as mutual HSU students.

Moon Cycles, a brightly colored bike shop located on the side of the road near the intersection of Foster and Alliance in Arcata, is hard to miss. The bike shop was founded in October 2016 by nonbinary duo Sage and Sprout, a queer tour de force.

Sage and Sprout serve the local cycling community by offering a queer-friendly space that goes against the grain of the male-dominated bike industry. Even the shop name is a pun that alludes to queer identity.

Photo by Alexis Valtenbergs | Sprout standing in the doorway of their store Moon Cycles in Arcata on Jan. 27.

“It’s a play on words, the moon being associated with femininity and the menstrual cycle,” Sage said. “Even if we don’t feel like women, the moon is a signal to our queerness and difference.”

Sue Hilton, a 71-year-old lifelong bicyclist, is a regular customer at Moon Cycles. Hilton first caught wind of the shop in the L-Word, a lesbian newsletter based in Humboldt County.

“My friend Susan did an article for the L-Word, so once I heard about it I started going,” Hilton said. “I loved the idea since I’m a big bike rider. Just that they’re great people, and they’re queer-friendly.”

Although Moon Cycles is queer-owned, it’s not just for queer people. Moon Cycles an accepting space for everyone, regardless of gender or sexuality.

“I’ve seen that especially with men but like most people, if they come in and they don’t know the words for things, they’ll feel apologetic,” Sprout said. “We’re not looking down on anyone for not knowing correct terminology or what the names of parts are or stuff like that.”

Sage and Sprout met in Humboldt County while trying to find jobs at other bike shops, to no avail. After facing gender discrimination in the hiring process and being looked over in lieu of men, they decided to open their own shop instead.

Photo by Alexis Valtenbergs | Sage (left) and Sprout (right) inside Moon Cycles in Arcata on Jan. 27

“One year, neither of us could find jobs here,” Sprout said. “We kind of just started scheming and thought, ‘well, maybe we should just try to open a bike shop.’”

“There’s an important caveat there,” Sage added. “Which is that I applied to all the bike shops here and I felt – I knew – I was being discriminated against and judged by my gender.”

Sage won a mechanic scholarship from Quality Bicycle Products. The scholarship was an attempt to include more women and gender-nonconforming people in the bike industry.

“They were trying to bring women – and gender-nonconforming people more recently – into the world of bike mechanics so that the whole industry can get more diversified,” Sage said. “And they can tip the balance a little bit away from men dominating the whole thing.”

Ever since Moon Cycles opened, Sage and Sprout have played an integral part in tipping the balance in Humboldt. To learn more about Humboldt’s first and only queer-owned bike shop, check out @arcatamooncycles on Instagram.

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3 Comments

  1. Akira Akira Sunday, February 6, 2022

    It wasn’t gender discrimination they faced. It was complete lack of experience when they applied for the job. As a female quiet butch bike mechanic with 15 years experience under my belt, and being present when they applied for the job.. the only reason they were turned down was only for lack of job experience. This is not a male dominated thing.. go to bike school then come back for a job .. I hate that this article only shows a tiny perspective of the bicycle industry as a whole

  2. Susan Susan Monday, February 14, 2022

    Their hours can be a little sporadic and so can their open days- the main reason I stopped going. Otherwise great service! Work flexibility are some of the benefits of running your own business.

  3. Jose Luis Sandoval Jose Luis Sandoval Monday, February 14, 2022

    I’ve been in the area for about 8 or so years- this was the first bike shop I went to. I stopped going because of unpredictable hours and open dates. Good service though.

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