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.
“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.
“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.