jaco de swart downtown gilroy bicyclist
Jaco De Swart takes a break in downtown Gilroy on Friday during his bicycle tour through the Central Coast. Photo: Tarmo Hannula
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Jaco De Swart of The Netherlands made a pit stop in Gilroy during an April 7 bicycle tour of the Central Coast and surroundings.

“Along the way, I decided I wanted to visit the famous garlic city of Gilroy,” he said. “I once saw a documentary about garlic, and it featured Gilroy. I have kind of been wanting to pay Gilroy a visit ever since. My lunch at Garlic City Cafe was superb; the garlic soup was amazing.”

De Swart, who now lives in Boston to work at MIT, is studying at UC Santa Cruz. During his visit, De Swart drummed up the idea of bicycling from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara. 

“But, unfortunately, Highway 1 was closed, so I cycled all the way to Esalen Institute and back,” he said. “I rode about 60-70 miles a day. I have done this before, back in Europe and the Netherlands, where I’m from. But it was the first time I did so after moving to Boston last fall—where I moved because I started a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT. But Boston quickly became dark and cold.” 

“I was visiting UCSC for my research on physics and the universe (dark matter), and I brought my bike,” he said. 

De Swart said he rides a 2016 Trek Boone, a cyclocross he made into a gravel race bike. It has 2×11 gears. 

“I was also looking for the legendary garlic ice cream, but I couldn’t find it,” he said. “I did have a nice taste of the local wines at Sarah’s winery. Great wine, although the alcohol was not very conducive for an energetic bike ride.”

De Swart said he stayed at an Airbnb next to a winery on Redwood Retreat Road. 

“Mount Madonna Road was stunning,” he added. “Especially coming down on the dirt road was lovely, with the view of the misty wine valley. Beautiful! But I may have felt some regrets coming to Gilroy after realizing that I also had to go back up Mount Madonna Road.”

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.

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