Let’s Roll

Enjoy the great outdoors with Eugene’s many community bike rides

Kidical MassPhoto courtesy Shane MacRhodes

Forget the rain clouds, spring is here and it’s time to pump up your tires and strap on your helmet — the month of May is filled with community bike rides. Take your pick, from biking to music in the moonlight to family rides with an ice cream incentive or a workout that comes with both conversation and a view. It’s up to you.

“There’s something about doing active things in a group that is just very powerful, and for Eugene we love to bike and we love to drink beer,” says BikeInShapes founder Ross Kanaga.

Oregon maps, Mondrian art, fractal trees, presidential combs, Pac Man ghosts and even Cindy Crawford’s mole are just a few of the shapes this monthly ride has traced on its routes since it began in June 2010. You can usually expect a ride the third Wednesday or Thursday of the month and always anticipate a brewery at the finish line. The actual ride takes about half an hour and covers 3 to 5 miles at a moderate pace.

It’s all about community building through an active, silly climate, Kanaga says. BikeInShapes celebrated National Bike to School Day May 7 in the shape of old Prancing Piggy and supported Safe Routes to School with $1 from every beer at Oakshire Public House. Follow the blog at bikeinshapes.com.

When Alexander Hongo salvaged the stereo from his ’87 Honda Accord, strapped it to a trailer and began riding around with a couple friends and his makeshift mobile boom box, he had no idea that three years later it would become a mass community night ride called Moonlight Mash. “To marry fun and advocacy in a large group like this makes a big impact. We’re about celebrating bicycle culture; it’s not critical mass,” Hongo says.

Every month at the full moon riders meet at sunset in Kesey Square decked out in costumes and bike lights. The 5-mile route takes advantage of bicycle boulevards and regrouping sites (optimal for riding counter-clockwise in a circle) at about 10 mph. Join Moonlight Mash Friday, June 13, at Kesey Square, and check its Facebook page for future rides: facebook.com/MoonlightMashEugene.

If you happen to see a bunch of children trussed up in fancy pants and helmets leaving a park by bike, you may have come across Kidical Mass. Just last month, Kidical Mass celebrated its sixth birthday with bowling and birthday cake.

“The bike movement has grown up and now has kids,” founder Shane MacRhodes says. “It’s more about family coming together and going on a ride than social change, but in a way that can be a huge social change in itself.”

The third Saturday of every month families meet at a local park and children who can ride their own pedal bikes are given a bike safety spiel before they ride 1 to 4 miles, accompanied by adults, to a bakery, ice cream shop or playground. Bring the kids 3 pm Saturday, May 17, to Monroe Park and join the email list at kidicalmass.org.

If you’re looking for a regular bike group with variety, GEARs may be the one for you. Founded in 1991, GEARs meets weekly at 9 am Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and 6 pm Wednesday in Alton Baker Park. The ride varies in both distance (20 to 60-plus miles) and speed (10 to 15-plus mph). Check the monthly schedule at eugenegears.org for specifics on time, distance, pace, route, terrain difficulty and the ride leader’s contact information.

To ride with GEARs you must wear a helmet, bring a bike in safe riding condition and sign a release agreeing to follow bike laws. The group welcomes riders young and old. At 73, founder Tom Giesen continues to enjoy biking for its health benefits and the respite he finds on the back roads in the great Eugene outdoors.

Three years ago in 2011, Bonnie Mann decided the women of Eugene needed a bike group. “I wanted something lower key and fun that would be welcoming to all kinds of riders,” Mann says. And so The Women’s Cycling Group was born. Ride times and routes vary depending on the ride leader, but most rides are in the 25 to 40-mile range at a 10 mph pace, often times with a café break somewhere in the middle. Email Bonnie Mann (bmann@uoregon.edu) to join the email list.

For more information on bike events in Eugene check the Community Bike Calendar: http://eugenegears.org/calendar. 

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