Saturday was the Urban Cycling Project inaugural cycling ride in downtown McAllen and it was a big success. Event coordinator, Raul Reynoso, was extremely pleased with the turn out and the good time everyone had. various head counts puts the participation lever between 30 to 35 cyclists from the surrounding area. We had cyclists from Mission (me), McAllen and the Edinburg area all with different skill levels of urban cycling.
I rode in from Mission taking the Business 83, Main St, La Vista route. After the event I planned on heading back via the Buddy Owens Blvd. The day was another beautiful sunny day that started a little cool in the early morning but warmed up nicely. When I arrived at the La Vista park there were people getting their bikes out of their van and a local TV news station was setting up. We spotted the main group where Raul was at chatting with the Bike Edinburg club. Part of the event is the social aspect where people greeted one another and talk bike. This continued as the rest of the cyclists rolled in.
Cyclistas Urbanos rolled up with a large group of cyclists including some new faces. That’s great to see. New faces and new bikes to look at and opportunities to help new people to urban cycling. Another thing that I noticed was the number of kids that were going to take part of the ride. This is something that I miss seeing, the junior cyclists that will carry the torch to new generations to come.
After everyone showed up Raul went to the next phase of the event, education and riding rules. With the help of a translator, he was able to explain what the ride is all about and go over how the ride is going to be handled. Ride safety being the paramount issue for a large group, the kids and their guardians will ride up front, followed be the less experienced riders all the way down the line to the most experience riders being in the back. In addition there are ride marshals that will cover the front and back of the group with one person riding between the front and back blocking traffic at intersections. Pretty much what Sheriffs do during a funeral precession. Raul also went over some whistle signals that will be used between the ride marshals to communicate with each other.
This was an excellent way to educate the new cyclists and help them feel better that there is a structure for them to follow. Most of the time when you show up at a cycling event or club ride there are no instructions. Just general things like obey traffic laws and etc.. The rest you are to figure out on your own or expect to know already. Here, Raul took the time to explain that we are riding two-by-two and that the most experienced riders are in the back while the least experienced and kids are up front with the ride leader. He also gave an explanation about why this style is used. The education aspect is very important for beginners and helps everyone understand that the group has to ride as a unit, to increase safety for all riders.
Oliver’s French Bakery for their scrumptious baked goods. Two-by-two we cycled the one or two miles to the bakery and stampeded their door to the shop. In the mean time I noticed that my rear tire was out of true so I took the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments. It’s usually the same spoke all the time. Mental note to myself, redo that section of the wheel to correct the problem. Ya, it’s already forgotten.
Not to be left out, I got myself a nice peanut butter based pastry that hit the spot along with some OJ. By the time I was able to finish my meal it was time to head out to the next destination, the Farmers Market at Alhambra. I’ve wanted to go back to stock up on some honey that I like and perhaps find some other goodies that I can get. After all that is one of the reasons I bought a beam rack and bag for the bike, to be able to carry stuff.
On the ride over there I took notice of bike tire and it seemed as the wobble is now gone. Yay! A job well done.It’s amazing your rear end can detect a wobble in your tire.
Arriving at Alhambra was an event in itself. All the onlookers checking out all the cyclists rolling on by, some smiling, others waving and others unimpressed or indifferent. At this point I checked up on some of the new riders and they reported that they are doing great but with a little sore bottom. Otherwise ,they are in good spirits and having a great time. This style of riding makes it easy for them to follow and feel comfortable with riding out on the streets and off the sidewalks.
While at the market, i picked up some tasty Salsa and my favorite honey from the people at RGV Honey. I also took in some nice freshly squeezed grapefruit juice to complement the vegetarian wrap that I had there. Everyone else was busy shopping for some vegetables to take home and others trying some tamales. The place was pretty busy with people coming and going through out the time we were there. In fact, every time I go here it’s pretty busy.
I had to stop again to tighten that same spoke again as it got loose. Other than that the only other thing that happened was my bike computer had a hiccup and stopped recording for several miles before I noticed it. Ugh! I hate that! Miles that I will never get back again. Luckily, it is a rare event and I’m not too concerned about it.
At the end of the day, i would say that the Urban Cycling Project was a very successful event. Plans are to have the event in Edinburg and Mission to promote cycling in those towns and hopefully get more people cycling in their home towns.