Cycle-In Cinema, Edinburg’s First Try

Cycle-In Cinema Photo ShotA few months ago a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about San Antonio’s Cycle-In Cinema being a great success. After reading it, I thought to myself, “We can do that!”. It was a neat idea that could work here in the Rio Grande Valley. I’ve been to other outdoor movie venues in the Sharyland area and enjoyed watching the free movies outside. Those events were well attended so I knew it could work again but this time with a cycling element. I had visions of cycling power games before the movie to see who could generate the most power. Similar to the old carnival games of ringing the bell with that sledge-hammer. Or maybe charging the batteries on the generator and the movie won’t start until the batteries are topped off. Or just cycle to provide the power to the projector with one or two intermissions to change out cyclists. To me, that sound like fun and with those ideas in mind, I threw down the gauntlet and put forth the challenge. “Make it happen!”, I said.

Soon we were exchanging emails and ideas on what to do and how to do it. This eventually progressed to a meetings with interested parties. The meeting consisted of some University of Texas – Pan American staff (soon to be UT-RGV) , Edinburg Public Library (Dustin M. Sekula Memorial Library) and Ciclistas Urbanos (a local social cycling club). We debated on how to power and how much of the equipment should be powered. Finally it was agreed to hold off on powering anything due to time constraints and funds.

Not having funds to build didn’t stop us from planning an outdoor movie. At this point in time we opted for showing a flick with the emphasis on cycling to the event. We are in the baby steps phase and felt that this was a good start. We needed to gather movie showing equipment and promote the event. If we can do this, then we will have completed two-thirds of the puzzle, coordinating people and equipment and promoting. The last piece of the puzzle is the actual bike powered generator. That will come later.

First order of business was the movie and the license needed to publicly show it. Dustin M. Sekula Memorial Library took care of that issue and found a sponsor to pay for the license. The movie selected was unanimous, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. I have personally never seen the movie and was excited to watch it.

City Hall’s plaza was picked as the place to show the movie due to large grassy area and available power outlets. The equipment came from both the City of Edinburg (various departments) and a private individual that had a projector that we could use. Initially we were going to rent a projection screen but one of the city departments had a huge 10×10 banner that we could reverse and use as a projection screen.

I suggested that we gather all the equipment needed and do a check on both the location and the gear to make sure everything worked together. After a spell of bad weather we were finally able to do an equipment check. There was some initial concern that the projector wouldn’t be bright enough to use but even with the plaza lights still on the projection was just fine. At least good enough to carry on. With some PA speakers hooked up the sound was a great!

The movie was scheduled to run in conjunction of another event that was happening on the other side of city hall. This made it easier to advertise and put the word out. Flyers and Facebook events were created with each of us spreading the word out to various groups. I felt we didn’t have enough time to promote it but we made do with what we had.

On the day of the event I had planned on commuting to work on my bike but the forecast predicted rain during my ride. It also predicted rain throughout the afternoon so that kept my bike at home. As it turned out, it only lightly sprinkled in the morning and the rest was nice and clear.

Movie goersBy the time we started to set up the sun was down and the weather was nice and breezy. You couldn’t have picked a better time to show a movie. Soon cyclists started to show up and others that walked or drove over to check it out. I had my snacks ready for the showing of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

Having never seen this film before it was a blast watching it. In fact everyone had a good time laughing. It brought back many memories for a lot of people there. Good ones I hope. After the movie everyone stayed and chatted with one another catching up on lost time. I did miss a few people that didn’t show up but what can you do.

Relaxing on the grass and enjoying the showDespite the fact that we didn’t have a bicycle generator, we feel that the event was a success. We were able to plan the showing rather quickly, get the word out, have people show up on their bikes and everyone had a good time. Yes, we need to work on getting an actual bike generator and we got people working on that. We already have people submitting ideas to improve the experience for the next showing. I think the Cycle-In Cinema is here to stay and will only get better.

A Summer of Cycling 2014

Well summer is over and I’m going through the winter blues. We’ve had spat of rainy weeks and cold weather and that really knocked me off the bike and forced me to do other things around the house. Home automation was one project and the other was making videos out of my pictures.

With my lack of motivation, I turned to my iPhone and a neat little app called Replay. Replay lets you gather up your pictures and video clips and make a video out of in very quickly. All you have to do is select your pics and vids and put them in the order you would like to display them, select one of many themes, audio and let replay do all the heavy lifting  to sync the pics to the beat of the music and adjust the colors to the colors in your media. Within 5-minutes you can have a nice looking video that you can save, share  or post on Facebook.

Honestly, the hardest part was finding music that you can use on YouTube without them blocking it because of some Copyright infringement. I must of scoured the web for royalty free music that I could use. I found a few promising sites. A lot of them seems to be a collection of midi synthesized music that wasn’t very appealing. Anyways I found something I could use and loop over and over.

The video consists of pics from the Independence Day ride I did with some friends of mine out on the country roads North East of Edinburg. This is followed by various social club rides with Ciclistas Urbanos (CU). CU likes to ride to various coffee shops, restaurants, farmers markets, historical sites and nature parks. Also included is the El Charco cookout ride along with the visit to the 900 year old tree. Next is my trips to San Antonio and Austin with a friend of mine. We went there to pick up her new bike and ride the trails in that area. Finally is the Los Ebanos Ferry ride and excursion into Mexico! What a fun trip that was.

I hope you enjoy the video. It’s a little rough on some spots but I’m still learning the ins and outs of using the app.

Mapping Bicycle Routes in the Rio Grande Valley

One of the things I wanted to do with this blog is to share bicycle routes here in the Rio Grande Valley, specifically the Mission-McAllen-Edinburg metroplex area. I started out with individual routes of rides I have taken and those can be found in the Routes tab at the top. Initially, I thought I would just add a whole bunch of rides of me going to various places in the area and just build up a collection. But after some thought and laziness I came up with a better idea, Google maps!

Google Maps Overlays

If you don’t know already, Google maps has what is known as overlays (or layers) that you can choose to display on the map. They range from traffic congestion to terrain to bicycle routes. If you open it up and select Bicycles all the bike routes will be displayed for the area you have open. It also gives a small legend to describe to color scheme used to display the various bike routes. It is divided into three parts, Trails, Dedicated lanes and Bicycle friendly roads.

Now, with the Bicycling layer turned on, you can see all the routes in the area. This should make it easier to plan your route to your destination. Many of these routes I entered myself (and cycled on) with a little help of my friends. In the months to come, I’ll be adding more routes and hopefully get most if not all roads that are safe to ride on. Keep in mind that I don’t plan on adding neighborhood roads, but I will be adding major arteries that help you get from one town to another.


Texas and the Rio Grande Valley

For those that don’t know where the Rio Grande Valley is, we are located at the bottom of Texas. It comprises of four counties, Starr, Hidalgo, Willacy and Camron county. The area I live in is in central Hidalgo county near the county seat of Edinburg, Texas. The terrain is flat with overpasses and wind providing the hills. Temperatures typically exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months and in the 50’s during a cold front in the winter months. Riding is pretty much an all year in this area. Wohoo!!

Help me out, if you see a section of the road that is not marked let me know and I’ll work on getting it added to Google Maps. There is also another source for cycling routes and that is through the Hidalgo County MPO. Contact them for details and consider joining their Bike-Pedistrian Task Force and get involved.

Have fun exploring the bicycle routes in the Rio Grande Valley!