From party to port — to campus

Bicycling is social in Baltimore

It’s hard to describe the exhilaration I felt, riding my bike up North Charles Street between the UB Law School and the Academic Center with about two thousand people on bikes behind me. I waved to an UB student standing on the corner of Charles St. and Mt. Royal Ave. who seemed more than a little surprised to see us.

Every month Bike Party has a theme — August was circus!
Every month Bike Party has a theme — August was circus!

It was Friday, August 28, 2015, but more importantly, it was the last Friday of the month in Baltimore.

Baltimore Bike Party takes place the last Friday of every month, all year long.

I’d only gone once before — in the summer of 2014, when I took up the tail end of a teaming mass of bicycles with a little trepidation and followed them nervously but determinedly for two hours. It was my first summer of bike riding after fifteen years of steering completely clear of bicycles. As a Gen X’er used to riding the light rail or the quiet car on the MARC train, the bells, whistles, and blasting music of Bike Party were a bit of a change.

I felt right at home wearing my University of Baltimore shirt, which was part of my costume for the “Boasting Baltimore” Bike Party theme that night. I was following instructions on the Bike Party.

Facebook page that said “dress up in what you love about Baltimore and Maryland.”

UB student Zachary Holbrook led the ride. Holbrook had led the ride that originally got me back into cycling — a trip up the Jones Falls Trail the previous November — along with UB Sustainability Planner Jeff La Noue as part of a UBGreen event. Intermittently, during that entire August Bike Party, I wondered if Holbrook would turn out to be the leader of every ride I went on. But I didn’t see him on the next group ride.

When I joined the Crank Mavens Monday Night Riders, it was a small group of women organized by Molly Williams, who took the name from an earlier women’s cycling group.

“A bunch of women I knew had been on other group rides and we all talked about how great it would be to have one geared towards a community of women,” said Williams.

A few people picked a route, on the spot, and off we went. It was a quiet ride where I got to chat and get to know people. One woman even carried a radio that played some really mellow music.

Equally mellow was the Maryland Historical Society Bike Ride which started out with a happy hour and a tour of the museum. Bikes going back to the 1800s were on exhibit. The ride went through Reservoir Hill and ended with an outdoor party and food stands featuring local vendors.

During May 2015, the UB Out- doors Club hosted Bike to School Day right on campus with the assis- tance of the Helen P. Denit Honors Program and UBGreen. Thirty members of the UB community participated and a few said they would like to see a cycling club on campus.

Why not?, I thought. There are regular group rides all around Baltimore. Along with the rides I’d been on, there was also the popular Tour du Port and Tour D’em Parks, to name just a few.

It would be really cool if UB had its own bike rides, I thought.

Or, a UB group could join larger rides like Tour du Port.

By the time you read this article a UB Cycling Club may be ready to roll.

This August I was ready for another Bike Party and I was ready to ride at the front instead of the back. There is nothing like looking behind you and seeing thousands of bicycles fill the street as if they were cars.

It was a curb-to-curb phenomenon of shiny two-wheeled wonders.

Imagine what UB students could do if we got on our bikes and joined in with all the others.

Photos courtesy of Laura Melamed