Tour de Rhode Island

Riding, racing, and other ways to get your roll on
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  May 28, 2014

 0530_Bike_summer_top.jpg

When it comes to National Bicycle Month, we at the Phoenix are a bit late to the action. By the time you read this, it’ll be too late to take part in Providence’s Bike to Work Day, the Providence Ride of Silence in memory of riders who have lost their lives in biking accidents, and AS220’s series of forums on bike-related topics: “Bike Touring 101,” “Post-Car Adventuring,” and “Livable Streets — Rethinking Urban Transportation.”

But we’re OK with all that.

After all, bike season is just getting started. The days are long, the sun is bright, and the state’s roadways and bike paths — free of ice, snow, slush, and all the other nastiness Mother Nature hurled our way this winter — are as inviting as ever. And for a state as small as ours, the biking options — races, festivals, repair-lessons, advocacy meetings, and more — are remarkably bountiful. For your reading pleasure, we’ve corralled as much two-
wheelin’ info as possible into our first-ever Bike Issue.

But please, for everyone’s safety, don’t read and ride at the same time.

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START PEDALING: A two-wheeler's summer 2014 guide _by Jesse Geman

Summer is here, and you know what that means: packs of middle-aged men on expensive carbon-fiber bicycles, sporting tight Spandex suits. Eyes on the road, ladies.

Regardless of your gear, or lack thereof, we think you should be biking this summer, and Rhode Island is the perfect place to do it. Whether you’re an avid rider, or just off training wheels; whether your bike has flat tires and cobwebs, or you have no bike at all, we’ve got you covered. There’s something here for everyone.

It’s time to ride!

Ride For A Cause

Riding a bike is rewarding by itself, but riding to support a good cause is even better. And this summer the Ocean State offers no shortage of causes to ride for.

Coming up on Saturday, May 31 is  Bike and Blues the Blackstone . Part festival, part ride, this fundraiser for the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor kicks-off at 2:30 pm in Woonsocket with a “festive” 10-mile trip down the Blackstone River Bikeway. The ride ends in Cumberland at the Blackstone River Theatre, where riders will be rewarded with live music and craft beer from local breweries. The event also features a bike parade, an antique bike show, and a guided “twilight ride” to end the night.

Seeking more burn? On June 1, you can ride to stop Diabetes in the  Tour De Cure , a daylong event with routes ranging from seven to 100 miles. Two weeks later, on June 15, you can bike next to your Dad for up to 25 miles in the  Elliot Kaminitz Father’s Day Ride . The money raised goes to Bike Newport, a nonprofit dedicated to making Newport a more bike friendly place.

For something really ambitious there’s  Bike MS: Ride the Rhode 2014 , on June 21 and 22. But be ready to work. Billed as the “premiere two-day cycling event in Rhode Island” (never mind it’s the only two-day cycling event in RI we could find), Ride the Rhode offers one-day 100- and 86-mile rides and a two-day 150-miler. Surprisingly, the event is open to children as young as 12 and the Bike MS website describes the rides as being “easy to moderate.” We won’t hold it against you if you don’t finish.

Later in the season, the sixth annual  Ride ’Round Rhody bike-a-thon on August 10 gives cyclists a choice between a 25-mile ride and 75-mile ride. Proceeds go to local cancer treatment.

Finally, for those who plan ahead, there is the  Woony River Ride on September 20 and the  4 Bridges Ride on September 21. While these two events may not be happening for some time, they’re too good not to mention. The Woony River Ride, a fundraiser for the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, is an event for the whole family — and for politicos. According to the event page, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras “wants to see you!”

The 4 Bridges ride, meanwhile, promises beautiful views as cyclists cruise over the Jamestown Bridge, the Newport Pell Bridge, the Sakonnet River Bridge, and finally the Mount Hope Bridge. All funds go to the Aquidneck Island Bikeway Project.

Are You A Pack Animal?

You have the bike, you have the Spandex, you’ve even got a GoPro camera (why?). What you don’t have are people to ride with.

Don’t be ashamed; it’s a common problem affecting adult cyclists. And there is a remedy — in fact, a few. Starting June 4, every Wednesday at 5:30 pm, group rides will be heading out from the  DASH Bicycle ’s location on 267 Broadway in Providence. Go to DASH’s website (dashbicycle.com) to add yourself to their “Group Riders” newsletter for weekly updates.

If you’re looking to get out of the city, check out the  Narragansett Bay Wheelmen , a bike club tracing its roots back to the Providence Wheelmen of 1879. Riders of all abilities are welcome to join the club and partake in weekly Sunday rides. The Wheelmen will take you to every corner of Rhode Island and even into Massachusetts and Connecticut. Check their website (nbwclub.org) for their summer schedule and to become a member.

SpokesWomen Cycling is a female-only offshoot of the Wheelmen. The club, three years strong, boasts over 100 members. They ride every other Saturday, selecting choice routes from the Wheelmen’s repertoire. On their Facebook page the SpokesWomen write, “We’re active, we’re sassy, and we’re irreverent. . . but mostly we’re serious about having fun with a shared passion for cycling!”

For those of you who are looking to ride and then beach (a verb in Rhode Island),  Bike Newport hosts weekly Saturday morning rides starting at Miantonomi Memorial Park. The rides range from 12 to 25 miles and they can’t help but be picturesque. Bike Newport also hosts rides every other Sunday sampling the remarkable variety of bike paths available throughout Rhode Island.

Get Involved

If you’re looking to get involved with bike advocacy, you can. (And you should, because it’s so damn easy.) The  Providence Bicycle Coalition is a bike advocacy group working to make biking easier and safer in Rhode Island through education, legislation, and bike infrastructure. They hold monthly advocacy meetings at the Brown Bookstore on Thayer Street in Providence. They also have events, like  Dinner and Bikes coming up on June 6. The event includes a vegan dinner prepared by the traveling chef Joshua Ploeg, a movie (either the documentary Aftermass: Bicycling In a Post-Critical Mass Portland, or a selection of short films about bike activism and culture), and a lecture from Elly Blue, author of Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy.

The Fix

You can fill your calendar with all the rides you want, but without a working bicycle it’ll all be for naught. Of course there are many bike shops to choose from, like  Legend Bicycle and  Providence Bicycle , to name a couple in the Providence area.

But if you’re a DIYer there are options, too, and you don’t have break the bank buying tools.  Recycle-A-Bike (RAB), in Olneyville, offers a space stocked with tools, bike stands, and used parts on the cheap, with in-house “Master Mechanics” there to help. Go during open shop hours for anything from a tune-up to a complete overhaul. They also have a great work-trade program by which you can volunteer time in exchange for parts and assistance building your own bike. And if you have Master Mechanic aspirations yourself, RAB offers bike-building courses. Check their website for details.

In the event that you’re riding around Providence when you realize you have a problem that needs fixing, well, you might be in luck. The City of Providence recently announced plans to install three bicycle repair stations in the coming weeks in areas with high bike traffic: Burnside Park, Roger Williams Park, and Riverside Park. Each station will include wrenches, screwdrivers, and an air pump. How useful these stations will be remains to be seen, but we like the sentiment.

Cyclovia

Cyclovía is an export from Bogotá, Columbia that has been spreading across the country and around the globe. Nope, it’s not coffee, coco, or that other stuff Columbia is known for exporting. Cyclovia — the Spanish spelling is Ciclovía, which literally means “bicycle pathway” — is, as described on the city of Providence’s official website, a “a car-free event that opens the street for people of all ages to walk, skate, run, bicycle, exercise and socialize.”

Providence will host three Cyclovía events: in  Elmwood on June 29, on  Federal Hill on July 27, and on the  East Side on September 7.

 

Next page: Biking myths, debunked

 

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