A Quiet Beginning Often Leads to Big Things

Last Wednesday, the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition was officially created.  The seeds that were planted by the first ever Grand Rapids Bicycle Summit on 4/24/09 sprouted into this new organization in the backroom of The Mustache Gallery on South Division Avenue.  I have the honor of being a founding board member and official representative of the Rapid Wheelmen Bicycle Club.

The first executive board for the new coalition will be:

  • Chair: J. Kevin McCurren
  • Vice Chair/Chair-elect: Nate Phelps
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Michael Tuffelmire

Many other board members have stepped forward to serve, and huge thanks is owed to everyone who has contributed their time and effort.  Much work needs to be done, but a gathering is in the works to kick-off the group’s advocacy efforts following the return of our Bicycle Friendly Community application submitted to the League of American Bicyclists in August.

The GGRBC will serve as a single voice representing the interests of all bicyclists in the Grand Rapids metro area.  The group is still working out where they will focus their attention for 2010.  Their plan is to work on projects that will make a visible difference in improving and promoting bicycling in this great city!  A simple look outside will tell you that more people are choosing to ride and the GGRBC wants that trend to continue.

The GGRBC will be represented at the Park(ing) Day festivities downtown this Friday, 9/18, on Ionia Ave at Monroe Center.  Twenty four groups and businesses will be  transforming parking spaces all over downtown from automobile storage into spaces for people to gather, learn, and have fun!

Feel free to come and visit and sign up to get more information on the GGRBC, get your bicycle registered, and get your tires inflated.  We’ll have a DJ station playing music and may have another couple of surprises in the works.

Grand Rapids Bike Park Launches new website

Other big things are starting with a bang.  The Grand Rapids Bike Park launched their new website and established a presence on Facebook and Twitter on Saturday night, 9/12/09.  In less than 3 days they have already garnered 272 friends and that number keeps increasing.

The park will be located near the GR BMX track in a section of Plaster Creek Park near Burton and US-131.

You can find them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/grbikepark and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/grbikepark.  Please friend or follow them and show your support!

The Western Chapter of the Michigan Mountain Biking Association has been working on this park for quite awhile, and it’s great to see those efforts pay off.  They have demonstrated success at building sustainable trails all over the West Michigan area.  They have improved recreational opportunities region-wide and helped introduce many people to the sport of mountain biking.

Building from the success of this park, I would love to see more opportunities for house-to-trail-to-house mountain biking for all the citizens of Grand Rapids.  Remove the car from the equation and get more people out for some fun, addictive exercise on some singletrack.  It’s a win-win.

9/16/09 – HUGE Summer’s End Party/Ride

PedalGR, meeting at 6:15pm (<—-PLEASE NOTE THE SPECIAL TIME) on Wednesday, 9/16/2009 at Founder’s Brewing Company, 235 Grandville Ave SW.

PedalGR root beer

The PedalGR Summer’s End Party/Ride is coming!   Prizes!  Cake!  Root Beer!  Art!  Rooftop Deck!  Calder Plaza!

Come and see summer off.  It can be a bitter goodbye, but fall is already teasing us with its fantastic leaf show and soon we’ll be drinking fresh cider and donuts (hmm…now there’s an idea for a ride! 🙂 )

This final ride of the summer will include a group photo at Calder Plaza, a preview of several ArtPrize installations, and a trip to the Hillmount Condos rooftop deck (see above).  Once at Hillmount we will enjoy a mini-keg of Root Beer from Martha’s Vineyard and raffle off some great prizes!  Then we will return to Founders for beer specials, a large cake decorated with bicycles, and more great prizes!

Help me spread the word and we’ll fill the streets of Grand Rapids with bicyclists for this season ending event!

I would not be nearly as excited about this ride without the support of our 16 AWESOME local businesses (plus the Rapid Wheelmen Bicycle Club) who have donated to this ride.  Please visit these places, buy their goods and eat their food, and enjoy the fact that we have so many great small business owners in GR.

Here’s the list (in no particular order):

  • Martha’s Vineyard
  • Green Life Market
  • Rowster Coffee
  • MadCap Coffee
  • Winchester on Wealthy
  • Douglas J
  • Vertigo Records
  • Art of the Table
  • Brick Road Pizza
  • The Sparrows
  • Commute Bicycle Shop
  • Global Infusion
  • The Meanwhile Bar
  • Founders Brewing Company
  • Marie Catrib’s
  • Green Well/Bistro Bella Vita
  • Rapid Wheelmen Bicycle Club

The Route:
Coming Soon: My research on which ArtPrize sites to visit is still ongoing.

Need to Know:

  • This is a no-drop ride. Nobody in the group will be left behind.
  • The final ride will be <10 miles and will take about 2 hours (More Party/Less Ride this week).
  • Please bring WATER!
  • HELMETS ARE REQUIRED on Rapid Wheelmen Club rides. (The insurance company’s lawyers insist) Please email or comment if you need to borrow one and we will try to accommodate you.

A few highlights include:

  • Calder Plaza takeover!
  • Tons of ArtPrize installations!
  • Edgar the Dragon
  • Rooftop deck at Hillmount Condos w/root beer and prize raffle (big thanks to Shawn Crowley for arranging this!)
  • Beer discount at Founders with PedalGR wristband
  • Cake!  Full sheet cake from Arnie’s decorated with bicycles!
  • More Prizes!!!

Upcoming Events:

IMG_6100 (by fotoman311)September 11-12KISSCROSS cyclocross series season opener doubleheader!

Come out to Cannonsburg Ski Area on Friday night at 7pm or on Saturday at 11am to experience the excitement and fun of West Michigan’s premiere cyclocross racing series!!!  With a spectator friendly, laid back atmosphere this is fun for the whole family.  Admission is free for all spectators and you can gather wherever the action is on the course.  Of course, on Saturday there will be the AWESOME creek crossing option (see right).  Be a part of the rowdy crowd urging the racers to make a big splash!

Or if you are a noobie and want to give racing a try, only $20 will get you into the C Race.  Any bicycle with knobby tires will work  Be sure to show up early to allow plenty of time to register.  There’s sure to be a big crowd.

More info: http://www.kisscross.com/races/

September 12MapleLeaf Bicycle Tour

This unique ride offers three “mix and match” loops. You decide how many miles you want to ride.  This allows more “social time” between riders of different paces as all the routes loop back to Long Lake Park where our Cool Cooks with Hot Coals will be cooking up steaks, dogs, and veggie burgers!

More info: http://www.rapidwheelmen.com/MapleLeaf/

Also, become a fan of PedalGR on Facebook to get updates about upcoming rides!

September 19 – Sunset AlleyCat 2

Meet at Commute Bicycle shops parking lot (same place as the Wed. Evening Rides) at
6! Race Starts at 6:45 Sharp!!

Tons of Prizes including
Velocity Rims
Shirts
Music
A warm feeling inside when you finish the race with all your friends

Points based so you DO NOT have to be the fastest just the smartest and get all the hidden cool points!

Sept 19, Saturday! be there!!!

5 dollars to race!

More info: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=119540907154

October 10 – Colorburst Bicycle Tour

This charity tour honors two local cyclists who were killed by drunk drivers. Now in it’s 27th year, we have raised over $100,000 for the MADD of Kent County and other local charities. Join us for pancakes before the ride and a soup bar afterwards while it lasts. This ride over rolling terrain offers 4 different road routes to suit all riders. NEW this year 30 & 62 mile DIRT ROAD routes! Longsleeve t-shirts with the 2009 Colorburst logo on the front are available for $17.

More info: http://www.rapidwheelmen.com/colorburst

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Ride Safe and see you Wednesday AT 6:15pm!!!!  (<——NOTE SPECIAL TIME CHANGE)

PS: Photos from the 9/2/09 ride are here.

On Tap for PedalGR – Moonlight Rides

Moon Over The Lake (by Jheat)
Flickr user: jheat/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

Sunday night I invited Amy to go for a cruise to Millennium Park to take advantage of the nearly full moon and awesome weather.  We headed out around around 9:20pm and enjoyed one of the best rides I’ve had all summer.

The new trail from the Coca-Cola factory is silky smooth.  I can’t wait for all of Kent Trails to get the same treatment.  When we got to the entrance to the new Meijer Millennium Trail, I turned off the lights.  The moon lit up the night like a mini-sun.  When it shone on the trees at the right angle, it turned them an eerie silver color, almost like they were made of aluminum.  Once our eyes adjusted, even the areas under the tree canopy seemed lit well enough to see adequately.

The night was almost perfectly still and when we stopped at the observation deck overlooking two old gravel pits we could hear the fish splashing while the moon and the brightest stars were reflected in the water.   Despite the faint sound of I-196 and the mosquitoes who thought it was dinner time, it was a truly beautiful experience.

We encountered a deer on the way back, bounding across the trail 25-30 feet in front of us.  Just close enough to scare the crap out of us.  I’m sure we did the same to it.  We came across another rider as we were leaving the trail by the Coca-Cola plant, the only person we encountered the whole ride.

More people need to learn the joy of bicycling by moonlight.  To this end, I will be scheduling some PedalGR full moon night rides to Millennium Park where we can all go without lights if there is enough moonlight to do so safely.  I’ll figure out the exact times and post them here.  I’m thinking that XC ski trips may be a possibility once the trails are hidden by the cold, white stuff.  The moonlight can be even more dramatic when the landscape is covered in reflective snow! Plus, my skis didn’t leave the garage last winter and that’s just a shame!

Of course, I geeked out a bit.  Researching the date of every full moon from now until next October, I compiled the sunset, moonrise, astronomical twilight (complete dark), moonset, and sunrise into a spreadsheet using sunrisesunset.com.  Then I added in graphics showing the path of the moon through the sky from WolframAlpha (an amazing tool).  Check out the results below.

Click to geek out to my tables and graphics

BikeStation at Rosa Parks Circle?

Bikestation (by brownpau)
Washington DC's new BikeStation - http://www.flickr.com/photos/brownpau/ / CC BY 2.0

A segment on NPR this morning (via Facebook) covered the new, nearly complete BikeStation outside of Washington, DC’s Union Station.

Implementation of the BikeStation concept varies, but they generally provide secure, sheltered bicycle parking for a modest membership fee.  They often have a mechanic on hand during certain hours to perform maintenance or repair.  You can have regularly scheduled tune-ups done while you’re at work!  Some also offer bicycle rentals, a restroom, and even shower facilities.

How awesome would it be to have a similar venue in the warming hut at Rosa Parks Circle?  In the summer the zamboni could be stored elsewhere and racking for bicycles could be installed in the garage.   In the winter, the need for bike parking would be reduced, the racks could be moved,  and the zamboni would get its home back, with parking remaining elsewhere in the building.

Grand Rapids Chalk Flood 2009 (by RichardD72)
Grand Rapids Chalk Flood 2009 (by Richard Deming, Jr)

I’m not aware of any efforts to make this a reality, but I think the need is there.  There is certainly a lack of visible bicycle parking downtown.  It’s around, but you often have to search it out.  At many events this summer, I saw lots of bicycles haphazardly locked to trees and parking meters.  With the efforts going on to network our existing trails and create more on-street facilities, bicycle commuting to downtown will only become easier.  The station could also handle traffic from events downtown, and rent out bicycles to tourists and conventioneers.