If you’re just minding your own business around town on any given third Friday of the month, you might be surprised to see a horde of cyclists rolling through the streets.
This is Akron Bike Party, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a party on wheels, a group of cyclists that ride through the city just for the fun of it. “It’s about putting your phones away, embracing the community and meeting people,” says Dave Massary. “[it’s also about] wellness. Wellness, happiness, community.”
Massary, the “behind the scenes organizer” of the rides, explains what Bike Party is all about. He says he was first introduced to Bike Party after participating in a ride in San Jose, Calif., and he was impressed by the fun, community-friendly atmosphere of the party. “There were 2,000-plus bike riders of all ages, demographics. It was just exhilarating to ride through [San Jose] with so many people. What a feeling, what a feeling. I loved it.”
After lots of pushing from cyclist friends, Akron Bike Party was formed: with its first ride this past March. The first ride had around 55 cyclists, and the second ride had 100. The last ride in June, despite hard rain, brought in around 50 riders.
Bike Party is run entirely by volunteers, and anyone is welcome to ride along. Bike Party routes attempt to hit Akron staples, such as the Towpath Trail and Highland Square. A past ride even stopped off at the West Akron Swenson’s.
Courses will change each ride. The ride always starts at the Bike Kitchen, run by the nonprofit Summit Cycling Center, located at Lock 3. Headlamps for bikes are available for bikers, made possible by a grant from the Department of Transportation. Bike Party riders typically pedal a casual 10 miles. The ride is about health and wellness, but the emphasis is really placed on community strengthening. “The San Jose [bike party] model is ‘building community through cycling’—it’s perfect,” says Massary. “It is about fun, it’s no contest, we go slow and we yell ‘bike party’. We’re going to yell ‘bike party’ and hopefully people yell it back.”
The next Bike Party ride will take place July 18th. The schedule is as follows:
6:30 p.m. – Get (free) lights from Bike Kitchen at Lock 3
7:30 p.m. – Gather for ride at Bike Kitchen
8:00 p.m. – Ride begins
9:45ish – Post ride party
This ride’s theme is “The Patriot Ride.” According to Bike Party organizers: “Lights, Music, Costumes, and Bubble machines are encouraged.” Bike Party can be found on Facebook.