There is air of excitement that surrounds each Monday Night Ride that begins at Bicycle Outlet every Monday at 6:30. On a beautiful July night this summer, I joined our photographer Vivian Wheeler to see what the weekly ride was all about. There were some 50 people lined up outside ready to ride. On especially busy nights, the ride gets nearly 80 people.
This is a ride designed for serious cyclists and casual riders alike. The 9½ mile jaunt sounds more daunting than it is. In fact, we were told a few times it’s the most leisurely ride you can do. The weekly rides have been cruising around Springfield for almost three years, and each ride is led by workers at the bike shop. Joe Gregg led the way the night Vivian and I tagged along. He and the other workers guided us along the route, which snaked past lush evergreen trees, neighborhood swimming pools and all the other tenets of suburbia.
It had been a little while since I’d been on a bike, and being around so many people at Monday Night Ride who seemed to be regulars made me feel a bit intimidated. But once we got going, it was like, well, riding a bike. We passed families and couples and dogs who all waved and cheered us on. I felt like part of a pack and quickly learned the lingo and what to say if a car came by. Cars are a hazard on the Monday Night Rides, and it was our job to make sure we were hyperaware of our biggest obstacle on the road—passing cars. Luckily, when you’re biking with a few dozen cyclists, it’s a lot harder to get caught in a driver’s blindspot. It’s also hard to ignore the shouts about oncoming traffic.