For the next month, cyclists in Minneapolis will ride in tandem with those in London. Not on bicycles-built-for-two, necessarily, but in spirit.
A locally organized program to promote bicycling is spinning off a sister program in England. The program, launched here two years ago, is called 30 Days of Biking. Participants pledge to ride their bikes every day during April. It can be a 35-mile loop on the Grand Rounds trail or a 35-second loop around the block. When the ride is over, the bikers are encouraged to blog and/or tweet about the experience.
"We are taking this from a small, informal group of friends to an established organization," said Kurt Stafki.
The event caught the fancy of bikers in other cities, with about 2,000 cyclists registering last year. Many of those riders were in England, where they were so enamored of the idea that they decided to try the program there this year. "Outside of Minneapolis, the next biggest group of participants was in the U.K.," Stafki said.
Stafki, who recalls how last April started out cold and wet, but bikers still participated, stepped forward this year to help the two Minneapolis cyclists who launched the event, Patrick Stephenson and Zachariah Schaap. With this early spring, "We're already seeing a lot more people out riding, and that's great."
In addition, professional cyclists Greg LeMond, three-time winner of the Tour de France, and Marco Pinotti, winner of the Tour of Ireland, have signed on to promote and participate in the rides.
There's no charge, and the organizers make no money. This is strictly about promoting two-wheeling, both as exercise and transportation.
"It's about getting people to be more active," Stafki said. "And it's about changing how people think about transportation. If we can get people out biking, we can help the people, help the city and help the environment."
You can register at www.30daysofbiking.com. Then start pedaling.