Gas prices got you down? Thankfully, leg muscles don't cost $3.95 for every 20 miles you travel. Make it easy this week by celebrating National Bike Month along with a host of cities and biking associations.
Members of Bike Walk Mississippi, for example, are celebrating National Bike Month by proclaiming May 16 to May 20 "Bike to Work Week."
Melody Moody, executive director of Bike Walk Mississippi, lamented that many Mississippians get their driver's license and never look back to their two-wheeled companion sitting in the garage. She said local infrastructure and driver awareness would make a big difference.
"I think the majority of the concern would-be bikers have is motorists, and this mentality that everyone thinks they own the road and that they have the most right to the road. In Mississippi, we're all users of the road, we all have rights to the road," Moody said.
Moody added that most people support biking, even if they don't bike themselves. "If you support kids walking or biking safely to school and everybody having a right to travel in every way they choose, if you support health, environment, and economic development, you are an advocate," she said.
Gov. Haley Barbour, the man who advised Mississippians to "go walking" to improve personal health, issued a proclamation making May Bicycle Month in the state. Bike Walk Mississippi is celebrating this event by announcing special discounts and incentives at participating businesses. From May 16 to May 20, bikers can ride to Sneaky Beans in Fondren and earn a free cup of coffee. Also, anyone with the hamstrings to ride to Lumpkin's BBQ on Raymond Road will get two buffet lunches for the price of one.
The group will culminate the weeklong celebration on May 20 with "Bike to Work Day," when would-be bikers facing the trials of biking from the 'burbs can pack up their rig, park in Fondren, grab a free cup of coffee at Sneaky Beans and "Bike to Work from the Bean." Head back to Sneaky Beans when the day is over and make the most of a Sneaky Bean Happy Hour from 4 to 6 pm, and get $1 off beer.
Bike Walk Mississippi and other bike groups, including the Tri-County Mountain Bike Association, plan similar celebrations in other parts of the state.
The bike-trail-strewn town of Ridgeland is making trail maps available at City Hall and the Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce for the week, and will host mountain-bike rides at 5 p.m. every Wednesday in May on the Ridgeland Trails. Indian Cycle on Pear Orchard Road hosts a meet-and-ride event for beginners and advanced riders at 6 p.m. every Monday in May. Indian Cycle will also hold a basic bicycle-maintenance clinic May 23 at 6:15 p.m.
On May 28, Soulshine Pizza is getting in on the act by hosting the Soulshine Blues and Groove Bike Ride at 8 a.m. near Highland Colony Parkway. The event, requiring a $20 entry fee, is a benefit for the American Cancer Society, and features a 25-mile and a 50-mile ride option. Visit the Tri-County Mountain Bike Association for more information.
The town of Hernando is celebrating at 7 a.m. May 20 with a "Bike to Work Day" gathering at Hernando Court Square. Visit http://bikehernando.com for more information. Tupelo, meanwhile, celebrates "Bike to Work Day" May 20 by setting up three stations catering to pedaling pedestrians around town.
Hattiesburg has its own thing going May 20 with "Energizer Stations" with refreshments for work-bound bikers from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Hattiesburg Clinic, Forrest General Hospital, University of Southern Mississippi, Keg and Barrel Restaurant and Hattiesburg City Hall. Like Jackson, bikers get discounts at certain businesses that day, so visit http://www.Biketoworkhattiesburg.com to take advantage of the month.
Don't forget Biloxi and the Gulf Coast, which are planning their own series of events to help observe National Bicycle Month. On May 26, the cities will host the Hiller Park Bike Race at 5 p.m. for children and 6 p.m. for adults. Then, on May 30, go "Bike the Bridge" to Gulf Islands National Seashore Park at 8 a.m. on the Biloxi side of the Biloxi Bay Bridge. Visit the Biloxi Main Street web site at http://www.mainstreetbiloxi.com.
Don't forget to bring your helmet to any of these events.
The Jackson events are also sponsored locally by the Jackson Bike Advocates.