Teri Vance: Bike Month underway, 20 years for Muscle Powered

As members of Muscle Powered gear up for National Bike Month, they’re also taking time to recognize some of their own accomplishments.

“The big push this year is we’re celebrating Muscle Powered’s 20th anniversary in this community,” said Randy Gaa, president of the nonprofit that advocates for a more walkable and bikeable community. “We want to celebrate the fact that we’ve been around for two decades now.”

Gaa said the organization has come a long way since its early days, when members came together to protest the Nevada Department of Transportation scrapping its original plans to include a bike path along the freeway.

“We started as more or less a rag tag group of protestors,” Gaa said. “Eventually, there was enough pressure that NDOT put the path back in. That was the birth of Muscle Powered.”

One of the group’s signature events is the monthlong celebration of National Bike Month in May. This year’s events will officially kick off in Carson City with the annual Tour of Carson City bike ride beginning 9 a.m. in Fuji Park on Sunday.

The moderately paced 30-mile ride around the city is sponsored by Bike Habitat and concludes with a barbecue in Fuji Park.

“It’s a nice ride and a lot of people come out for that,” Gaa said.

Bike to Work Week runs May 14-18 with the Commuter Challenge.

“The whole point is to try to get people out of their cars and onto their bikes,” he said. “We turn it into a challenge where people can compete.”

The week concludes with a Bike and Music Festival on May 18 in McFadden Plaza, where a new bike from Bike Habitat will be raffled off. It will feature games and live band Hick’ry Switch.

“Anybody can come to the festival,” Gaa said. “It’s just a big, open party.”

Other events include a celebrity ride, women’s mountain bike rides, guided bike rides, a moonlight ride and a Ride/Walk of Silence to honor cyclists and pedestrians killed or injured while using the roads.

The West Side Cruiser ride begins 6 p.m. May 24 in the parking lot of the Brewery Arts Center. Nearly 100 people participated last year.

“That’s a very popular event,” Gaa said. “It’s a super easy, slow-paced ride through the historic district on the west side. People dress up, decorate their bikes, it’s a lot of fun.”

The overall goal, Gaa said, is to encourage people to ride bicycles more often throughout the year.

“Studies show most errands are less than four miles from home,” Gaa said. “The majority of them could be done by bicycle. It would make a difference in traffic, emissions and people’s health.”

And Muscle Powered will continue its efforts to make Carson City more friendly to cyclists and pedestrians.

“We’ve become a bronze-level bicycle community,” Gaa said. “People are actively engaged in outside recreation, which is a benefit for their health, the environment and the economy. We’ve become a pretty major player in local politics. We’re proud of that.”

For a complete list of Bike Month events in Carson City, go to musclepowered.org.

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at terivance@rocketmail.com.


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