by Laurie Horning
Cycling with the NOLA social riders was exhilaratingly liberating! Blair, Ben, Van, and I met up with the group in a small parking lot at 7. By 7:30 there were over 20 people ready to ride through the city of New Orleans. Our destination was a small beach area off Lake Ponchartrain. As we began our cruise, Ben pointed out the sun set in the distance. Pale coral and lavender hues illuminated the sleepy sky. There was a refreshing breeze that brushed our faces. One person I talked to along the ride said that the city was experiencing a cold front, it’s normally hotter. I was not complaining one bit. There were several scattered showers throughout the day that were quite rejuvenating. The rain here is more pleasant and calm, unlike the rain in Florida. The sun was still shining throughout the day instead of hiding behind bleak clouds. “Happy Thursday!” a social rider called out to a passerby on the street while ringing her bell. It is custom for riders participating in the social ride to wish others a happy Thursday when passing them. Not only is it a great way of letting someone know that there is a huge bike group speeding by, it is also a friendly way of greeting others on the sidewalk and on the roads.
I had some very good conversations with a few people on the ride. One of the riders works for FEMA and helps to recover and rebuild houses that have been damaged by Hurricane Katrina. I had a great life conversation with a film creator named Humble. He has made a couple documentaries about Katrina and its impacts on the community. Ben and I talked to Ron, a kind fellow who works at Plan B. Plan B is a bike restoration shop. They take old and broken bikes and restore them. They also train and teach people in the community on how to maintain their bike or build one from scratch. Since most of their parts are donated, they sell them at a cheaper price than other bike stores. They allow people in the community to build and obtain a bike free of charge. The person must show that they are in a state of need and will volunteer to learn and build at least 2 bikes. It was wonderful meeting people who are actively involved in their surrounding communities.
Lively music pumped out of loud speakers on the back of someone’s bike. I have noticed that the streets of New Orleans are never lonely. There is a consistent melody that flows like rain drops on a clear windowpane. I have heard rooster crows, beep bop tunes from ice cream trucks, trumpets blaring, and the standard “Beep beep” from cars waving to cyclists for joy or honking out of annoyance.
After biking for close to an hour, we started to see water. Correction. Water of the biggest lake in Louisiana, 11th largest in the United States. I was ecstatic to see water again! I am grateful that I am able to see water everyday and since I have been working in New Orleans, I have not had a chance to observe the beautiful lakes and rivers of the city. The social riders stopped at the end of the bridge where there was a small beachfront and everyone gathered around to relax, kick back, mingle, and truly celebrate a happy Thursday. After working, volunteering, and riding, this was the perfect end to the last day of the month. It was by far one of the best Thursdays I’ve ever experienced.
Join the next social ride! Visit their site at: http://nolasocialride.org
Support and donate to Plan B: http://bikeproject.org/