Pedalista! cycles back for a second celebration in Silver City on April 27.
by Donna Clayton Walter
Gough Park in Silver City will be humming with the sound of bike wheels this month as The Bike Works' second annual Pedalista! event gets traction on Saturday, April, 27, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. And thanks to a Community Enhancement Fund grant from Freeport McMoRan and Grant County Community Health Council, this year's event is predicted to be bigger and better than ever — with more games and prizes, and a special guest who will bring a focus on bike rider safety.
The “Human Slingshot” game at last year’s Pedalista!
Proceeds from the family-fun event will again help to fund the programs of The Bike Works, a community-supported nonprofit organization that works to make bicycles accessible to everyone, according to The Bike Works executive director, co-founder and major bike-o-phile Dave Baker. The organization operates a community bicycle workshop, through which The Bike Works staff teaches bike mechanics with a hands-on learning experience while bringing donated bicycles back to life. Programs include the Earn-A-Bike program, weekly Guided Bike Rides and the DIY Repair Workshop. The Bike Works also offers affordable reconditioned bikes for sale, and has a new Recycled Bike Art & Utility Program that uses parts that are beyond repair to create art, also engaging young hands and minds in the experience of using tools. Bike Works programs are free and open to the public, Baker says.
For just $5 per participant or $10 per family, Pedalista! will focus on the fun and joy of bicycling. Great food and a raffle ticket for a chance to win bikes and prizes are included with admission, and the event also marks The Bike Works' fifth anniversary of operating the community bicycle workshop in the Recreation Center Annex on 10th Street, Baker says.
Pedalista! will again provide creative and fun bike activities for folks of all ages — including Pedal Go-Karts, the Mini-bike Race, the Paperboy Challenge, the Rim Roll, the Human Slingshot, the Tube Toss, a scavenger hunt, the Commuter Challenge obstacle course and more.
"Our goal for this event is simply to have a great time in the park, celebrating the bicycle and all it offers us physically, socially, financially, and environmentally," says Baker. "We wanted to add to the energy generated by the Tour of the Gila, but bring out a whole different aspect of the bike."
Last year's inaugural Pedalista! was a successful fundraiser, Baker says, adding that he was thankful for the many volunteers who kept the wheels turning.
"We had a great day in the park last year," Baker says. "It was a lot of fun to see adults, kids and families playing all the various bike-themed games that we had developed. The food we served and the picnic-type atmosphere it created was great. The fun time in the park was the primary purpose, but it was also successful since we raised some money our first year."
Baker says he is involved with Silver City's Bicycle Advocacy Group (BAG), the local organization behind the Enhancement grant (see "Greasing the Wheel," Body, Mind & Spirit, March).
"Obviously our two organizations mesh nicely with each other, with BAG doing a lot of advocacy and The Bike Works focusing on hands-on education and making bicycles available to all," Baker says. "We are very thankful to all the folks at BAG for helping us make Pedalista! a success.
"And as an additional component this year," Baker says with some excitement, "BAG is bringing in Michelle Thiry, a police officer from Arizona, who focuses on bicycle safety and regulations."
Michelle Thiry is the police sergeant, mom, wife, avid mountain bike and road cyclist who is conducting educational programs for local law enforcement this month. A life-long athlete and bike enthusiast, Thiry has competed in and completed numerous bicycle competitions, including three Ironman competitions amd the Cochise Classic 252-mile road cycling race — in which she won First Place Female. She was a national qualifier and participant in the Xterra Off-Road World Championship Race on Maui, Hawaii, last year.
Baker says he is sure the grant from Freeport MacMoRan, and support of sponsoring organization, the Grant County Community Health Council, will definitely grease the wheels for an even more successful Pedalista! this time around.
"It's always easier to build on a successful first event and get the word out to more people. The grant from FMM will absolutely help in getting the word out. Last year, on the radio, we only did a free PSA on (public radio station) KRWG. This year's enhanced advertising budget will make a big difference."
While busy with The Bike Works' day-to-day business and expansion into an outreach space at Energy Ideal, 820 Bullard St., Baker still finds time to talk about the great games and events that will take place at this year's Pedalista! event.
"Basically, we set up bike-themed games all over Gough Park — games either utilizing bikes or bike parts," he says. "Games include the Paperboy Challenge, where participants throw newspapers at mock porches and other targets while riding; the Human Slingshot, where participants use an inner tube 'slingshot' between their ankles while lying down to shoot squishies made from cut-up inner tubes; the Rim Toss, where wheel rims are tossed over cones; and the Commuter Challenge, which is an obstacle course with different hazards that a cyclist might find on the road like rocks, drainage grates and car doors."
And participants can expect to be fueled up for the competition thanks to some generously donated food, Baker says. "We request a $5 per person or $10 per family donation to participate in the event, which includes a vegetarian burrito and chips and salsa for lunch, as well as a raffle ticket to win a prize from a local business."
As if that were not enough enticement to get you up on your two wheels, Baker adds that there some sweet raffle prizes to be had. "We also hold a raffle at the end of the event that last year included a bike donated by Gila Hike & Bike, four bikes from The Bike Works, and lots of other goods and gift certificates."
Even though he's been incredibly busy readying the many details to make Pedalista! happen, on top of running Bike Works and its expansion into the Energy Ideal space, Baker never seems to lose his enthusiasm for all things two-wheeled.
"Bikes are my passion," Baker says, "and the most rewarding way I have found to work with them is through the smiles on kids' faces."
He expects to see many smiles at this year's Pedalista! in the park.
The Bicycle Advocacy Group, BAG, supports non-motorized travel corridors throughout Silver City by encouraging partnerships with the town and the school systems, encouraging access to public lands, making roads safe for cyclists, particularly school children, by supporting planning efforts that encourage transportation options, and by encouraging employers to give their employees incentives to walk and bike to work. The group has advocated for proper signage, safer roads and off-road pathways for local cyclists.
The mission of the Grant County Community Health Council is to enhance the quality of life in Grant County through assessment of needs, planning and prioritizing, and coordinating of efforts to meet those needs. 214 N. Black St., Silver City, 388-1198.
Visit The Bike Works at the Grant County Recreation Center, or its new outreach "branch" location at Energy Ideal, 820 Bullard St., on the corner of College and Bullard, across the three-way intersection from Gila Hike & Bike. For more information, contact Dave Baker and The Bike Works at 388-1444.
Long-time Desert Exposure contributor
Donna Clayton Walter now bikes in Santa Fe.
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