Monday, October 13, 2008

The Night Ride a Success?

The Night Ride 2008 is done and gone. And I think it's fair to say, history was made. Jacksonville had never before this past Saturday night, witnessed the total domination of it's streets by bicycles. The Night Ride has changed that forever. It was well worth the price admission to witness the total look of shock and awe from any and everyone walking or driving (well attempting to drive) through Downtown. It was the first of what I hope will become a yearly icon for Jacksonville and Jacksonville cyclists. It was also the first event of any kind I personally have conceived and planned from beginning to end. Had I any idea of just how hard it was going to be to pull this off, there most likely would never have been a Night Ride.

The Night Ride began is an idea I had 3 months ago. Plan an event that put what I have been preaching, "style over speed, make riding a bike fun and remove the barriers (no prostilitizing about safety or helmets)" into practice. The concept was simple, plan a day of different events that were spread out over an area that could be easily biked to and from. Make the event about the bike and not the rider. Get people on their bikes and let them find out for themselves just how easy and fun it is to get around on a bike. And you know what? They did. I cannot tell you how many people told me they had never rode a bike in the street before Saturday. How many people had never visited, let alone rode a bike through Riverside, or Downtown. How many people I met during and after The Night Ride that had never experienced the sheer beauty of the St. Johns River and our skyline from the Riverwalk. And what was the one verb they all used? Fun! "It was fun!". People tend to repeat things that are fun.

But the truth of the matter is that The Night Ride was never about me or Bike Jax. It was about the community. It was about the communities that make up the Urban Core and it was also about building a community of cyclists that understand what a bike is and how to use it in their daily lives. I am very proud to state that this entire event was planned and executed with a budget of zero dollars. None of this however would have happened if it were not for the over whelming support given by the community of merchants and business owners of Riverside, Springfield and Downtown along with Jacksonville's local bike shops. Not one of them upon being approached by me with this wacky idea ever asked, "what's in it for me?". No, their only response was, "what can I do to help?". You can keep your Chain Stores. That "what can I do to help?" attitude is the very reason I am so happy to spend my money with my friends and neighbors that make up the independent merchants and retailers of Jacksonville.

So the big question is how many people attended the night ride? I have to admit that I really don't know. I was late arriving at the 6:30 start time for the ride due to having deal with other event activities. I did arrive as the last hundred or so riders queued for the approach on the Riverwalk. The only glimpse of the lead group I got was as they turned the corner of Riverwalk around the CSX Building which is just under a mile away from where I stood. I do have to tell you fine folks that I got a little misty at the sight of a solid stream of bikes 3 and 4 wide that streched from the Acosta Bridge all the way back to the Fuller Warren Bridge. It was without a doubt one of the most beautiful sights I have seen in Jacksonville.

I have heard estimates of rider numbers from others that ranged anywhere from 300 to 800. I feel that judging from the numbers I saw from my vantage point along the Riverwalk, I'll split the difference and go with 500 to 600. I was happy to ride most of the length of the Riverwalk at the back of the group with Councilman Don Redman (a staunch supporter of cyclists) who like everyone else on the ride sported an ear to ear grin of joy at the sight and sounds of so many bikes and their riders.

All the sponsors can found listed on The Night Ride site. But I would like to personally personally thank everyone helped pull this event off.

First is Jim for the use of Fuel and Raglands. Jim provided use of Fuel for the Films and as a central location for the event. Raglands provided all the beverages for the opening of The Bike Art show.

Shea and Tim owners of Flux Gallery, despite some well hidden (unlike me) fears and concerns of the uncertainty about the art to be displayed, did a fantastic job with the Bike Art Show. Thank you both.

And while we are on the subject of bike art. I want to thank all of the artists that participated in the show. You guys and gals had less than 2 months from concept to show and all of you stepped up with amazing results. I thank each and everyone of you. Also consider this your official call for next years show. You have a full year. I'm not accepting any of that slack-ass "this is all I had time for" excuse next year.

I also want to thank Cindy Jones of Genesis Cafe for the finest and highest quality food that has ever been put out for any local art event. Upon learning about The Night Ride, Cindy insisted on catering the event as a way of thanking Zombie Bikes and Bike Jax for the Ghost Bike that was placed for her late husband. Cindy while we still grieve for you and your families loss. We also find joy in the new friend and the wonderful person we have found in you. Thank you.

I want to thank the gang over at Zombie Bikes for all of their help. You guys and Cheri took a load off my back. Thank you for all of your help.

I want to thank everyone that contributed to the Rafflle. You all gave way more than what was asked or expected. The event would not have been near as successful with out your support. Again, Thank You. I'm going to single out Dylan Phillips of Jax ebikes. When he heard that the planned grand prize of a bike wasn't going to happen at the last minute. He didn't even hesitate and without ever being asked, donated a $1000 dollar bike. Please re-read what I wrote above the generosity of the Urban Core Merchants.

Those who contributed, I and I'm certain the raffle winners thank you.

Anomaly Five Points
Bicycles Etc.
Burrito Gallery
Cycle Spectrum (Beaches)
Jax eBikes
Klutho Clothing
Lakeshore Bicycle
And to the donor that wished to stay anonymous, Thank you.

I need to thank Chris and Matt of Burro Bags for the donation of their hand made messenger bags for the costume contest. And also for doing a limited run of The Night Ride event t-shirts. If you didn't get one during The Night Ride and would like to pick one up. You can pick one up at Burro Bags for the unbelievable low price of $5.

I want to thank all the film makers for use of their features and shorts during The Night Ride. I want to send special thanks to film maker Billy Savage and his distributors for the help in locating an additional copy of the his film Klunkerz when it wasn't delivered as expected. I also want to thank Mike and Sean of Bicycles Etc. for helping Bike Jax get ahold of a copy of that film.

I would also like to thank Joey of Urban Jacksonville for the use his personal copy of the film Pedal when other planned feature films arrived damaged and unplayable. Thanks also goes to the US postal system for their complete and total ineptness at their job.

I already mentioned Urban Jacksonville above, but I need to thank them along with Tony at The Urban Core, Brian and Ed at The Outer box, Byron over at Globatron, Jacksonville Confidential, and Tommy at JaxScene for spreading the word with the call for artists and all they did in promoting the event.

See more Pictures by Tom P. and Jenny K. at JaxScene.

I also need to thank certain individuals for all that they contributed. First is Anna Berken. The first task I needed done for this event was graphics in the way of a poster. Without Anna's designs this event would have never even gotten off the ground. Anna, you rock.

Next I would like to thank those that volunteered their time during The Night Ride. Linda and Joe who spent the day guiding bikes to Bold City Brewery for the Tours. Jack for hawking raffle tickets and taking pictures and Abhishek for his support and anything else asked of him. And finally Roxanne. You know that your help leaves me forever grateful. Thank you all so very much. You took a major amount of pressure off of me.

I would like thank Lex and Joe from Villin Cycle Works for bringing their amazingly beautiful bikes to the event.

Video from Globatron

I know there are a lot of links above. But I did mention this event was about community. And the people listed above make one hell of a community I am proud to be part of. While not everything went as planned for event. I think that for an event that was thrown together in under three months, it was overall a huge success and I'm already planning and looking forward to the next Night Ride.

PS. If you have or know anyone that has pictures or video from The Night Ride. Please email them to me at [email protected]

The Night Ride 10/11/08

Video by Jenny K. at JaxScene


Brian said...

Good job with everything Matt. This was truly one of the coolest things I have seen done here in Jacksonville. I am a born again believer in biking!!! I had a great time and would defenitly do it again next year man!!!

evan said...

It was such an amazing experience, why wait til next fall? Plan one for spring to celebrate the beginning of a new riding season! Thanks for all your hard work, it truely was alot of fun...

Shek said...

we need a ride atleast once a month!

Michele said...

Why not do a Christmas themed night ride? I think it would be awesome to ride around town and see all the holiday lights! We could have 100 Santa's and reindeer on bikes?!

Flappers Alley said...

You are exceptional. Love the Matt.

Anonymous said...

Dang, Matt! I am getting misty-eyed just reading your post about the events. It does my heart good to imagine the view you had, wrapping around the city and the bridges and the cars and trucks and SUV's. Please know I was thinking of you, giving you a silent pat on the back and wishing you more success than you could handle, my friend. I'll be there, pedal to pedal with you next year.


Anonymous said...


GhostRider said...

Wow, that sounds awesome!

Down here in Tampa, a lot of us have spent years bitching about how lame the bike scene was here...until several groups (The Skirts, Tampa Bike Co-op, Bicycle Bash, etc.) rose to the occasion and actually did something to make our veloculture grow.

A tip of the ol' "foam hat" to you, Matt -- for masterminding this event and for pulling it off successfully. I wish I could have been there!!!