There are many ways to make a perfect summer night, but one of my all-time favorites is this:
Bike downtown just after the sun sets, when it’s still warm enough not to need a jacket. Go far enough (or fast enough) to work up a thirst, then find a restaurant or bar with patio seating for a meal or a drink (or both). Hang out, enjoy the evening, bike home, maybe take a detour so you’re extra worn out by the time you get there. Then sleep really, really well.
Last week, I was looking around online for an opportunity to do exactly that, and I found that a group ride to a bar and a movie was leaving from Greenstreet Cycles, 1310 Mike Fahey St., at 8 p.m. on Friday. Perfect.
I talked my college friend/bike friend Quentin into going with me, and we met at the shop, where a group of about 15 had assembled. After introductions and some bike talk, we hit the road to Josephine’s Cozy Corner Lounge, 2201 Pierce St., which is a dark yet charming place with 1970s wallpaper, a great jukebox, a pool table and, unexpectedly, a trophy case.
The weather was gorgeous and traffic was light, and with the workweek behind them, everyone seemed happy to be out riding. I was.
The best part: There are opportunities to do this all the time.
The Bike Rack, 14510 Eagle Run Drive, organizes Sunday morning and Monday and Thursday evening rides, on either road or gravel. These rides cover more miles than the Greenstreet neighborhood rides, and on Sundays, often include a breakfast stop.
Fast group and no-drop rides also leave the Trek Bicycle Store’s Papillion location each Tuesday and from the Trek Store’s Midtown location each Wednesday.
And each Thursday is the locally famous, more casual (and also more booze-fueled) Taco Ride from Council Bluffs to Mineola, Iowa.
Last weekend, another group left from Greenstreet Saturday night and biked to an art show. And Tuesday afternoon, there was yet another group ride, this time from Greenstreet to Jake’s in Benson for the monthly Handlebar Happy Hour (a sidenote on biking while drinking: if you’re going to bike and drink, keep your alcohol consumption to the same level you would if you had to drive your car home).
Greenstreet Manager Sarah Johnson said she organizes at least one group ride per week and often more. The ride I attended came about after the owner of Josephine’s called her pretty much out of the blue and offered his bar as a destination. He sweetened the deal by offering the bikers in attendance $1 off their first drink.
Johnson said she was happy to oblige.
“If they’re going to support us, we’re going to support them,” she said.
Johnson organizes the rides for a couple of reasons. First, she said, it’s fun to bike in a group to a bar. And second, biking just about anywhere increases awareness of bikes as a normal form of transportation for regular people — not just a weekend pastime for spandex-clad super athletes.
Heyday on May Day (May Day is Tuesday, by the way), an event celebrating a proposal to make Harney Street between the Old Market and Midtown more bicycle/pedestrian friendly, should be another example of that.
Group rides will depart from all over town and meet between 24th and 26th Streets on Harney Street, for an update and discussion about the proposal, as well as live music, bike races and more. Events begin at 5 p.m., and the meeting will take place at 6.
By attaching the rides, the races, the music and more to what could have been just a meeting, organizers hope more people attend.
And for pure fun, she’s also working on a bike bar crawl for later on this summer.
But back to last Friday.
After a few red beers, we left Josephine’s. My friend and I parted from the group (the others went to see “The Kid with a Bike” at Film Streams) and we biked along a few side streets neither of us had been on. We climbed a couple big hills, said our goodbyes, and then I pedaled home, and almost immediately fell asleep.
It was a great night.