Cycle: 'Tis the Month for Bikes

Valley Metro, the good folks who try to get you out of your car and onto mass transit, have declared April as Valley Bike Month. Not the gutsiest call, as April is the greatest month to be a Valley resident and enjoy the out of doors, but as cyclists, hey, we'll take it.

The goal of the month-long initiative seems to be to get folks on bikes for their various daily commutes, and it comes at a good time as gas prices are soaring to all-new highs. And for those who have to pay for parking, think of all that cash that you can be saving.

Several Valley cities and organizations are joining in with various events including a Valley-wide ride to school and/or work day on April 20. Of course, bike commuting should not be limited to just April, much less one day.

There are essentially three tricks to becoming a true daily road warrior on two man-powered wheels: get yourself a bike you like to ride, find a route that is safe AND fun, and understand how to do a quick cool down/clean up at the office.

Let's face it, if you don't have a bike you like and want to ride, you're not going to ride. So, let's do some basic math. If you start commuting by bike you can conservatively reduce your gas fill-ups by two per month. With gas prices where they are now, that's a cool $80 easy. If you pay for parking, throw in an extra $50. In three short months, you've already saved yourself $390.

Now go apply that toward a nice bike and enjoy the rides. There is no better way to get the blood flowing in the morning than with a bike ride, and no better way to release the days' stress than pounding out frustration on the way home. And no traffic jams. And no road rage. And...

Just be sure to find yourself a good route, or several routes, to keep the ride from getting boring. More than anything else make sure it's safe. Find roads with good bike lanes, or better yet take advantage of the many miles of cross-cutting canal trails that have zero automobiles with weary, cell-phone distracted drivers.

And because enjoying this great weather and saving money on gas is not enough, Valley Metro is further incentivizing people to ride during Valley Bike Month by giving away stuff. Just log your rides of any kind (that's right, even recreational rides count) and submit them to Valley Metro by May 6 to be eligible to win prizes including Phoenix Art Museum memberships, bike gear, and free hotel stays.

Additionally, the Diamondbacks are throwing their ball caps into the proceedings by hosting the Great Bike Chase & Game on Sunday, April 17 highlighted by the D-Backs v. Giants game at 1 p.m. Discount tickets can be purchased using the code "bikemonth".

Other events throughout the month include the Ride for the Children and the SanTan Wheelie Jam. And don't ever forget about the weekly PISS and CRAP rides or the monthly Critical mass ride.

If you're looking to get started as a bike commuter , in the market for a new ride or just want better gear, go check out The Bicycle Cellar in the Tempe Transportation Center. This store hosts the Valley's only Bike Station with bike lockers and full showers, and they have a good assortment of solid commuter rides of all styles.

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