Bike Milwaukie is, of course, about bicycles, but it also is about community building in the city of Milwaukie. And that community will get a boost Saturday, March 23, by way of Bike Film Night, a bike-centric film festival at the Masonic Lodge in downtown Milwaukie.
Bike Milwaukie really kicks off the next day, Sunday, March 24, when the third season of the actual rides around the community begin again.
Two years ago, my friend Matt Menely and I started Bike Milwaukie as a way to get more Milwaukians together and build community, said Greg Baartz-Bowman, a filmmaker whose recent film, Un-Dam It! The Story of Kellogg Dam, debuted at the Masonic Temple in January.
He noted that he and Menely found some awesome films that any film buff and/or biker could love, and the Masonic Lodge has installed a new sound system that can only be seen as an upgrade.
The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the event, which is free and all-ages appropriate, begins at 7 p.m.
The Bike Milwaukie season of rides begins Sunday, March 24, with a 10-mile ride through all the neighborhoods in Milwaukie. Each family-friendly ride begins at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall in downtown Milwaukie, lasts for about two-and-a-half hours and ends back at City Hall.
Depending on the weather, the rides attract from 15 to 50 riders, Baartz-Bowman noted, adding that during the late spring and summer months, the ride ends in the midst of Milwaukies lively farmers market.
One of our goals is to help people ride safely on the lesser traveled roads. We like to keep folks off the main roads and show them all the secret alleyways. We also stay away from difficult terrain, Baartz-Bowman said.
Each ride has a specific theme, he said, noting that the first ride is all about the neighborhoods of Milwaukie; coming up in the early summer will be a farm tour.
We go to the four working farms in Milwaukie and the riders get to hear from the farmers and sample the produce. Folks really love that ride, Baartz-Bowman said.
He described the pace of the rides as leisurely and noted that no one is ever left behind.
Menely, the owner of Mountain Soles Outdoor Footwear & Fabric Repair in Milwaukie, co-leads the bicycle rides. He likes riding with his wife and 9-year-old son, saying that it is always more fun to ride with more people.
Riding with other people creates community among residents. After meeting people who come on our rides I frequently see them around town, and stop and talk with them. I would have never known them had we not gone on a ride together. When people are having informal conversations while on a bike ride, relationships are formed, and good things can come from having casual conversations with neighbors, he added.
Riding a bike in a group setting makes people smile and it allows them to see parts of their community that they might not otherwise see if they stay in their car, Menely said. He added: My favorite thing about our rides is when someone on a ride says, Ive lived in Milwaukie 10 years, and I have never been here. That tells me that we are doing something good, getting people out of their normal routine.
Menely likes the idea of showing people how easy it is to take short trips around town by bike, noting that it can be faster and more efficient to leave the car at home.
Baartz-Bowman wants to send a larger message to those involved in city and county government.
There are bikers out there, and I want the local leaders to recognize the need for improvements to the bike transportation system, he said. There is a community of bikers in Milwaukie and the leaders need to help us make the city bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
What: Bike Film Night an evening of art, adventure and advocacy
Where: Masonic Lodge, 10636 S.E. Main St., Milwaukie
When: Saturday, March 23; doors open at 6:30 p.m., films begin at 7 p.m.
More: The event is free and all-ages appropriate.
The third season of rides begins at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, March 24, rain or shine.
Meet at City Hall, 10722 S.E. Main St., Milwaukie. The ride will visit all the neighborhoods in Milwaukie and will end around noon, back at City Hall.
All ages are welcome. The ride will be around 10 miles, over mostly level terrain.
For more information about this bike event and upcoming rides, visit facebook.com/BikeMilwaukie.