It's Bike Month! Here are 9 ways to celebrate

CINCINNATI -- Spring weather seems to have arrived just in time for the Tri-State to go bike wild.

Cycling communities across the country traditionally designate May as National Bike Month, with local organizers planning events designed not just to get people out riding but also to get non-riders more familiar with bikes as a growing mode of transportation.

Here in the Tri-State that has often meant an emphasis on getting new riders out on bicycles, as well as -- at certain points -- getting cyclists out of the saddle and engaging with each other in new ways.

This year, organizers have planned nearly 50 events to celebrate two-wheeled transportation. Here are the nine events we recommend most:

1. Bike Month Kickoff Party (7 p.m. Tuesday, May 1, at Rhinegeist Brewery)

Whether you're new to bicycles or a veteran, this is where you will learn about everything happening all month long, as well as connect with a thick slice of the Greater Cincinnati bicycling community.

If that's not enough, there's also free pizza.

2. Cycling Culture - A History (Wednesday, May 2, through May 31 at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, main branch)

The Tri-State is not short on connections to bicycle history, most notably through Wilbur and Orville Wright, of Dayton, Ohio. The brothers are known for inventing and building the first airplane, but not until after they had become prolific bicycle mechanics and manufacturers in southwest Ohio.

Bike history in Cincinnati goes back well over a century, and this exhibit at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's Downtown branch dives into that history. From historical photos to some of Cincinnati's first mapped bike routes, this exhibit will please any history buff -- even a non-rider.

3. Drink & Draw: Spokecards (6-8 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at Contemporary Arts Center)

Part of the CAC's monthly Drink & Draw program -- an occasion for adults to enjoy unleashing their creative sides in a laid-back atmosphere -- May's event will allow participants to design their own spokecards. Those are the cards attached to a bicycle's wheel to make a buzzing sound, initially meant for cyclists to notify themselves to other cyclists. This is also an activity that riders and non-riders can both enjoy.

4. Tour de Pig - Riding the Marathon (5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at Second and Main streets)

Many cities across the country that host marathons include a bike ride as an option for participating. This year, Cincinnati will join those ranks with a ride around the Flying Pig Marathon course the night before the main event.

The hope, organizers say, is eventually to have the bike ride become an official event of the Flying Pig -- as is the case in other cities. The ride will end between 8 and 9 p.m. Saturday, followed by food and drinks at Moerlein Lager House.

5. Toddler-paced Bike It Baby Ride (10 a.m. May 8 at Winton Woods Boathouse)

This is an event in which adults will need to leave their bikes behind to make room for the 2- to 5-year-olds invited to hop on their balance bikes and tricycles for a ride around Winton Woods Lake. Adults are asked to walk beside their little ones.

"Bike It Baby" is a play on the Hike It Baby community, a forum meant to connect families in the outdoors. Organizers ask that parents or guardians bring helmets for young riders.

6. Bike Commuter Basics Ride (7 p.m. May 10 at Harvest Home Park)

In the spirit of getting new folks riding bikes, the Bike Commuter Basics Ride aims to ease common anxieties about using a bicycle to get to and from work and run errands.

A West Side ride on Glenway Avenue between Target and Kroger, this ride will use only back roads -- beginner-friendly -- and will teach participants basic skills like where to ride in the road and when, as well as how to properly secure a bike using a lock.

7. Ride for Reading (11 a.m. May 11 at Coffee Emporium - OTR)

Ride for Reading defines "riding for a cause" like any other group ride there is. Now in its sixth year, the Ride for Reading Cincinnati Book Delivery event will coordinate volunteers to haul hundreds of donated books from Coffee Emporium in Over-the-Rhine up Gilbert Avenue to the Academy of All World Languages in Evanston.

8. Bicycle Board Game Night (7 p.m. May 17 at The Rook OTR)

You don't need to be a cyclist to enjoy game night.

This event aims to bring together riders and non-riders for a night of "loosely bicycle-themed" board games, according to organizers.

Red Bike will host the event, which will include hourly door prizes for attendees.

9. Screening - The Triplets of Belleville (7 p.m. May 24, Mini Microcinema)

This 2003 animated comedy tells the story of a reclusive young boy whose love of bicycles brings him out of his shell. He eventually goes on to win the Tour de France, and his subsequent fame causes more hilarity and high jinks to ensue.

Nominated for two Academy Awards, the film has become a staple among cycling enthusiasts.

Pat LaFleur reports on transportation and mobility for WCPO. Connect with him on Twitter (@pat_laFleur) and on Facebook.

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