A Chain Reaction
- by LB Kovac, photos/video by Ellis Anderson
It’s difficult to imagine a world without bicycles.
The two-wheeled vehicles can be found in cities around the world, but their history is short, relatively speaking: the grandfather of the bicycle, a wooden, two-wheeled German contraption called a draisine, didn’t make an appearance until 1817.
And the word bicycle — from bi-, meaning “two,” and kyklos, meaning “wheel” — wasn’t used until the late 1860s.
It has only taken two centuries for this mode of transportation to go from curio to staple. In 2016, more than 66 million people in the United States had ridden a bike in the last 12 months, per data from statistic-coagulator Statista.
Beach To Bayou
Every Friday evening at 6:30 p.m., she and other area cyclists meet at 112 Court Street in Bay St. Louis, directly in front of the Daiquiri Shak. After a brief introduction, the cyclists leave Daiquiri Shak and go on one of three routes Angelo has mapped in the neighborhood.
“When the weather is good, we do everything,” she said.
Angelo, who lives Waveland, originally came up with the idea for Bay Bikers as a way to get to know people outside of her neighborhood. “I wanted to meet people in the community . . . and have a happy affair.”
“Everybody rides their bike in Bay Saint Louis,” says Angelo. Since October, she has been growing her group, and what started as a small collection of friends has now includes 30 or more riders every Friday night.
Angelo leads cyclists down one of many roads in the greater Bay Saint Louis area. Depending on the weather, Angelo says they might take a leisurely ride by bay or check out one of the community new restaurants or bars. There are lots of opportunities to explore even in a familiar place like your hometown.
The ride always ends at someplace “social.” Bars are always a good option — hence Angelo’s “adults only” policy — but Angelo maintains that the most important part of the ride is to learn something new about the community.
With that many people, big things are possible. EZ Riders recently did a charitable ride for a member with a cancer diagnosis. Over 200 cyclists attended, each donating $10 for the ride, and the proceeds provided a significant contribution to the member’s care.
Many clubs are using their cyclers for social change. Bikes Not Bombs, a Boston-based cycling club, raises money to support environmental causes. Riders in their annual bike-a-thon use creative means to find sponsors for their race, with the proceeds going to domestic and international charitable organizations and empowering community members to address local social and environmental issues.
Angelo hopes to do community-driven projects in the future. A recent can drive by members of Bay Bikers helped needy families in the area have a richer Thanksgiving celebration. They also supported local Veterans during the recent Veterans’ Day celebrations.
Angelo says that the club is “purely social,” with cyclists from “aspects of Bay Saint Louis welcome.” Angelo reports that, “We’re not out to compete. We’re just out to have a good time.”
Angelo says that the Bay Bikers are being accepted with open arms into the community. She reveals that “people wave” as they make their nightly rounds. And the colorful lights affixed to their wheels make them highly visible.
The club might be small now, but Angelo hopes that one day all of the Bay Bikers will light up the night.
If you’re in the Bay Saint Louis area and wish to join the Bay Bikers, look at the Bay Bikers Facebook page or email Karen Angelo directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.