By Diane Richards
There’s just something about being on a bike. You know what I mean—that sense of freedom as you tear down a hill, rendering you fearless and like a child again, or that unrelenting incline you must patiently climb thinking all the while you may just die before you reach the reward of the precipice. But to share this freedom and strife with 30 other friends on bicycles—tandem and road bikes, cruisers and mountains bikes—that is just plain magic. And that’s precisely what our Sunday Funday with the Common Wheel was, a perfect Memorial Day weekend adventure, on a perfectly sunny afternoon around our beloved Lancaster.
After paying a visit to Aussie and the Fox for a delectable take-away brunch tier, choc full o’ smoked salmon, cheeses, and various accoutrements for our mid-day picnic, I pedaled my Bianchi, en route to The Common Wheel, located in Reservoir Park on the East Side of town. As I cruised down King, I noticed a family up ahead, orange flags mounted to their sa-weet tandem bikes signaling “caution” to drivers. Could they be going where I was going? How awesome would it be if a whole family showed up for our Transplant bike ride?! A few minutes later I was right, and we all shared “hellos” and mingled with other friends as they arrived on a rainbow of bikes.
After the troops were gathered, thirty some-odd folks in tow, Jocelyn snapped a photo of the crew in front of the newly renovated and real-good lookin’ pumphouse, and we embarked on our journey, first stop—the kick-off of Lancaster East Side Market at Musser Park, which happens every Sunday from 10-2. We cruised the streets en mass and I must say— the symbiotic energy of 30 people on bikes is intoxicating. In a leisurely fashion, we navigated Downtown, conversations amongst riders drifting past while friends caught up and new friends got acquainted. We arrived at Musser and, as my friend Collin from Ríjuice commented, we really brought the energy to the experience, and were so happy to do so. Rollin’ into my favorite park in the city, thirty deep on wheels, we parked in the grass and walked around to support the local food movement.
After we checked out the offerings, we made our exodus to the next destination, Lancaster County Park. One glorious word: downhill. Chris and Brad from Common Wheel lead the way, and we made it to the skate park, all of us relaxed and happy to share the fresh air and pending plein air treats. The benefits of helping to shape a bike-friendly community, as well as a greener, cleaner way to live in Lancaster City are golden, but to get off our bikes, and to sit and connect with one another is truly priceless. That’s what Lancaster Transplant is really all about—making meaningful connections—and if the timing is right, inciting conversation about the vision we have as Transplants and Locals for a happier, healthier place to call “home.”
So we ate meat and cheese and strawberries and drank water and watched the dare-devils among us navigate the undulating cement hills of the skate park while we talked. Megan and her family, the tandem-bike foursome, had picked up a flyer about the bike ride at a pop-up dinner I had hosted a few weeks prior at Thistle Finch Distillery; they were all camping at the county park for their Memorial Day Staycation, so the ride seemed a good fit for their own adventure together, leading them back to their campsite by a creek. As I presented Lauren, one of their children and perhaps the second youngest among us, a butter-cup crown I braided after a short walk in the grass, I felt easy and happy, and appreciative of the good energy a simple bike ride helped to create.
After a few perilous hills and some rocky terrain in the park, the remaining crew, no flat-tires to speak of, turned back towards the city, winded and thirsty, ready for a cold brew and a high five or two. We decided on the Lancaster Brewing Company and air-conditioning, and we toasted to new friends, a bike-friendly Lancaster, and to the next meeting-of-the-minds. All in all, while my legs felt like Jello and I made the firm decision to invest in a road bike rather than attempt to do that on a 3-speed cruiser ever again, I’d say the day was a total success and a darn good time. So, until the next big ride, take it easy, and go ride a bike, ya hear?