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Posted In: Features, Road Biking

Moon or no, this ride drew a crowd

Richard Chittick

August 20, 2014 9:28am


Riders prep their bikes for the Sports Backers' Anthem Moonlight Ride. Credit: Richard Chittick

Riders prep their bikes for the Sports Backers’ Anthem Moonlight Ride. Credit: Richard Chittick

There was just one little problem with the Anthem Moonlight Ride this past weekend: Where was the moon? Seems an event called the Anthem Moonlight Ride should have a decent show of the moon. Wasn’t it just a few days prior that everyone was talking about the supermoon and how the moon would be a dazzling display of mooniness? Well, turns out the moon had moved on. Six days after the supermoon of August 2014, the moon rose at nearly midnight, hours after the 5th annual nighttime bike ride sponsored by Sportsbackers had ended. When it did finally rise, it was a waning gibbous, about 60% of full, according to www.timeanddate.com

But that was probably the only glitch facing nearly 3,000 people who showed up on Saturday night to check this event out, which is getting bigger each and every year. That many people, that many bikes, and twice as many lights, with at least one light on the front and back of each bike. It’s a spectacle, to be sure, what with all the sparkly red tail flashers mixing in with the steady beam of the headlights.

Here’s a few other things I observed about Saturday night’s ride:

– It’s not just the people that come in all shapes and sizes at an event like the Anthem Moonlight Ride, it’s the bikes, too. Road bikes, mountain bikes, cross bikes, kids bikes and tandems of various designs all made appearances. Then I saw the coup de gras right at the start line: a 3-person tandem with a middle seat custom-designed for a 5-year-old. It had a special crank mounted above but linked to the original one with special crank arm attachments all to cater to the little girl’s small legs. She was a genuine part of the operation of the bike, steadily pedaling away with her parents as they made their way through the course.

Bikers had police escorts throughout the Anthem Moonlight Ride. Credit: Richard Chittick

Bikers had police escorts throughout the Anthem Moonlight Ride. Credit: Richard Chittick

– The event featured two courses, the 17-mile Full Moon, and the 8-mile Half Moon. The Full Moon featured an out-and-back of Lakeside Avenue via Hermitage Avenue with a quick side-trip into Bryan Park, along with an out-and-back of Monument Avenue via Westwood and Malvern avenues. The Half Moon course featured the same course as the first 8 miles of the Full Moon before heading back into Sportsbackers Stadium along Hermitage Avenue. The courses used roads in both Richmond and Henrico County.

– According to the announcer at the start of the event, this year marked the first year that the course was completely closed to traffic. Though I don’t remember traffic being a problem when I rode this event in 2012, the course certainly felt safe on Saturday, with a police officer stationed at every intersection along the way.

– And of course, there was the Blue Moon Costume and Tacky Light Contest. I saw someone riding a bike wearing a blow up sumo wrestling costume, and an entire family wearing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jerseys – to say nothing of the elaborate lighting systems used to illuminate entire bikes and wheelsets. At times, some of them looked like oddly shaped Christmas trees rolling down the road.

About Richard Chittick

Rick Chittick is a freelance writer and photographer with a passion for all things outdoors, especially mountain biking, trail running and alpine skiing. You can read more about his adventures on his blog, www.chitticksadventures.com. He can be reached at mountainfreakrva@gmail.com.