The Biking Guide: Biker Gang

Get involved in the riding community with one of these events.

Pedal through the streets of downtown on one of Cleveland's Critical Mass rides. On the final Friday of each month, cyclists gather downtown to embark on a leisurely ride. "Biking by yourself in a busy downtown can be intimidating," says Shawn Mariani, a Critical Mass participant. But with a few hundred other riders, you feel more protected. It allows riders to take control of the streets, parading through intersections for as long as five minutes. "People on the sidewalks and in their cars cheer and clap," says Mariani. "The event is a blast."

Grab your helmet and light for an evening of exploring the Towpath Trail during a Century Cycles 14-mile night ride. The Peninsula location hosts 10 gatherings a year, mostly on Saturday nights. To keep the rides interesting, a few are themed. The popular Pajama Party, set for May 19, encourages cyclists to arrive in sleepwear. "The turnout is fantastic," says Derrick Kortvejesi, a senior mechanic at Century Cycles, who estimates that 150 riders donned flannel pants, night caps and slippers last year. JOIN IN

Break out your parachute pants for Crank-Set Rides' 1980s-themed excursion on June 9. About 200 bicyclists in full costume come together for this group's rides, which rotate among Tremont, Ohio City and other West Side neighborhoods. Other outings include a Nerd Ride (right) and a zombie-themed Dead Ride. "You spend all that time on your costume," says co-founder Lindsey Bower. "You want people to see it." JOIN IN

Hit the road for a worthy cause by joining a team that participates in charity rides. The local group Patti's Paladins raises money for multiple sclerosis research by biking in the annual Pedal to the Point, a two-day, 150-mile round trip from Berea to Sandusky. Rick Garcia, captain of the Paladins, invites riders of all experience levels to join his team. Get in shape for the trip by participating in the group's weekly training rides. "The benefits of joining a team like ours is that you have the whole summer for us to help you get ready for it," Garcia says. JOIN IN

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