Erik Garcia helped start the monthly Moonlight Mash bicycle ride more than two years ago to encourage Long Beach bicyclists interested in pedaling around the streets at night.
The group’s co-founder, Johnny Tully, first encountered this concept of a monthly ride during while studying at the University of Oregon. What started out as nearly two dozen bicyclists has ballooned to more than 200 riders for some events.
“To be honest it’s kind of surreal,” Garcia said. “In the beginning, we were getting 20 people, which we thought was a lot.”
Garcia said most people fear riding alone at night because of hazardous motorists. Another motivation was the noticeable gap between people casually riding beach cruisers down the bike path and the long-distance cycling groups who speed along the Los Angeles River Trail.
Moonlight Mash rides encompass everyone from dads with their kids to a group of women who use the ride as their monthly meet-up, Garcia said.
Since the rides are free and volunteer-operated, Garcia relies on word of mouth and local artists who design monthly flyers for free. Local organizations like LBcycology Bike Collective and Pedal Movement are also key partners in these nighttime bike rides.
“I think 25 to 30 percent who ride with us are just people out eating and drinking and then they join us on the next ride,” he said. “We’re thrilled that other people love it as much as we do.”
Moonlight Mash’s next event is the Blue Moon Ride and kicks off at 7:45 p.m. Jan. 31 at Bikestation, 223 E. 1st Street. Riders are encouraged to wear blue to celebrate the lunar event. Garcia said 2018 will actually see two blue moons- the next one will be March 31- which only happens once every 19 years.
Blue Moon Ride participants are encouraged to bring helmets and mounted lights. Anyone who doesn’t own a bike can rent one at a discounted rate from Long Beach Bike Share. For more information visit facebook.com/MoonlightMashLB.