We have a web store!

We are so excited!  The new Baltimore Bike Party T-Shirts are in and JUST in time for the holidays!   These limited edition t-shirts are now available on our online store.   Click here to be directed to the web store or click the tab above.

We have a very limited number of shirts so be sure to get one today and sport and support the ride you love so much!  They make the perfect holiday gift and will sell out fast!  You can also pick one up at Bearings Craft Fair THIS Saturday, December 7th @ 3510 Ashe Street from 10am-5pm.

Happy holidays from Baltimore Bike Party!

BIKEPROMO2

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Pajamboree!

Hey Bike Partiers!

Sorry for the delay, but i hope you are all ready to pedal off all that turkey!  Here is some stuff you need to know for tonight’s ride!

1)      If you haven’t noticed already, we are moving to a new ride organizational format for the colder months.  READ UP about it here! http://baltimorebikeparty.com/2013/11/26/west-coast-bike-party-rules-winter-mode/

2)      Here is the route.  http://goo.gl/maps/Owb9c  Be sure to take a good look, and print out a cue sheet or two so you know the turns!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/275878782500783/548087635279895/

3)      Bring out your warmest PJ’s!  It’s gonna be a clear beautiful night for a great ride.

4)      At Pratt St, the BEST place to lock up your bike is to your friends inside the courtyard!  Read all about how to safely lock up your bike here.  Be sure to read Appendix B! http://baltimorebikeparty.com/2013/11/18/a-guide-to-locking-up-in-baltimore/

5)      There will be plenty of food, drinks, dancing and photos to be had up on the 2ND FLOOR once your bike is locked up.

6)      We will have SHIRTS for sale again!  The PERFECT xmas present, so stock up!  $25 at the afterparty.

7)      We are going to do a little experiment to see how many people are actually reading our stuff on FB.  So if you’ve made it this far, go down and click that little “like” button for us (whether you like it or not!). That is the only way we really know who is paying attention to all this yammering.  Thanks a ton Bike Partiers!

8)      Remember to be safe, be courteous, be joyful!  See you all tonight.

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West Coast Bike Party rules: “Winter mode”

Hey Bike Partiers!

For the months of November through March, Bike Party has decided to implement a West Coast Bike Party style operation policy.  What this means is that we will be forgoing official police ride support in favor of a little more self-sufficiency.  What this does NOT mean is that we will party any less, have any less fun, or spread any less good cheer!

Now some of you are already thinking “oh this means we have to stop at red lights again…”  You got it!  The most fundamental change to the way Bike Party is going to operate in these colder months (compared to the other 7) is that we will have to behave more like traffic and less like a huge parade.  So if you come to an intersection, no matter where you are in the ride, you need to abide by the traffic signals and yield to oncoming cars.  What this will do, in essence, is create a number of mini Bike Parties tracing each other throughout the city and the routes created for these months have been specifically created with this policy in mind.

So how do we minimize the risk and maximize the fun?  The key here is to STAY IN YOUR PARTY.  When we first get started, we are going to be one large group, that will get divided by the light cycles on the road.  The important thing is for those waiting for the next light to turn green is to pack in together.  Take up the 2-3 lanes going in your direction.  If you make it through an intersection and the rest of your group doesn’t, wait on the other side (not blocking traffic) unless you are trying to catch up to the next group ahead of you.  If you are at the tail end of your group and can’t quite make the light, feel free to wait for the next group to come up on you a few blocks back!  If we follow this idea, Bike Party will continue to be a great, fun, celebratory community event, different than any other ride in town.

So with this new plan in mind, here are a few riding rules to keep us all safe!

1) Know the route.  If the group ahead of you makes a turn while your group is waiting at an intersection, it’s important to be able to know where to go.  We will be posting the route earlier in the month along with turn-by-turn directions that you can print out and bring with you on the ride.  We will still have ride guides throughout the party, but it’s best to have an idea of the route yourself just in case!

2) If you come up on vehicles stopped at an intersection (or anywhere there might be condensed vehicle traffic), stop behind the cars.  Think of your chunk of bike party as ONE big vehicle that has to stay behind the cars ahead of it.

correct intersection action1

Do not begin to filter through the cars.  This is a dangerous move in a group.  Sure you might be able to cut in front of the car(s) but the 80 people behind you might not be able to.  This runs the risk of having someone stuck next to a car in their blind spot when the light changes, and even more so splits your group into 2 with cars in the middle!  Just stick behind the traffic and stay together in a mass.

filtering 3

3) Even if you come up next to one vehicle on a multi-lane street, it’s best to stay behind the front of that car.  You don’t know when they may accelerate or want to make a turn.

correct single vehicle1

Don’t crowd around them, blocking them in.  Let the car have the ability to pull out in front of your group and not be trapped in the middle of the party.

trap 5

4) Ride ONLY in lanes of traffic going your direction.  If we have 2-3 lanes all going the same direction, like Charles Street, feel free to spread out in your group and enjoy the ride.  However if there is traffic going both directions, especially on streets with only 1 lane each way, like Keswick, it is EXTREMELY important to stay in OUR lane.  Riding against traffic is one of the most dangerous things you can do.  It may look like no car is coming at the moment, but someone could turn into that lane at any moment without seeing you.  Just don’t do it, let’s stay in our own lanes and stay safe!

wrong side 4

5) Stay off the sidewalks.  They are for pedestrians, little old ladies, and kiddos playing hopscotch.  There is no need for us to risk barreling over any of them.   Even if the sidewalk looks nice and wide, we have enough numbers where it’s safe to be in the street, let’s leave the sidewalks for others. (By the way, it’s also illegal!)

sidewalk 6

6) If we come up on any police officers that are directing traffic, go with their directions.  If they are motioning for us to continue through a red light, it’s okay to go ahead.  Consider that one a freebie!

7) It’s okay to make a right turn on red, but think about the group behind you.  If there is potentially oncoming traffic that could split your group in half, it may be best just to wait until you get a green light.

So that’s easy enough, right?  Stay together, stay behind the cars, and stay on the street in the correct lane.  You know, follow basic common sense.  If we keep these rules in mind we can ensure that Bike Party will continue to be an awesome event year round.

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A Guide to Locking Up in Baltimore

Disclaimer:  There is no 100% guarantee of bicycle security.  We were barely out of the Garden of Eden when Cain killed Abel, jealous of his flock of sheep (the 4000 BCE equivalent of a shiny new 10 speed).  I can only imagine that soon after the invention of the wheel someone jacked that as well.  Part of the price we pay for living around a multitude of vibrant, wonderful people is the realization that a few people around us are going to do bad things.  Our lives are full of risk and reward and biking is no exception.  This guide, specifically tailored to Baltimore, attempts to be a well-reasoned balance between minimizing the burden of bike security and maximizing the joy of getting to keep your bike.

So you’ve decided you want to keep your bike.  Great!  The only thing is, Baltimore has a bike theft problem.  To fully understand how best to keep your bike safe, it is worth understanding a little bit about why and how bikes are being stolen in this city.

Even if your bike is worth a few grand, once stolen, chances are there is not a large amount of money exchanging hands as a result, if any at all.  In Baltimore, bikes are occasionally stolen for money but often just because that person wanted a bike.  That’s it.  It’s that simple.  Ride it til it breaks.  Ditch it.  Steal a new bike.  There is no black market of high-end bikes and components.  There is no mafia ring stacking cash on a dim-lit table in the back room of a crab house.  The tools of the trade in Baltimore are not car jacks, angle grinders, or hack saws.  The vast majority of of bike thieves have nothing more than a pair of bolt cutters in their tattered backpack.   In Baltimore, bike theft is a crime of opportunity.  It is not about how flashy your bike is, or how much it is worth.  It is about how easy is it to steal.

So, how do you help make sure your bike stays YOUR bike?  There are 3 basic principles:

1) GOOD LOCK

2) GOOD SPOT

3) SMART USE

GOOD LOCK

Buy a u-lock.  Just do it.  No, no, no.  I don’t want to hear your reasons or your excuses.  You want to keep your bike?  Buy a u-lock, a good one.  Save your pennies, get a paper route, whatever.  Buy a u-lock.

As said above, the primary tool of bike thieves in our city is a pair of bolt cutters.  Bolt cutters will make quick work of ANY cable lock, or unhardened steel chain (like you can buy from a hardware store).  Seriously, like 5 seconds, if they fumble with it.  Good u-locks are made from a hardened steel that is much more resistant to cutting.  The same holds true of the heavy-duty bike chains, if you feel like hauling around 20lbs of lock with you.

Get a GOOD u-lock.  Expect to spend at least $45 MINIMUM on your lock.  Not all u-locks are created equal.  That $20 one from Walmart has not gone through the same hardening processes as better locks, nor is the build quality as good, so the chances of it failing you are much higher.  I recommend buying a lock from either Kryptonite or On Guard.  Both are large, reputable brands with high quality locks, good customer support and guarantees, and can be found in most bike shops.  Are there other locks out there just as good?  Sure.  Are they going to be better? Not really.  Are they going to be cheaper?  Nope.  If you are interested in locks from other manufacturers, there is tons of research and testing out there, but for the purposes of this guide I will not be delving into them.  Also, don’t buy the cheapest lock a company makes.  Most companies make a series of locks designed to protect a wide range of locations, and Baltimore is not at the “low risk” end.  Seriously, $45 or more.  Even if it’s a $30 bike from Goodwill, don’t think a $20 lock is going to protect it.  This is not about bike-to-lock financial proportions.  Get a good u-lock if you want to keep your bike.

So now you have a good lock to keep your bike in place, but what about your wheels?  Those can be easily stolen as well.  There are 3 reasonable options for your total safety package, which will be discussed more in depth in the SMART USE section.

1) longer u-lock

2) u-lock + locking skewers

3) u-lock + a cable

Any of these options are pretty darn good for keeping your wheels attached to your bike.  Some are more expensive than others, some are bulkier, and some are more secure, but remember that this secondary component is just for your wheels, which are much less likely to get stolen, even though the possibility still exists.

GOOD SPOT

Keep your bike somewhere visible.  If you are grabbing coffee or lunch, lock it where you can watch it from the window.  If that’s not an option, lock it where it has the most eyes on it.   While it is not unheard of for someone to steal a bike in broad daylight on a busy street with no one taking notice, it is FAR less likely than if you lock your bike around a corner, in an alley, behind a fence, or other places where the thief is less likely to be spotted.  This also means, unfortunately, that leaving your bike on your front porch or in your back yard is also not the safest idea.  Take your bike inside whenever possible, especially at your own home.  A fully enclosed yard while you are away at work is the perfect workspace for someone to spend all the time they need liberating your precious baby.  Also, it’s particularly important to bring your bike inside overnight.  No matter how well-trafficked during the day, most streets are pretty sparse late at night.

Lock your bike to something sturdy.  Make sure the fence, pole, or other object is securely fastened to the ground.  Also, make sure that what you are locking to is AS STRONG OR STRONGER than your lock.  If you spent all that money on your sweet lock, don’t let it be foiled by someone clipping the railing you locked to.

SMART USE

Now that you’ve found a good sturdy object to lock to, be sure to lock your bike up correctly.  The best way is to use one of several variations of the “Sheldon method”  (named after the late biking guru Sheldon Brown).  The Sheldon method involves locking your REAR WHEEL inside the REAR TRIANGLE of your bike.  It is important to lock around the RIM and not just the spokes, as they can easily be cut.  It is also important to lock your wheel INSIDE the rear triangle, not outside.  This prevents a thief from being able to steal both your rear wheel and your frame.  It may seem a little abstract, but in essence the wheel is locked to the pole and the lock is preventing the rest of the bike from being removed from the wheel.  For more detailed information on the Sheldon method, look here.

This is the basic “Sheldon method”

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Now remember those 3 lock options listed earlier?  Here’s where they come into play.  Which one you choose to use is a matter of personal preference, as all have their pros and cons.

1) If you have a long enough u-lock, you can remove your front wheel, place it next to your frame, and lock both wheels to the pole.  This can be a little complicated depending on your bike and how the wheel attaches.  It should only be used by people who are comfortable safely removing and reinstalling their wheel regularly.  This method does not always work on bikes with extremely fat tires, or in places where you cannot get your rear wheel right next to what it’s being locked to, but when it works, it is definitely a secure method. IMG_0167 IMG_0168

2) If using the regular Sheldon method, locking skewers are an option for keeping both wheels secure.  There are a number of kinds with various methods of locking, but most all of them work well at deterring theft.  They replace your quick release skewers and prevent you from having to carry a second lock.  However they are only compatible with wheels that already use quick release skewers and unfortunately if you have multiple bikes, you would have to invest in multiple sets of skewers to keep all your bikes’ wheels secure. locking skewerlocking skewers og

3) If you buy a cable lock to go with your u-lock (many companies sell them together in packages now) you can leave your front wheel in place and simply thread the cable through the front wheel, then back through itself and lock the other end inside your u-lock.  Very few thieves would bother to cut a cable just for your front wheel, but it is possible.

IMG_0165IMG_0166

The last one seems a little contradictory, using a cable, but the reality is that most bike thieves want to ride off on a bike, not walk away with a wheel.  If they come across a bike with the front wheel cable locked, they will probably keep moving in search of the chance to take a whole bike.  And that’s the key.  Get the potential thief to keep moving, to leave your bike alone.  It’s not about making it impossible, it’s about making it not worth the trouble.

So that’s it.  Pretty simple, huh?  Good Lock.  Good Spot.  Smart Use.  That’s really all it takes to GREATLY reduce the risk of your bike being stolen in our lovely city.  Don’t let a few bad apples ruin your fun.  Biking should be an activity of joy, so let’s keep it that way.

Tim Barnett –  Baltimore Bike Party

Appendix A: The Police

Write down the serial number on your bike.  Most of the time it’s somewhere around the bottom bracket (where your pedals rotate on your frame) or on the back dropout (where your back wheel attaches to the frame).  Take a picture of your bike and keep it on your smart phone for quick proof.  Go ahead and register your bike with the police.  If your bike ever does get stolen, report it.  This will greatly help your case if your bike ever shows up again.  Even if your bike never comes back to you, the only way the police will know there is a bike theft problem is if they hear about it.  Officers have already been assigned specifically to deal with bike theft in the city.  The more reports they get, the more resources will be devoted to the problem.

Appendix B: Bike Party and Other Festivals

Sometimes there are just not enough poles to go around.  Oh the burden of cycling becoming so mainstream!  We have suggested this numerous times at Bike Party but can also be applied to other events and festivals.  Lock your bikes together.  Get your friends, coworkers, posse, whomever, and lock all those bikes into one tangled mass.  Even if you have nothing “secure” to lock to, no one is going to back up a truck and haul off 3, 5, or 12 bikes in one clump.  Bike thieves want to ride away.  Prevent a bike from being rideable or easily carried and it is likely to stay put.  It is important to do this somewhere near all the fun.  Especially at an event that goes after dark (like Bike Party), 3 bikes locked only together (with u-locks) near all the people are going to stand a better chance of staying put than locked separately 50 yards away around the corner, so keep your bikes close to the action!

Appendix C: Advanced Security; Accessories and the Rest of Your Bike

Wheels aren’t the only parts that can be stolen off a bike.  It is also very common for a seat and seat post to be stolen.  The greatest first step in preventing this is to not have a quick-release seat post binder.  Get one that has an allen (hex head) bolt in it.  If you are obsessive about security (and that’s okay!), once you have your seat at the right height, glue a little ball bearing into the bolt head, preventing someone else from using a tool to loosen it.  Another common DIY method is to use a scrap piece of bike chain, looped from one of the seat rails down to the bike frame itself.  Running the chain through a piece of scrap inner tube will prevent it from scratching anything.  The ball bearing method can also be used for your bars, stem, or other parts of your bike you are concerned about, but frankly I have never seen much theft of parts in Baltimore other than the seat and wheels.

Along with this, don’t leave things clipped onto your bike.  If you have lights or computers on your bike, take them with you.  The same holds true for bags with tools or spare tubes.  That nice multitool in your saddle bag will go great for removing the seat of the next bike.

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rumors!

Dear Bike Partiers!

We would like to quickly dispel a rumor circulating around last week’s awesome event. The Brew-Ha-Ha was *NOT* the last ride of the season! We WILL continue to host rides throughout the winter, only with some minor changes to make them easier to facilitate. So for those of you who are willing to brave the cold with us for a great time, stay tuned as our next event will be up soon!

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Complete October Brew-Ha-Ha Update!

HEY BIKE PARTIERS! (The Big, Complete Everything-You-Need-To-Know Post)

So lets recap a little!

1) Here is the route https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=202724348976047122233.0004e8cd7333105b8d751&msa=0&ll=39.314644,-76.622086&spn=0.098014,0.192604 It also shows a “green” route from Union to St Mary’s Park. If you are DRIVING please park up near Union and either bike down or take the Light Rail from Woodberry to the Centre St stop.

2) As you know, we will be meeting at St Mary’s Park in Seton Hill. Please be sure to pick up any trash around you before we roll out! Also, if you need a BATHROOM before we leave, the Community Assn has graciously granted us access to the facilities at the park! They are in the building on the west side. ALSO, if your bike needs a little help, visit the Race Pace tent near the fountain to make sure your bike is in good working order!

3) We will be riding as ONE LARGE GROUP with police support. For those of you who like to ride in the front, it is important that you stay BEHIND the police car AND our 2 ride leaders (designated with orange flags). For everyone else, just keep rollin along and enjoy the ride!

4) Take a moment to remind yourselves of HOW WE RIDE http://baltimorebikeparty.com/how-we-ride/
and WHAT TO BRING http://baltimorebikeparty.com/what-to-bring/

5) When you get to the after party, bring your bike INTO the parking lot and lock it to a fence, your friends’ bike(s), or lock the wheels to the frame. We will have security at the event but that security will only go to the front gate! Don’t loose your ride home!

6) At the after party there will be a COSTUME CONTEST with prizes (including a BRAND NEW BIKE) from NuBohemia, Race Pace Bicycles, Light Street Cycles, Twenty20 Cycling Co., Union Craft Brewing, and Hill Killer Apparel. To be in the contest you MUST receive a contest invitation from on of our 50 ride volunteers on the ride!

7) Speaking of the after party, as always there will be food trucks, music, and the photo booth, but for this party, Union is breaking out *18* taps to serve us! We are selling beer tickets 4 for $10 or $3 each (1 ticket = 1 beer). Beer sales is how we pay for these awesome parties, so while we never regulate it, consider leaving the Boh at home and support Bike Party by enjoying some Baltimore craft-brewed awesomeness! Don’t drink beer? Well you are always welcome to donate at the photo booth! Whether you are buying tickets or not, anyone who plans on consuming alcohol needs a wristband, given out (free) near the ticket booth!

You know this is going to be the best event happening this Halloween so go ahead and click that “join” button and tell your friends to do the same! See you all tomorrow night!

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October Update #3: Route!

HEY BIKE PARTIERS!

Here’s the route for this month!

For those of you who need to drive, we *highly* encourage everyone to park up near Union Craft Brewery. There is plenty of parking in that area and extremely limited parking at the start in Seton Hill. After parking by Union, you can either hop on the Light Rail down to Centre St Station (which is only 2 blocks from St Mary’s Park) or you can bike down Clipper Mill/Fallsway, as shown by the *green* route on the map!

Please note, however that there is NO parking IN the Brewery’s lot! We need that space for the party!

Speaking of parking, once the ride arrives at Union for the after party, please bring your bike INTO the lot! There is plenty of fencing to lock to or lock to your friends or just lock your wheels to your frame! We will have security at the front entrance to the lot that will make sure no one leaves with a bike they don’t have the key to, but we cannot keep track of bikes locked up and down the outside streets. So bring your bike in! There is plenty of room!

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