The smell of fresh pancake batter hitting the hot griddle carried down Kimbark Street on Wednesday as bike riders converged outside the Longmont Civic Center for an early morning breakfast in honor of Bike to Work Day.
The more than 20-year-old Longmont event, which took a COVID-19 hiatus in Boulder County last year, was revived. Normally it is hosted in June, but this year’s event was moved to September.
Perhaps one of this year’s most drastic changes was that many who participated said they weren’t actually biking to work. With the pandemic leading many companies to transition to remote work last year, many cyclists who turned out to show their support biked back to the home office.
Outside the Longmont Civic Center, cyclists could drop by for a breakfast of pancakes, sausage and orange juice, prepared by the Longmont Columbine Lions Club. The station was one of dozens across Boulder County, where cyclists could fuel up for their ride.
Ben Ortiz, Longmont transportation planner and Bike to Work Day event coordinator, said that roughly 60 riders stopped by to have breakfast at the station outside the Civic Center. The station at the Service Center, 1100 S. Sherman St., served about 30 riders. Ortiz said he didn’t have data about attendance at the city’s other three stops.
“It’s good to see people getting out,” Ortiz said. “We weren’t really sure what kind of attendance we were going to see. It’s good, but scaled back from the normal June events. We would usually see up to 130 riders in the June events.”
Working through stacks of pancakes, Hannah Dittmar and Chris Boddiger, of Longmont, said they rode their bikes roughly 6 miles from the Prospect area to participate.
“We are remote work right now, so we’re just doing a loop,” Dittmar said.
While this was Boddiger’s first time riding for Bike to Work Day, Dittmar, who works for a bike marketing company based in Gunbarrel, said it was her third year participating.
“I think it’s just really fun to highlight cycling in Longmont and Boulder County,” Dittmar said. “It’s a great way to transport yourself and get some exercise.”
Bike to Work Day brought former co-workers Jenny Wawrzynczak, Jeremy Provow and Seth Phillips, all of Longmont, together to participate in a tradition. The group said they’ve been riding for Bike to Work Day for six or seven years. This year’s event brought them together again, even though they are all working remotely.
Phillips noted that the “free pancakes,” were also a form of inspiration for participation. Phillips said he also rode to a Bike to Work Day station in Niwot to get a free burrito.
Mak King and his son Dax King, 10, also enjoyed breakfast at the station. Participating in Bike to Work Day is a tradition for the father, son and for grandpa Paul Dax.
“I think it’s good because it gets people out of their comfort zone,” Mak King said. “You get to see things on a bike that you never see in a car, especially birds and just the smells of vegetation.”
Bikers in Boulder could also find a number of Bike to Work day stations with free food and drink.
At Community Cycles, Sue Prant, the executive director of the nonprofit cycling advocacy organization, said the station served about 100 cyclists. She said that is only about half of the crowd the event typically sees in an average year.
Like Longmont, Prant said she noticed cyclists weren’t biking to an office location.
“Certainly a number of people said to us that they are usually commuting from work, but they were coming out just to go back home,” Prant said.
Whether commuting to work or simply returning to remote work, Prant praised the event for encouraging more people to get on their bikes.
“One part of Bike to Work day is to celebrate people who ride and the other is to get people to think about riding, and we definitely still saw that even with pandemic Bike to Work Day,” Prant said.