Organization urges: ride a bike every day in April

Body: 

A Minneapolis-based organization is hoping to get you to make a pledge. It's a simple one: ride any kind of bicycle at least once a day every day in April.

The organization, 30 Days of Biking, promises no awards, no fundraising, no ticket prices and no participation tracking. Instead, they simply offer people everywhere a chance to join together in "a truly life-changing activity."

The event is definitely not a competition.

"It's all for giggles, or as serious as you want it to be," the organization's website reads. "What matters is that we're all in this together."

The organization also is working with World Bicycle Relief, an organization that distributes bicycles in parts of the world where walking is the only means of transportation, often in rural parts of developing countries.

For Jean Hoeft, one of the organizers of this year's local 30 Days of Biking events, it's a chance to promote activity, health and fitness, while also developing relationships and meeting other bicyclists.

Although 30 Days of Biking has been around since 2010, this year, it's coming to Hastings for the first time in an official way. Hoeft has teamed up with Dawn Foss to set up a handful of local bicycling events to help those who want to take the 30-day pledge. They've teamed up with the Hastings YMCA as well.

First up is the kickoff event, set for April 1. Starting at 9 a.m., people taking the 30 Days of Biking pledge are invited to gather with their bikes at the Hastings YMCA. At 9:30 a.m., the group will take off, pedaling down the bicycle trail from the Y to Spring Lake Park. Participants are welcome to turn around at any point and head back, Hoeft explained. The point, after all, isn't to go any set distance, but rather to simply ride.

"We're just creating an opportunity," Hoeft said.

Hoeft has participated in the event on her own for the past two years, she said, after a fellow YMCA member introduced her to it. She admitted that April in Minnesota can be a tough month to bike every day, as the weather can be less than ideal. She typically rides in the mornings and said her coldest 30 Days of Biking ride so far has been 25 degrees. But there's a solution for that.

The pledge doesn't require riders to be outside or on a traditional bicycle. Stationary bikes work just fine, the organization says. Hoeft said the Hastings YMCA offers a five-day guest pass; non-members who want to ride indoors can take advantage of the pass to join a spin class in adverse weather. Plus, a ride can be as short as one chooses, even a mere five minutes counts.

"Down the block and around your basement count just like a 20-mile commute or a 350-mile charity ride," the website reads.

The April 1 kickoff isn't the only biking event scheduled for Hastings. Hoeft said they plan to hold a ride every Saturday morning in April. The group will depart from the Hastings YMCA at 9:30 a.m. every Saturday, taking the same route to Spring Lake Park and back again.

Riders are invited to share their biking stories on social media using the hashtag #30daysofbiking.

For more about the pledge, go to 30daysofbiking.com. For more about local biking events during April, look for the Facebook page "30 Days of Biking," hosted by the Hastings YMCA.