History of the NOLA Social Ride


The Beginning

On a hot Thursday evening in October 2010, 20 or so people met on the Cabrini Bridge that crosses Bayou St John and discussed creating something magical in the city. Something that was not owned or managed by one but was a collective of people working to make something incredible. And that night the roots of NOLA Social Ride were planted. An idea that was spawned a month or so prior, this was the first event that kick started it all.

It is, as it was planned to be from the beginning, a collective of rides on different days for all bicycle riders in the City of New Orleans. But it was the Thursday Night Social ride (or “Happy Thursday,” as everyone knows it as today), that would be the flagship of the group because it was to be the bicycle social party.

Thursday Night Social Ride/”Happy Thursday”

The idea that was planted on the first ride was this:  a free bicycle ride with costumes, music, and fun people that would grow into into a large bicycle party.  The plan was to have people from different neighborhoods lead Thursday night rides in their respective neighborhoods to show off parts of the city that new and old citizens might not have seen before–to get people out of their element and help them discover new areas. The ride would be both social in nature and socially conscience in behavior. It was to be the anti-critical mass of other cities, as we all knew you weren’t going to win over vehicular travelers by “showing your right to the road”, but you could by giving them a reason to want to join you (i.e., a party on wheels).

The first few NOLA Social Thursday Night Rides quickly grew to have different costume themes for each ride (which were always and still are encouraged) and were being held on a weekly basis.  Once the rides moved to a weekly basis a consensus was formed among the participants to begin calling this flagship NOLA Social Ride “Happy Thursday”, inspired by Boulder’s Cruiser Ride (the original name was inspired by Austin’s Thursday Night Social Ride).  The similarities between the NOLA-born ride and the Boulder Ride were already strong, the greeting was cheerful and fit perfectly with the idea of being socially conscious and pleasant in the group’s presence on the road – so name just stuck.  But don’t be misled: the Thursday Night Social Ride existed largely in its current form and focus before the name was adopted.  After years of using the name and with more than 5,000 cards distributed across the city, there’s no turning back now!  The NOLA Social Ride’s Happy Thursday ride is here to stay!

The Thursday Night ride, as the flagship of the NOLA Social Ride, is run as democratically as possible, with a planning group that meets every few months to determine fun costume themes and determine how to improve the experience each week for all participants.  Ride leaders are rotated as much as possible, to make sure that no fun hiding spots are left uncovered, and to give each ride a character of its own. Much like the NSR itself, the Thursday ride is not an exclusive social club, but an amalgam of all different types of bikers, from beginners to road warriors, young and old, and people from diverse backgrounds all coming together to have a fun bike party! All types and kinds of custom bikes, music trailers and whatever other contraptions/awesomeness people would like to bring along are always welcome, and the ride doesn’t go too fast, so anyone can keep up! All of these traits together are what truly makes this weekly ride so special!

Wednesday Fitness Ride

Note: The Wednesday Fitness Ride is back from hiatus!  Go check out the events page and get out on a Fitness Ride!

The Wednesday Fitness Ride (formerly Rabid Ride) is the NOLA Social Ride’s second-longest running weekly event.  Founded by Tyler Heath, this ride is focused on fitness and speed training (getting Rabid).  This ride is based on a few select loops around City Park and Lakeshore Drive, where traffic is slight or nonexistent and the pedals can be mashed to the fullest.  Paul Rossnagel continued the tradition, and worked to make the Rabid Ride accessible to riders at all levels.  Today Eric Edmundson is at the helm, leading riders as they head out to the New Orleans Museum of Art each week to work on building up their stamina and getting fit!

Tuesday Music Ride

The Tuesday Music Ride was founded in April 2013 and is the pet project of none other than Old Man River from WWOZ’s Spin Cycle, someone who has his finger on the musical pulse of New Orleans, and a veteran bike tour operator in the city. The concept for this ride is a perfect fit for New Orleans: Each week at 6:00PM, the ride meets at the cultural center of New Orleans’s musical heritage – Congo Square. From there multiple stops are made around the city at live music venues for a series of free sets.

The Tuesday Music Ride now has over a year and a half of weekly rides under it’s belt, and doesn’t look to be slowing down! Some wonderful musicians have invited the group into their private practice session and others have even attended as guests, riding around the city with the group!  And we are looking forward to many great stories to come!

Friday Rogue Ride

Note: The Friday Rogue Rides have been discontinued, but we are leaving the description up for posterity!  Someone bring them back!

The Friday Rogue Ride was born on the last night of the 2013 Tipitina’s Free Friday Ride Series.  When the ride arrived, the club was filled to capacity and the participants who were left partied the night away at other nearby bars.  Of those participants, one stepped up and decided to continue the Friday rides, and the Rogue Ride was born!  This ride is not always a weekly occurrence, but it is always a fun time, and as the name implies you never know what may happen!

The Present/Future

Today, we are proud to say that anyone with any idea for a bicycle ride is welcome to join us and plan one. We are also committed to cross-promoting other social cycling events in the city, not only as a way to bring together diverse groups, but also as a way to reach out to new riders and get them involved in the many events popping up around the growing New Orleans cycling community.  As far as how the “organization” is run: We are a collective and will always be a collective, and anyone that wants to join the team is welcome!

Happy Riding!