On Wednesday, the smell of fresh pancake batter hitting the hot griddle descended Kimbark Street as cyclists converged outside the Longmont Civic Center for an early morning breakfast in honor of Bike to Work Day.
The 20-plus-year Longmont event, which took a COVID-19 hiatus in Boulder County last year, has been revived. Normally it is held in June, but this year’s event has moved to September.
Perhaps one of the most drastic changes this year is that many participants said they don’t cycle to work. With the pandemic that led many businesses to switch to remote work in the past year, many cyclists who have come forward to show their support have returned to the home office.
Outside the Longmont Civic Center, cyclists could stop for a breakfast of pancakes, sausages and orange juice, prepared by the Longmont Columbine Lions Club. The station was one of dozens across Boulder County where cyclists could refuel for their ride.
Ben Ortiz, Longmont transportation planner and Bike to Work Day event coordinator, said about 60 riders stopped for breakfast at the train station outside the Civic Center. The station at the service center, 1100 S. Sherman St., served approximately 30 runners. Ortiz said he did not have attendance data for the other three stops in the city.
“It’s good to see people come out,” Ortiz said. “We weren’t really sure what kind of participation we were going to see. This is good, but reduced compared to normal June events. We would typically see up to 130 runners at the June events. “
Working through piles of pancakes, Hannah Dittmar and Chris Boddiger, of Longmont, said they cycled about 6 miles from the Prospect area to participate.
“We’re working remotely right now, so we’re just doing a loop,” Dittmar said.
While this was Boddiger’s first time participating in the Bike to Work Day, Dittmar, who works for a Gunbarrel-based bicycle marketing company, said it was his third year of participation.
“I think it’s really fun to highlight cycling in Longmont and Boulder County,” said Dittmar. “It’s a great way to get around and exercise. “
Bike to Work Day brought together former colleagues Jenny Wawrzynczak, Jeremy Provow and Seth Phillips, all from Longmont, to participate in a tradition. The group said they had been riding for Bike to Work Day for six or seven years. This year’s event brought them together again, even though they all work remotely.
Phillips noted that the “free pancakes” was also a form of inspiration for participation. Phillips said he also went to a Bike to Work Day station in Niwot to get a free burrito.
Mak King and his 10-year-old son Dax King also had breakfast at the train station. Participating in the Bike to Work day is a tradition for father, son and for grandfather Paul Dax.
“I think it’s good because it takes people out of their comfort zone,” said Mak King. “You can see things on a bicycle that you never see in a car, especially birds and just the smells of vegetation.”
Bikers in Boulder might also find a number of Bike to Work day stations with free food and drink.
At Community Cycles, Sue Prant, executive director of the nonprofit cycling advocacy organization, said the station serves around 100 cyclists. She said that’s only about half of the crowd the event typically sees in an average year.
Like Longmont, Prant said he noticed that cyclists did not cycle to an office.
“Granted, a number of people have told us that they usually go back and forth between their jobs, but just go out to go home,” Prant said.
Whether commuting to work or just returning to work remotely, Prant praised the event for encouraging more people to get on their bikes.
“Part of Bike to Work Day is celebrating people who ride and the other part is getting people to think about riding, and we’ve certainly seen it again even with the Bike to Work Day pandemic,” said Prant.