The Plaza Midwood Tuesday Night Ride is everything a great community event should be, incorporating free entertainment with physical activity and a big fat dose of weird for all. I’ve known about the weekly bike meetup since I moved to Charlotte but just finally joined in last week when the weather cleared up (hopefully) once and for all for the season and I emerged from my den of dark winter depression, blinking into the sun like a disoriented mole rat. It’s outdoor activity season, people! Let the games begin.
PMTNR is a casual weekly 10- to 15-mile bike ride that starts and ends at Common Market Plaza Midwood and stops at an agreed upon watering hole for necessary refueling along the way. The rules are simple: helmets and lights are required, obey all traffic laws and stay behind the designated leader or you’re on your own.
Riders ranged from high school students to grandparents and everyone in between. I went by myself and felt genuine elementary school-level nervousness about making friends but was quickly greeted by perfect strangers. Despite regularly drawing in over 100 riders each week, my new face wasn’t lost in the crowd and a handful of people went out of their way to chat me up about my first ride. Phew.
I may frequently make dramatic sweeping statements, but this was hands down my number one favorite thing I have ever done in Charlotte ever. If I could bottle the feeling of childhood summer nights with all their freedom and flawless weather, I’d bathe in it every day. PMTNR is that feeling. As we rolled down Pecan Avenue, Superfreak pumping from speakers attached to someone’s bike, I could not help but put my whole entire adult life on pause and just ride my bike. It was the best feeling.
Want to give your first PMTNR a go? Here’s what you need to know:
- Meet at Common Market Plaza Midwood (2007 Commonwealth Avenue) at 7:30pm. Ride leaves promptly at 8pm.
- Arriving late? Check the PMTNR Facebook page for a map of the route and recommended late arrival meetup spots along the way.
- Helmets and lights (front AND back of bike) are required. Don’t have lights? Ride organizers have a limited supply they’ll loan you for a $5 deposit you get back when you return the light. (I didn’t have a rear light and don’t carry cash so I gave them my license in exchange for a loaner.)
- This is a casual ride. This is not a road race and you don’t need to roll up in your spandex unitard like Lance Armstrong (although you could). Bikes ranged from beach cruisers to road bikes and a couple guys were even on Charlotte B-Cycle bikes. The pace is slow and steady with frequent stops to keep the crew together. I assure you you will be fine.
- Most of the crew will stop at the designated bar but if you’re ready to head home (or are underage) there will inevitably be a smaller group that will branch off and head back. I left with this early departure group of about a dozen people once we hit our stop at Gin Mill and was back home by about 10pm.
- Can’t make it on a Tuesday night? There’s also a Sunday Slow Riders group that meets at 2pm every Sunday. (The Sunday ride moves to 8pm in the summer months when it gets hot.)
So… See you tomorrow? What else could you possibly be doing on a Tuesday night? Nothing. See you there.