Over 8 years ago a school teacher, an internet entrepreneur and a ballet dancer cycled to a bar. That’s not the start of a joke, but it was the start of the Night Riders. Arguably one of Fort Worth’s coolest cycling groups, The Night Riders event was spawned after a Tuesday night poker game in a neighborhood not far from downtown, Fort Worth, Texas. Having ended our Texas Hold’em tourney early, we all decided it would be fun to go out for a night cap, by bicycle of course. During that night cap, we realized how nice it was to enjoy the cool night air on a bicycle and we decided to invite a few friends for a bicycle pub crawl the following weekend.
Editor’s Note: (Some idiot thought it might be hilarious to call the pub crawl the “Night Riders,” which led to countless semi-drunken references to David Hasselhoff’s iconic hit TV show, Knight Rider, and many more tone-deaf attempts to hum and/or whistle the them song for which we would provide a link if it weren’t for our fear of copyright infringement).
We made plans to meet at that same bar, the Chat Room Pub, on Saturday. Each of us was supposed to invite a couple of friends to join the fray, but plans made while imbibing don’t always pan out, so when Saturday comes around, yours truly was the only one to show up. I certainly didn’t want let that stop the ride from happening, so I cycled downtown and had a beer. I quickly learned that downtown Fort Worth on a Saturday night was not a good place for a bicycle pub crawl. All the bars and restaurants were crowded and there were quite a few drunk idiots showing off how loud and fast their big white pickup trucks could be driven. I thought to myself, if we ever do this again, let’s do it on a Sunday. Well, the next week, we did try again, and this time 3 or 4 of us showed up. We had a blast and agreed to meet again the following Sunday. For the next month or two we kept meeting and inviting friends and our numbers fluctuated from 2-5 or 6. I had been attempting to grow the group by inviting friends, telling strangers and even making a really crappy poster I hung up in the Chat Room. Finally after 8 weeks or so, my roommate and I were talking as we were pedaling to the meet up and we thought maybe it wasn’t going to catch on and maybe we should scale it back to once a month or cancel the whole thing. However, when we arrived at the Pub, there were 12 people and their bicycles waiting to ride. After that week there was no longer any doubt: the Night Riders would ride every Sunday. And since the group started, there has been a ride every single Sunday. Rain, shine, snow, ice, wind, hot, cold, no matter what, the Night Riders rode. The numbers of riders would fluctuate from just a few to over 75. The group also started a Wednesday ride, but that event was geared (pardon the pun) more towards fitness and increased miles.
Long story short: what began on a whim, turned into an amazing tradition. The Night Riders have ridden, in some form or fashion, almost every week since the beginning in 2009. I believe a tornado kept them off the roads once, but other than that, they’ve ridden each week. A streak of nearly 900 rides.
Some of the Night Riders have organized canned food drives, and they’ve held fund raisers to support the bicycling lifestyle, adding workstations and bike racks. Before the Night Riders, there were few painted bike lanes in Fort Worth, and now, with the help of friends of the cycling community, there are many marked bike lanes and signs, not only in downtown Fort Worth, but also far into the suburban communities that connect the Metroplex. Night Riders have made it a point to donate lights to struggling bike commuters who are often barely seen on the dangerous shoulders of our busiest streets. There have even been groups that have copied the success of the Night Riders and organized rides better suited to their local communities.
So much has happened in that time . Riders have joined the group, some riding religiously, and others making the event as a special treat to be enjoyed once in a while. People met, became friends, dated, married, even had kids. Though I don’t know many of the Night Riders these days, I’m so glad the tradition continues. The rides no longer begin at the smokey dive where it originated, but now they meet at Hopfusion Aleworks, a brewery started, not coincidentally, by two night riders.
Checkout the videos below to get a feel for the group. And,if you’ve ever ridden with the group, please share a memory or favorite picture from a ride.