Harlingen’s first social bike ride brings families together

HARLINGEN — Lily Torres wore a face of morning smiles yesterday after finishing a bicycle ride through the downtown area.

“My daughter bought me a bike for my birthday and I haven’t had a chance to take it out much,” said Torres, 55.

She’d just completed the first Harlingen Social Bike Ride, a course of more than 6 miles.

More than 100 people turned out for the 6.9-mile ride which began at City Hall at 118 E. Tyler Ave. The route swept down Harrison Avenue, 25th Street, Grimes Road and other parts of the city before returning to City Hall.

It was hosted and organized by the Harlingen San Benito Metropolitan Planning Organization. Many of the participants had never attended a competitive run or bike ride in the Valley. Those are some of the reasons the ride had been organized. It wasn’t a race.

“We are creating these social bike rides to get people out of the house,” said J. Joel Garza Jr., director of the MPO.

“They don’t have to speed up,” he said. “It’s just to get people out to get healthy.”

Lisa Guzman appreciated the more casual approach of the ride.

“This will be my first time,” said Guzman, 29. “It’s small. I wanted to see how these rides are.”

Many people saw the ride as a chance for family time. Brenda Araneda, 44, had brought her two sons, Diego and Esteban, to the ride.

“It’s a fun way to be with my kids,” Araneda said. “I really don’t do any bike riding.”

She looked around at the energy filling the air. The parking lot was filled with veteran and novice bicycle riders, colorful shirts and helmets lighting up the air.

“I wish more people had turned out,” she said.

Nevertheless, her two sons were excited about the ride.

“It’s a fun way for me to ride,” said Diego, 10. “I like bike riding, and I like doing it with my family. I ride my bike around my house and my neighborhood.”

Torres had traveled from her home in Port Isabel to ride with her daughter. She hadn’t ridden around neighborhoods in quite awhile so she couldn’t quite finish with everyone else.

“I was going against the wind,” she said. “I was out of breath.”

She definitely planned to give her bicycle a workout very soon.