I Bike Fresno

A Letter from Byron Watkins, Founder of I Bike Fresno

It’s May! And it’s Bike Month! And many of you are probably wondering what is happening with the website and the Million Mile Challenge. I figured the best way to explain is to give you a little history of I Bike Fresno and where we started and where we are headed today.

I started I Bike Fresno exactly 6 Bike Months ago. I had been commuting to work by bike for about two years and it was one of the greatest decisions I had ever made. It made me happy, I had never felt better, and it was just plain fun. It honestly had changed my life and I wanted everyone to be able to experience how great it felt. I wanted to do something positive for bikes in the Central Valley. And so, “I Bike Fresno” was born. It included a website, advertising campaign, resources, and events to create basically positive advertising for riding your bike.

A major part of the effort was be May is Bike Month. And it just so happened that the year before we began, the Sacramento Region, had started a thing called the Million Mile Challenge. They were challenging the Sacramento region to ride a million miles in the month of May and log it to their website. This challenge really inspired us and was a great way to encourage people to ride all month long, so we decided it should be a part of our new effort.

We had big ideas for our Million Mile Challenge. We wanted it to work for the whole Central Valley. While I Bike Fresno’s efforts would mostly be focused locally, due to limited resources, we knew the Million Mile Challenge was bigger than just Fresno. We wanted it so everyone in the Valley could participate. It could be an event that would unite all the counties, no matter what bike month events they would be throwing in their area. It would be something we could all do together to create synergy and have fun competing against each other for one month a year.

We also knew it would be tough for only Fresno County to reach a million miles, and much like Sacramento’s covering their whole region, we would need the whole Valley riding to make it. We hoped we could show other cities around the country that the Central Valley had something going on when it came to bikes. Not only that, we wanted schools to be able to compete so kids could get excited about biking. We wanted people to be able to create teams so they could ride together. We wanted companies to be able to compete all month long instead of just on one day. The list went on and on.

Unfortunately, right out of the gate we didn’t have the ability to expand it as wide as we had hoped. With the money we scraped together we could create the I Bike Fresno site and code the backend to run the Million Mile Challenge but we would only be able to set it up for Fresno County. And while we have been able to add some features to the MMC over the last few years, the way the site was created didn’t allow us the expansion capability needed to bring more counties into the challenge.

So this last year it really hit us how old that site had become and how it wasn’t really mobile friendly and how we had dreams of making the MMC much, much cooler and huge, so… we set out to finally achieve what we had dreamed about from the start. After May 2015, we began focusing our efforts to our new, fully integrated website at centralvalleybikemonth.com (cvbikemonth.com for short). This is the place where we will finally have an MMC for the whole Valley and a place where counties can post their local events so everyone can participate and support each other's Bike Month efforts.

And though we hoped it would be ready to launch for this Bike Month, we weren't able to have it completely ready in time for May 1. But we didn't want to wait until next year to show off all the cool features, so you can access cvbikemonth.com right now! Log your miles, challenge friends, earn badges. Get a taste of what the future holds for Bike Month in the Central Valley.

Since all our time and focus has been on this new expansion we decided to keep our Bike Month events to a minimum. We always set out to make the best Bike Month we can, and it takes many hours to achieve that, so we decided it would be best to keep that focus on the expansion we are bringing next year.

This May we will still be doing the Mall2Mall Ride in partnership with Fresno County Bicycle Coalition on May 4th. And we will also be doing the Bike-to-Work Day Corporate Challenge on May 20th (register at bike2workfresno.org). Plus, we will be giving away a bunch of raffle prices this month! Hit up ibikefresno.org for info and watch for our social media giveaways:

We are a tiny, scrappy group of folks who are passionate about seeing people riding their bicycles and we couldn’t do this without the community's support. Your passion and excitement for the Million Mile Challenge is the reason we are even undertaking this expansion. We love to hear stories of people whose lives were changed when they rediscovered their bikes in the month of May and we hope to see you out riding this month and supporting the efforts of all the counties in the Central Valley.

Feel free to send us your questions, check out the info at cvbikemonth.com, and then be there May 2017 for the coolest Million Mile Challenge yet.

Cheers and thank you. We will see you in the bike lanes!

Byron Watkins
President of the Bike Happy Foundation
Founder, I Bike Fresno

If you would like to be a sponsor of Central Valley Bike Month, please email info@cvbikemonth.com.