Catonsville residents looking to add a kick to their daily routine will have an opportunity to do so on May 17, Baltimore's annual Bike to Work Day.
This year, there will be a new rally point on Friday morning — outside the Santa House in Catonsville on Frederick Road at Egges Lane. There will other established spots in Towson, Annapolis, White Marsh and Baltimore City.
From 7 to 9 a.m., residents can meet up and pair up with other cyclists from the area then ride their bicycles to work using a number of guided routes to destinations ranging from Towson to East Baltimore.
There will be food, music and T-shirts for participants.
The event, sponsored by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, gives metro area residents an opportunity to get out of their cars and off the main roads to experience a new form of commuting.
"Over the last few years, there have been more and more bike paths, more bike routes," said Scott Westcoat, owner of The Hub bike shop on Frederick Road.
"People are using this sport to kind of connect with other people and themselves," he said. "It's freedom, it's transportation."
The Catonsville resident has scheduled a number of events for Bike to Work Week, which runs from Monday, May 13, to Friday, May 17, to raise awareness about and promote safe ways to commuting to work via bicycle.
"It comes down to plan(ning) the route and work(ing) the plan," Westcoat said of bicycle commuting. "Being safe, making sure your bike is safe, making sure you are safe."
Westcoat said anyone can make biking their regular form of commuting, regardless of fitness level or previous experience.
"Progression is key," he said. "This is not a race, it's a journey. It can start as simple as you want it to be."
Jason Schwinabart, a professional mountain biker and stunt rider who recently moved to Catonsville, is helping Westcoat spread the word about Bike to Work Week.
"I get to work faster than the cars," he said of his daily commute.
He echoed Westcoat's sentiment that anyone and everyone can bike to work.
"What I always tell people is, pick a day and ride once," Schwinabart said. "It's not a big commitment, where now I have to bike every day to work.
"You can do it once a month," he said.
Though he grew up in Carroll County and had been living in Parkville, Schwinabart said he is happy to be back in a place where he spent a lot of his childhood. His grandmother lived in Catonsville and he visited her often.
Schwinabart is sponsored by Diamondback Bicycles. He regularly performs shows on a set course that feature various maneuvers and tricks.
"Some things I can do that most people are very difficult, that to me are very easy," Schwinabart said.
He has performed all over the country and appeared in renowned motocross star Travis Pastrana's "Nitro Circus" DVDs.
He said biking to work is not only good for a person's physical health, but their mental and emotional health as well.
That feeling of freedom one felt as a youngster riding a bike doesn't stop when riders get older, he said.
"You don't have to stop doing it (riding bikes) because you grow up," Schwinabart said. "Imagine attitudes at work if everybody started biking."