Wyman Park Dell lit up the night Friday more than the Miracle on 34th Street does at Christmastime.
In an event aimed partly at promoting physical fitness, an estimated 600 bike riders, at the end of a three-hour ride through Baltimore, rolled into the dell with stationary, flashing and pulsating lights on their bikes and bodies. Some bicyclists wore body suits with wavy lines of light.
“It has to be 600,” said Patrick Ostrye, 29, of Remington, riding a bike with red flashing lights. He said 560 people signed up for the event on Facebook and he expected more people to come at the spur of the moment.
Forty five bikers alone represented the Bel Air-based organization Bike 4 Breast Cancer, said Robert Saunders, chairman of the sponsorship and donations committee.
The joint ride was co-sponsored by the Baltimore Bike Party, an advocacy group that organizes monthly rides in Baltimore, and the Bob Moore Memorial Moonlit Madness Ride, an annual event in honor of the late Moore, a former Roland Park resident, who once biked from his house to the Pacific Ocean.
The many lights were meant to spotlight cycling as a healthy and eco-friendly mode of urban transportation.
“It’s fun to ride your bike around the city, a great way to get around,” said Ostrye, a website developer. “I used to run track in high school. I hadn’t worked out in a while and I bought a bike a couple of years ago.”
The main goals of the ride were to promote physical fitness and eco-friendly alternative transportation, said co-organizer Tim Barnett, of Baltimore Bike Party. He said it was an opportunity “for people to get out, no matter what their fitness level is.”
The arrival of the riders in the dell started slowly, with Ostrye and several roommates rolling into the service drive at 29th and Howard Street. Also leading the way was last year’s Hampdenfest toilet race winner, Jonathan Rashidi, 28, of Millersville.
Suddenly, Saunders yelled, “Here come bikers.”
Hundreds of bike riders rounded the bend from Art Museum Drive and pedaled down into the dell for nearly 10 minutes in a continuous stream of lights. Jake Jones, 22, of Roland Park, rode a “tall bike” that he built himself, three frames stacked and festooned with lights.
“Once you get up, it’s as easy a riding a bike,” said Jones, who is studying mechanical engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.
Once in the dell, it was time to party at the end of a long, hot ride, and three vendors were on hand to sell food and beer.
“We rode right past my house,” said Trisha Van Wagner, 33, of Hampden, who headed straight for the beer tent.
“The food looks good too,” said Van Wagner, who teaches social studies at Frederick Douglass High School.
“It’s fun to hang out with everybody and it brings a lot of people in the city together,” said avid bike rider and rugby player Nina Graham, 26, of Remington, an environmental engineer.
And she said that for exercise, “It’s good to bike around the city.”
A battle cry for many bike riders is to “share the road” with motorists. And motorist Jennifer Blunier, 33, of Tarboro, N.C., found herself doing just that when she parked at the dell.
Blunier, director of literacy for Northeast Carolina Prep School, had just ended her own ride to Baltimore to meet her cousin, who was participating in the bike ride.
“This is where her bike thing ends,” said Blunier, “and this is the soonest I could get here.”