"It's the best way to experience the true nature of San Antonio," says Jeffrey Moore, founder of SATX Social Ride. The group has grown from a handful of his friends to regularly attracting a few hundred people to its Tuesday bike rides.
Jeffrey grew up on the Eastside and always rode his bike to school and around the area that is now Martin Luther King Park. But it was when he moved back to San Antonio after college that he discovered the social aspect of biking.
He brings a unique perspective to it through his background in geography and as Senior Management Analyst at the San Antonio Emergency Management Office. "I look at the streets geographically," he says. "I always choose the routes based on the streets that are safer."
SATX Social Ride Founder Jeffrey Moore poses for a photo at Hemisfair Park, a popular spot among cyclists who frequent the SATX Social Rides. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
The social ride is a free cycling group that takes several paths through downtown and the surrounding areas, usually starting off at Burleson Yard. There are mechanics available at the back of the biking group with parts in case they are needed. And some people who do not own a bike take advantage of SWell Cycle, whose stations often dot the route.
Jeffrey says it's important to expose riders to many different parts of the city to understand the authentic San Antonio. The social ride has touched Downtown, the Eastside, Westside, Southside and Midtown.
"We get people from every Council district, Bexar County, and two or three counties around us," says Jeffrey, "One guy drives in from Tilden in McMullen County." That's about an hour south of San Antonio.
Dr. Olga Payne is a Veterinarian and frequent SATX Social Rider. Dr. Payne is owner of four Paws Animal Hospitals on SE Military Dr, and will be leading the annual Fiesta Dog SATX Social ride on Tuesday, April 17th at 6:30pm. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
The group is diverse in more than geographical terms. Being data driven, Jeffrey has sent out surveys in the past to better understand his riders. He was glad to find that the group was 45% female, as in the past biking has been considered a male-dominated activity. "[The group] is as diverse as the city, age-wise, gender-wise, ethnicity, across the board," adds Jeffrey.
Riders have expressed many benefits to the Tuesday bike rides, beyond the expected health aspects. People who have been experiencing mental illness, from depression to PTSD, have pulled Jeffrey aside to tell him that the bike ride has helped them with their struggle. "It gets pretty emotional," he explains.
Jeffrey himself has made friends on the bike ride that feel more like family now. He says it's important, especially in today's climate, to bring together people who wouldn't normally meet, let alone spend time together. He says there's a shortage of cross-pollination of ideas and cultures.
SATX Social Riders are a diverse group of folks who travel from all areas of San Antonio to ride together as one. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
That's part of the reason the bike ride is held in downtown and in nearby historic neighborhoods. Jeffrey says the history and culture of the city is on display. "When you're on a bike, it's a totally different experience," he adds. On a bike, you absorb all the aspects of the city with all your senses.
On two wheels is a great way to experience downtown and allows freedom of movement and a closer connection the sights and sounds of the city. "You don't have to worry about parking your car somewhere," says Jeffrey. Social Riders often park at the perimeter of downtown and enjoy the urban core on bike.
SATX Social Riders cruise north on St. Mary's Street through Downtown San Antonio. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antoio
SATX Social Riders arrive at Hemisfair Park. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
Jeffrey has already moved forward in planning the future and mission of SATX Social Ride. Recently, it became a 501(c)(3) non-profit so it can better sustain bike rides and continue offering things like reflective vests to volunteer bike marshals.
Social Ride also partners with other non-profits to advance their causes. Their most popular ride is in October where they partner with the Texas Diaper Bank. Riders bring diapers to donate before the "Ride of the Living Dead" event.
Convening people is important to Jeffrey as he believes "It's the people in the mix that make it."