When all is said and done, a group of LGBTQ cyclists will have traveled more than 50 miles on an hours-long trek from downtown Houston to Galveston Island.
The journey, scheduled to start at 7 a.m. on October 9 at Eagle Houston, is just the latest event from Pride Bike Ride Houston, a social bike-riding organization that began in 2018.
The idea for Pride Bike Ride Houston started after organizer David Loredo saw no LBGTQ representation in any of the biking groups downtown.
“Cycling is so big in Houston now,” he says. “There are so many different groups, but there was no representation for us. I wanted to create a safe, judgment-free zone for the LGBTQ+ community.”
Loredo, who has been a cyclist for about 10 years, was surprised at the amount of interest when he started the group.
“We started off with just five people in the first six months,” he says. “We are now averaging 50 to 75 bikers when we do our rides. When we have our big events, we usually see 200-plus. I have been so humbled by the response I have gotten. I am so thankful for our members, my friends and family for all of their support. This group would not exist without their love and support.”
Loredo believes the interest in cycling comes from the sense of freedom it gives people. “That is definitely a big part of it. When you are riding outside, you are invigorated. You feel empowered. It creates a great sense of joy.”
He hopes that the positive motivation will continue when the group makes their biggest trek yet by traveling all the way to Galveston.
“This is a big deal,” he says. “We need
this kind of representation as part of the LGBTQ+ community. I want the world to know that our community is as strong as anybody else’s. I want the world to know that we can do this trip.”
Loredo would love for his cyclists to gain that badge of honor by participating in this milestone event. “I want them to get the most out of this. I want them to feel great, confident, healthy—just overall motivated. And when we do it again, I want them to bring their friends who think they can’t do it, and show them that they can do it, too.”
And beyond their regular cycling events, the group has also helped local nonprofits and small businesses by donating and raising money to shine a spotlight on worthy causes.
“During the pandemic, we were jokingly calling ourselves the Pride Bike Ride Stimulus Package because we were going to mom-and-pop shops to help with their revenue,” he says. “I felt in my heart that was the least we could do. Why not open the door and get involved with our local community?”
Likewise, the support that businesses have shown his group has made Loredo incredibly grateful. “For example, Eagle Houston has been amazing to us. They have allowed us to make their bar our home base for each ride. The management and staff have been overwhelmingly supportive of our group. I am just so grateful for them.”
When it comes to the future, Loredo has his eyes set on growing the group and bringing on anyone who is willing to ride. “I want everyone to come out, bring their friends, bring their allies, bring their loved ones, and get a taste of Houston with us at a Pride Bike Ride. I am very excited for the future. We are definitely a force to be reckoned with. People know who we are now, and they embrace us and support us.”
For those who are nervous about riding with a large group of people during the pandemic, Loredo notes that the group is being cautious. “Before COVID-19, we would ride every Tuesday. Now we do rides every other week. That way, if anyone gets sick or exposed, it gives people ample time to respond to the virus and make sure they are safe.”
Given how freeing cycling can be, Loredo wants to keep this group going for as long as he can.
“This is a very good, positive movement,” he says. “Being the creator of the group and knowing I am spreading this kind of happiness and freedom and enjoyment, why not keep on doing it and keep on growing it?”
This article appears in the October 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.