(NEW YORK CITY–Dec. 17, 2011) — Starting this Sunday you can bike your way through the streets of Manhattan taking in the lights of major Christmas trees around town, savoring hot chocolate, and sharing the holiday cheer with new friends and possibly even your own children—all on a bicycle!
The first of three rides to take place this month, the Twelve Miles of Christmas bicycle outing this Sunday is being held for charity. Conceived by Lee Uehara, instructor and owner of City Bike Coach, a riding school, the ride costs $30 per person but will benefit the Food Bank For New York City and Socks n Undies.
It may be no coincidence that those two charities help the homeless during a time when riches are spilling out from bags and most New Yorkers are feeling toasty in their apartments while the homeless go hungry all around the city.
At least 1.3 million people annually are fed at the city’s soup kitchens and food pantries, according to the Food Bank For New York City. And despite numerous city-sponsored programs, about 45,000 people are homeless each night, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. That figure includes about 17,000 children.
Socks n Undies helps to provide necessities such as socks, underwear, and basic toiletries to the homeless population who are all but invisible during the holidays. Many New Yorkers who have no experience being homeless themselves other than having read Charles Dickens novels, do not realize that socks are one of the most critical items which homeless people are short of, often because of how much time they spend wandering city streets.
The ride will inspire good cheer nonetheless, asking you dear cyclist to dress up in your best holiday costume—perhaps red and green outfits with Santa hats– and bicycles trimmed with lights and bells to tour 12 or so miles through the area below 50th Street.
Starting downtown in the Financial District, the first leg of this journey will pass by the lighted trees on Wall Street and South Street Seaport, as well as the display of cascaded lights at Winter Garden before heading over to the other lighted trees in Washington Square Park, Madison Square Park and Bryant Park. The ride will also allow time to visit the Christmas market at Bryant Park before arriving at the 30,000-LED-lighted Norway Spruce at Rockefeller Center on 50th Street.
Promising not just feasts for the eyes but also for the tummy, there will be a stop for a cup of rich hot chocolate made the Italian way with small tea cookies from Amorino in the East Village, (included in the cost.) While there, folks will cast their votes for the rider with the best costume and the best bike costume. The winners will take home a holiday-inspired prize full of Christmas cheer — either fun twinkle lights or a DVD movie. To preserve memories of the event all participants are promised a group photo via e-mail the following week.
One third of all entry fees will go to the Food Bank For New York City and Socks n Undies, with all riders receiving a T-shirt. Uehara says all folks are welcome over the age of one, so confident beginners and families are encouraged. For safety, a front white light, a red tail light, helmets and bells are required.
All rides start in downtown Manhattan at Bowling Green Park, which is just south of The Bull near Wall Street.
Christmas Tree Hop A: Sunday, December 18, 2011, 4:30 p.m. – benefits Food Bank For New York City
Christmas Tree Hop B: Thursday, December 22, 2011, 7:00 p.m. – benefits Socks n Undies
Christmas Tree Hop C: Saturday, December 24, 2011, 10:00 a.m. – benefits Socks n Undies
To register and for more information, please visit www.TwelveMilesOfChristmas.com.