PHOTO STORY: Niles rolls out first Pride Ride

NILES – A small but mighty group of 14 cyclists gathered at the parking lot at Second and Sycamore streets in downtown Niles Thursday evening. The sprinkling rain did not seem to shake any of the riders’ resolve to go on a ride that would take them down the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail, riding together to mark Pride Month locally.

Pride Month is celebrated in June each year to recognize and celebrate those who are part of the LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer] community.

David Rees, owner of Swift Cycle, 1717 Oak St., Niles, and bicycle mechanic Cody Ciesielski organized the event for Thursday evening, with the intention of a no-drop ride down the bicycle path to avoid cars.

“This is the first Pride event to ever happen in Niles,” Ciesielski said. “We wanted to do something community-wise.”

At least one Pride event had been planned in 2020. Potentially due the pandemic, the event did not seem to come together.

Ciesielski has seen the commercialization of Pride Month from corporate retailers and wanted to come back to what he feels Pride is about. There were no Pride flags or obvious markings on bicycles to indicate what the group was riding for.

“Pride is not about having a parade,” Ciesielski said. “We just want to take pride in who we are and represent ourselves.”

Together, on cruisers, road, mountain, and hybrid bicycles, the group left on their ride from downtown Niles just before 6:30 p.m., as the rain let up and made their way down past Brandywine Creek on the bicycle trail.

Everyone was in good spirits after nearly a couple of miles on the no-drop ride.

Rees said the group would return to downtown to hang out after, with every member having a say in when the group returned.

“Niles is a great place to be weird,” Rees said.

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