June 29

N.I.T.E. Ride History

N.I.T.E. Riding – A Look Back

2008 marks our fifteenth annual N.I.T.E. Ride (Navigate Indy This Evening) event. So far we’ve had over HALF A MILLION MILES of N.I.T.E. Riding, with participation growing from about 600 in 1994 to a sold-out 2,500 ever since 2003. So how did this event blossom and grow to what it is today? It all started with a spark of imagination - followed by a labor of love from a core group of visionary and dedicated volunteers.

Once Upon a (N.I.T.E.) Time…

… a long time ago, a small band of C.I.B.A. members switched on the headlights and rode through downtown Indianapolis to plot out a possible route for a large-scale late-night ride. They were headed by Warren Smock, one of C.I.B.A.’s most visionary members (Warren also founded the C.I.B.A. Foundation in 1996), who had been thinking for years of starting a late-night ride in Indianapolis and finally led the charge after attending a similar event in Chicago.

An inaugural Committee was formed with blessings from the C.I.B.A. Board of Directors, led by Warren Smock and C.I.B.A. Past President Bob LeClare as co-chairs and ten people covering seven core functions.

Per Bob, one of the biggest immediate challenges was to recruit sponsor support for the event in its first year. Such support was crucial due to the significant up-front expenses that are incurred by large-scale events. Moreover, it’s tough to develop sponsor relationships when you’ve don’t yet have a proven product with which sponsors can be associated. Fortunately, C.I.B.A. already had proven itself as an event organizer, having run the nationally-known Hilly Hundred Weekend event for over twenty years by that time; in fact, one of the core promotional themes in that first year was “From the People Who Bring You the Hilly Hundred”. Warren, in particular, invested countless hours developing sponsorship relationships to help support the inaugural event.

Another significant challenge was getting the word out regarding this new ride. Public Relations committee member Connie Szabo Schmucker, who would later become President of C.I.B.A. in 1997-98 and then N.I.T.E. Ride Director in 1999, commented: “What really sold people on the event was the uniqueness of it - riding at night in Indianapolis, especially around Monument Circle. This has been the hallmark of the event that has kept people coming back. Indianapolis is a beautiful city at night and experiencing it by bicycle with many others is truly a unique experience.“ Ridership doubled in the second year and has been at a sell-out level of 2,500 since 2003.

Since that first year various sponsors and Committee members have come and gone, but the teamwork between the Committee, volunteers, and sponsors continues to grow and strengthen. What does it take to put on the event now?

* 17 N.I.T.E. Ride Committee members covering 16 core functions
* over 1400 hours of volunteer effort just from the Committee members themselves
* 600 additional hours from 140 volunteers
* 85 IMPD off-duty police officers, with consultation regarding route selection and protection
* dedicated emergency medical support from the Wishard Special Events unit
* data processing and online registration services
* major logistical and promotional support from our primary sponsor, Bicycle Garage Indy
* 2,500 pieces of fruit from Kroger, 10,000+ cookies from Nabisco, 220 gallons of drinking water, 2,500 drinks, and nearly a ton of ice
* 400 pounds pasta, 460 pounds beef, 140 pounds cheese, 30 gallons sauce, 2,500 breadsticks
* cool artwork and production of more than 2,500 T-shirts and sweatshirts
* significant support from the Major Taylor Velodrome, IndyParks, and the City of Indianapolis
* and lots, lots more!

So… on behalf of all who have worked through the years to build this event: HAVE A GREAT N.I.T.E. !!!