Bikers get up-close look at space shuttle

DOWNEY - Cyclists on the Downey Bicycle Coalition's monthly ride last Saturday experienced something special when they were treated to an impromptu visit to the Columbia Memorial Space Center-and to the Space Shuttle "Inspiration" mockup currently tented across the street.This spontaneous opportunity arose thanks to Councilman Mario Guerra, himself a bicycling enthusiast along for the DBC ride, which originated at Furman Park. Guerra has long been an outspoken champion of Downey's rich history, including the period during the 1950's and 60's when the very spot of land which the Space Center overlooks was first a hub of aviation manufacturing, then a critical center of the United States' venture into lunar space travel. In fact, Guerra pointed out at Saturday's bicycle ride that Neil Armstrong's first steps back on terra firma after man's first trip to the moon were in fact on Downey soil-on the plot of land across from the Space Center that will soon become The Promenade at Downey. With the courteous assistance of Space Center employees, Guerra hosted a brief walk-through of the facility itself, including people-friendly exhibits designed to demonstrate interesting aspects of space travel. Certainly the most impressive highlight of this extemporaneous visit, however, was the impressive magnitude of the Space Shuttle mockup itself. Guerra has also proven to be a visible proponent of good health in the city of Downey, especially through the Healthy Downey campaign, which he inaugurated during his recently concluded second term as mayor. Current Mayor Fernando Vasquez is continuing that theme with Stay Fit 2014. Both council members are fans of bicycling, and Mayor Vasquez is planning other events celebrating a healthy lifestyle during the course of his term, including bicycling events in conjunction with the Downey Bicycle Coalition. Meanwhile last Saturday, those who joined the DBC's first community bike ride of 2014-families with surprisingly bike-savvy children, couples, singles, and at least one senior citizen (this writer), enjoyed a gorgeous temperate sunny day and an unexpected glimpse into Downey space history.

********** Published: Jan. 30, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 42