Jesse Israel has perfected networking on the move — literally. The founder of Cantora Records, notable for signing MGMT, also runs the Cyclones, a bicoastal bike club favored by music-biz cool kids who prefer beer to bottled water after a ride. “It’s a social bicycling club,” explains Israel, 29, whose mission “is to bring great people together through adventures on two wheels.”
Israel and New York attorney Matt Rising started Cyclones in June 2013 as a group outing for 15 friends. It quickly grew to around 900 members, with an average of 100 showing up for the five-hour-plus rides. Regulars include C3’s Taylor Hass (who also manages buzz band Wet), Anthony Demby of music branding agency Humble Riot, Neon Gold Records’ Francesca Stabile, Full Moon Festival’s Max Pollack and Banks manager Trevor McFedries. Rising and Nick Ingate, partner at influencer agency the Projects, brought Cyclones to Los Angeles a couple months later, and in October tech entrepreneurs Mike Galpert (co-founder of Aviary) and Nick Crocker (co-founder of music startup We Are Hunted and fitness app Sessions) are opening a San Francisco branch.
“Our rides are open to everybody and designed for all skill levels,” says Israel, who explains that the rides are done at a “casual speed.” The typical New York route begins at the Williamsburg Bridge and trails through the five boroughs and New Jersey, with Israel-scouted pit stops along the way. The inaugural ride visited the Cyclone, Coney Island’s historic roller coaster and the club’s namesake; a later trip included a pizza stop at L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn en route to Brighton Beach. “We’ll jump in the ocean or swim in a public pool, have a barbecue, go to a random park in Queens,” says Israel. Meanwhile, Rising hauls a large wireless speaker on a trailer attached to his bike. “He puts together incredible playlists,” says Israel. “We’re kind of a party on wheels.”
Israel attributes a number of professional relationships to the Cyclones community, but he’s hoping to make an even stronger impact. After spending time this summer in Tanzania, he discovered that transportation issues were keeping some children there from attending school. Now he’s working with nonprofit Mama Hope and other partners to raise funds to bring bike-share programs to rural communities in Africa through an initiative called Cyclones Bike Drop. “I think this will be an important part of Cyclones moving forward,” he says. “The social aspect is great, but this could really make a difference.”