Thousands of Bay Area commuters are expected to pump up those tires today and pedal off in honor of the 12th annual Bike to Work Day, joining the 36,000 hardy souls who regularly bike to work.

Fueled by free drinks and snacks at "energizer stations," the riders will be eligible for free ferry rides from Alameda.

"My hope is that people get out there on their bikes and they experience first hand the benefits of bicycling, what it can do for the environment, what it can do for their health and what it can do for their psyche," said Cole Portocarrero, executive director of the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition, which is under contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to organize.

This year, the event features teams of riders, each obligated to include two novice riders, competing to see how much bike commuting members can get in for May, which is recognized nationally as Bike to Work Month.

As of Wednesday, Santa Clara and Alameda counties had the most teams competing with 26 and 32, respectively.

This year's Bay Area Bike to Work Day is sponsored by Mike's Bikes and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's 511.org commuter information service.

County congestion management agencies and local volunteers are also helping organize the event and hand out refreshments along popular bicycling commuting routes.

For more information, visit 511.org or call 511 and say "bicycling."