Prompt 065: 7pm Curfew
65. Imagine you came from a very strict family that always made you go to bed before 7 p.m. What would you miss the most in those last few hours of evening and why?
So now is a perfect opportunity to gush about the one evening activity I really don't want to do without: Bike Party. There are a lot of layers to this onion and why it's so wonderful. As far as this writing prompt is concerned, I could live unfailingly with this bizarre arrangement so long as I could have one night a month for a no-holds-barred, late-night event.
The last Friday of every month, 12 months a year, is reserved for the Bike Party ride. People from all over the city meet at a centrally-located park starting at about 6:30pm, and shortly after 7pm we ride. The group size ranges from 50-100 die-hard riders for the extremely cold times of the year, to easily over 1,500 to maybe 2,000 people for the October ride (this one is the most-populated because it's the "Halloween" ride, and everyone is wearing costumes and it's an amazing spectacle. Anyone who has a bicycle wants to be part of it).
Each ride has a theme. I mentioned above the "Halloween" ride in October, but there have also been other ride themes: opening day for the local pro sports teams; Valentine's Day, High School Prom, Pride Ride, Beach Party, Super Heroes, Holiday Hangover, etc. Participants all wear wild and evocative costumes, and add lights to their bicycles or whatever they're wearing.
Everyone is welcome. People of all ages, all races, all "gender persuasions/delusions" are welcome. Looking into the crowd, you would think that racism, sexism, ableism, etc. simply doesn't exist. Daily commuters, wheelie kids, bike couriers, entire families, empty-nesters, racing crews... All make an appearance. Above all reasons I enjoy Bike Party, this is probably the one I like the most. There's no other event in this town that brings together so many different people for the same positive, physically-active, fun reason. We just want to ride, and that's a common denominator for all of us, even if everything else about us is completely different. If you are on your own when you arrive, you'll have made a friend by the end.
All human-powered machines are welcome. Not only are bicycles invited, but we've had all manner of people-powered wheeled vehicles: tricycles, unicycles, those six-person "Pub Pedalers," ebikes, pedicabs, rollerskates, recumbent cycles, and even runners dressed up like bicycles...! If you use your body instead of an engine to make it move, then expect to see it on the ride at least once a year. Cars wait for us... Sometimes for several minutes, since the mass of cyclists can number in the hundreds. Fuck 'em. They have the streets every other day of the month, they can wait 8 minutes or whatever. I love stopping "traffic," and then reminding car drivers that hey: we're traffic too.
No one is left behind. The rides are typically somewhere between 8 to 10 miles long, and I happen to be a volunteer for the Sweep Team. The Sweep Team's responsibility is to stay at the -end- of the massive assembly of riders, and make sure those who need help receive it. If someone's brought out their bicycle for the first time that year, and it's rusty as hell; if their brakes don't work; if they're walking up a hill because they're outta shape, someone from the Sweep Team hangs with them 'til the end. If someone catches a flat, I help patch them up and put them on their way. If someone has an accident and is hurt, the medical volunteer (typically someone with professional experience as an EMT or nurse or something like that) gives them a checkup and calls an ambulance if necessary. If someone's completely outta luck, we make sure they have some way to make it to either the after-party or back home.
There's an after-party. Businesses regularly ask Bike Party if the after-party can be held at their spot - usually a brewery, event hall, or other large gathering spot - because it guarantees business and most definitely a profitable evening. Those who aren't able to make it to the ride will often show up at the after party to show their support for cycling and drink a beer. If it's an outdoor event, local food trucks apply for spots so they can make money that night. Only the worst of inclement weather has washed-out an after party, otherwise it's outstanding, without fail.
It's not just a bike thing, it's a city institution. Whenever I describe this event to others, I typically end by saying, "I'm convinced that it's the best thing going on in [this town]." I -wait- for the last Friday of the month, and everyone I know knows it.