Hi all, it’s time to attempt my first actual blog post! *fist pump*
It seemed only fitting to make the post about Bike Party Sacramento since 1) it was Friday and 2) it’s a big part of the active bike culture on the rise in Sacramento.
There are Bike Party rides in other cities (San Jose and East Bay, to name two), but Sacramento’s was started in November 2012 by Conrad Lawrence, of tall bike and funky trike (and furry hat) fame. Unlike some of the other local rides (which I will write about in future posts), Bike Party is year-round, rain or shine, on the first Friday of the month. Each ride has a different theme, such as “Love on 2 Wheels” for Friday’s ride, and some bike partiers like to dress their bikes and/or themselves for the occasion. Long story short, it’s a hell of a lot of fun, but allow me to elaborate…
I’m going to walk you through what one might expect at a typical Bike Party ride. It all starts when you and your bike (or kick scooter or skateboard or motorized wheelchair or pedicab) show up at the meeting spot, which changes every month; Friday we met under the freeway at 18th and W. Depending on how early you arrive you can mill around looking at the bikes and costumes, listening to a cacophony of music, and eating/drinking/smoking as you wish. It’s a great opportunity to talk to different people in the biking community, some who are Sac locals, and others who truck their bikes from near and far for the event. It’s all very festive with a palpable air of anticipation and vape mist. When the time is right, some time after 8, the ride leaders put out the call for riders to gather ‘round while everyone chants the Bike Party motto:
“Stop at red lights,
Pack your trash,
Don’t get smashed,
Then everyone rings their bike bells or honks their horns or otherwise makes as much noise as humanly possible, hooting and hollering and screaming “Bike Partaaaay!” like a band of beer-breathed Scottish warriors.
With the time-honored ritual completed it’s time to RIDE! The group sets out at a slow and semi-steady pace, bells a-ringin’ and music a-thumpin’, with the CycloPaths bike club volunteers doing their best to wrangle the madness and hold back traffic at busy intersections. Each ride is usually around 10-12 miles, a different route every time, and this ride really gets around: West Sac, South Sac, East Sac, downtown, Old Sac, the American River Bike Trail…every month is a new adventure. It’s a great way to explore the Sacramento area and really dive into the nooks and crannies of this city. Some local club rides are basically pub crawls on two wheels (which is great fun), but this ride stops twice in parks, parking lots, or any flat space that will hold a ton of revelers for exuberant dance parties. (Pro tip for the ladies: bring a wad of TP for some of the more remote stop locations.)
At the stops people drink (BYOB), smoke, dance, and laugh. A wide variety of music blasts from numerous speakers. Drones zip around, light-up balls and Frisbees come out, and people generally just have a damn good time, ooohing and aaahing over each other’s tricked-out bicycles, exchanging tips on how to light up your bike (I will share some of these at a later date), and just enjoying the fresh air and Bike Party spirit.
Dance party over, it’s back on the bikes. The ride often winds through residential areas, and at times I feel like the Mayor of Sactown, with children and adults wandering out of their houses or hanging out of car windows, waving and laughing, filming us with cell phones, offering high fives, one time even flashing boobies, and (much more often than not) generally enjoying the cacophonous spectacle of a passing Bike Party and making us feel welcome.
At this point you might be asking: “Is Bike Party right for me?” To which I say…maybe. Rides aren’t fast or far, but at times there are narrow, steep ramps clogged with riders, bumpy roads, or chains, post, or other hazards that might put off shy riders. It can be a little overwhelming with the lights, music, marijuana haze, and general chaotic exuberance that is Bike Party. If you’re thinking HELLZ YEAH, then awesome, see you next ride. If you’re already rocking back and forth in the shower then Bike Party probably isn’t for you, but fear not, there are many different types of bike clubs in the Sacramento area, with rides for people of all interests and skill levels, and I will attempt to write about some or all of them in the coming months. And of course you can always just hop on your bike, grab a few friends, blast your Bluetooth speaker, and have your own bike party adventure. Sacramento is an excellent town for this. It’s one of the things I really love about living here! (PS: I’m working on a bicycle brewery tour route that you can do at your own pace with your friends on your own time this summer so stay tuned!)
Like any event, Bike Party has morphed over the years. In some ways it’s changed for the better (more people, more lights, fun themes) and in some ways for the worse (riders popping wheelies through dense crowds of bikers, people throwing trash around or blocking traffic). I really hope moving forward that the positive changes outweigh the negative ones and that people in this city will continue to welcome Bike Party.
That’s all I have to say about Bike Party for the moment, but I hope you pop over to the Bike Party Facebook page and see for yourself. And I hope you find this yet another reason to love Sacramento! BIKE PARTAAAAAAAY!