As I’ve stated before, I was, as I always am, perfectly ready for fall. After a stiflingly hot summer and the promise of a Rocky Mountain winter, the change of the seasons itself was not a disappointment to me.
However, there is at least one thing I will miss as the days grow shorter and colder, and the majority of the city buckles down for a season indoors: Cruiser rides.
I had heard of the weekly cruiser rides before, and always felt like they were right up my alley. The concept is simple — bike-lovers unite in a ride around town, possibly with a few stops at participating bars, with a common destination for bike-riding camaraderie and a few shared beverages after the sun has gone down. There are also costumes! I love costumes! The themes can range from famous celebrities to pj parties, beach parties, zombie rides, and everything in between. However, for whatever reason, I had never really gotten involved.
Coincidentally, the Denver Cruiser Ride route often went directly past our house, with hundreds of riders whooping and hollering and ringing bells and blasting music every Wednesday night at the same time. We would head out to our front porch and watch as the mass of lighted bikes flew by, and I’d ring the bell on my own bike — locked stoically on my front porch — to indicate that, I, too, was a supporter of the two-wheeled culture. For those ten (or so) minutes every week, I’d wonder why I hadn’t brought Greenie (and, later, Penelope) out for the fun.
Now, I suppose we had technically participated in a cruiser ride of sorts, before. Every year since we’d moved to Colorado, we’d participated in the “Tour de Fat” bike parade sponsored by New Belgium brewery. We had first traveled to “the Mothership” (home of New Belgium), Fort Collins, for this wacky event, and have since participated in the Denver rides. However, while this yearly tradition always ranks high on my annual List of Fun, we had never joined the local masses for the weekly rides.
That all changed about halfway through this summer, and we found ourselves a part of the [sometimes, admittedly, obnoxious] mob traveling through the streets of Denver. We outfitted ourselves in silly costumes, duct tape and bubble wrap, and other variations on the weekly themes. The ride from the starting point to the ending point is relatively short, but always ends at what they call the “Circle of Death” — usually at Civic Center Park, at which riders converge on a teeny-tiny “track”, and ride around in circles, sometimes falling into each other, sometimes emerging unscathed, but almost always providing raucous entertainment. [Don’t worry, Mom, and anyone else justifiably concerned for my klutzy self, I am too much of a wimp to enter the COD — I, like many other wimps, always just parked my bike and watched the hubbub from a safe distance]
The ride organizers are very conscientious of the constant struggle between drivers and bikers, and tried their darndest to encourage responsible riding and fair use of the road, despite the large size of the group. This was sometimes an attempt made in vain, as there are always a few bad apples in any crowd looking to break the rules, but for the most part, participants held each other accountable, and the Denver Cruisers has the added bonus of becoming an advocate of bicycle safety.
While we didn’t go to nearly as many of the weekly Denver rides as we would have liked, mostly because crazy-fun Wednesday nights can take their toll on us working stiffs, we still took advantage of other group rides in the area. Particularly, we joined some of our friends in Golden for a few of their own monthly rides, which work off of a similar concept, including the silly themes, but also have the added excitement of dance parties at every stop. We’d ride up and down the [steep] hills of this mountainside town, stopping in parks, parking lots, and even the top of a garage, with some bikers lugging stereo equipment behind their bikes, blasting tunes of all different genres. The dance parties are spontaneous and the energy is addictive, causing otherwise shy dancers to bust out moves in their crazy costumes.
We wrapped up this year’s cruiser rides first with our annual Tour de Fat breakfast and bike parade party in September, and then with the Halloween/Zombie themed Golden ride at the end of October. While my bike will continue to see the open road any time the pavement is clear and the snow isn’t falling, I will look forward to the spring if only for the promise of a new season of cruiser rides with friends old and new.