Saturday, March 5, 2011


Herman was buried Friday. Five or six of his buddies got together Friday night at Candlestick Point to mourn their friend. It was dark and quiet, and they made a fire in a steel barrel. They drank, told stories, and shared their sadness. There are few stronger bonding moments for men. Men usually talk about things, not feelings...especially when in the company of other men. There is something primal and disarming about sitting around a fire in the dark. They went to Candlestick for seclusion, to get away from the noise and lights of the city, and not be bothered by the rest of the world. 

Their mourning was interrupted suddenly and unexpectedly when a mob of partying cyclists swarmed into the parking lot adjacent to their secluded gathering spot. Hundreds of partiers on bikes with lights and loud dance music, many in costume, many in drag, laughing and carrying on the way people do at parties on Friday nights. 

At least one of Herman's friends was angered by the rude interruption. He wanted the bikers to leave. He started yelling and swearing in frustration, asking of the bikers, "why are you here?!? Why are you making all this noise when we came out to mourn our dead friend in peace and quiet?!?"

A biker stopped and explained: "This is San Francisco Bike Party. It's a self-propelled party that takes a different route through town every month. This month's route came here. Anybody who rides is welcome. Sorry we interrupted." 

The mourning friend's anger was extinguished. He walked over to one of the parked music bikes and asked to address the mob. The music stopped, and his voice could be heard over the P.A. "I'm sorry. I was wrong. I was upset by y'all showin' up with your bikes and noise, and I said things I shouldn't have. Y'all are cool."

Another of Herman's friends then took the microphone and spoke. "Herman rode a bike. If he were still around, and if he knew y'all were havin' a bike party, he'd be ridin' with y'all. I'm sure Herman's lookin' down, and smilin'. God bless, and ride safe."

Cheers of approval and cameraderie went up from the mob, and Herman's friends walked back to their fire. 

SFBP's March 2011 ride started at China Basin Park, within view of ATT Park, and headed South through Hunter's Point and Bayview to the spot where the above story took place. West on Gilman, then North on 3rd, back to China Basin Park. 

I didn't know Herman. I don't know when or where he was born, where he died, or what mark he left on his world. None of that matters to me. What matters to the world we all share is that he was a good enough man to deserve a funeral, and he is missed by his friends. 

What matters to me is that he rode a bike. That makes him my brother. A brother in chains, cogs, and wheels. 

Rest in peace, Herman. 

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