I stopped working at Cycle City back in November of last year. To call it a significant personal change is a major understatement. Bikes are an integral and enduring part of my life. Employment at the shop made bikes easy; cyclists, enthusiasts, bike owners and bike buyers of all ages, genders, and incomes, from all walks of life, came to me to ask questions, share stories, get advice, and learn about bikes! The bike shop was a hub of bike community for me, and by default, I was smack dab in the middle.
I'm still in the hub, but it's no longer default. I'm actively involved in the bike community. I reach out and connect. I write, and I have the honor of being an invited contributor to both Cyclelicious and Change Your Life Ride a Bike. I take more pictures than ever before. I also make time to attend gatherings where I can spend time with my peers. A few weeks ago, I went to A Ruota Libera, and rubbed elbows with some of Northern California's finest craftsmen. I'm headed South on Friday to cover the San Diego Custom Bicycle Show.
My involvement in the bike community now requires real creative effort, scheduling, logistics, planning. My community doesn't beat a path to my door, at the bike shop, like it used to. I don't roll with the interactions as they come to me anymore. I now seek out and cultivate connections with my peeps. It's more work, but it's also more fun. Last Friday night was way more fun.
Danielle lives on the opposite end of Alameda from me, and I stopped to get her on the way to Fruitvale BART. We caught a Daly City train at around 7:30, and when we got off at Civic Center, the Sun had already gone down. The mob of mounted robots and cyborgs were easy enough to find. Dozens of blinking LED's and a bouncy house are hard to miss. The eager participants in April's San Francisco Bike Party were gathering in the cold.
The crowd of jubilant riders rolled out around 8:15 to the sounds of bells, horns, dance music, and "Bike Party!". I'd estimate the mob at around 300.
Danielle and I met up with her boyfriend, Jon, his friend, Zane, and my friend, Sam at the first stop, Duboce Park. Twenty minutes later and the mob was rolling again...now headed for Golden Gate Park.
The second stop on the ride was Children's Playground in GG Park. Darkness, hundreds of happy bikers, and playground equipment. The adults on the ride were transformed into children, and nothing sat idle on the playground.
My little posse had other parties to attend in the City that evening, and I bid a fond farewell to Danielle, Jon, Zane, and Sam. I continued 'solo' when the party headed out again.
I wasn't 'solo' for long. I soon caught up with Adrienne on her Metrofiets. I hadn't seen her in months, so we rode together, and did some catching up. The ride came to an 'official' end at around 11:30, at the basketball courts in the Panhandle. Riders headed home, one, two, or three at a time. I needed to head out too, to the nearest BART Station, and get on a train before BART closed up for the night. I was all ready to get directions on my phone, when Adrienne offered to lead me to BART. I accepted her generous offer, and we rolled out.
We got to 16th St. Mission Station at Midnight. I got a photo of my guide (with her bike), and wished her a safe ride home. I went down into the station, and caught the last train back to the East Bay.
I went home by myself last Friday night, but I did not go home 'alone.' 'Alone' and 'Community' are mutually exclusive, and the presence of one means the absence of the other.
I can't wait until next month's ride. Bike Party!