Thanks for coming to our March Favorite Female Icon ride!
Recap soon to come!
Filed under Reflections
This was a GREAT ride, and my first “Bike Party” ride in San Francisco (though I have many CM rides under my wheels over the years and am a regular in San Jose). I rode up on the train with a bunch from the San Jose Bike Party, and met up with many, many others from that group by the time we started.
The first leg of the route required a bit of attention and technical riding to avoid wiping out because of the tracks running parallel to the street, and often also curving off to the right for the warehouses there. I saw more people wipe out on that stretch than in any other Bike Party or CM ride I’ve been on, and I’ve been on many. Mixing it up with cars is much less dangerous for cyclists in a group like that, and I’d have chosen a different route but that’s just me. First priority and the responsibility of EVERY bicyclist is to stay upright on the bike! Riding in a party doesn’t change that, it makes it more important. Road rash and a bent front wheel is a big buzz-kill!
San Francisco certainly has the South Bay beat for regroup spots. Beautiful urbanity and world class views. I was thinking the shorter milage would leave me wanting to ride more but that wasn’t the case. Milage, and length and number of regroups were both perfect for me. I saw one Wonder Woman, but apparently no other participation with the theme. Plenty of music to ride and dance to. Group riding with music in the air is bike dancing to me. Be nice if there was a choreographer amongst us to put a bit of structure to it sometime, like synchronized swimming.
Overall however, a wonderful experience! Great vibe in the air. Exactly what should replace Critical Mass, whose time has come and gone with great success as a political statement. Time to move on. Bike Party is the future. A huge “Thank you” to the organizers and all those who participated!
I have a bit of a different take on the ride. I think it was incredibly ambitious, not in distance but in speed and elevation. I enjoyed the first leg but the 2nd and 3rd legs were entirely too fast and the 2nd leg made me concerned for my safety.
After the first stop, the group got split up and many people were left behind AND they were left behind in Hunter’s Point. I’m a seasoned rider, although I have a very heavy bike and it’s only a 3-speed. Still, I can typically keep up with the fastest of them on CM. After the 1st stop, I thought I was keeping up but when we got to the hills in Hunter’s Point, it was only me and a few other stragglers struggling to get up those hills. I was extremely concerned for my safety in that neighborhood. We all know the stats. At one point, there was a police officer in the heights directing traffic while shaking his head at us, as if to say, “you’re in the wrooooooooooong part of town.” The majority of people in that neighborhood were positive but I had several of them hollering for me to stop. It woulda only taken 1 person who hates pink or bubbles and I coulda been a very easy target. At that point in the ride, I wondered where was the SFBP ideal of safety in numbers, SFBP sticks together and doesn’t leave anyone behind? I felt bad for the dozen plus people behind me still struggling up the hills but I wanted to get the heck outta there as quickly as possible. At that point, it felt like it was every man for himself. Did I mention how dark it was?! I have plenty of lights but most did not have any and it was nearly impossible to see. I’d like to ask whoever is deciding the routes to take into account the safety of the female riders and the speed of the newbies. Those hills were ridiculous and that neigborhood was entirely too risky. What if someone had gotten a flat in Hunter’s Point??
By the time I got to the 2nd stop, I was thankful I made it but obviously not happy about the 2nd leg of the route. Finally rejoining the group and once again feeling the safety in numbers helped, until I heard there had been an accident involving one of the volunteers and an ambulance had to be called.
Upon starting the 3rd leg, I thought for sure the regroup and lesser incline on 3rd would keep us together but once again, it was a fast ride heading back and the group got split up. By the time I reached AT&T park, I wasn’t sure if I was in the front, back or middle of SFBP.
The positives were the sweet park out at Candlestick, always the great people and music and that I made it back alive. As the other post mentioned, I only saw 1 wonderwoman, otherwise no other participation in the theme. I also agree with this comment, “Great vibe in the air. Exactly what should replace Critical Mass, whose time has come and gone with great success as a political statement. Time to move on. Bike Party is the future.”
Hopefully this feedback is useful and will help ensure the safety of all riders and the future routes of SFBP.
@Rapid Robert: Heard about a few riders “falling like flies” on the railroad tracks, sorry to hear that. There was advanced notice of this both on the map and on the megaphone to the group at the beginning and again at the first regroup. It does suck as such things make riders lose confidence. A friend’s wife, beginner rider, fell in the tracks on market street a few years ago on a night ride, even with big knobby 2.1″ tires. Never saw her ride again after that.
@RollerGirrrL: There were flats in hunters point, and one of which was the reason a volunteer stopped to ask “are you alright?” to the small group fixing the flat when she was hit by a woman that lost control of herself on the downhill in hunters point. The ride route was posted well in advance of the bike party, it clearly stated HUNTERS POINT. It’s perhaps why the ride was small (150’ish) for such a beautiful weather night and why there wasn’t a plethora of volunteers hanging out in Hunters Point guiding the route. Also, the great democracy of such a ride is that at any time you are uncomfortable, you can peel off to whichever destination you wish.
@All: The ride was everything it was advertised to be. Advanced notice was given, “watch out for tracks, watch out for potholes, bring lights, part of ride very dark!” I enjoyed the hills through Hunters Point. Just like at East Bay Bike party rollin up Moraga Ave. It gives advanced riders satisfaction and ups the level of beginners. No shame in hike-a-bike. There were a number of residents in vehicle, on street and from their homes windows, on the way up, near the top and on the way down Hunters Point that were happy to have us rollin’ through their ‘hood. And bonus with the three separate times that an SFPD chuckled and asked, “Do you know where you are?” Big ups to Wonder Woman, bridge ‘n tunnel crew!!! Wooooooooooohooooooooooooooo!
Lastly, there IS a place for Critical Mass – it’s last Friday’s of the month. Let’s recap the bike parties in the Bay Area, one every week! 1st Friday: San Francisco Bike Party 2nd Friday: East Bay Bike Party 3rd Friday: San Jose Bike Party 4th Friday: SF Critical Mass
I remember working on a film in Hunter’s point a few years back. We couldn’t get s decent sound take for hours due to all the gun fire going on in the area. But, great place for a leisurely night time bike ride!
Wilson, the accident apparently happened well before me because I did not see anyone stopped fixing a flat, nor did I see any volunteers stopped throughout all of Hunter’s Point, nor at the entrance to the 2nd stop showing us how to get into the park. In fact, it took me 5 minutes to find the entrance into the park by Candlestick.
Yes, I was well aware of the ride route beforehand but I THOUGHT I would be riding in a group, NOT by myself as it turned out. For you to suggest, since I felt uncomfortable, that I could have turned around at any given moment on that specific ride, is ridiculous and dangerous advice. My best option throughout the route was to hope that I could catch up. Turning around and trying to find my way back to SF in ANY of those neighborhoods would not have been a smart choice. For argument sake, let’s say I had turned around? What if I had then had a flat? There would have been no possibility of anyone coming across me and helping me out. Taxis are tuff to catch any Friday night but especially anywhere along the route we took.
As for the hills, “enjoyable” would not be the word I would use to describe my experience with those hills. Maybe I’m not advanced enough of a cyclist to translate the elevation grade on the maps provided—to—you will need an elevator and a prayer to get your heavy-ass bike up these hills. And 1 night of riding or pushing your bike up a hill will not “up” the level of any beginner.
As for the SFPD chuckling? I did not get that reaction from the 1 cop I saw but maybe that’s cuz I was not with a group but a lone rider. My impression was that he felt I was incredibly dumb for being in that neighborhood by myself at night.
I really hope my feedback is helpful. I adore SFBP. And I don’t want to start an argument over how “I” felt about “MY” experience. Like I said, I was incredibly nervous rolling through Hunter’s Point and some of 3rd. I guess the sketchiest part for me was how vulnerable I felt when I had to walk my bike. As long as I was moving, I felt better. Maybe it’s the difference between a woman’s perspective and a man’s? I think more than a few gals, especially the ones pushing their bikes, would agree with me that they didn’t feel safe without the group.
In addition, I really hope the people who spilled on the tracks and especially the ones involved in that serious accident are okay and healing quickly.
@RollerGirrrL: bike party! No contest, the “sketchiness” was indeed felt. I was at the front of the climb, but waited until the rear of the group pulled through. But try not to dwell on “what if’s”. FYI, the accident happened after you came down the hill by maybe half a minute. After waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I then rode with another cyclist to catch up to our friends from the hill descent all the way to the turn off 3rd where yet another group had flatted and was about half a dozen deep. When I caught up to Candlestick there you were, and even then, dozens of riders were still behind us. You were not alone as you may have felt, perhaps the house music, bright lights isolated and gave that sensation? Gratitude for riding, my group and I enjoy the bubble stream!
Wilson, thanks for your comments, bringing up the end of the ride, waiting for the ambulance and helping with the flats. Perhaps I was wrong about the lack of participation in the theme because in my opinion, you resemble a hero indeed.
My lights and music may have been a contributing factor to the feeling of isolation but for the most part, I was alone going through Hunter’s Point and I felt like I was at the tail end. I had no way of knowing how many were behind me or where the group was in front of me because I was so far behind. The volume of my music pales in comparison to most other sound systems on the ride and when I turned it off to gauge how far the group was ahead of me, I couldn’t hear anything.
Maybe the idea Will provided below about the volunteers wearing a yellow jersey would be helpful? I had no way to tell that there were still volunteers along that route but I’m not sure it would have made me feel that much better. I still believe in the safety in numbers theory.
I think I know where the accident happened. It was on that very dark, steep descent from Hunter’s Point. I was focused on not wrecking myself on that treachorous downhill and trying to catch up to the group at that point so perhaps I had my blinders on.
Thanks for the bubble love. 🙂
FIRST TIMERS EYES / TIME TO LED UP!
Sitting at home looking for something to do Friday afternoon I ran across this thing called Bike Party on Meetup.com. From the event details I surmised that about 10 bikers would be in attendance. Barreling down the 101 with my MTB in the back of the pickup I was expecting a dinky little ride through SF with a few worn out old timers! My astonishment was complete (or so I thought) as I rounded the corner and saw the mobile boom-box tricycle guy surrounded by hundreds of bikes and riders all lit up with costumes and complex battery powered lighting systems all in various states of partying and sobriety! My personal awesomeness meter kept climbing through new degrees as we mobbed out as one huge party through some of the absolute worst neighborhoods in the entire state. I couldn’t even seem to grasp the reality of smiling, laughing, and yelling “Bike Party!” down streets where most go to buy Crack, Hookers, and Death. I wouldn’t DRIVE through Hunter Point in broad daylight! The willy nilly twists and turns atop the hill, leaders getting it wrong and the downhill race descending Keith and the stop at the little corner store for 40’s left me feeling like a kid again in the world’s coolest candy store. Little did I know the best was still to come. All along the route I saw joy and light enter into the hearts and minds of peds who are usually just shrouded in the darkness of that region but the real life, human drama of Candlestick Rec area was to be the zenith that gave it all so much meaning. I was there when the guys from the bond fire were yelling and cussing as the first BPers rolled up so audaciously. As the circle filled and swirled with so much rolling love and happiness: LED’s streaming and spinning, the music giving the SFBP living, pulsing energy; I was literally moved to tears at the beautiful transformation that overtook that drunk, high, grieving crew. “I’m sorry for being a butt-wipe. We buried a friend today,” that man said over the PA, “and he loved to bike, I know that the Big Man brought you here tonight!” Then as Trike Guy cued up No Woman No Cry, that man broke down and wept on his shoulder for at least a dozen heart beats.
I may sound over dramatic and gushy but as a person that loves people and really good “get togethers” I can firmly say that this was one of the greatest nights of my life and extend my deepest appreciation to those organizers who take the time to make these events so successful. Needless to say I will see you guys at the next one, you will know me by my green novara and the huge smile on my face!
Concerning some previous comments:
As one Black comedian commented, “White people love to defy some death!” I definitely live up to that stereotype. I have a career in Helicopter Search and Rescue and a penchant for dangerous activities. That being so I relished the train tracks, Hunters Point, the downhill, and riding through the dark to Candlestick Rec area, but also agree with Rollergirl”s observation (good feedback) that our route may have been a total different experience for females and/or newbies. I was astounded and highly amused at the thought of leading drunk bike riders on 12 speeds over two miles of rutted train tracks in the dark! Did anybody see the guy who crashed, spilled his beer and started throwing up pure alcohol? Ha ha, good times! Again though I have to hand it to the “route pickers.” You guys went way out on the limb for this one and I think it payed off in spades! Maybe having the vols in bright yellow jerseys or with some other obvious sign that they know what the hell is going on would be a consideration for the future. I know that I almost took a wrong turn atop the Point cause some people in the front “thought” that they new the route.
If you made it this far into my ramble thanks for staying with me and see you soon. Maybe next time we can take on head on traffic down the 101, LOL
Anybody know where I can get a good deal on some LEDs?
Rest in Peace Herman
I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt the power at Candlestick. I wrote about it here.
Hey bikey peeps!
First off, we in the SFBP group thank everyone who came. We appreciate the different POV expressed in such a rational and constructive pro-SFBP conversation. It seems most people had a great time, but there were valid concerns as well.
We’re aware of these issues and discussing them internally.
We love our riders and are psyched for what SFBP has already become and how we envision it evolving and improving over time. Each route will be different, to keep it interesting, and build on what works.
Stay tuned, more details to come in the recap post.
I just have to say thanks to the organizers making my first ever group ride a memorable one. The positive vibes were on tap and everyone was out and having a good time. Just one thing to note, I read and was told that we were going to take up one lane and stop at all traffic stops but there were times when people ignored them. I’m new to this so can someone explain how flexible that is? Thanks!
Also, I put together some clips from the night… enjoy!
Wonder Woman here! Did anyone get pics of my costume? I don’t have any. 🙂
Also, my friend who came along who is a beginning rider fell because of the train tracks and I saw another person fall on the tracks as well. She also had to walk the hills.
Sweet video Nata! Here’s another: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I73jOBeouAY (I did not make this)
I found a CamelBak backpack at the end of the ride. If this is yours then call me at four one 5 – four too fore 8 won six ate. bad English is on purpose (: gimme a description (this bag is a little unique) and it’s yours.
Racecar- David on Facebook said he lost a camel bag
I messaged him with your comment.
Instead of posting your phone number for all to see, sometimes I’ve seen people post items under ‘Lost & Found’ in Craigslist and that has worked well.
And then after the CL listing is up they post the URL here so BP people know where they can find it on CL.
Best Group Bike Ride - 2013
best new chain-gang