As I pull up to Brooklyn’s At the Pepsi Center I find a few hundred more bikes than I was expecting. I thought I would be joining a hundred or so other bikers, but there are at least 500 cruisers ready to ride through the streets of downtown Denver. Bikes are chained to every parking meter, tree, and inanimate object as far as the eye can see. I end up double parking and locking my bike in front of a stranger’s bike because it is the only spot I can find. I only found out about Denver Cruisers a few nights ago and I am just getting in under the radar as this is the last ride of the season.
Each week has a theme and the theme for tonight’s ride, “Ski Bums & Snow Bunnies”, proves to be an entertaining one. As I am not a skier, my plan was to simply don matching hat, gloves, and mittens. I am not the only person who had this plan. Except for a few exotic costumes, just about everyone is sporting winter clothing in some form. For late September in Colorado, this could have been perfect, but the high was in the 80s today and at 8:00 PM the temperature is still in the high 70s. I quickly lose the hat, but the scarf stays.
With drink in tow, I put on my approachable face and go make some friends. After mingling for an hour or so, I hear Queen’s “Bicycle Race” playing over the loudspeakers. We all start dancing and singing along for the only part we all know. “I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike!” Unknown to me, this is the universal sign that it is go time. One of the organizers announces what everyone already knows, “We ride in five minutes.”
The hardest part is starting. Getting 500+ bikers all moving in the same direction while obeying traffic laws is trying my patience but I finally hit the pavement and get out onto Auraria Parkway. We have police escorts for the first couple intersections but after that we are on our own. The pace is only slightly more than a crawl for the whole ride and I keep having to downshift to stay upright. The four-mile ride that would normally take 20 minutes takes us about an hour but no one seems to notice. Spontaneous dance parties break out at most red lights and a cacophony of “bell choirs” from bike bells and horns make frequent appearances too. Finally the ride concludes at Skylark Lounge where my new-found friends and I continue the drinking, socializing, and dancing. Even though people beg me to stay longer, I finally leave the party at 11:30 PM. (It is a school night after all.)
I was wholeheartedly inspired by the whole evening’s events and cannot wait to do it again. While the purpose of the ride is vague, the fun I had is not. For me, the worst part of the evening was the slow speed of the actual ride but even that proved to be positive with a chance for more mingling. With so many bikes packed into a small space, bumping into other bikers was inevitable. That proved to be fun too as you apologize, shakes hands, and make yet another new friend.
My favorite part of the night was the congenial attitude of everyone I encountered. Each person I met was eager to learn about me and I them in exchange. Sometimes being the new person in sea of regulars is scary but the attendees of the Denver Cruisers made it downright easy. Even though I arrived alone, I had no trouble at all meeting new people.
Interested in jumping in on a bike ride next year? The Denver Cruiser Ride meets Wednesdays at 7:00 PM weekly from mid-May through the end of September. Sign up for an email reminder so you can know when they are starting again for 2012.