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Along for the ride with the East Bay Bike Party

on September 12, 2010

The first rule of Bike Party is: Have fun during Bike Party.

Hundreds of bicyclists did just that during Friday night’s East Bay Bike Party, a socializing event on wheels that rolled through Berkeley, Albany and Emeryville. Continuing a tradition of a costume-themed rides, on Friday night, the theme was “Wild West.” Some bicyclists dressed as cowboys and cowgirls. Others fastened toy horses to their handrails to suggest they were riding horses.

Modeled after a similar community bike ride in San Jose, this was the East Bay group’s fifth bike party since its inaugural ride in May. Starting in downtown Berkeley around 8 p.m., the party’s 15-mile route rolled into Albany and Emeryville before finishing where it started around 11 p.m. Participants ranged from bike party veterans whose main source of day-to-day transportation is a bicycle, to first-timers who are just becoming acquainted with pedaling.

Bike partiers are expected to follow traffic laws and be courteous to drivers of motorized vehicles, organizer Michael Stengel said. East Bay rides are held the second Friday of every month. Participation has risen from about 100 cyclists attending the first ride to more than 300 for the latest excursion, Stengel said. “I’m sure it will die down in the winter when the weather gets cold,” he said, “and then we’re hoping to be around 500 in the spring.”

Bike parties generally have planned stops along the route, including one Friday night on Fourth Street in Berkeley, where the bicyclists dismounted in a parking lot and continued to party on their feet. “We have a lot of riders who aren’t used to doing long rides, so we stop a couple times mid-ride to let people get a breather and talk to people and dance if they want to dance,” said organizer Ashley Elliott. Standing next to their 10-speeds, fixed-gears and Harley-esque lowriders, the bike partiers—some dressed in their makeshift, thrift-store cowboy gear, and others in more ordinary East Bay attire—sipped beers, smoked cigarettes, and chatted with friends. Groovy tunes blasted from a speaker pulled along the route on a trailer hitched to a bicycle. “We love, love, love, love our speaker bikes,” Elliott said.

Details of the next East Bay Bike Party, which is scheduled for Oct. 8, have not been released. More information is available on the East Bay Bike Party website.

Ride along with the East Bay Bike Party in this audio piece.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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