Recently a friend asked me why is San Jose Bike Party so popular. Is it the ride? Is it the chance to get on your bike and pedal with the cool evening breeze in your face for 20 miles? Is it savoring Korean-Mexican street cuisine or biting into a cold ice cream cone after a ride with friends?
I responded with an off-handed “no”; there are any number of rides in the valley, and food truck events are becoming so ubiquitous in the valley of the new, new thing. Name just about any entertainment venue in the area and if the price doesn’t get you, the blandness sure does. We live an area where activities and events are predictable.
Bike Party by its very nature is unstructured and unpredictable. Yes, there are boundaries, rules lets call them, but they are minimal; always the third Friday of the month and wheels hit the street at 8pm. Oh yes and we always have a theme. But beyond that bike party is unscripted, and to some chaotic. Themes change each month along with the route and stops. There’s a different music playlist each ride that complements that month’s theme. Regroups may feature live music, Taiko drums, dance invoking electronic music, bike jousting, roller girls, or bike polo. And there are the mothers selling cupcakes, the kids selling Costco water, and of course the Oakland Tamale gals.
Today, much of life is scripted whether in work, play, or entertainment.
Stay within the lines, watch the commercial before you watch the video, put on your overpriced fan jersey and just watch.
But at a bike party you are not a passive participant. We make you work for your fun. Its your job to complete the picture, to connect the dots, to fill in the gaps. Dress up, invoke the theme, be creative with lights, decorate your bike, you’re the one of the many characters in that evening’s story. We are the stories we tell ourselves.
But although chaotic, although unscripted; underlying it all is the desire to seek community, to make new friends, to do the right thing. Respect fellow riders, respect the neighborhoods, and respect the ride. Invoke fellow riders to do the right thing. Appeal to their desires to enhance the ride, to participate in the play, to continue something that is unique in the Silicon Valley.
This is your ride.
This is your story.
Let’s all work to continue the story.