Monday, December 1, 2008

The Parade

Anybody who rides a bicycle year-round in Boise should be proud of the "ambassadors for year-round cycling" who participated in the Holiday Parade on Saturday. The weather was very cooperative - overcast and mid-40s. The pavement was mostly dry, but toward the end there was a bit of drizzle. Very "Portland-like" weather.

I'm thinkin' there were maybe 10 or 12 of us, total. (Did somebody count?) And on a wide variety of bicycles, although no high-end hardware.

One guy was on his dad's old "ten speed" - the kind with stem-mounted friction shifters and the brake extensions for grabbin' when your hands are on the top tube. (Does anybody else remember that nostalgic stuff?) Another guy was on a vintage German road frame that he'd built into a single-speed. A cruiser... a tandem... Clancy and his son on his beautiful Xtracycle. Danielo on his "Celebrate Infertility" commuter bike, his son riding on a ride-along "trailer," and then his cargo trailer behind that. (Musta been 15 feet, from front to back!) Clancy's other son (I believe) on his "Rat Rod" 20-inch bike.

I was on my "everyday" Cannondale touring bike, pulling the Bob trailer with "ghetto blaster" accessory pack. (Since all the seasons were well-represented, I dressed summer-like, but brought the Christmas tunes along.)

Immediately notable was the stark difference between the Harley group near the front of the parade, and our group. They were roaring - making noise for the sake of making noise - and we glided along in relative silence, except for the tunes I was totin,' and the happy ding-a-ling of bells and squawk of bulb-horns. (As a guy who probably rides more miles on a Harley than most of those parade riders, frankly I'm a bit embarrassed by all the racket they produce. But I can kinda understand it, too.)

Our position in the parade was right behind the "recycler drill team" - young ladies doing drills with blue curbside recycle boxes. And strangely, right in front of the County Coroner, I learned later. (They interviewed him on the teevee, and asked him about the crazy bike riders. He said we looked to be doing okay.)

As is always the case, the parade was stop-and-go. (Very similar to rush hour motor traffic.) During the stops, I'm guessing our group had more fun than any of the others - from start to finish of the parade, moving or stopped, we were riding in circles, figure-8s, loop-de-loops. Very unorganized, yet strangely synchronized. I'm guessing the parade route was a mile from start to finish. I ran up about 3 miles on my odometer; I bet others rode more than that! I only came to a feet-down standing stop maybe 3 times. It was actually VERY satisfying to ride with cyclists who can really handle those bikes! Despite many opportunities for disaster (coroner standing by!), I don't believe there were even any near-misses! Just courteous and skilled riders wearing odd clothes and big smiles, and demonstrating some deft bicycle maneuvering!

My only regret is that I was concentrating so much on riding accident-free, I didn't do much interacting with the spectators along the route. But whenever I looked up or waved, I seemed to get a positive response, and I saw a LOT of smiling faces! (Maybe somebody walked away thinking, "Hey! I could ride a bike year-round, at least when the roads are dry...")

My favorite moments were a couple times when Julia, representing Autumn, and dressed in a fantastic beaver-suit, complete with buck teeth and tail, rode along next to me. I had the upbeat Christmas tunes playing (Beach Boys, Ronettes, etc.), and she would start bouncing along happily in time with the musical beat. It was like a weird real-life Disney cartoon or something, and I laughed out loud! (What's wrong with this picture?!!?)

My brain-bucket is OFF to my awesome cycle devotee sisters and brothers. I'm so glad I got to spend a couple hours with you on Saturday morning! Keep representing us as well as you do!


Clancy said...

Yes it was fun. This is a nice detailed account-maybe you should write for the daily rag or at least submit this.

My nephew on the vintage tenspeed took a digger after the parade. Something about wet rims, pulling a trailer, slight hill and STEEL/Chrome rims.

SiouxGeonz said...

So... twelve hard core Boiseans... our Parade of Lights is this Saturday. Were you decorated? What's the "celebrate infertility" theme?
My li'l brother's group won "best in parade" with their( reel mower drill team )

Anonymous said...

Danielo here, and my hats off to all involved, including Bike Boy! I had much more fun than I expected to, and I think we were a wonderful addition to the parade. Next year, bigger and better (if not faster)!

P.S. The "celebrate infertility" sticker on my ride is a remnant of the Church of Euthanasia website, and evidence of my ultra-contrarian nature. It wasn't related to the parade, per se.

Anonymous said...

Year-round--in Boise?! Tougher than I! Nice write up.