Santa Cruz Bike Party Love Ride

“Santa Cruz Bike Party seeks cycling sweeties for casual roll-mance under full moon. All you need is love, and a trusty bike. Throw in a cute date, or meet someone bike-tacular on the ride, and its on!”

That was the Valentine’s card invitation from the Santa Cruz Bike Party to all cyclists, near and far, who are ready and willing to roll. The Santa Cruz Bike Party is a fun community ride on the 2nd Friday on each month, featuring different themes, routes, and music. It’s a party on wheels and a great way for people of all ages to make friends.

This month, the 2nd Friday was on February 14, Valentine’s Day, and a full moon. Cyclists converged at the Bicycle Church on Spruce Street at 6pm, sporting red and pink on their clothes and bicycles.

Two sound-systems kept the party vibes alive, with an interesting mix and mash-up of songs coming from both the front and the back of the long line of five-dozen cyclists. The Happening Couch, a large sofa towed behind a tandem bicycle, was the most eye-catching aspect of the ride, followed closely by Chopper Dave’s chopper bicycle which he brought downtown from Boulder Creek in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The ride cruised and partied at the very end of the Santa Cruz Wharf, past the Boardwalk, up the levee where we saw a house in the Beach Flats with blinking red lights in the shape of hearts, on Pacific Avenue, at San Lorenzo Park, the Harbor, and again on Pacific Avenue. Early in the ride, Curtis Reliford was leading the pack of cyclists up Pacific Ave in his truck and trailer bumping festive music while advertising a clothing and goods drive to the Hopi Reservation in Arizona.

Unlike the world-famous critical-mass bicycle rides, which are more political in focus and sometimes confrontational, Bike Party aims for a festive and friendly ride. High school students who were not part of the Bike Party had an especially great time towards the end of the ride when they, with permission and encouragement, jumped on the couch and rode on it up Pacific Ave.

The Santa Cruz Bike Party is gaining popularity, and part of a larger movement. San José Bike Party is the most famous, with thousands of cyclists riding through what they describe as “one of the most eminently bikeable cities in North America.”

Other Bike Parties take place in Sacramento, San Francisco, the Peninsula, East Bay, Fresno, Salinas, and Baltimore.

Santa Cruz Bike Party shares the road with other traffic, obeys traffic laws, stays to the right to let cars pass, and stops at red lights. The premise and guidelines are that, “helping cars and unblocking traffic helps keep the ride enjoyable for everyone. Do your part to encourage good behavior by reminding others of our simple rules. Stop at lights. Stay to the right. Pack your Trash. Roll Past Conflict. Ride Sober. Be nice.”

The following background information on the history of San José Bike Party, republished here, was written by the San José Bike Party.

How did San José Bike Party start?

Bike Party isn’t the product of one person or event, and every participant has their own unique and fascinating story for how they began riding with Bike Party. That said, here’s the short version:

In October 2004, a few riders with varying experiences from rides in other cities (such as Critical Mass in SF, DC, and elsewhere) came together through the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition e-mail list and the League of Independent Voters to hold a Halloween “get out the vote” ride that met at Plaza de Cesar Chavez in San Jose. Around 15-30 people showed up and had a marvelous (albeit short) ride around downtown San Jose, with bikes and riders festively costumed and riding with cheerful aimlessness, looping downtown blocks repeatedly without a pre-planned route.

A year later (Halloween 2005), many of the same riders reunited to do it again, this time making it a monthly event called a “Bike Party” that continued for a few months before trailing off sometime in January or February. Somewhere around then (fall of 2005, early 2006), another group of riders were doing sporadic monthly “San Jose Critical Mass” rides that similarly petered out. The winter made it hard to get people out, and the wide variety of riding styles, philosophies, and approaches led to many people wondering what a long-term, larger ride in San Jose would look like. Many conversations among involved riders led to the common conclusion that a ride styled after San Francisco’s confrontational and controversial Critical Mass would not work well in the car-centric South Bay, but we never arrived at a full consensus of what a “San Jose Bike Party” should look like. All sat quiet and calm for a few years until a wonderful meeting of minds happened.

In the summer of 2007, one of the original organizers of the 2004 and 2005 “Bike Party” Halloween rides met a new roommate who had helped organize a bike gang in San Diego and had ridden with LA’s “Midnite Ridazz.” Together, they determined to re-start the San Jose Bike Party idea, but this time to make it better with several major changes …

Read more and learn how the ride grew to thousands of riders at the San José Bike Party’s FAQ.

See also: Pedal-Powered Revelry with Santa Cruz Bike Party