Krissy poured some bottled water in the little canister to activate the black paint. As she smeared it around with her fingers, she asked, “So you want it under your eyes or ….how do you want it?”
I was sitting at Tony P’s Bar and Pizzeria with Krissy and several other people I had just met, drinking rye whiskey and preparing for my very first Denver Cruiser Ride. For the past couple years I had heard about these themed rides through Denver, but never managed to get my ass (and bike) downtown for one of them. The theme tonight was Mad Max and, in my rush to get dressed in my Apocalypse gear, I had forgotten war paint.
The Denver Cruisers Ride is a huge meet up on Wednesday nights during the Spring and Summer. It’s a rather casual bicycling event that has grown to well over 1000 participants. Probably more than 2000. Each week there’s a different theme. Some people dress up according to that theme, others don’t. You show up with your bicycle at one of several meet up places, which conveniently happen to be bars around Denver. You drink with other people in costume. You apply war paint as needed. Around 9pm you saddle up to ride through Downtown Denver, eventually meeting up with other groups at a predetermined location.
The Mad Max theme really caught my eye this year and I had to do this ride. I love Mad Max, the Road Warrior, all of it. Plus the costume is rather easy… a motorcycle jacket, black and ripped clothes, and some of my hockey and mountaineering gear to accessorize. I also rooted around the garage for crap to tape to my flat black mountain bike. Voila! 20 to 30 minutes and I was ready for the apocalypse!
The funnest thing about the ride is the other nut-jobs and bicycle enthusiasts you meet. Some people are true bicycle lovers who have even built their own rides, some are on the ride for the bar hopping aspect, some are just there because it’s a fun social activity. And the bicycles come in every form as well, from vintage beach cruisers, to mountain bikes, to 10 Speeds, to Fixies to crazy custom built machines. It’s definitely an odd community formed around the idea of coming together for a ride.
The group from Tony P’s left the Highlands just before 9pm and slowly rolled into Downtown. Eventually we met up with another group and, en masse, our two groups continued riding to Civic Center Park between the State and City Capitol buildings. Other groups converged on the Park until the auditorium area was filled to the brim with cyclists. Many of us rode in circles around the auditorium whooping, shouting and narrowly avoiding collisions with each other. Y’know… kinda like celebrating the apocalypse!
There was no set time for fooling around in the park, but after what I would call “a reasonable amount of bicycle debauchery” people started bleeding off and heading to the final destination. On this night, that was The Funky Buddha, a bar on Lincoln street where a huge parking lot was waiting for all the cyclists complete with a live band and food trucks.
Some of the streets leading to The Funky Buddha were just one lane and the merged groups were now hundreds of riders. I can only imagine what people driving cars downtown must have thought as we swarmed intersections like pedaling locusts and completely clogged the traffic. Some bikes had flashing lights, others had radios blaring music, and of course there were those of us dressed in apocalyptic costumes. I have to say, this is when the Mad Max theme began to take on a realistic vibe. We were Road Warriors and had taken control!
Once at The Funky Buddha things settled down. The bicycle riding stopped and a massive party began in the parking lot. Apparently this is social hour, a chance to meet people, hang with friends and check out some of the costumes.
Overall, a really fun evening was had. Shout out to Em Bear, Krissy, Chris, and the rest of their crew for welcoming me into their group and taking my Denver Cruiser virginity!
Here’s a bunch more pics from the night…
(CLICK on one of them, then you can scroll through the rest)