Monday, April 15, 2013

DC Bike Party

A relatively new concept to me... DC Bike Party is one of the coolest things I have ever done while on a bike. I was introduced to DCBP by my good buddy Hector Campos III and finally had the chance to join in this amazing adventure on two wheels for the first time in March.
Hector and me before the March DCBP ride
The Bike Party happens once a month, on the second Wednesday and each ride has a theme. Riders gather at the center of Dupont Circle in DC at 7:30 and the adventure begins at 8 pm sharp. Each DCBP has been getting bigger, and in March even though it was still very cold... there were over 160 people there ready to ride and have a great time. Talented individuals and cyclists in DC plan the route weeks ahead of time, testing it for safety, length, difficulty, and of course fun. Once we start rolling, DCBP takes over an entire lane of traffic (sometimes more) and everyone is able to ride at their own pace. That's the best part! Cars are forced to stop and wait while the massive train of bikes cruises by. Red lights are often ignored :) 

Cruising by the Capitol
 While passing confused pedestrians and motorists, I couldn't help but holler out in joy... "DC Bike PARTAAYY!!" In order to keep everyone safe from angry commuters, when crossing traffic that normally would have the right-a-way, a fellow rider will volunteer to "cork" the intersection by stopping in front of traffic to keep the zealous cars from trying to sneak back onto the road. Once the bike train has passed, the corker pedals off to rejoin the party. Corking is a great way to get a sense for just how MANY bikers there really are. Leaders carry flags to signify they are to be followed and not passed, so as to avoid an enthusiastic cyclist leading everyone else astray. Flagged riders also can be found throughout the party to make sure that everyone stays within one lane as much as possible. Half-way thru the ride, everyone stops at a strategic place chosen by the DCBP crew leaders, usually a park or similar grassy area, where everyone can break for a (cold) beverage and to snap a group photo or 2.
Break spot of the March ride
The second half of the ride leads us to a bar, where everyone can socialize and share their joy about the awesome ride with other fellow DC cycling enthusiasts. It's a great way to meet other cool people in the area, and a ton of fun. In March, I was lucky enough to be able to bring my younger brother +Eric along for the ride... since he was visiting me while on spring break from Virginia Tech.
My brother Eric, Grace (one of the DCBP founders), and me
Since I had SOO MUCH fun at the March ride, I knew I had to come back for the April ride... especially since the weather had become incredibly more enjoyable. Man am I glad I did!! The theme for the April ride was based around the Cherry Blossom Festival, and everyone was encouraged to dress like a DC tourist. So I grabbed my finest Hawaiian shirt and hit the road. Unfortunately since I am a Fredericksburger and not living in DC, I had an hour commute ahead of me... and no GPS to guide me to my buddy Kurt's house. +Kurt lives in DC and was going to join me on this month's ride. Thankfully his roommate allowed me to borrow his bike, so I didn't have to fuss with bringing mine. I did have to fuss with a ton of traffic though (of course) and a couple wrong turns due to my horrible sense of direction. I eventually made it to Kurt's place at 8 pm, and we quickly dashed off on our bikes to catch up with the party. Kurt lives in Adam's Morgan so we weren't far from Dupont Circle, and since we knew the route ahead of time... we were able to catch up to the riders pretty quickly. 

Me and Kurt at the April DCBP break spot
The March ride had been the biggest one to date, and in April the numbers were more than doubled. Over 420 people showed up!! It was insane. I think the next ride there might be over a thousand people. I met many first time riders who like myself in March, were overcome with how awesome the ride was and swore they'd be back next time with more of their friends. That's grassroots marketing at it's best! I attempted to snap a couple pictures while on my bike, but nearly crashed/dropped my camera... so I ended up taking a few videos instead. This is proof of why I need to invest in a GoPro! 

One of the best parts about the ride is that a couple people bring bike trailers that house massive speakers, so they're constantly pumping out the jams while we ride. Definitely makes going uphill a lot better!
Kurt next to the massive speakers
So if you are in the DC Metro area, or even if you live in Fredericksburg, I would HIGHLY recommend joining a DC Bike Party. It's the most fun you'll ever have biking in DC, it's a great way to explore the city, and everyone there is super friendly and welcoming to new bikers. See you there in May!
Brewkeeper, over and out!

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