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  1. #1
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    Surprise Denver Holiday - A Rant

    I knew something was amiss today as soon as I got on my bike: I look down the driveway and two people are riding up Raleigh Street; laptops in stow, matching helmets and huge grins on their faces. "I've never seen them before - some new peeps from my street must be riding to work!" I think to myself as I cross 38th. Then another anomaly - a group of eight, in full spandex matching roadie kits waiting at a stop sign for an invisible car to cross. They are chatting it up big time. Tall guy in front is telling a joke. All of his matching followers eagerly listen. I miss the punch line but I hear the group let out a collective roar as I round the corner. Interesting. I pedal some more - the air seems lighter today or something... A pass a dude cutting his hedges at 7 am. Then a guy loading his road bike on his Audi. "Is it a holiday?" I think to myself as I pass two rockabilly hipsters on townies taking up the entire right lane. It must be one of those obscure government holidays that only non-cubical dwellers get off. Like Cesar Chavez day or Boxing day or something. Wait, that's a Canadian holiday. Is there a Summer Solstice holiday now? I feel completely out of the loop.

    Then, in the span of about 5 seconds, all of this happens: a car door opens right in front of me. I swerve out of the bike lane and into traffic as a young girl wearing a pink biking helmet and pink spandex shorts steps out of her SUV. She lets out a small yelp as I squeeze between an RTD bus and her open door at about 20 miles per hour. My heart is pounding as I swerve back into the lane still on two wheels. I look back hoping to flash my look of disapproval at her but my trained look of disgust quickly turns to bewilderment as I see her start unloading her shiny bike off the top of her shiny SUV. I start trying to hypothesis why she would have driven to Tejon street, parked on the side of the road, just to ride her bike somewhere. I'm quickly out-matched by that puzzle and just give up. But two more clues to the strange holiday were upon me; first a tandem bike with color-coordinated, gray-haired operators; then a shop clerk lurching out the door carrying one of those huge barrels of ice with red bull stickers all over it. Something is definitely going on - no one rides a tandem or drinks red bull at 7 am. I actually ask myself as I cross over I-25 "is it Saturday?". I quickly realize it's not by the look of the traffic, but even the traffic seems off - it's after 7 and it's not even backed up to Speer yet?! I can't wait to get to work so I can google the mystery holiday then complain to my co-workers that we don't get it off...

    I won't have to though - as I round the corner to REI, there in front of me is a feeding frenzy unlike anything I have ever seen: Hundreds of people are lined up at a dozen or so tents that line the bike path behind REI. They come in all shapes and sizes - suits, jeans, roadie kits, fluorescent wind breakers; The skinny ones tend to be wearing tight brightly-colored spandex while the bigger ones tend to be wearing the day-glo jackets - I find this odd. I've now come to a full stop because the bike path is completely blocked. In my stillness I can hear the peculiar sound of cycling shoes tap-tap-tip-tapping the cobble stone path. I slowly approach the smorgasbord; bagels, cinnamon rolls, granola, and yogurt at the first tent, coffee and OJ at another tent. An anonymous hand shoves a mini-cliff bar in my face. I take it even though I can't eat cliff bars because I know refusing will be too much work. Some people shuffle along in line with their bikes still between their legs, tires buzzing the padded butts in front of them. A bigger guy wearing a 'Giro' shirt is publicly humiliating everyone who appears to be riding without a helmet. I'm in the middle of it now - all around me people are eating something, or filling forms out, or getting free stickers, or grabbing handfuls of free energy bars, or posing for pictures with REI staff. It looks like the Pride Parade for cyclists. Even though I think I know the answer, I ask a caffeinated REI employee:
    "What's going on today?"
    "Well it's National Bike to Work Day of course!" she replies with a definite aire of satisfaction.
    "You didn't know?" she asks, wondering why I'm straddling a bike if I didn't get the memo.
    "But I ride to work every day". I exaggerate to make a point.
    "Whooaaa! You should sign up for our Cliff Bar Challenge! From now until Halloween you can log miles and win $35,000 dollars for a local charity!"
    She's genuinely pumped for me.
    Suddenly a photog dude pops out of nowhere and is aiming a camera at me and Flo. She instantly breaks into a pose with me and my participation in NBTWD is recorded for eternity onto a tiny memory card. She points me to the challenge signup booth and I shuffle along. I grab an unnaturally soft Clementine and throw down Dixie-cup shots of OJ and watered-down coffee handed to me by anonymous hands. I dodge bikes parked on kickstands in the middle of the path, catch a wiff of an old man's morning breath, and grab a cliff challenge card just in case Flo is still watching.

    As I make it past the dozens more people dismounting their bikes from the bike path I realize that the girl that almost killed me earlier had parked at the top of the hill so she could 'ride' down to REI and partake in the festivities. I can't believe it. I instantly want to search the crowd so I can expose her SUV-driving hypocrisy but common sense gets the better of me. I mount my bike near the 'free bike mechanic' tent and head over the bridge. Traffic is terrible today on the bike path. There are easily 10 times more people riding today than normal. Where I normally ride with no handlebars in the straight sections (to show off my bike skills to the bums) I am forced a white-knuckled grip as I weave in and out of people. A roadie on a carbon bike blazes by me and turns around to look at me alla Lance 2005. I try to keep up but today is his day. I'm routinely caught behind large groups riding two wide, holding starbucks coffees, with no room to pass. I pass someone with a noisy rear derailleur, shifting between two gears with every pedal. I tell her to check out the free mechanics tent at REI as I pass.

    Businesses have taken advantage of the day - advertisements are set all along the bike path: "exit here for a free breakfast at Sams", "9News feed station 500 ft ahead", "Use only What you Need". That last sign reminds me of a conversation I had last night with some friends about the Denver Water Advertising Campaign. Denver water has thousands of simple orange signs with white lettering that say "use only what you need", telling us in no uncertain terms that we shouldn't waste water. Pretty obvious to me but apparently after the signs go up water use goes down 50%. And when the signs come down later in the summer water use inches back up again to the typical rates. People need to be told what to do. I didn't really believe it last night - I thought it was more of a typical Mike exaggeration - but this morning I see it's effect in full glory. It apparently takes a National multi-million dollar advertising campaign, and lots of free food and schwag to lure people out of their cars. For one day a year. This realization shocks me as I pass the 9news feeding frenzy. But there they are - hundreds of more people, eating energy bars and coffee, fueling themselves for the epic ride to work. A camera crew records the mle for the evening news.

    I passed two more feeding stations on my way to work this morning. I admittedly stopped at the Whole Foods one because of the undeniable allure of free whole foods goodies. Hey, when in Rome I guess. I was thankful for the flax and chia seed granola, but also for the two EMT equipped bikes that I passed this morning because I guarantee there was some carnage today; like on that one blind corner under University, or those spots on the path where the retaining wall and the creek squeeze the path down to only 10 ft wide. I had some near misses, but I made it to work relatively unscathed and plus a mini-cliff bar, a super soft Clementine and a neat new perspective on people. Maybe we need to be told what to do...to do anything. Maybe 5% of the thousands of people that rode today will love it so much they will keep riding. Or maybe they will just go back to driving their BMW to work because that's what the TV told them to do. I don't really know. All I do know is that tomorrow morning, after all the tents have gone, I'll be riding with no handlebars again.

  2. #2
    formerly shabadu
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    The good news is that if you stop at Little Raven on the way home you can drink beer at the Bike From Work Bash and take the edge off.

    It is certainly 'sporting' out there on the path today. Ride defensively.

  3. #3
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    I watched the occupants of four different cars park on one end of the Whole Food parking lot in Fort Collins today, unload their bikes from their cars, and ride across the parking lot for the free breakfast.

    I usually work from home, so do not ride to work often. However, I could not help myself and rode to a couple of free breakfast stations this morning.

  4. #4
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    "But I ride to work every day". I exaggerate to make a point.

    -Yeah, got your point.... "Better than thou... " It's a bunch of people out, happy to be on bikes. You're apparently not.
    Gone are the days we stopped to decide,
    Where we should go,
    We just ride...

  5. #5
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    Great write up, thanks for sharing.

    Quote Originally Posted by rudeboybl View Post
    mle
    Now I think I love you.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jugdish View Post
    "But I ride to work every day". I exaggerate to make a point.

    -Yeah, got your point.... "Better than thou... " It's a bunch of people out, happy to be on bikes. You're apparently not.
    You're right - I can't simultaneously feel better about myself for riding most days, then get annoyed when everyone else decides to ride... Thanks for the ego-check.

    (I did have fun though...)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by flowtron View Post
    The good news is that if you stop at Little Raven on the way home you can drink beer at the Bike From Work Bash and take the edge off.
    of course joey joe joe has the goods on free beer for "participation"

    i used to grump out on poseur day as the op did today, but now i just laugh and hope to win some swag for doing what i do every day anyways

  8. #8
    A guy on a bike Moderator
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    I ride to work 3-4 days per week, about 34 miles per day. So, as a "regular" out there, I understand how disorienting it can be to suddenly have a whole heap of people who don't seem to know left from right taking over "my" commuting route. It's pretty easy to get a little possessive of something that we love so much.

    But get over it already. You were a newbie once too. All of those people were riding their bikes, enjoying the same pleasure that we do. We need more people out there on bikes, whether they are kids, racers, old people, fat people, skinny people, whatever. Rather than thrash on them when they ride on the wrong side of the path or cut you off, smile at them, say "hello," and offer a friendly pointer or two. Maybe they'll decide that riding a bike is a fun thing to do every day--and that bike commuters are nice people. Maybe they'll decide to join us, and there will be more happy people out there, breathing deeply, burning less C02, and sharing the the good life.

    Try some training tomorrow: smile and wave at every newbie that you pass tomorrow. It'll feel good, and you might even keep doing it next week too.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TobyGadd View Post
    Try some training tomorrow: smile and wave at every newbie that you pass tomorrow.
    in boulder, one should only expect a 5% return rate on the greeting

    they are so seriousszzz over there, they can't seem to even afford a nod

  10. #10
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    Very entertaining! thanks for the laugh!

  11. #11
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    Can someone please give me the Cliffs notes version of the first post? Thanks.

  12. #12
    not actually bad :)
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    Dude's pist cuz he rides to work every day, and is mucho coolo and others rode today and he dit'n like it.
    Old Codger

  13. #13
    t.i.t.s.ceo/FR amoeba rep
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad andy! View Post
    Dude's pist cuz he rides to work every day, and is mucho coolo and others rode today and he dit'n like it.

    no pics of the pink spandex milf either.........didnt happen.......dear penthouse.........
    I'm a cowboy on a steel horse i ride!

    the blog

  14. #14
    formerly shabadu
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    After going back and forth from work, I have determined that if everyone that rode today, rode most days, we would need a whole bunch of different bicycle infrastructure...which is an interesting thought to ponder.
    The Cherry Creek Path was near capacity. I can't believe there isn't more carnage.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by TobyGadd View Post
    I ride to work 3-4 days per week, about 34 miles per day. So, as a "regular" out there, I understand how disorienting it can be to suddenly have a whole heap of people who don't seem to know left from right taking over "my" commuting route. It's pretty easy to get a little possessive of something that we love so much.

    But get over it already. You were a newbie once too. All of those people were riding their bikes, enjoying the same pleasure that we do. We need more people out there on bikes, whether they are kids, racers, old people, fat people, skinny people, whatever. Rather than thrash on them when they ride on the wrong side of the path or cut you off, smile at them, say "hello," and offer a friendly pointer or two. Maybe they'll decide that riding a bike is a fun thing to do every day--and that bike commuters are nice people. Maybe they'll decide to join us, and there will be more happy people out there, breathing deeply, burning less C02, and sharing the the good life.

    Try some training tomorrow: smile and wave at every newbie that you pass tomorrow. It'll feel good, and you might even keep doing it next week too.


    I also ride in everyday. Quick commute to the Fed Center from Green Mountain. I have to say though that I barely noticed an increase in people riding today. I'd be surprised to hear that more than say 3% of people biked in today. I'm interested to hear other people's experiences. I have to say that just about everytime I ride the south platte trail (usually on weekends) it seems super crowded. I applaud people for getting out and hopefully some of them will decide to make it a habit. The end result being more public support for bike lanes, paths, and increased tolerance of cyclists.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by flowtron View Post
    After going back and forth from work, I have determined that if everyone that rode today, rode most days, we would need a whole bunch of different bicycle infrastructure...which is an interesting thought to ponder.
    i don't agree, joey joe joe

    there is plenty of infrastructure already in place

    if the numbers were consistently high, taking the lane would not be the percieved issue that it currently is

  17. #17
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    Give the guy a break; it's entertaining writing presented, IMO, in good humor and not an "I'm cooler than you" dealio. On top of that he makes some solid points.

    From my experience, it's $4.00 a gallon gas that's the real tipping point for prying folks out of their cars and getting them onto their bikes for their work commute. Every time it hits $4, our sales go skyward.
    A man must have enemies and places he is not welcome. In the end we are not only defined by our friends but those against us.

  18. #18
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    Interesting post. I agree with a lot of things. I drove to work 17 times in 2010, a few of which were for Dr appointments or on Fridays to get out of town to ride bikes somewhere else. I went for a training ride this morning and was on the bike by 5:34. It was crazy. Even at 6 there were tons of people out. I love seeing that but it was a bit dangerous as I could tell many people were not used to riding in traffic on the paths. I blew by the breakfast stands. Getting free food is not my motivation to ride. Feeling good about myself, getting some exercise, and not wasting resources is why I ride.

    The thing that baffles me is if you can ride a bike to work today, why not ride at least one day a week if not more? It is less stressful and good for you. Driving to work is a waste of time. I hate wasting gas and being stuck in a parking lot in I25. When I bike to work I notice the old man walking down the block everyday and nod and several other things. Its possibly the best way to start the day.

  19. #19
    Yappy little dog!
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    This doesn't sound like a rant. You wrote a decent article here and you should submit it to the DP or WestWord. I enjoyed reading it, thank you.

  20. #20
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    Crazy Homeless Guy

    Did anybody encounter the homeless man walking a small pink kids bike or BMX bike on the Platte around 5 PM yesterday? I was riding by him thinking this guy looks like trouble, but gave him the friendly nod anyway. He jumped out at me and stuck his face right in front of me. Damn near knocked me off my bike. Not sure what his deal was, but I had an elevated heart rate there for a second.

    BTW, despite the fact that I ride in most days when the weather is nice (I'm a fair weather rider, I'll admit it ), I found it to be a fun day and thought it was good to see so many cyclists out. I really didn't experience any of the issues you mentioned, and I enjoyed the stands. I've got more snack bars and other food items to put in my hydration pack for long MTB rides where I really need them. I can't complain, that stuff gets expensive.

    I hate to see cyclists bagging on other cyclists, though the stories of people driving to a food station with their bikes made me laugh. I saw a huge lady struggling up Alameda the other day towards green mountain with her bike flexing in protest beneath her. I thought "good for her." At least she's getting out there and trying to do something instead of sitting on the couch eating KFC. Maybe it won't change her life, but maybe it will and she'll lose 150 pounds. Maybe 5% of the riders that did bike to work day will see how fun it can be, and how awake and alive you feel when you get to work, then decide to do it more. Who knows?
    Gotta get up to get down.
    LMB

  21. #21
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    I wish Castle Rock would have had a free breakfast. My normal route had all of 1 more cyclist. Still couldn't have asked for better weather!

  22. #22
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    Cynical but descriptive writeup. I can envision the same thoughts going through my head when I used to commute daily through the heart of Denver. Although, I think I actually drove to work one year on BTW day, by accident. I had to take the dog to the vet after work or something.

  23. #23
    tiny rider
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    Fun rant

    I was heading the other way on the Cherry Creek path in the morning. I caught the 9news and REI snack-fests before they got too busy. There was significantly more bike traffic through Highlands than on my other occasionally rides to work. Finally, I caught a station up in Boulder as well that was very well attended. They served pie, and had some acapella signers entertaining the mob.

    I bussed home, and then finished on the Cherry Creek path which was pretty much at capacity downtown. I agree that we would need to rework our bike infrastructure if the turnout was like that on a regular basis. It's great seeing all the different folks on all the different bikes, though.

  24. #24
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    How long did it take you to write that?

    I'll admit I only read the first and last sentence of each paragraph.

  25. #25
    Pivot Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drop the Seat View Post
    How long did it take you to write that?

    I'll admit I only read the first and last sentence of each paragraph.
    It was quite entertaining IMO! I thought maybe the OP was a writer by profession or somethin....
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