So there’s two rides that I plan to attend this weekend.
The first: The Midnight Mystery Ride
The Midnight Mystery Ride (hereafter referred to as MMR, which is what Shawn and I usually call it) has been going on for, geez, more years than I know about. A long time. Longer than I’ve been going on them. (Shawn says eight years.)
And the idea is always the same: On the second Friday of every month, a location is announced during the day (or, in some cases, earlier in the week). The location is always a place that serves alcohol. Everyone shows up late in the evening and (in theory) behaves politely. At midnight, we all take off, and only the leader of the ride knows where we’re going.
It’s a different leader every time, although some people have done it many times.
The ride varies in length, usually it’s three to five miles, and ends in a place where we can be rowdy, almost always outdoors. I have been on MMRs that have ended near train tracks beside the highway, the top of a bluff, on the bike path under I-205, the Columbia Slough, Oaks Bottom, the Sierra Club office, a grassy area off the I-205 bike path near Maywood Park, Rocky Butte… Generally people attempt to go someplace that MMR has not gone before, but that gets tricky when they’ve been doing it so long.
The ride itself is fun. If you’ve never ridden your bike in a big group of people having a good time, you’re really missing out. Generally at least one person has set up a stereo on their bike, in a trailer, or a sidecar, or the setup I saw once that was built into someone’s panniers. Unless I really hate the music, I usually try to ride near them! Most people seem to play dance-y stuff, sometimes older (Michael Jackson is usually a hit), sometimes more recent (I first heard MGMT on group rides). There’s a fun sense of camaraderie, a party feeling. I love looking ahead and seeing all the red blinkies, or turning around at a stop to see everyone’s headlights.
One of my favorite experiences on an MMR ride, was on SE Division. We were taking up a lane, and cars were passing us on the left. A lady leans out her window and yells, “Where are you all going?” and, because none of us were the ride leader, we had to answer, “We don’t know!” The look on her face was priceless.
Attendance varies…the summertime MMRs, especially during Pedalpalooza in June, can attract hundreds of people. An MMR in December during cold weather might get twenty.
When we get to the destination, people crack open beers, dance, stand around talking…sometimes someone will start a bonfire and make popcorn! Eventually people get tired and leave a bit at a time. The trick is in staying long enough that you feel like you didn’t miss out on fun, but leaving early enough that you’re not totally exhausted. If the ride ends up really far from home, I’m likely to leave earlier. (I once went up to a friend of mine who lived in the same part of town I did and said, “You can’t leave without me! I don’t know where we are!”)
Sometimes people have a theme for the ride. The woman leading the ride tomorrow is doing so in honor of her birthday, and is asking people to wear stripes. I think the only striped item I have is socks, and I have lots…it’ll be difficult to pick…
As the sticker says: At midnight we ride!
The Second: The Palm Tree Ride!
Shawn leads this one! His post about it is here. This is his seventh year doing it!
The basic idea is that we ride around the city and look at palm trees and other exotics from far-flung (and/or tropical) locations. The basic idea being, if they can survive the winters here, so can you! I’ve been on a Palm Tree Ride that was beautifully sunny but below freezing, and with winds so bad you could coast uphill if you were going east. Last year was rainy but warmer. It’s always fun, and when the ride’s officially “over” we often go somewhere to eat and have a beer and chat for a while.
If you’re too lazy to click on the link (you should though, so you can see Shawn’s flier), here’s the info:
Sunday January 16, 2011
Bi-Partisan Cafe 7901 SE Stark St
Here’s a bicycle ride to prove that winter in PDX ain’t so bad! Come along for a tour of the multitude of palm trees and other tropical and evergreen vegetation growing in the city. We always do each year’s ride differently, this year exploring some untapped regions of the east side. Flat-ish terrain, with the possibility of a hill (no shame in walking it!) Plenty of stops and a refreshment break. UNLIKE PAST RIDES, this one will actually be (mostly) a loop (no, I’m not going to leave you in Gresham.) Rain or shine!
This ride is possibly the most fun ride I do all year!
(Don’t worry if you run a little late, we won’t actually leave the Bi-Partisan until about 11 am.)
Bi-Partisan is one of my favorite coffeeshops in Portland, partially because they have pie! Vegan (and non-vegan) pies made right there on site! Plus yummy bagel sandwiches. And Stumptown coffee.