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The Santa Cruz Midnight Mystery Ride

Santa Cruz had its first Midnight Mystery Ride two Fridays ago. 30 riders explored the dark hours of pedal powered play.
It was announced at Guerrilla Drive-In where 200 people cheered, but when it was time to ride only 2 people came along.

"Just follow the flaming can of PBR on the back of my bike, and maybe we'll pick up some folks along the way".

We darted down creekside paths through the circles and emerged onto the the ocean cliff, booming in the moonlight. The air was crisp and we jangled past the lighthouse: car free and serene. We rounded the bend to the Pub, expecting to see no one, but instead were challenged by an boisterous mob of bikey kids.

"Where have you beeeeeen? We've been waiting 15 minutes....we already have our milk and cookies...we want to go....."
Click on image for a larger version

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Just follow the flaming can of PBR!


And then the Mad Mystery ride began. We paraded up Pacific Ave, bells and yells, sharing the Friday night traffic dance with the the cars and pedestrians. I immediately got a slow leak flat, noticed by the intrepid passenger on the rear seat of my tandem. Out of 34 riders, NO ONE carried a pump! After 5 minutes someone found a presta pump and figured how to convert it to a Schrader pump....and the ride was back on.

One of the credos of the Midnight Mystery Ride is: leave no one behind. It may be wild and wacky, but it's never that kind of "ditch you" tacky.

We rolled back up Pacific and into the multi-level garage for precision parking practice and anarchist opera howled at high volume to the rising moon.

I have to report that although I was leading the ride, I was rarely in front, which is how most leadership should be. In the case of the MMR, it meant the hottest heads were often swarming ahead, round and around, trying to guess the next turn, waiting for the tandem to catch up. Fine with me...they get the EXtra EXercise.

Next we crossed the river, passed the park and waved to the swings, slides and playground structures. Aaaah...long distant memories of very-early morning recess.
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Bicycle Where Wolves Howling at the Moon!


Continuing along our law abiding route, the tandem had more trouble, the kids were two blocks ahead circling, waiting for the traffic light when the cops pulled up. The pack made the green, while we stopped at the red, just to demonstrate our respect. We waved. The officer looked at us, looked after the 30 riders disappearing, and then back at us stopped patiently at the light. After a very looooong 3 seconds, he shook his head and drove off.

Thank you. No harassment of a barely critical mass tonight.

From there we tangled a spaghetti run of off-and-on ramps to the river levee. Then we sped along the river heading toward the sea and the Lost Boys Vampire Bridge. At this point one of the riders said "This is like Mr. Toad's Wild ride! But Trickier!"

Taking that comment as our inspiration, we hollared "Forget the ramp! Cross Country." Dodging boulders and base rocks we cut along the tracks, awaking friendly hobos with our bells and cheer. Then we continued down the guerilla bike trail (which we started rebuilding this week) and into the small boat harbor, dark and oily, gliding just above the water.
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Mystery Ride or Mystery Spot???


We had about 20 riders at this point, but we lost all but 10 when we charged up the hill for a view of the Harbor. After a quick trivia contest about where we had been, winners were rewarded justly and then all but 5 returned to downtown. Those who stayed shared ginger cookies and leftover wedding cake. A big grey owl flew spy missions over us every few minutes as the moon tucked in for a nap.

Got home at 3 am after a quiet and and well lit ride along the car free lanes of Soquel Ave, surrounded by crew of sweaty, laughing riders.
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Taking it to the Streets!


Next ride coming soon. And so the tradition begins anew.
 
 


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Comments

Re: The Santa Cruz Midnight Mystery Ride

Looks like you had a blast. I'm bummed that I couldn't make it but I'll definitely be there for the next ride.
 

Re: The Santa Cruz Midnight Mystery Ride

Next Ride: Friday 7/8/05 after the movie Delicatessen at the Guerrilla Drive in (Corner of Fair and the RR tracks at dark-thirty o'clock). We'll also stop by and then leave from the Poet and Patriot at 12 midnight.
 

Re: The Santa Cruz Midnight Mystery Ride

excellent writing, cudos to the author!
 

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