This month I wanted to do something
different for Bike Party, so I rode with the Ravens. Bike Party's
Ravens are a group of riders that ride lunking tricycles carrying
garbage cans instead of bicycles. I've seen them at bike parties
for a while, and I wanted to find out what's involved. Turns out
there are seven Dutch cargo bikes that are the core of Joe Tate's
investment in the group. They told me to be at Joe's place between
6:00 and 6:30 and I'd be one of the volunteers Raven riding the
They had started preparing the bikes
for the ride before I got there. I didn't take any pictures then,
but we were checking the tires were pumped, checking that all the
raven bikes had good batteries in their lights, making sure that
every raven bike had enough spare tubes and so forth. Then we had
to make sure we understood the technology. To make a long story
short, the bikes were ready soon enough and we went out to eat.
Brian was the only one with Birds of
Paradise sticking out of his helmet like horns.
Joe ran a tight meeting after buying us all supper. The plan was
for Joe and somebody else to head for the first regroup. The rest
of us headed for the start. My plan was to follow the ride until
after the second regroup, at which point I'd head for Joes to turn
in my bike.
Frederick showed off the Raven bike.
It was designed to carry one of those 55 gallon trash cans that
the city expects most homeowners to fit a weeks worth of trash
into. The thing has eight gears which range from ultra granny to
mild cruising speed. The front brake only grabs the left wheel.
This isn't a problem if you're expecting it, but if you forget
it's unsettling how quickly it wants to steer over. The steering
is nothing like that of a bike, but once you get used to it the
thing is very maneuverable.
After eating we rolled for the
start. I took these pictures while we were waiting for the light
to change at First Street.
A Raven bike is hard to maneuver
around a place like the Heritage Rose Garden looking for "on theme
pictures". Not only that, but this was one of those themes that
San Jose yawned over. I could have found many more on theme
pictures on my regular bike.
Yup, it wasn't long before we were
riding. The crowd was big enough and thick enough that everywhere
I looked I saw more people on bicycles. In the highest gear the
raven bike can more or less keep up with bike party's cruiser bike
pace. Once you've done the work to get it all moving the thing
isn't that hard to keep going.
Ed has now completed 55 consecutive
San Jose Bike Party rides!
The guy behind the MagicShine table
was promoting his headlights. He said he wanted to work more
closely with Bike Party. I told him the best thing to do is come
on one of the test rides, when there will be plenty of time to
connect with whomever the right person is.
Most of the evening I was calling
out "Bring out your bottles! Bring out your cans! Big or small we
take them all!" It worked to remind people that trash goes in the
trash can. People were good about it. After a while space for more
became and issue and I started feeling grateful to all the people
that had flattened their cans! You'd think that the seven 55
gallon trash cans that the Ravens bring to the party are an ocean
of space, but it goes quick when every can comes with a bubble of
More than most bikes, the Raven bikes work better on big parking
lot type regroup locations. Places like Roosevelt Park with curbs
and grassy areas are more difficult.
I saw a few people that would have
been great pictures, but by this time my trash can had a lot of
inertia and I just couldn't chase them down the way I could on a
bicycle. I regret missing some of them.