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 party.

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.


While we were waiting for the food I got pictures of those among us who were honoring the "flower power" theme. Townie Bill was the only one in a Hawaiian shirt. Daniel was the only one doing the deadhead thing. I was the only one with a sunflower GREEN PARTY shirt. This was maybe half of the assembled group. There were riders for seven Raven bikes and a couple of others in support roles. I should have taken a picture of Joe, but for him it was all about the Ravening.


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 air.

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.


I was taking a picture of Betty and Boone when Patrick photo bombed it. We caught him and explained that the rule is "you gotta be on theme" to get in these pictures. No problem, I had a bag of flowers and gave him a Cala. Unfortunately, someone else bombed that picture and I didn't catch them until I was processing my pictures. Doh!

We stayed at the second regroup cleaning for quite a while. By this time it was a good party going on. There were lots of things that needed to go in the bin, and cruising around finding them was a fun process. Then Purple lost his wife, so we spent some time looking for her. Riding back to the start with a full bucket was something else. Never before have I gathered so much stuff just for good karma. It was late when I finally turned in my bike with a full trash can.

On the way home I saw that gas is as close to $4.20/gal as it ever gets again.

The next day I was very tired. Turns out that riding the raven bike uses your muscles in a different way than riding a normal bike. I was a bit sore in places it doesn't usually happen. Still, riding with the Ravens is a great way to give back to bike party. Glad I did it! Looking back on the experience, I remember many people thanking me for helping out. If you want to look into being a Raven look for the "San Jose Bike Party Ravens" on facebook.

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