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Pedaling forerunners have already done the dangerous work of preparing SA streets for two-wheelers

Photo: Photos by Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Photos by Michael Barajas

Last Friday night ride with the Downtown Highlife Bicycle Club, September 30, 2011.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photos by Michael Barajas

James Odom, San Antonio's solitary bicycle messenger.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photos by Michael Barajas

Young riders at Síclovía, Sunday, October 3, 2011.


“We meet monthly in front of the Alamo at 9 p.m, and take off at 9:30,” Bradshaw said outside Tucker’s Kozy Korner on the Eastside. The rides are free, and open to anyone. Riders on multi-speed road bikes are joined by BMX dirt racers, mountain bikes, and fixies, the often brake-less single-speed bikes popularized by bicycle messengers. There are usually a few cruisers, too, low-slung and custom. “We visit art galleries, anything local, independently owned, perhaps a park or a hidden location,” Bradshaw said. Last Friday’s plans were to go up Blanco past Hildebrand to the Texas Ice House, then to Alamo Heights “riding on some nice curvy roads ... a good 15-20 mile venture.” Bradshaw stresses that Highlife’s monthly ride is not “official Critical Mass.” They do share the same goal, however, “which is making people aware that there are bikes on the road.” 

 

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 A few years ago, it wasn’t socially acceptable to ride a bicycle here in SA, Bradshaw said. (“This is the South. You’ve got a vehicle, land, and you’re supposed to drive.”) But, he said, things are changing. “A few years ago it was just a small core group of 15 guys on fixed gears, and now there are hundreds and hundreds of bikes. Once people saw us riding up and down Broadway, they realized that you can get somewhere safe on the bike lanes. It’s like, ‘Hey if these guys can do it, we can do it, too.’”

On a last-Friday ride you might meet riders from the many bicycle clubs in town, like Slow and Low San Antonio, known as SALSA, or the ladies of the High Heel Bicycle Club (HHBC). If you’re lucky, you might meet a rider on a chrome-kustom from the famous Lone Star Lords Motor Club, a lowrider car club that floats an armada of bikes, too. With most of the clubs, it’s a face-to-face meet to get involved, though you can find info for Highlife, SALSA, and HHBC on Facebook.

SALSA organizes two all-ages rides each month, second Saturday and last Sunday, often riding in Southtown down the river towards the Missions. They also do an adults-only First Friday ride that starts at the Blue Star complex. HHBC was started in 2008 by Melissa Diaz, and yes, it’s a ladies club. Her husband, Henry Parilla, is the full-time bike mechanic at SA Cycle near Brackenridge High School who also runs the SA chapter of Frankenbike, a monthly swap meet that attracts 15-20 venders and a couple hundred potential buyers. Parts, frames, and complete bikes are for sale, and there’s no fee for sellers. The next swap gathers at 10 a.m. Saturday, October 8, at The Korova (107 E Martin St). Like the last-Friday ride, Frankenbike attracts a diverse group of bicycle aficionados, and is not only a cheap way to get on the road but a good intro to riders with experience. Upcoming swap meet dates are posted at sanantonio.frankenbike.net.

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