I was tired, running late, and well aware that I was driving 40 minutes to attend a bicycle-in movie night on a Tuesday night. However, I had invited my friend, Karin, to go…and I was intrigued by the concept.
The handwritten sign on the door to Cyprian’s Center, a community center located in the basement of a church said, “Bring your bike on in.” Nice! This event was organized by Francisco, as part of his project Das Bike, which aims to bring community together via free bicycling events. I knew of it because he posted on the NorCal Touring Meetup site. Turns out this was the first bike-night but he aims to make it a monthly (last Tuesday of every month) thing.
From the moment I walked in, I was meeting nifty interesting people. Karin was already inside and engaged in conversation. So I laid my blanket down, introduced myself to the very friendly Francisco, and went over to explore the refreshments. Two very knowledgeable guys, Matt and Jason, were offering up their home-brewed beers by donation. Known as Comrades Brewing, two types of brew were available. When I mentioned that I was not much of a beer connoisseur, Matt asked if I liked wine. Indeed I do. He pointed me to their gluten free Elderberry Beer. Much to my pleasant surprise, it didn’t taste much like beer and was delicious.
Beer in hand, Karin and I stuck up conversation with two fellows, who both turned out to be hardcore touring cyclists, and super modest. The meeting of Michael, in particular, was like a dream come true. Turns out that he spends 18 weeks every summer bicycle touring around Europe. On the spot, he answered some of my most pressing questions about cell phones, and internet access, etc., and encouraged me to contact him for further info. Did I mention that he’s 65 years old? So inspiring!
Next up dinner. What? Who knew a free dinner was included. I was so pissed I had scarfed down frozen pizza before leaving. Turns out that Francisco hit up some local farmers markets for their left over produce, and then some culinary-wiz volunteers made a spread that included meat dishes, greens concoctions, and two salads (one dressed and one not, “because the dressed one has tahini in it for those of you who maybe allergic.” How’s that for loving attention to detail!). Francisco told me, he did have to buy some rice though. Ha!
Before the movie, Francisco welcomed everyone and introduced another fellow, who told the group more about the Cypian Center and its inspired community initiatives. One project the organization is currently working on is raising funds to create a community commercial kitchen in the community center. So that local organizations have a place to advance their culinary projects, host dinner events, etc. The Comrads Brewing fellows donated all the money made that night from their beer sales to the commercial kitchen project.
Movie Time! What a bonus after an already good get-together. The flick, Premium Rush, was an excellent, high-energy action/adventure story (with underlying love-story) about a bicycle currier in NYC –definitely a must-see for cycling enthusiasts. It proved super fun to watch it amidst of crowd of other “oooing and ahhing” bike-loving sorts.
The movie ended, and just when we thought the fun was over, well Francisco invited everyone outback to enjoy making smores*. Ah…not your average *s’mores experience. Two crafty fellows designed and built a s’mores bicycle cart, and this was it’s first public appearance. Yep it was January, and I found myself roasting marshmallows over the open flame of a smores cart that was attached to a bicycle. The one creator explained that he enjoys welding and wants to use the cart to turn others on to how easy and fun welding can be. Sign me up!
I stuck around to help clean up dishes. I scrubbed pots and pans alongside Jesse, a nice fellow, who told me tales of his touring experiences. Funny how first ridiculous bicycle touring experiences either turn people on or off to future adventures. In his case, his first overnight trip where his friends turned back due to rain, and he sleep shivering under a bridge that turned out to be a train bridge, only inspired his thirst for more.
The final bonus chance encounter of the evening was with with Cyndi, also an avid touring cyclist, and probably 10 or so years my senior. Unbelievably, earlier that day I had said to a friend that it’s too bad some sort of “Couch Surfing” type network for touring cyclists doesn’t exist. Cyndi informed me that such a worldwide network does indeed exist (WarmShowers.org.), and there’s an App! Over 36,500 people participate! Cyndi regularly hosts cyclists through it, and has stayed with others in her travels as well. She shared some great stories, and other helpful resources like adventurecycling.org. I have no doubt we’ll keep in touch.
What a night…I drove home high as a kite!
Please note that many of the photos were taken by Francisco!
*Making S’mores is an American tradition that involves roasting a marshmallow over a campfire and then squishing it between 2 graham crackers with a piece of chocolate in the middle.