May Day Prom Ride Success! Good time had by all!
I always loved May Day. In my neighborhood, all the kids would make flower baskets (usually using empty green plastic strawberry containers) and play “ding dong ditch” — setting the basket on the front porch, ringing the doorbell, hiding, and spying until the recipient opened the door, and puzzedly looked around, eventually discovering the flowers on the porch. We’d burst out giggling, yell “Happy May Day” and run off to the next house.
This May Day, we sprung a surprise on citizens of Ventura as we rode through town on our bikes in formal prom attire, and, to those puzzled in their cars and on the sidewalks, we yelled “Happy May Day” and waved happily.
Eight of us (including two 5 year olds!) shoved off about 5:20pm from the corner of Victoria and Telephone, site of the Ventura County government center where there is a monthly anti-war vigil on the First Fridays. This way, as we gathered there, we were able to support them also.
Riding up Victoria and turning left on Telegraph proved to be the most difficult part of our ride as there are no bike lanes; bicyclists are expected to ride on the sidewalk and to share the road. There’s a freeway overpass to climb and freeway on ramps to navigate. At the intersection, we took the lane crossing from the right side of the street all the way through through three lanes of heavy commuter traffic to get into the left turn lane. We arrived as it turned yellow so we massed up. I admit, as a mom, this part of the journey was very scary, and our adrenaline was pumping as we headed toward downtown on Telegraph.
We cruised by Buena High about 530pm; no one joined us but at Ventura College (pictured) Doug and Dorian found us. Dorian famously rode all the way on the ride on his one speed bike! He took the sidewalks as much as possible and we stayed on the streets.
The weather (which had been threatening to rain all day) was getting cold, especially for those of us in prom formals like Karen, Rachel and myself. As we rounded the corner at Five Points onto Main, those of us with bare skin started feeling more and more rain drops. We paused at Ventura High for a few minutes and were joined by Katie, Elzbet, Joe, Mike’s brother, and Tobias who got off of work at 6pm at nearby Open Air bikes. We were also joined by a woman who lives in the neighborhood and loves May Day, and wanted to celebrate it, so even though she doesn’t have a bike or a car, she came to see us, wish us a happy May Day, and send us on our way again–this time in a steady rain.
We powered up the hill at Main where Benecia found us heading in to the wind and the rain, and rolled on down to regroup at Kalorama and Passion Flowers. Six of us already had our corsages and bouteneers so I just picked up the rest of my blinky bikes and we headed on Main into downtown proper. Somewhere around there, Winston joined us.
The street was getting wet–and so were we. Even though it was cold and windy, we were all exhilerated and excited. People on the streets did double takes as we gaily waved and sang out “Happy May Day!”
A right on Ventura Avenue soon brought us to the shelter of Stoneworks where we added two more families including a nine month old baby and two more 5 year olds. Michele Chapin had fresh hot chai ready for us and a fire going (even though she was at work waitressing). Up the street two blocks we rode to Bell Arts Factory where we wandered the expansive premises, visiting artists in their studios and checking out the opening at Vita. We acquired two more riders from the local roller derby team as well as a young man who had seen a posting about the ride on Craigs List. This brought our group to about 30 riders–with many of us dressed to the 9s, plus a family without bikes met us there too.
Two flats threatened to slow us down if not halt us in our tracks, and we recalled that last month, it was Jason who got a flat at Stoneworks and headed home, so we’re going to bypass that stop on future rides. The burley trailer that had sheltered one 5 year old was out of commission even though Rachel and others valiantly tried to fix the flat. A second bike was left behind as Jenessa rode on Jason’s handlebars.
The weather was now warm and muggy with a few sprinkles here and there. Enough of us on the ride are Burners so it all felt very familiar and we were grateful that the infamous playa winds weren’t likely to strike up and cover us in dust!
Our next stop was Gallery 642. Delicate yet strong glossy gorgeous ceramic mostly abstract wall pieces with carefully embossed edges hung there. Our warm welcome convinced us we should always make time to venture a little farther up the Avenue to this gem of a simple gallery.
We wanted to stop at Architexture near the corner of Ventura Avenue and Main to see Jessica Lindley Emerson’s photos, but by this point, with so many hungry kids, and the dark coming on, we needed to finish the ride and eat. We turned left back onto Main and did a Critical Mass style ride through downtown, whooping it up and getting lots of attention especially as we rode past the various bars and restaurants which have outdoor patios filled with patrons.
We turned off Main at Kalorama and headed for ArtnSoul ceramic studios, Laurel Gallery and Seabreeze Gallery. Sonia of ArtnSoul had emailed me with a special invitation for us to come over to her studio and several ceramicists were there, thrilled at our party clothes and evident excitement with life and art. It was clear we were wanted by the lit tiki lights, the refreshments, and the special “Bike Prom Parking” sign she had made.
By now, the sun was set, and it was dark and colder by the ocean. Still, we trekked on toward the sea, crossing the 101 on the pedestrian bridge. We massed up to make a showing on the promenade for the pleasure of the homeless that hang out there, the diners at Aloha and C Street, the visitors at the Artists Union Gallery, and anyone in the hotel there who might glance out the window.
Off we went again, up California street to our final destination: Anacapa Brewery for beer, fries, and other sources of sustenance not achievable by a bike!
As you can tell, we had a lot of fun on this ride! We made lots of new friends, grew closer together, and shared our message of fun bike activism. Thanks for the great photos goes to Claudia, Katie, and Karen who got them up on facebook lickety-split!
June 5 we ride next on a Summer Solstice SantaCon: a convention of Santas, Mrs. Claus, elves, and good boys and girls! We meet around 530pm at the Promenade between the parking garage, Aloha, and the hotel, and ride off around 6pm. Follow me on twitter and join us! To prepare, go here to read about the Winter Solstice SantaCon: