A parade of roadies, cruisers, and single speed bicycles pulled out of the Bike Saviours parking lot and took over South Roosevelt Street. Drivers were forced to wait as 58 giddy hooligans coasted through the first intersection, and pedestrians pulled out their phones to capture the group’s radiant energy. Rogue cyclists heading in the opposite direction either nodded their heads or turned around to join the pack. This was the new Car Resistance Action Party.
Alex ‘Jayarr’ Steiner was the ride leader and de facto chief of the tribe. He wielded a megaphone and funky hat, and his vision was to build a tight-knit community through a weekly circus of earnest riders. The pace was slow, the distance was short, and the destination was a different local restaurant each week.
Jayarr’s Surly Big Dummy hauled a large speaker filled with hypnotic party tunes, making the ride feel like a montage from a summer movie. Some danced, riding with no hands; others bopped their heads while getting to know someone new. They came from different jobs, voted for different candidates, enjoyed different flavors of beer, and ranged from 22 to over 65 years of age. Perhaps intimidating at first, due to the snug bond of the usual suspects, the unmistakable joy of a first-time crapper was evidence of welcoming vibrations.
As they drifted through Tempe Beach Park, the halfway point, the sense of comfort and belonging was palpable. They passed by a group of 100-plus boot campers pushing through a weekly workout. Hoots and hollers and frantic waves sprang from the fitness troupe, all provoked by Jayarr, his megaphone, and the supportive maniacs yelling behind him.
The last leg of the ride bombarded ASU’s campus, where during the school year it had become the stuff of campus lore. Adults riding bikes together could be a head-exploding concept to the college student. Circling a raised planter while performing a call and response to “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” by The Proclaimers was this ride’s attempt to enlighten these students on social cycling.
After circling three or four or five times, the swarm headed off campus and toward the final destination.
Tapacubo, the spot of the week, had a large square bar, halfway between inside and out, with taps and bottles of booze on both sides of the well. The thirsty mob surrounded it, ordering local craft beers and 4-dollar margaritas before heading to the pool.
A few kicked back and waited for appetizers, but most riders hopped in the water with little hesitation and started an impromptu game of keep-the-ball-in-the-air-for-as-long-as-you-can. The serving staff kept the party going well into the night, whirling around with trays and notepads, taking orders and passing drinks to outstretched hands.
Strangers became friends and friends became family. It felt special, it felt surreal, and it happened every Tuesday around 7:00 pm.
Photo Credit: Alex Steiner
Video Credit: Anthony Scalise