Welcome to the first Two Wheels Good, the Current’s new column for, by, and about San Antonio’s rockin and rollin’ cycling community. It will appear here the second Wednesday of every month. Getting around en bicicleta is nothing new for the hometown, mind you, but increased eco-consciousness, the improving scope and scale of local bike lanes, the high price of auto-reliance (both gaswise and asswise), healthy athletic competition, and plain ol’ fun all add up to more Alamo city peeps on bikes all the time. So it was time, we felt, for you pedallers to have a voice.
So speak up: If you’re a bikey type your ownself, why not become a bona-fide published Two Wheels Good guest columnist? A funny anecdote, some advice, a rant, a fun route, a warning, a special event, a philosophy … pitch any ideas all to me at [email protected]. Looking forward to hearing from y’all. Maybe you’ll inspire me to commit harder to that pretty li’l Electra my friend Danielle gave me. Maybe. — Sarah Fisch
I hadn’t riden a bike in more than 25 years when, in 2006, I met a group called the S.A. Punk Bike Ramblers. The ride started behind Sam’s Burger Joint, and we rode to the Frio City Bar. Halfway there I thought, I should turn around, but I didn’t, and when we arrived and I finally dismounted, my legs felt like rubber bands.
I was hooked, and have been riding ever since.
While on that day I borrowed my best friend’s son’s bicycle, I now own three: A Fuji road bike, a Bianchi touring bike, and an Electra cruiser. I’ve accomplished a major personal goal, too — riding the MS 150, a two-day, 180-mile ride from Houston to Austin benefitting the Multiple Sclerosis Society, in 2008.
I started the High Heel Bicycle Club in September 2008. It started out as a female-only group ride — a chance for ladies to get together, dress up, enjoy cocktails, then ride our bikes in heels while enjoying great conversation and company. Eventually, though, guys asked why they couldn’t ride with us. I broke down and let them join HHBC, if only to chaperone. We meet every third Friday of the month at Pedicab Bar and Grill at 7 p.m., and ride out at 7:30. From there we cruise around downtown, sometimes picking up riders along the way. HHBC rides attract anywhere from two to 20-plus riders. We ride in the winter all dressed up in fancy coats and heels, we ride in costumes and heels on Halloween night, we adorn ourselves during Fiesta with paper flowers, and we even ride tandems in heels. Now, I let prospective HHBC-ers know that high heels aren’t mandatory on our rides, but they looking freakin’ sexy on a bike.
There are other female-oriented bicycle groups, such as Ride Like a Girl, that started way before HHBC. (Note: Ride Like a Girl also lets the boys come along.) The only difference between their ride and the HHBC is that they ride road bikes in spandex and helmets. Not that I have anything against that, since I too wear spandex and a helmet, but on the HHBC ride, after working and dealing with my own children (one of whom rides from time to time with HHBC), I just want to let my hair down, put on a pretty outfit and sexy heels, and ride.
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting and riding with Amigas en Bicicletas. These ladies also have boy members who ride often, and on any given day they will post on Faceboook that they will be riding that evening or that weekend — everybody’s welcome, but keep in mind that in order to get your own amigas brass-knuckles necklace, you need to drink a lot of shots and accept a lot of hugs.
It seems like there is always a ride going on: On the last Friday of the month at 9 p.m. in front of the Alamo, you can find up to 100-plus riders who call themselves the Downtown High Life Bicycle Club (founded by Current “Travels with Frenchie” columnist Mark Jones); on second Saturdays, in back of Sam’s Burger Joint at 8p.m., join up with the Second Saturday Bike Pub Crawlers. And there’s the First Friday ride, The Saturday-morning empanada ride, cruiser rides, Monday-night Mission rides: Whatever ride fits your fancy, you will find it any day of the week. If you don’t have a bike of your own, rent one.
With San Antonio busting with rides and San Antonians becoming aware of riders, it won’t be long before San Antonio will be a city of cyclists. And now with the greenway in progress, you will be able to live almost anywhere in S.A. and cycle to work, school, to the grocery store, or even out to a night on the town.
San Antonio is also soon to host a bicycle swap meet, Frankenbike, which originated in Austin five years ago. Swappers meet once a month at various locations in Austin, and on May 15, SATX will have its first Frankenbike at the Pedicab Bar and Grill from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., organized by San Antonio-born, Georgia-raised Henry Parrilla, who not only organizes Frankenbike in S.A., but also repairs, details, and rebuilds bicycles. This is a great chance to buy a whole bike or bike parts, sell a bike or bike parts, or just hang out with your bike friends. The next HHBC will be meeting on May 21 and every third Friday after that.
It’s a movement to move, an expression of style, and a show of grace. It’s a celebration of life and the wind in our hair. It’s about getting out of your car and taking back the bike … and looking fabulous while doing it. •