One WTF Pride Ride

As the gentle evening dances around our shop, nightfall playfully evades our sight in the wake of the Summer Solstice. The lifeblood of our Women/Trans/Femme community beats in radiant exhilaration at each and every WTF Ride, yet in none felt so vibrantly as the Pride Ride, which embarks in an effervescence of radiant queer visibility on the final Monday of June.

Above, the evening sky remains a vivid blue. Faded yet fluffy, a spattering of clouds drift overhead, forming whimsical shapes like playful sponge painting. One of us points out a cobra — the cloud’s gossamery head rearing against the low sun. A soft yellow glow radiates beneath the hood of the snake, fierce eyes and bared teeth illuminated by the vestigial glow of daylight. Nature’s fearsome glory unfurls, bathed in gold, gazing down upon the ride.

The monthly BICAS WTF Ride flows seamlessly from our WTF workshop — a weekly space dedicated to empowering women, trans people of all genders, and femmes, in cycling, mechanics, and community bonds. The ride cultivates a safe and inclusive communal space for those historically excluded from cycling and mechanics due to gender.

In tandem, BICAS WTF maintains an active commitment as a validating space for queer people. Last month, the Spring Fling Ride adorned bikes with intricate flowers of tubes; the month prior was documented here with background detail, honoring wishes. This year’s Pride Ride, held together in community partnership with Queer AF, promises a night wreathed in celebration, enthusiasm, and queer joy.

The shop is quiely active in the hour leading up to the ride. Shortly before 6, one interested party stops by to confirm the time of the ride. We clarify that the ride is scheduled for 7, but we gather at 6:30 to ensure that everyone is well-prepared and comfortable and to preempt any potential barriers to a smooth ride. Today lends an example when a rider needs a bicycle to join us. Our rental bikes, typically priced at $8 for a day and $20 for a week, are freely available for the WTF Ride. After a quick test ride and a pump of the wheels, the green fixie is all set to go.

All of our shop services, including Community Tools, Community Service, Work Trade, and shopping, are available in the WTF Workshop. In the fix-a-flat area, at a quarter to 7, our WTF coordinator Lee is assisting another eager rider. Old friends gather about the scene in vibrantly rambunctious energy, new friends join, and community coalesces in a vibrant synergy. Ahead of the ride, love fills the air as cyclists come together in testimony of queer resilience and loud, unapologetic Pride: our rubber upon roads paved by structures which cloak violence and call it discomfort, which skirt by oppression through erasure.

Safety and comfort for riders is utmost priority. A few minutes past closing, Lee responds to inquiries about bike lights by re-opening the drawer. Our simplest pair of durable lights is $25, while our cheaper little lights are provided at no cost. Group riding, one cyclist points out knowledgeably, protects an unlit rider from traffic-related harm, but it’s important to be safe. Lee double checks — does anyone else need lights or water? Everyone is ready and excited.

Names and pronouns are exchanged, alongside a question if everyone consents to being photographed for this post. As on every ride, each rider receives a spoke card, which fits nestled between the spokes of each bike.

On one side amidst broken chains the words “no one of us can be free until everybody is free,” arc about the Progress Pride flag, which flows seamlessly into the flags of Palestine, Sudan, and Congo. We draw upon the tradition of Maya Angelou on the intersection of race and gender, alongside so many intersectional feminists, queer activists, and transfeminists, who tread before and after in her legacy.

Rooted in Jim Crow-era pan-Africanism, the quote resonates just as deeply in our time where violence is no less legislated, where power structures tactically and selectively use pinkwashing with aim to weaken and divide those they marginalize by race, sexuality, and gender. While honoring and recognizing the distinct challenges faced by transgender and queer people of color, to echo Maya Angelou’s words is to resonate both inclusivity and solidarity that not only enriches us, but is necessary, for flourishment, strength, and unity. In the legacy of Maya Angelou, who through her poetry drew parallels between the tactics of segregationists and violent intimidation of gay rights on the steps of the US Capitol in 1993, we recognize the inherent power in educating ourselves and learning from one another, to stand together alongside all marginalized, oppressed, and disenfranchised peoples!

On the back of each spoke card, the ride’s route has been artfully overlaid with our BICAS WTF logo — which deliberately draws both upon the transgender symbol and Black power fist — and the Queer AF logo — which draws upon the neurodiversity symbol, an intersection exponentially represented among LGBTQIA+ people — bound with an rounded heart.

Pedaling together down the hill, spoke cards blurring, we begin our descent from BICAS. All WTF Rides are no-drop and party-paced, and this one takes us on an easygoing route, dotted with parks and rest stops, and totaling just under ten miles. Riders of many fitness levels are invited on our monthly WTF Rides.

The setting inherently creates a relaxed, yet deeply energetic space, where conversations ebb and flow naturally. People start up banter at random; joyfully they call out brand new friends by name — bikes glide alongside each other, weaving in a formation where no person is left out or neglected. We ride, embraced by the warm evening air and the vibrant hum of an upbeat playlist—a lively fusion of hip-hop and pop spanning the past few decades. The atmosphere is electric, each pedal stroke affirming a sense of belonging. Amid twilit streets, within our twelve-member bubble’s self-sustaining effervescence of pride, all are welcomed, validated, and valued.

The ride leader, Shay, smoothly guides us along a scenic route to Circle K, smoothly maneuvering downhill with a right turn followed by a couple of left turns, the flag of Myanmar billowing vibrantly in the breeze. For any in need, this pit stop at Circle K offers a chance to refuel with snacks and drinks. Shay checks in on people, to see if they want to stop, to intuit if they’re comfortable and having fun.

As safety rider, Lee zips no less smoothly into the parking lot, having blocked traffic at each intersection. They are decked out gloriously for Pride, with socks and shorts in trans colors and crochet earrings in the shape of the Progress Pride flag. In the parking lot of the Circle K, they gracefully dismount their bike. Joyous conversations fill the air, and a handful dart inside for drinks, voices weaving bright light in the fading daylight.

The sweep rider Ship takes up the rear, equally integral to safety, ensuring no person is left behind on the ride. Ship skillfully adjusts their speed on a bicycle whose rear light flickers in the distinctive shape of a red flame, always behind the group, no matter the pace.

Indeed, in the few minutes since arriving at the Circle K, the sky has grown considerably darker. Though it’s not yet 8 o’clock, sunset has passed us, with Mother Nature slowly catching up; the oranges of the sky now blend into a rich, textured navy.  Heading southward on 6th we next turn towards University, pedaling amidst the night.

We pass the stone gate and traverse the winding campus around the admissions office, next continuing down the long stretch of campus road where a peculiar scent hovers, until University Boulevard meets Campbell. The sun has completely fallen, engulfing us in profound darkness, where Shay, Lee, and Ship guide us through the intersection. Our WTF rides are always open to leaders, safety riders, and sweep riders from the community! Eastward bound, we glide back into unlit neighborhoods, our red and white lights dancing like reflections of the stars themselves.

Just before reaching Himmel Park, one rider chooses to depart at a small roundabout on Treat. We’ve reached the easternmost point of our route, and all are welcome to participate in whatever extent suits their vibe.

This park is our first stop, for rest and relaxation. We bike past the playground, the workout structures, and the library, whose glowing sign indicates it has past regular hours — incidentally, the library is temporarily shut due to a broken AC. Fortunately, like a cooling balm, the night eases the grip of summer’s heat.

Where the sidewalk kisses the road, we ride forth, front wheels skimming a small grassy knoll by the edge of the parking lot. It’s a gentle incline; some cyclists ride up while others dismount and walk their bikes the couple yards to its rounded summit. On the soft, lush grass — a rare luxury in the desert — there’s no better place to enjoy the company of others and ourselves. Beside a robust grayish tree, bicycles lie abandoned, snacks are savored, and laughter resonates through the air.

Once we return to Treat is when the sky begins to sing. Just past Mabel, three bolts of lightning illuminate the heavens with celestial brilliance, yet the air around us retains its comforting warmth. Turning left onto Elm, we venture deeper into the night. Grass, so rare in the desert, is lush and dark, like a soft blanket under the night which smooths away insects and twigs. Waverly Circle Park encircles just such grass — a racetrack where the roundabout serves more than just traffic flow.

Round and round we ride. A couple us declare a race; but what defines a race? Who can determine fast or slow without a clear start or end? In a ride welcoming to all fitness levels, such meaning momentarily fades. What is a circle if not an expression of eternity — of past and future? Under the night sky, we honor our queer elders in a radiant atmosphere overflowing with vibrantly unapologetic queer identity. In the dark of night, we are loud, joyous, and unabashedly visible.

In raucous approval, lightning flashes once more far overhead as we depart the circle and head towards the next park. Our final stop at Tahoe Park is the longest one yet. And who can blame us? If biking is exhilarating, then how could one describe the physical and mental engagement of a playground, which transcends age? There are stepping stumps to balance on, structures to ascend, the exhilaration of soaring on a swing or rushing down a slide. And as for the slide — is there a better setting in the universe for spontaneous moments of perfection? One person slides down, coming to a stop at the tapered base. The next person doesn’t wait to slide, nor does the next. Soon, seven or more of us are stacked on the slide, each supporting another’s weight, over half of the plastic slide filled with bodies which shake in strained triumph.

After much climbing on the jungle gym and swinging on the monkey bars, we’re finally back on the move! Our bikes have waited patiently for us to mount, while the sense of kinship has never shone brighter—a tight-knit warmth that has come to bind us together already.

We flow through the city on our way back towards BICAS. Just past Diamond Children’s Center, there’s a shortcut path from Campbell to Lester. We glide westward, making comfortable time back towards the shop. Here and there, the road has collected sand from recent summer rains. Warnings echo through the group as we navigate the rougher patches of road.

Finally, we round the crook in the road that shifts us from 6th to 7th, before making our northward turn onto the last stretch of road, smoothly returning to BICAS.

The final stretch is the steepest. It’s a hard push from those on rental fixies, but we all make it, glowing and flushed with the satisfaction of connection. Together, we all come to a stop by the door — some having pushed harder over that last stretch of hill, others choosing to take it slow, to savor these final, fleeting moments. In the BICAS WTF ride, flourishes the embodiment of joy, resilience in order to thrive; queer strength and grief, rage and love, pain and pride, in a palpable vibrancy of interconnected luminescence. The fleeting moment persists.

Conversation continues as Lee opens the shop, lighting up the murals across our interior walls, and we head inside for water and the bathrooms. The weather tonight has been pleasantly warm, and the air remains calm. The distant rumble of lightning has yet to bring the anticipated rainfall, which is fated to begin around midnight. The time as the ride ends is 9:30 PM.

Every heart remains aglow as the night slowly ends. Some cyclists pedal home, while others organize makeshift carpools to provide rides. Still, there are those who linger, chatting and enjoying each other’s company in the parking lot for a good hour after the ride’s culmination. There’s no rush, and the camaraderie felt among us knows no deadline — no bounds — no constraints or end. This continues forever.

The WTF Ride is every last Monday in the month. We gather at 6:30 PM and depart at 7 PM! All women, trans people of all genders, and femmes are welcome! The next WTF Ride will be Monday, July 29th.