Bike Party

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bike party
Photo by Gabriel Teague

You’ve probably seen them. You’ve most certainly heard them, that brash bash on wheels rolling down Sacramento streets the first Friday of every month. With booze and tunes in tow, these are Bike Party riders, and on Dec. 3 they’ll bring raucous revelry, Santa Claus and wagons full of gifts to Shriners Children’s Northern California.

“All the kids come out to see us or watch from the windows of the hospital,” said longtime Bike Party rider Michelle Novoa. “They are happy to see us with all the bikes lit up.”

Now in its ninth year, Bike Party is a free, loosely organized, self-policed event with basic ground rules, explained organizer Lawrence T. Risley: “Don’t be that guy or gal. Stay right. Stop at lights. Pack your trash. Ride straight. Don’t hate. Have fun. Get loose but don’t get unwound.”

At Bike Party’s October Monster Mash, announced only on social media, a couple hundred riders of every age and demographic assembled at Southside Park. Volunteers passed out Halloween masks, Bike Party flags, drink koozies and rum cocktails. Riders ranged from Burning Man loyalists to a business-suited man to a young couple and their 6-year-old son decked out in glowing skeleton costumes.

Rob Schopen’s rig was draped in streamers, lights, a frighteningly realistic wolf’s head and a Bike Party sail atop a boombox wagon. Cathleen Branich, wearing a tutu and fishnet stockings, piloted a neon-yellow scooter, while Todd Hoover, fresh off a “rat rod” build-off championship win, had outfitted his trike to emit disco lighting effects on the ground beneath him.