Following is our Bike About Town column in today’s SF Chronicle written by member Anna Lebedeff about our Holiday Lights ride happening this Sunday. We hope you’ll join us on this beautiful ride!
Holiday Lights Ride: Viewing the best of S.F. cheer
by Anna Lebedeff
As the seventh annual Holiday Lights Ride approaches, it’s hard to say who is more excited – coordinator Robin Marks or the more than 100 anticipated participants who are decorating their bicycles with ornaments, lights and all the trimmings.
Inspiring people to ride at night is the reason Marks started this ride, and other night rides, along with fellow San Francisco Bicycle Coalition member Nancy Botkin. For five years, they led rides through various parts of San Francisco, promoting safety, fun and friendship from the seats of their bikes.
Marks’ personal spin-off on the classic night ride, the Christmas Lights Ride, is definitely something special.
As children it was easier for us to get lost in the wonders of the holiday season. My sisters and I would split into teams of two, press our faces against the windows of the family station wagon, and count decorated homes as we rode through the city on our way to grandma’s house. Whichever team counted the most trees won.
Robin Marks has found a way to play this game throughout the month of December, then open it up to the public for one night of the best decorations that 49 square miles of city have to offer. Beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving, she trolls the neighborhoods in search of fantastic displays of holiday radiance. Every weekend, she adds twists and turns to ensure the ride varies from previous years. The day before the ride, she locks down the final details.
Two others who are awaiting this year’s ride, Volker Neumann and Melyssa Mendoza, met at last year’s Winterfest fundraiser, and crossed paths again on the Christmas Lights Ride two weeks later. They had heard about the ride through a mutual friend and thought it would be a good place to meet fellow “bikey people.”
They were right. What they found were 120 happy men, women and children, riding bikes, singing songs and frolicking through the enchanted streets of San Francisco.
Marks says she was delighted to hear that people are returning after having had a great time last year. “It’s all about meeting new people,” she said, “getting to know the city, and enjoying riding a bike in a wonderful environment.”
Although the ride may seem long at an average of 10 miles, there are many stops to bask in the glow of a bedazzled home, sip hot chocolate and sing songs.
If you’re new to night rides, or just need a reminder of how to stay safe and warm, here’s a checklist:
– Bring a white headlight and red tail light for your bike. The ride will be at night, and even if you are surrounded by others who are lit up, you’ll want to get to the ride and back home safely.
– Wear a helmet, gloves and warm clothing.
– Decorate your bike with lights. Make sure that cords are securely fastened, away from your gears and pedals. Go on a test ride to make sure that nothing comes loose.
– Bring something warm to drink and some snacks to share. There will be a potluck party at the end of the ride.
6 p.m. Sun. Free for San Francisco Bicycle Coalition members, a $5 donation from non-members is appreciated. Heavy rain postpones ride to Dec. 26. Meet at the Panhandle Statue, Fell and Baker streets. More at: www.sfbike.org.