|Photo credit: Eric Thornburg|
Last week's Thursday Night Ride attracted a huge crowd, including some friends I'd invited, and lots of people I don't see on any other rides, including folks new to Portland. The vibe was super inclusive-feeling and welcoming. Mark (last week's leader) made a nice announcement at the beginning about leaving no trace, riding safely and considerately of others, with a clear "don't be a jerk" message, and a suggestion of buddying up with another rider for safety. He also mentioned that these "community guidelines" are listed on a spoke card that was previously handed out. Pretty nifty!
We meandered around downtown with many dueling sound systems, which usually sounds terrible, but sometimes creates a perfectly magical mix. We headed up Goose Hollow, regrouping a couple of times on the hill. Mark is good at keeping people together, and other regulars like TJ, Phillip, Austin and Josh (and maybe others I'm forgetting) helped sweep and keep us together. A bike rider who was not part of our group made a turn (crossing our path) and yelled JACKASS loudly. Because he said "jackass" singular, I can only guess he was referring to himself.
An observation I have about corking, which is not exclusive to TNR rides by any means, is the corker's body language. They often face away from the vehicle and toward the cyclists, who then say "thank you corker" as they pass. When I cork, I face the car driver who is waiting, and wave at them and thank them. This is my method of preventing escalation. When others cork, I say "thank you Portland" and wave. It sounds kind of like "thank you corker", but then includes the car drivers. It's amazing how far a smile and wave go to create good will and patience.
We ended up at a nice river side campfire and I didn't get home until 1:30am, which is pretty late for me. It was neat to ride through southeast late at night, seeing nary a motor vehicle and just an occasional lone cyclist winding their way home. Gal dang it I love Portland. And Shifties. And TNR.
None of this TNR-love is meant to negate or deny that there's ever been problems or harassment on the ride. There certainly has, but I see deliberate development from the regulars and leaders. It's definitely a "hooligan ride" and there's a partying component to it. I personally like that but can totally get that others don't. Luckily, there's a ton of other rides to choose from.