[Text by Casey Kelbaugh]
We must have been 50 strong as we pushed our pedals through the warm May afternoon up the Western shore of Manhattan. The destination for this motley crew of cyclists and cycles? Slideluck Bikeshow – perhaps the world’s first celebration specifically of food, art, community and bicycling – but likely not the last.
Just ahead of me was a Turk who, after living in the city for years, was having his first epiphany-ride across town. Beside me, brothers and sisters from Miami and Dallas who had come to town for a dose of something different. And bringing up the rear, was a Landmark Vintage blue Schwinn tandem bike, which had crossed the Williamsburg bridge and was on it’s way to anchoring the Bron Imaging/Fotocare photobooth at the grand old Hosteling International flagship.
Upon arrival at 104th and Amsterdam, I realized the Group Ride was really more like 15 strong, but beyond the iron gates were many more like us! Spread out before us was a lush spring meadow filled with sun-kissed people, lively tunes from The People’s Champs, cold Brooklyn Brews, and the smell of grilled cheese, mango chicken, fresh cornbread, fried whiting, and barbequed chicken.
It was difficult to not appreciate just being outdoors on a day as glorious as May 12, 2012 – under a bangin’ blue sky, surrounded by red brick and leafy green trees. And it wasn’t long before that sun dropped, allowing Carly Planker to kick off the evening’s programming – the only distraction being the baseline from a Sweet Sixteen party being held in the space adjacent to the bike valet.
Sharing a space with a Sweet Sixteen party isn’t all bad. Every trip to the bathroom brought a different constellation of teenage boys dressed in pink and white pimp suits, girls tripping out of the stalls in heels, and every kind of booze a sixteen year old can imagine being quickly poured down throats. Following their bathroom jam-sessions, several groups of Slideluckers found themselves on the balloon-festooned dance floor only to get quickly reprimanded by chaperones.
Two lucky ladies walked home with new bicycles from Brooklyness and Specialized. Men went home with new sets of pink tires and Star Wars cycling jerseys from Light Street Cycles in Baltimore. Many other prizes were awarded – including one to Dirk Anschütz by Peloton Magazine for his work.
The slideshow was comprised of 22 pieces about bicycling from all corners of the continent, with a heavy bias on the cycling life of New Yorkers. The music selections were as diverse and interesting as the slide shows and short films playing across the grassy lawn and the terrace below.
[A couple bricks were also thrown over the 15-foot tall wrought-iron fence at our fantastic volunteers when they refused to pass cold Brooklyn Brewery beers through the bars to the tossers - but that's neither here nor there.]
The slideshows ended and people giddily flooded the Rotobooth and tandem photo booth. Helmets were strapped on for long journeys back to the outer reaches of Brooklyn. Cycle-groups gathered their teams to make the short journey to the afterparty at the Ding Dong Lounge for some dissonant French rock ‘n roll.
Apparently the tandem bike, which was now on it’s third set of riders, didn’t make it back across the Williamsburg Bridge until almost 4 in the morning. But that is unconfirmed. More likely, the vintage beauty pulled off Broadway in the Theater District and continues to enjoy the limelight there.