In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the creature led a climactic dogsled chase through Antarctica. For the fun-loving bugaboos taking part in Denver's Monster Bike Rally, however, the preferred mode of transport is a pedal-powered two-wheeler, ridden in far more pleasant weather.
"We've tried to do a Halloween ride a few times," says Tony Farfalla of the hosting Monster Bike Posse, "but it's too difficult to get people out in the snow. So we decided to do it in the middle of summer and make fools of ourselves in the sunshine."
To that end, participants dressed in appropriately spooky costumes will gather with their bikes at Civic Center Park on Saturday, August 27, to lawfully assert their collective right to the road. More than 300 costumed riders -- twice as many as attended in 2004 -- are expected. "Last year there were people who dressed up like bats, and when they pedaled, their wings were flapping," Farfalla recalls. "Some people rode tandem bikes that they dressed up like Chinese dragons or ladybugs."
The free get-together is unsponsored ("We're not affiliated with any group, so we don't need permits," Farfalla notes), but the Derailer Bicycle Collective has offered to lend free two-wheelers, while supplies last, to any bike-less guy or ghoul who wants in on the activity. "They're a great group of kids," Farfalla says of the collective. "To them, riding a bike instead of a car is kind of a lifesaving event."
Once riders have coalesced (meeting time is approximately 4 p.m.), they'll take off on a course that will wind around the Denver Art Museum, up to Cheesman Park and back down 16th Street before returning to the Civic Center.
In contrast to the more confrontational Critical Mass, a national organization whose constituents employ tactics such as blocking traffic to protest oil dependence and urban sprawl, the Monster Bike Rally prefers a less radical approach. "The main purpose," explains Falfalla, "isn't to make a political statement. It's just to have fun and to bring the bicycle community of Denver together. Basically, it comes up whenever we're feeling the need to howl at traffic."