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Denver Cruiser Riders, It's Time to Get Back in the Saddle

You get all types of bikes (and people) at the Denver Cruiser Ride.
You get all types of bikes (and people) at the Denver Cruiser Ride. Jacqueline Collins
Fifteen months of Denver streets devoid of masses of bicycles had left Denver Cruiser Ride founder Brad Evans itching to get back in the saddle, and tonight will mark the triumphant return of the DCR that fans have been waiting for. After sixteen years of Wednesday night rides, the DCR is returning June 24 — yes, it's a Thursday. Riders will gather at 8 p.m. in RiNo Art Park; the ride will begin at 8:30.

Evans started the DCR in 2005, after moving to Denver from Boulder. While Boulder had a cruiser ride at the time, there was no such thing in Denver.

"I called some friends, said, 'Hey, we're gonna start riding on Wednesday nights.' Thirteen people came on that first ride, and the rest is history," Evans recalls. "Here we are, seventeen summers later, still riding bikes."

The DCR was quite the party at times. The ride used to stop by bars; every week had a theme, and riders were encouraged to wear costumes. And then there were traditions like the Circle of Death, when hundreds of bicycles would spin around in a cyclone of chaos. As Evans recalls it, the tradition started when "we had ridden over to Civic Center Park and rode around in circles in the Greek Theater, and two of us crashed and I cut my finger open, and that was kind of the birth of the Circle of Death."

click to enlarge
The Circle of Death in all its glory in 2012.
Despite the seemingly random nature of the Circle of Death, Evans says the rides always focused on observing law and order both within the group and between the group and the rest of Denver. He created a list of commandments for bicyclists to follow in order to maintain the peace each week, including things like "Thou shall have fun on the Denver Cruiser Ride," "Honor the Denver Bicycle Municipal Code" and "Thy opponent with the most lug nuts wins."

"There's other rides, like Critical Mass," he explains. "We have always likened ourselves to 'Critical Manners,' so really trying to build a community that doesn't run red lights, doesn't ride on sidewalks, and behaves in a way that is fun and congenial rather than angry and mean."

Wheeler-dealer Evans is about much more than the DCR. He created Bike City Mag, ran for a seat on the RTD board in 2018, maintains several Facebook pages both disparaging and hailing Denver, advocates for the community, and works as a graphic designer and a licensed real estate broker. Still, putting the DCR on hold during the pandemic brought mixed emotions.

"It was a relief in some ways, and it was also sad, right? That is something that we've done for a long time," Evans explains. "It wasn't responsible to do it last summer, and we're later than normal this year, but we just wanted to hold back and make sure that enough people were vaccinated and we wouldn't become a hot spot."

After such a long break, Evans has no idea what the turnout will be for tonight's ride. "It could be five people, could be 500 people," he admits. Cyclists are encouraged to bring lights and locks for their bikes, helmets for their heads, and brains to put under them.

Advises Evans: "Common sense is the number-one thing you should bring to these rides."

Find out more about the Denver Cruiser Ride here.
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Gabrielle Bye, a former editorial fellow at Westword, writes about news, politics and food. In her spare time, she loves to enjoy nature and eat locally.
Contact: Gabrielle Bye