Rock The Bike

Weird coincidence

This afternoon in the workshop I got a call from Joel, the drummer from Afrolicious and Pleasure Maker (Thursdays at the Elbo Room). I met Joel when we were on the 2-Mile Challenge tour together. He said,

“Sorry I couldn’t make it to your gig last week, I was working.”

“Doing what?”


“Moving? Like for cash?


“How much they paying you?”

“18 an hour.”

“Dang, I’d offer you work at Rock the Bike, because we need help with assembly and packing and shipping right now, but we normally pay only $12.”

“That’s OK man, I’d totally work for you, because I believe in what you’re doing.”

“Really? Thanks Joel.”

“No problem. And you should come by the Elbo tonight.”

“Thanks, I’ll try to make it around 11. Can you put me on the guest list?”

Then I got home, had dinner and got a text from Julia about an event at Cellspace.

“OK I’ll swing by, but I’m going to Elbo later.”

The exhibit at Cell Space was an incredible cardboard city about 20 feet by ten feet, with a miniature helicopter floating around. There was a miniature remote control helicopter flying through the skyscrapers of the cardboard city. It’s up until April 17. Gotta go see it!

Anyway, after checking out the city, I suggested a cruise so we left. It was me, Julia, and Tyson, whose chain sounded like a chorus of crickets. We had a great ride up to Billy Goat hill, and watched the city. It was late so I had to coax them to come with me to the Elbo Room. But it was a downhill cruise awaiting us so it wasn’t that hard. Three abreast on Cesar Chavez was really nice. Julia was saying we felt like a bike gang. The Plush Red Down Glow on my my mom’s Electra was sweet. Sometimes it’s good to ride a totally simple bike. I can see the appeal of fixed gear bikes. I just love me knees. Anyway, we roll up to the Elbo Room. The woman at the door let all three of us in. Sure enough, Joel was in his element playing along on traps with Afrolicious. During a set break I got to introduce him to my friends and catch up a little. We danced until 1 or so and then cruised. I sprayed Boeshield on Tyson’s chain and said goodbye.

I headed upstairs and parked in front of the computer like I normally do when I should be sleeping. I checked the What’s Hot page on Rock the Bike. I noticed a comment on my post about JoyRider clothing, entitled bicycle fashion:

“Bravo! A clothing line that is not centered around spandex! At Velo Vogue, we also applaud cycling in normal fashionable clothing. Clothing lines such as Joyrider will help de-marginalize cycling for transportation! Looking good!”

So I clicked the link and sure enough it’s a hip little blog about San Francisco bicycle fashion, with lots of fun photos. And there at the bottom of the page, ladies and gentlemen, was Joel Elrod, riding with a companion in Golden Gate park, wearing a black hat and a cool T-shirt:


Our commute home.

When your new assembly and shipping employee has a hernia, and he’s carrying a heavy messenger style backpack with the used mountain bike frame you gave him strapped on it, and he’s on the cell phone with his father as you ride home to West Oakland BART together, telling his dad he has back pain that shoots down his left leg, and you know he doesn’t have health insurance and is fighting the system to schedule his surgery, you don’t just keep riding. You stop, take his pack, and strap it to your Xtracycle, even though you’re already carrying your own stuffed messenger bag, 8 DLG‘s, and a box of Schwalbe tires that the Ginger Ninjas need for their tour. Because you can.

And then, when you take a few pedal strokes, you ‘re surprised how good it feels, not the good samaritan act of helping your employee at the end of a long day, but riding the bike itself, and you say out loud, “Whoah, it’s even easier than before; I think the load is more balanced now. I must have been fighting it a little before.” When those types of this things happen to you, on a regular basis, you’re riding an Xtracycle.

OK, here’s another one. I was literally in the BART the other night and an attractive grad student pulled her face out of her text book to say “Nice bike. What do you carry on that?” And it’s not the first time it has happened.

I urge bike people who haven’t seriously considered getting themselves a long bike to let these anecdotes sink in. It’s only by experiencing magic scenes like these that you understand how transformative it can be to have a dependable, nimble, fun cargo hauling ride like the Xtracycle or the Mundo.