The Pride Ride is a fairly new Different Spokes regular event, offered every year on Pink Saturday. Back in the day there was no Pride Ride for the simple reason that the club used to have a parade contingent (with float!) and run a booth at Civic Center on Pride, and preparation consumed all the energy (well, at least until party time Saturday evening!) The turnout for the Pride Ride seems to run hot and cold, probably partly due to the weather and partly due to whether folks flee the crowds and weekend festivities or dive in deep. Last year it was just two people including the ride leader. But this year we had 15 cyclists turn out including at least one non-member who saw the announcement of the SF Pride website; David Gaus posted the ride on Facebook and that probably brought out the numerous ALC folks. The weather, lucky for us, cooperated with fine, sunny skies and moderate temps making a stroll through San Francisco a real delight rather than a struggle.
For me the highlight was seeing some old faces: Ann Dunn, Laura Petracek, and Nancy Levin. Ann isn’t a “real” old-timer since she joined in 1991 but she qualifies in my book because she was a member during the club’s heyday with Bike-A-Thon (also in the Den Daddy’s book because he invited her to the Old Farts Ride). I hadn’t run into her in several years, the last time being when she showed up unexpectedly on a ride I was leading in Orinda. Ann was one of the strong women who knew how to put down the pedal in earnest. Many former members of Different Spokes such as Ann drift away from the club; I’ve never gotten around to asking her why. For some the club is a temporary port—cycling served a purpose in one phase of life and then it no longer did—but cycling is no fad for Ann; she’s in it for life. She showed up at the Pride Ride on an upright hybrid with flat bars and flat pedals rather than her racing bike. She confessed to me that she had crashed no less than three times in 2016 and since then has been rather timid. We commiserated about the indignities of aging that make cycling in our dotage a real challenge. Of course, once we were afoot she promptly went to the front, flat pedals and all! I love it when we oldies can fool fate maybe just for an afternoon and pretend we are young once again by dropping you youngsters!
Laura Petracek also drifted away from the club. She came to the club through CAR or ALC, I forget which. But having a hectic job—at a prison no less—and taking care of a family meant she was riding less and less. But now she was back…with a new job and a new hip! She is just six months post-surgery from a hip replacement and here she was riding her bike. She did pretty damn good for just the fourth time back on the bike. She may not have been the fastest (well, actually she was the slowest) rider but she kept a steady pace all the way back to Peet’s. One of the things I love about Laura is her undeniable positive attitude despite all the crap she’s had to put up with. And she never complains.
Nancy Levin has been pretty scarce on club rides recently. She’s another Spoker who’s had some unfortunate crashes and has gotten a bit gunshy. But you couldn’t keep her away and she’s back riding again. Nancy is the Ann Dunn of this era: she’s often the lone female who shows up on a “boys” ride and isn’t afraid to do the nasty up Mt. Diablo or any other ridiculously hard ride. Nancy also likes to bike tour, so we’ve had many a conversation about international touring as well as the state of the club while we’re climbing together.
The Pride Ride careens around the west side of SF, through the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, down the Great Highway and up Mt. Davidson. As you would expect from a large group the pace was all over the place. Some blasted away and others strolled but we had several regrouping spots that gave plenty of time for chitchat, posing, and looking fabulous. Eventually we all assembled again at Destination Bakery for well deserved noshing and a long break. By the end it was just Roger Sayre, David Gaus, Laura, and Roger & I to head back to the Castro. When we hit Valencia Street the relative quiet we had until then was replaced by rampant car traffic, most of which was making its way to the Castro for Pink Saturday and the Dyke March. The only misfortune was David getting ambushed with a flat on Valencia just before the end. The Pride Ride may not be a long ride or a hard ride but it put us all in the right frame of mind for Pride Weekend. See you next year!