Long Nights, Hot Days, Open Streets


Last week, I threw together an article listing the highlights of Bike Walk Week 2012.  Having a little over 400 words to detail the events of 10 days packed full of actvities all over the Metropolitan Area, I took a minimalist approach, focusing on data in an organized and easily accessible manner.  I hyperlinked every other word or so for those who wished to learn more.

After submitting the article to my editor, I bemoaned that I didn’t have the time to write the series of articles the week deserved.  My catering job kept me busy, and I ended up missing much of the festivities of the week.  I’m okay with this, as every week is Bike Walk week for me.

However, having a little time to experience the tail end of the week at the Open Streets festival inspired me to write more about this week.  I rushed home to my notebook and my girlfriend’s laptop and decided to enjoy the comfort of typing in front of the air conditioning unit, much to the chagrin of my cat Wyatt who typically enjoys the primary cold breeze zone.

The official start of summer is the ritual of installing said window A/C unit.  Friday evening saw me riding west down the RiverLake Greenway with a large piece of foamboard in my left hand.  Thankfully, the wind had died down, as the foamboard tended to function as a large sail.  I cut the foamboard outside to avoid a duststorm of foam particles in my apartment.  With a loose-bladed exactoknife and under the watch of Loud Cell Phone Lady, I cut the pieces of foam necessary to install a 21st-Century A/C unit into a turn-of-the-20th-Century window.

Saturday night was the long-awaited Northern Sparks festival.  The previous year, my coworker Daddy Lee and I made a bundle pouring Summits and selling soda and water to the crowds at the Walker Art Center Open Field.  This year, the management at D’Amico Catering decided to step up their game a peg and added a full bar and grill food until 1 a.m.  D.L. and I feared that the night would not be as lucrative to us with so many hands on deck, but with an increase in supply came an increase in demand.  Even after 1 a.m., with our grill shut down and our liquor license not allowing us to serve alcohol any more, we were swamped with hordes of people for water, soda, snack mixes, cookies, and s’mores packs to roast over the bonfires on the hill.  After over 9 hours of frantic scrambling, I left the museum just after dawn at 5:30 a.m. to go home and sleep the deep sleep my cats enjoy daily.

At 12:30 p.m. or so (the day is now Sunday), I awoke having not stirred from sleep once.  The temptation to lie in bed and watch Dexter all day was powerful, but I knew blocks away awaited the Open Streets festival on Lyndale.  I took a cold shower, listening to Broadway showtunes, and drank some cold water in preparation for the oppressive heat (high of 93°F today).

My legs seemed confused as to why they were being used to pedal myself to Lyndale, but my brain reassured them it was worth it.  At Lyndale, I took a left to check out the northern end of Open Streets.  By the Alt, there were Nice Ride slow races and some sort of race by the Twin Cities Terrors.  Little Szechuan had food out front, or so shouted the woman working there.  North of Lake, by the Herkimer, there were skaters doing tricks.  In front of Tiger Sushi, there were B boys doing moves in the street.  I quickly ran into Lowrah and Xipe Totec doing laps.  Lowrah appeared to be in a trance of bicycle rapture.  Xipe was in an outfit for the Brompton Race that morning, but I didn’t notice that until he pointed it out because he’s often in special outfits for no special reason.  We rode to the northern terminus at 22nd Street where there was a solar-powered sound system vehicle playing Salt N’ Pepa.  After turning around, Xipe turned off at Bob’s Java Hut, and I continued onward to check out the southern end.

There was a bike-decorating workshop around 34th Street that I was unable to find, but there was some pretty good live music in front of Twin Town Guitars.  Around this time, I ran into Dorian Hawkmoon who has the ability to be in all parts of Uptown at the same time and uses wormhole technology to commute by bicycle to Plymouth and back.  He’s very quantum.  We rolled down the southern end which had a bike rodeo course for children, Zumba in the DaVita parking lot, flamenco music at El Meson (complete with flamenco dancers with castañets), and street Tai Chi.  Dorian and I parted ways, but I would see him again four or five times (remember: he’s quantum).  It’s a small city, and it gets even smaller with Open Streets.

At the southern terminus was the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, where I found Lisa Bender and Jeremy Werst (I don’t have any nicknames for them, yet).  We’ve been bicycle infrastructure nerds for a while, so we had a short exchange about the future of Washington Avenue South (not to be confused with Washington Avenue Southeast, Washington Avenue North, or Washington Street Northeast) and some remarks His Honor Mayor R.T. Rybak made at the Bicycle Stamp Parade about excluding bicycles from the avenue.  We are displeased about this, but the day was not for displeasure, so we shook it off and focused on more positive facets.  Lisa congratulated me on my ascendancy to Gonzo Journalist.

I then ran into 2Fast4Love by a short obstacle course.  He took some photos while I was there, as he is wont to do, and we chewed the fat a bit.  I cut it short to head to Lucé for a slice of ‘za.  I sat on the bench on the southeast corner of Bryant Square Park and took no prisoners with that ‘za.

I did a few more laps taking in the sights: a large outdoor patio at French Meadow, the Uptown Market in the Intermedia Arts parking lot, square dancing at 31st Street, strategically placed sprinklers through which to bike, a mother teaching her young daughter to bike without training wheels, a rubber ducky lemonade stand, a half dozen bike shop mechanic stands, Minnesota and North Star Roller Girls.  I had a brief chat with El Richard and Daniel So Sure Right Now in front of Muddy Waters.  We discussed the weather.

This is where I decided that I needed to write the article about Bike Walk Week I wanted to write.  The original plan was to bike home, grab a notebook, and bike back, but I’ve already discussed why this plan was aborted.  Having completed the catharsis of this disorganized rant, I am going to attend to my secretary and cat Doc.  He wants cuddles.