The Happy Thursday Cruiser Ride turns 30 this year and is still adding weirdness and whimsy to Boulder’s bike scene
By Sara Bruskin
It feels like a magical bit of serendipity whenever I take visiting friends around Boulder and we happen to cross paths with the Happy Thursday Cruiser Ride. A distant sound of music grows louder until we see dozens of cyclists headed our way, some wearing costumes and some riding bikes covered in lights. The huge swarm of people ring their bells and shout “Happy Thursday!” as they pass by in a blaze of festive energy.
Seeing out-of-towners’ reactions to this spectacle is always priceless. They range from baffled silence to some variation of, “You really weren’t kidding about Boulder,” to my personal favorite, “What in the sparkly magic f%*& was that?!”
Holding tight to the mantra “Keep Boulder Weird,” the Happy Thursday Cruiser Ride has been going strong for 30 years. It originally started at Sports Garage, a cycling shop at 27th and Spruce streets in Boulder, where employees would go out riding together once a week after shutting down the store. They began inviting friends to join their rides, and those friends invited other friends and so on. These days, 50 to 125 people gather each week from April through October for the cruiser ride and the outdoor dance party that always follows it.
“It grew exponentially because people were hungry for this. They wanted something to do after work that was fun, free, inviting and open to all,” says Gabriel (last name omitted by request), who helps facilitate the cruiser rides. He’s one of the stewards of the ride, as they call themselves—people who have inherited the legacy from past organizers.
There are no owners or official leaders of this Burning Man-esque group, which allows the gatherings to grow and evolve organically in whatever direction the participants choose to take them. Stewards help out by planning rides and ensuring everything goes smoothly, while others work to enhance the gatherings in their own ways.
“For some, that means wearing the most fabulous and elaborate costumes, and for some, it’s making and customizing music trailers,” Gabriel says. “Some people bring food carts to the dance party and make quesadillas, but none of this is required, none of this is super orchestrated. We’re just creating a space for people to come and be creative and contribute, and it’s worked out really well so far.”
To keep the rides fresh and exciting, the group meets at a different location each week and rides along different routes. They have weekly themes that people can plan their costumes around, some of which are repeated every year, like the ’80s ride, the lingerie ride and a common favorite, the Halloween ride that closes out the season.
This year, their gatherings will have an extra dose of revelry as they celebrate 30 years of spreading magic around town. “It’s an important part of Boulder’s history,” says Gabriel. “It’s an important part of Boulder’s culture, of its community, and it will continue on for as long as it wants to.”
To keep up with the cruiser ride themes and find out where the group will be gathering, follow them on Instagram @boulderbikenight or on Facebook under Happy Thursday Cruiser Ride.