Political Protest on Wheels
“Where did all these beautiful people come from?” asked a shoeless man wandering along strumming his guitar for pocket change. Maybe he felt a sense of kinship with the 35 cyclists who had gathered at the corner of Lincoln Road and Washington Avenue for a politically charged, alley cat bike race to benefit Take Back the Land, the local organization that advocates squatter’s rights and affordable housing. The all day drizzle had thinned out the group to only the most dedicated activists and/or bicycle enthusiast.
“I think it’s a celebration of bikes, and I love that,” said Fiz, one of the organizers.
Like the Take Back the Land itself, an alley cat bike race is organized through word of mouth and the internet, doesn’t seek city approval and is chaotic and spontaneous in it’s execution. The route, which was kept secret until minutes before the race, sprawled all the way from the South Beach starting point, to Flagler Street, and all the way up to Umouja Village on NW 62nd Avenue. Sounding like a new age philosophy about life, the racers could take any path they desired just as long as they hit all of the seven check points along the way .
Some races involved lighthearted stops, and alcohol.
“In Orlando, I had to take a body shot off some hairy dude of egg nog,” said Chris Bell, a bicycle mechanic who had come down from West Palm Beach.
This particular race was a tour of some of Miami’s most political spots. At the site of the Arthur McDuffie shooting they signed a petition, at an army recruitment center they left a sign with all the reasons they will not (“Cuz I hate the government & I ain’t gonna die for it!) or can not (“plus I’m a bisexual”) enlist.
Only about twenty of the racers completed the entire course complete with the stickers and objects they had to collect. The last stop, like during anything on a Saturday night in this town, was the after party. -- Kyle Munzenrieder
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