Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cycling in the New London St Patrick's Day Parade

The BikemanforU doesn’t know yet that he’s likely to find himself riding in the St Patrick’s Day Parade next year in New London.

He could lead us with his sideways circus bike. And we could fall in with our bikes and One Less Car T-shirts. The commuter bike would certainly be there.

Had it not been for the commuter bike, there’d be no parade photos this year. The idea of driving downtown and hunting for a parking space was daunting enough to stay home. But the bike would go where a motor vehicle could not.

With a new large Wald basket on a newly adjusted handlebar, thanks to BikemanforU, the bike was at the door and poised for action on this sunny afternoon.

The brisk ride downtown took a couple minutes. New London’s a small New England cycling city, with not so much traffic that a reluctant cyclist would feel overwhelmed. A cyclist can ride just about anywhere in a few minutes.

So, it’s no surprise bikes were officially part of the whaling city’s fourth annual St Paddy’s Day Parade. The Pequot Cycling Club was well-represented with its exuberant recreational riders, known for their parties and back road tours of eastern Connecticut.

The fledgling parade started at Bank Street, famous for legendary saloons and now known for the annual winter Hygienic Art Festival. The bike easily found a spot where the throng stood one deep, then posed for pictures against a backdrop of marchers.

The parade went on for nearly an hour. Marching bands from schools and fire departments, politicians, and local businesses made up most of the 500 marchers. After a giant Rita’s Custard waved the last salute, the bike and rider headed for the top of State Street, where the parade crowd filled the sidewalks.

The U.S. Navy ROTC, about 100 young men and women in jet black uniforms, was marching around the corner. They marched past the parade’s end point, where the Pequot Cyclers and other marchers had fallen out, and they kept on going in formation. A reluctant cyclist inadvertently rode with them briefly until someone shouted “watch out,” resulting in apologies all the way around.

This would never happen with BikemanforU leading us in the parade. Will we have a float?

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