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Thanksgiving normally brings family and friends together around the dinner table, but only a Sacramento Thanksgiving brings them together around the Capitol Mall roundabout, whooping and yelling on bicycles. Give thanks for the Appetite Enhancement Bike Ride.
The annual underground bicycle parade attracted over 500 people to the California Stage early Thursday morning. R and 25th streets were littered with road bikes, penny-farthings, low-riders, vintage cruisers, every bike imaginable, plus a giant toaster mobile. DJ Larry Rodriguez' international beats and raffle ramblings rang out over the block.
What started out as a casual ride with a dozen bikers 21 or 22 years ago — no one can really remember — is now a full-fledged fundraising event. The Sacramento Bicycle Messenger Association organized the ride this year, electing to donate the raffle funds to Bikes to Rwanda, a non-profit organization that provides cargo bikes for Rwandan coffee farmers.
"Unknowingly they're giving to charity," said Vincent Sterne, founder and former organizer of the ride, stressing that people come for a good time, give money because they always have fun. "It's joyful for everybody."
The joy spread through the streets of Downtown Sacramento, east on P Street and Capitol Mall, north through Old Sac and along the Sacramento River, ending at picturesque Discovery Park where the party continued.
"You can kind of recapture Sacramento," said Scott Beardsley, a Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen volunteer offering on-site tune-ups. "There's no cars on the streets usually — it's just you and Sacramento roads."
For the food and drink, raffle prizes, awesome bicycles and sense of place and community, give thanks.