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A Zany Band of Bayview Bikers

Scott Ostler
  Monday, August 21, 2000

When people ask me, ``Where can I find a bicycle mosh pit?'' or ``Do you know of a bike group that isn't all goody-goody like Critical Mass and all mainstream- looking like the city's bike messengers?'' I know where to send 'em.

I tell 'em to look up the gang at Heavy Pedal Cyclecide. Just head down to the lovely industrial section of the Bayview, where in previous eras hogs and junk cars were butchered, and where now pockets of random strangeness pop up.

I tell the cycle seekers to look up Jarico Reesce, the unofficial ringleader of a ring without a real leader or a real ring.

Jarico is the guy with the satanic soul patch on his chin. And the forearm tattoo ``2 dum 2 die,'' which like the club itself, is half joking and one-third semi-serious.

Headquarters is a large storage yard filled with a million pieces of bikes and a hundred strange and wonderful bikelike creations.

The group prides itself on using only found bikes and parts, and as Jarico says, ``It takes a lot of bikes to make a bike.'' A rented two-story building serves as dorm/clubhouse/workshop.

Basically what the dozen or so members of Heavy Pedal do is build the strangest bikes they can dream up, and occasionally haul their collection of twisted metal to various sites and hold bike rodeos.

The philosophy of the club is summed up by the logo, a cartoon of a bike-riding clown who is engulfed in flames and holding a bowling ball and a tennis racket. Crazy bikes are the heart of the operation. The Heavy Pedalers use the junk to create whimsical and dangerous bikes of all types. Tall bikes, low-rider bikes, animal bikes.

Some of the bikes are artsy, like the one with a sidecar made from a ``one way'' highway sign. Another, ``Chupacabra,'' features a dragonhead that shoots flames and two strange green arms that reach forward as the bike is pedaled.

A few of the bikes are even functional and utilitarian, like the one where the pedal action powers a daiquiri blender. Or the ``Suburban Intruder,'' which has a push lawn mower for a front end.

``What we want to do is mow one strip across America,'' Jarico says.

The simply titled ``Spanking Bike'' is a stationary bike, the pedaling of which powers a spanking wheel behind the rider.

Most of the labor and thought goes into the creation and construction, rather than into painting and shining. Some of the bikes seem to be held together by rust. ``We don't proclaim these to be art pieces,'' Jarico says. ``They're meant to be ridden.''

But not by the timid or the safety- conscious. One of the group's mottoes is ``No brakes, no problem.'' These people aren't anti-safety, but safety isn't a major priority. Or a fleeting consideration.

For instance, on the tall bikes, where the seat is about six feet off the ground, brakes aren't a factor. Figuring out how to stop without taking a tall pavement dive is part of the fun. At red lights, the challenge is to quickly find a friendly stopping- and-leaning assister -- a fire hydrant, news rack, car or pedestrian.

The Cycleciders got heavily into bikes about three years ago, inspired by a fringy Minneapolis group called Hard Times Bicycle Club.

The San Francisco group isn't any kind of radical reaction to yuppie sport-cyclists or to the edgier Critical Mass, although Jarico says, ``The bicycle world is a kind of anal, Spandex world.''

And while the Cyclecide gang claims to be on friendly terms with Critical Mass, Jarico and cohorts did hold a satirical Critical Masturbation, and they're thinking of enlivening a future Critical Mass ride by dressing in red jogging suits and daring the cyclists to run them over, a spoof of Pamplona.

The bike rodeos are rogue events that the Heavy Pedalers, in true carnival tradition, boldly oversell. The flyers promise ``blood-curdling mayhem and death-defying insane freaks.''

(Next planned rodeo: At the ``How Berkeley Can You Be'' festival on September 24. For Heavy Pedal info, call 415-695-1891 or go to cyclecide@altavista.com.)

A lot of the rodeo action is simply curious folks taking spins on the skyscraper bikes and kids riding carny- type creations like the ``Bike-a-Totter'' or the ``Twirl and Hurl,'' a bike that spins in circles as you pedal.

Oh, there are incredibly daring stunts, like the ramp-jumps over five flaming cars. But the cars turn out to be Matchbox cars.

There are real thrills and spills in events like bike jousting, where the combatants ride toward one another wielding padded, 10-foot-long plastic poles. ``Probably the dumbest thing we do,'' Jarico says. People fall, get bruised and skinned up, but nobody's been killed.

Music is provided by the group's very own punk-a-billy band, the ``Lost Banos,'' banos being Spanish for bathrooms. If you want to participate in the mosh pit, you grab a bike and ride in.

``People get mangled, it's fun,'' Jarico says.

The Heavy-Pedalers are such a nonconventional fringe group that they claim to peacefully coexist with the police. And with other bicycle groups, and with the nearby-headquartered Hells Angels, and with motorists. They have no gripe with anybody, and I'm not sure any other group or organization in San Francisco can make that bold claim.

``We're not political,'' Jarico says. ``We just like to build bikes, drink beer and have fun.''

San Francisco is 49 square miles. Each week Scott Ostler picks a square mile at random and finds a story there. Suggestions, comments, call 415-777-7031 or e-mail ostler@sfgate.com.

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