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The F5 Tuesday Night Ride

Posted on August 13 2013

In 2009 we started a regular group ride. Back then there were only a few fixed gear riders in China and no Factory Five, it was a People’s Bike thing. Every week we’d meet by the fountains on People’s Square and hope to see some new faces. We’d ride the city as a pack, excited if 10+ people showed up. For a couple hours we’d beat the same core paths through town; along the suzhou creek, across to hongkou, down to the south train station or west to the airport. The end would be the C-Store on Taikang Lu. It had cheep beers and outdoor seats… and they didn’t mind if we played music. Then, when F5 popped into existence in 2010 and we started the community workshop we had a real place to ride from…. and besides, the C-Store closed down in 2011 leaving us homeless. We pledged to ride every dry tuesday year-round. Over the last 36 months we’ve been on 136 tours of the city, covered over 4000km and never the exact same route twice. In fact – virtually all of our routes are unique. We have many strings of road that we love to ride across Shanghai. How we connect them is different each time. Something is working right because nowadays we’re being joined by up to 200 riders. Not just fixed gear, there are road, mountain, bmx, hybrid, cyclocross, recumbent and sunday shopping bikes too. Every week we head out of the workshop like a rolling horde, consuming the streets. We roll for an hour or so, then pause at a convenience store for drinks before heading back into the city. Sometimes the pace is quick, sometimes slow. Usually everybody keeps together or gets gathered up when we hold the forerunners at big intersections. Sure there are slowpokes falling off the back, weavers getting tangled in the middle and speedsters bursting off the front, it’s all part of the fun and the challenge… and we don’t want to change it too much. Tuesday is for the raw, unadulterated fun of cruising through a city looking for those new strings to cruise. We are putting notifications in place and are using wechat to spread the word of where the drinks stop and final destination are happening. By ~23h30 we’re normally back near Factory Five at a convenience store or bar for drinks. Did we mention we get up to 200 people? The F5 Night Ride is probably the biggest regular group ride in the world. It’s humbling to think back to where we started but it’s not about us any more, it’s about getting together with cool people to do something awesome. We can’t do it alone either… riding in close quarters with a lot of people in unpredictable conditions is a challenge. We all need to be looking out for each other and riding responsibly. We want to see everybody riding with a helmet and lights. It just makes sense. Whilst we cannot mandate it, we can say that most of the accidents we see that don’t involve getting back up and riding off – do involve a bump to the cranium. Enough said. We’re going to be creating a night-ride-guide soon – with tips on maximising the good times but the essence is this; grab a bike, turn up, get involved and ride together. The pace will never be too fast if you keep near the front and watch what is happening, you’ll never be outcast for riding a granny bike and you’ll never be alone with nothing to talk about at the drinks stop because we all just did something that was pretty damn fun. Need more inspiration? watch the end of this video. So, free tonight? Meet at Factory Five, 876 Jiangsu Lu (near Huashan) for a 9pm departure.

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