Cal Poly students can’t leave San Luis Obispo without participating in a tradition that takes places the first Thursday of every month. Bike Night, which began in June of 2000, is one local happening that can’t be missed.
Bike Night began as a gathering of just a few bike enthusiasts, but has since grown into a well-known evening in San Luis Obispo.
Graduate student Bryan Costanza, began the Bike Happening Facebook group his freshman year.
“When I started it, it had around 20 people,” he said. “I don’t check it often anymore, but I know there are around 700 members. It has grown a ton.”
At the end of the night, when Farmers’ Market dies down these enthusiasts and hundreds of others are decked out for the month’s theme. Pirates, zombies and robot fill the Mission Plaza with spirited participants.
Bike Night is not part of the Farmers’ Market or associated with the city of San Luis Obispo. It does not need an organization to keep its following but it is part of the heart and soul of San Luis Obispo.
“I think I just heard from word-of-mouth,” mathematics senior Catie Carmody said.
Costanza became involved with Bike Night his freshman year, after joining the Wheelmen — Cal Poly’s cycling club.
“I joined the Wheelmen right away and immediately got involved in Bike Night,” he said.
Bike Night is a night for people to get together and have fun, Carmondy said. Cycling aficionados and recreational riders alike gather for a common cause.
English freshman Whitney Lenet said Bike Night is one of her favorite parts of San Luis Obispo.
“I started going in February, and I have been to almost every one since,” she said. “It takes the simple aspect of riding a bike and turns it into a fun social event, it’s just really great.”
Costanza was immediately attracted to the cyclist population Bike Night draws.
“It’s nice to be around a ton of cyclists,” he said. “And dressing up is always fun.”
While Bike Night is intended to be a fun-filled, carefree adventure, it also emphasizes riding safely and following the rules of the road. The group follows three major rules: ride your bike and have fun, treat the community with respect and assume personal responsibility. The Bike Happening website also displays the laws of cycling, which all Bike Night participants are expected to follow.
The dress-up themes, which are contributed by participants on the website’s “Theme-o-Matic,” range from “Guy Fawkes” to “tutu” themes. Throughout the month, participants are invited to suggest themes on the website. Once the theme is chosen, everyone is invited to propose alternative “anti-themes” to combat any unsavory costumes. The website makes it clear that it doesn’t really matter what you wear, but that you come out and join the fun.
Bike Night is an opportunity to bring students together with the rest of the community. Photo archives in the website show people of all ages participating in the event.
“Everyone’s there, everyone is together,” said animal science freshman Rebecca Pulcrano. “That’s the best part.”
Bike Night is often a night filled with stories and sights that can’t be missed.
“There are some really outrageous things,” Carmody said. “I remember once there was a guy pulling a couch with girls laying across it.”
Bike Night, in its basic form, is a gathering of a group of people who love to bike. Add costumes and enthusiasm, and you have a San Luis Obispo tradition worth attending at least once before leaving Cal Poly.