Cape Bike Night

Fes­ti­val brings thou­sands to a com­mu­nity party, cel­e­brat­ing ma­chines

Cape Coral Living - - Cape Departmens - BY CRAIG GAR­RETT

For those of us who be­lieve a bike is for ped­al­ing, Cape Coral’s hugely pop­u­lar Bike Night is a mys­tery. At first the event seems to be more about food trucks, at­trac­tive women in leather pants and all these bev­er­ages in red alu­minum bot­tles. There’s an ex­cite­ment to walk­ing in the mid­dle of a street closed for one night to traf­fic. The spirit of the evening is lift­ing as the sun slips away, with sounds and smoke ris­ing like bal­loons into the warm night sky. But at some mo­ment you re­al­ize Bike Night re­ally is about ap­pre­ci­at­ing mo­tor­cy­cles. It be­gins when you dodge the pa­rade of throt­tle-gun­ning rid­ers on the closed 47th Ter­race, to in­spect the pass­ing hard­ware and ac­cept what mo­tor­cy­cle own­ers put into their bikes. Some of these ma­chines are mo­bile art­work. You start watch­ing oth­ers watch­ing as a gleam­ing ma­chine of ex­treme value scoots by. Think of it as an Old West rodeo as the cow­boys pass the grand­stands. But this is not strictly a man’s world. You see many women rid­ing alone, fem­i­nine frills and all. Bike Night has grown so pop­u­lar, in fact, that host Cape Coral has turned it into four sea­sonal events, the next on Feb. 11 in the Cape’s trendy 47th Ter­race en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict. Other Bike Nights oc­cur sec­ond Satur­days in Oc­to­ber, De­cem­ber and April. They run from 5 to 10 pm. Cape Coral’s Parks and Re­cre­ation De­part­ment has hosted Bike Night for about a decade. The event started out on a small lot and grew so quickly that it was soon moved to its cur­rent lo­ca­tion to ac­com­mo­date the 20,000 of us vis­it­ing tonight. “Part of our job as spe­cial event co­or­di­na­tors is to bring vis­i­tors to the city,” says Kristin Ne­spoli, a se­nior re­cre­ation spe­cial­ist for Cape Coral Parks and Re­cre­ation. “And Bike Night meets those ex­pec­ta­tions. We love Cape Coral and want to keep making it bet­ter.”

Bike Night also is about peo­ple, many thou­sands of them in a light crush on a closed street, press­ing for­ward in bunches, mov­ing aside as thun­der­ing mo­tor­cy­cles cruise past.

To any­one un­fa­mil­iar with a fes­ti­val cen­tered around mo­tor­cy­cles, hot rods or boats, the sen­sa­tions of step­ping into the mid­dle of such an event can be un­nerv­ing. So what’s the at­trac­tion? Plenty. Bike Night also is about peo­ple, many thou­sands of them in a light crush on a closed street, press­ing for­ward in bunches, mov­ing aside as thun­der­ing mo­tor­cy­cles cruise past. And it’s about pock­ets of loud mu­sic, the key to a suc­cess­ful out­door event. The mu­sic el­e­ment of the fes­ti­val has mor­phed from a lone stage for the first Bike Night to three per­for­mance stages now, Ne­spoli says. Lo­cal es­tab­lish­ments such as Dixie Road­house and Nev­er­mind Awe­some Bar & Eatery host sideshow events fea­tur­ing not-quite-for­got­ten ’80s rock bands. “We love it,” says Amy Cook, a Gainesville woman vis­it­ing with her friend Denise Kirk­land to wit­ness the rock band Quiet Riot per­form at the pri­vate Nev­er­mind stage. “[This] is one of the best places to

have fun in the state. The word is get­ting around, too.” Bike Night is lined with ven­dor and spon­sor booths, many of which you rec­og­nize from farm­ers’ mar­kets and art shows. But oth­ers speak di­rectly to mo­tor­cy­clists. The non­profit Bik­ers Against Child Abuse is such a ven­dor, its hosts in leather vests and chains to pro­mote the group’s work in South­west Florida. In the booth you meet Chef and Wing­man—and you ad­dress them as such. In a neigh­bor­ing booth you pay to sledge­ham­mer a pump­kin to pieces. The pro­ceeds from making a mess ben­e­fit an­other good cause. While you dis­cover most at­ten­dees at Bike Night dress like Hal­loween partiers in leather and head­gear, you also learn the event serves as a wel­com­ing party for our sea­sonal friends and vis­i­tors. Many mo­tor­cy­cle li­cense plates are stamped in Ohio, Min­nesota and Michi­gan. Bike Night starts to con­vey the same easy spirit as any other com­mu­nal fes­ti­val, with kids and cou­ples, all watch­ing for friends or in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ters. The big dif­fer­ence is rub­ber­neck­ing at the ex­quis­ite de­tail of a $40,000 ma­chine and its pride­ful owner. If there are rules for a Bike Night at­tendee, they in­clude be­ing pre­pared for the parad­ing rumba line of mo­tor­cy­cles, learn­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate an­other’s hobby and brac­ing for the first stroke of a su­per-am­pli­fied gui­tar. Af­ter that, things set­tle into a Florida win­ter cel­e­bra­tion. “It’s pretty chill,” says Ar­ri­anne Schuchard, hand­ing out Dixie Road­house plac­ards and ob­serv­ing her first Cape Bike Night.

Craig Gar­rett is Group Ed­i­tor-in-Chief for TOTI Me­dia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.