Love and bicycles

Chico Bicycle Music Festival fundraiser bucks conventional Valentine’s Day offerings

Samantha Zangrilli with her two loves: her husband, Cheetah Tchudi, and her bicycle, a hybrid touring Xtracycle named MisterSister.

Samantha Zangrilli with her two loves: her husband, Cheetah Tchudi, and her bicycle, a hybrid touring Xtracycle named MisterSister.

Photo by Claire Hutkins Seda

For the love of bicycles:
Tickets to the Love & Bicycles ride/dinner/concert, Feb. 14, 4-9 p.m., are available at the Chico Natural Foods Cooperative (818 Main St.), Naked Lounge Tea & Coffeehouse (118 W. Second St.) and at the Butte Environmental Council office (116 W. Second St. #3).
Cost: $50 per person.

Chico is—at heart—a bicycle town, despite the glut of cars clogging local roadways. Many families made up of bicycle enthusiasts use their cars minimally; other bike-loving families (including CN&R Associate Editor Christine LaPado-Breglia’s) get away with no car ownership whatsoever. And so it’s not surprising that members of Chico’s subculture of bicycle lovers get together regularly to celebrate the love of bikes.

First, there was the Chico Bicycle Music Festival (CBMF)—now in its sixth year—a project of Butte Environmental Council (BEC), during which participants cycle to various concerts throughout town. Then, the yearly Chico Tweed Rides began in November 2012 (followed by the springtime Chico Seersucker Rides), during which bicyclists ride through Chico decked out in traditional cycling attire on vintage bikes. Last October, BEC launched Car Free Day, adding to the bicycle enthusiasm by closing part of downtown to cars for an afternoon.

And now, we have a bicycle lovefest on Valentine’s Day—BEC’s inaugural Love & Bicycles.

“Love makes life a beautiful ride,” said Samantha Zangrilli, the organizer of the event, quoting the subtitle of the upcoming bike ride/dinner/music show/fundraiser, which she calls “an intimate dinner for adults.” Instead of the standard overpriced prix-fixe Valentine’s Day fare at a crowded restaurant, “why not ride with your partner around Chico?” asked Zangrilli. “It’s so easy—it’s fun—and then we’re going to go watch a good show,” she added, referring to the intimate performance by local band The Railflowers, which is to follow the dinner.

Participants will meet at 4 p.m. at the Habitat Lab, the art-studio space on East 13th Street, and ride together to Butte Environmental Council’s Humboldt Community Garden, across from Marsh Junior High School, where they will enjoy coffee tasting hosted by Naked Lounge Tea & Coffeehouse, and chocolate tasting by the Chico Natural Foods Cooperative. After biking back to the Habitat Lab by 7:30 p.m., a luxurious local-focused dinner will be served, with dishes such as braised lamb, root roast and French carrot soup, catered by Blush Catering and featuring fresh produce from GRUB CSA Farm and bread from Tin Roof Bakery.

Chico is a bike town at heart, as evidenced by the bike parking at various events, like at last year’s Endangered Species Faire, pictured here.

Photo by Claire Hutkins Seda

Zangrilli is the founder and organizer of the CBMF, the annual June traveling festival in which upward of 800 bicyclists gather at multiple locations in Chico—such as the GRUB Cooperative on Dayton Road or at Cedar Grove in Lower Bidwell Park—to enjoy local bands and various activities like making smoothies with a bike-operated blender. The CBMF is best known for its pedal-powered generator, which is transported to each venue: The musicians’ tunes are amplified by audience members who take turns hopping onto stationary bikes that power the generator. Last year’s CBMF featured LiveOnBike, featuring artists performing on the back of a cargo bike, amplified by a generator, allowing CBMF participants to enjoy music during the ride between venues.

Love & Bicycles is a fundraiser for the CBMF (next one: June 7), which ran into some beyond-budget expenses recently. The event is raising funds in order to replace a blown inverter for the pedal-powered generator, Zangrilli explained. “We blew it at the Car Free Day. What happened was a ziptie broke, and two motherboards touched, and it blew something. … Thank God I wasn’t there, because I would have cried!”

Consequently, audience members are off the hook for pedaling to power The Railflowers, the Chico-based, all-female quartet of American folk revivalists. Zangrilli has enlisted a swarm of local sponsors such as KZFR, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., TurkeyTail Farm, Everything Herbal CSA and the CN&R to provide the raffle prizes, donate the food and drink offerings, and promote the event. Even Zangrilli’s family has been pulled into donating: “We’re also going to give a flashy [bike] light to everyone who comes on the ride—donated by my grandma,” she said, laughing.

She’s packed the event with lovey-dovey details like a photo booth with a tandem bicycle, and a booth to screenprint a valentine for your date on upcycled folders from Chico State’s AS Sustainability program.

“We’re also offering child care, so we’re giving parents the opportunity to have a real date night. The child care is only two blocks away. Our child-care providers are certified, and we’ll have activities for [the children].” A separate fee of $10 per hour, plus a flat fee of $10 per additional child will be charged for child care, in addition to the event’s ticket price. Zangrilli noted that kids are invited to join parents on the bike-ride portion of the event if they wish.

“I’m really trying to get [bike] commuters out with their dates,” she said. “I know that people who really love bikes like me … are going to come out and do this, because they love CBMF and this is something that appeals to them.”

“It’s really small—we’re only selling 60 tickets,” noted Zangrilli of the event. She also pointed out that each $50 ticket is per person, not per couple. Couples’ tables will occupy the majority of the dinner space, but Zangrilli is preparing a singles’ communal table, and is willing to accommodate double-date tables as well, if she is alerted in advance.

Tickets aren’t yet going fast, but Zangrilli isn’t concerned. Bike enthusiasts like her “are going to want to come out and enjoy the beautiful weather and enjoy riding their bikes with the people they love,” she said, noting that the event will occur rain or shine.