Pinkos on wheels

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It damn near rained on my parade. On the morning of the Pink Week Bicycle Parade, I awoke to the sound of Mother Nature hosing down my windows. I burrowed deeper under the covers and wondered whether I—or anyone else—would actually dress in a pink costume and pedal three miles to the Bicycle Kitchen in this kind of weather.

I’m a big fan of Pink Week, the holiday/art project established by Sacramento artist Gioia Fonda 13 years ago to observe and celebrate its namesake color. I usually mark the occasion by wearing pink clothes, visiting Fonda’s annual Pink Week group art show, and paying extra attention to the color wherever I find it: bubble gum on the sidewalk, ginger on a plate of sushi, or the pink of my own skin. When I heard this year’s celebration would include a bicycle parade through Midtown, I couldn’t wait to participate—until I saw the day’s downpour.

The parade didn’t begin until 6:30 p.m., the usual meeting time for the Bicycle Kitchen’s monthly Second Saturday bike rides. By the grace of the pink deities, the clouds broke just as the sun was setting. I layered my pink coat over jeans, two shirts and a sweater, and donned my bike helmet (which also happens to be pink). A pink lantern hung from my handlebars, shining like a rosy headlight as I rode toward Broadway.

When I pulled up to the Bicycle Kitchen, I saw only a few men inside wearing black clothes. Self-conscious in my bright-pink outfit, I rolled my bike into the shop. I was relieved when Bicycle Kitchen founder Jill McDonald came inside to greet me. A cheery redhead in a pink poofy petticoat and a black leather jacket, McDonald was our parade leader. She wove a commemorative Pink Week spoke card into my back wheel and pointed me toward a table with pink decorations like streamers, leis, Easter grass, tulle and pipe cleaners. In the backyard, a dozen or so parade participants in slapdash pink costumes talked and sipped beers.

I listened as they swapped bike stats and tales of riding into the ground, literally, on regular trips to Davis and Folsom. I looked nervously at my bike, a secondhand 10-speed with slipping gears and a heavy steel frame, and worried I might not be able to keep pace with these daily riders.

McDonald emerged from the Kitchen wearing pink-feathered wings and announced that we were off. A man with a low-rider bicycle shaped like a fish skeleton and lit with electroluminescent wire joined our ranks. I followed his blue glowing fins into the night.

I pedaled fast to keep up and I still got stuck on the wrong side of a red light more than once. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one, and McDonald always circled back and herded us together. I loved riding through the dark streets with a caravan of pink angels, harem girls, cowboys, bike rats and one bright fish.

We stopped at Olipom for the Exit Strategy magazine-release party. Store owner Olivia Coelho gave pink sunglasses to every parade participant and invited us in for drinks. Some riders headed to the corner liquor store for beer, but I ducked inside the party and grabbed a Vitamin Water (the pink “revive” flavor).

Variously quenched, we mounted our two-wheeled floats and paraded to our primary destination, the Pink Week Art Show at Deep. Fonda stood outside, next to a glowing cotton-candy machine, in a pink party dress with a marabou collar. “Yay bikes!” she cheered.

I accepted a towering cone of cotton candy and entered the gallery. The warm crowded space was a shock after the brisk night air. The walls glowed with paintings in pink hues from pastel to neon. I felt dizzy from the sweet carnival smell of cotton candy and frosted animal cookies on every table. Pink sugar melted on my pink tongue and infused my blood with pink energy.

Buzzing with a sugar high, I broke away from the parade before it continued to the Gallery Horse Cow. I held my cotton candy aloft in one hand and watched it disintegrate in the wet air as I pedaled home.