I saw videos of this quite some time ago and had nearly forgotten about it after moving here earlier this year. It was by good fortune that I found out that it was held annually on Easter Sunday – less fortunate was my prior decision to work the very same day. The Bring Your Own Big Wheel Race started small, but growing popularity required that they move away from the famous curves of Lombard St to the current home on Vermont St in Potrero Hill – which is said to be technically twistier.
It was probably for the best I was working and unable to participate, as I still wasn’t sure about the Health Insurance over here, especially after my housemate took a rather serious tumble on a bike and found out just how expensive medical care can be – even when fully insured. But I digress.
I was able to finish work and make it to Potrero Hill in time to catch the final 45-minutes of carnage. It was another clear and sunny day, and the views from the top of the hill down towards the city were fantastic.
I saw small waves of scuffed and bloody people in fantastic costumes carrying badly damaged big wheels as I approached Vermont St, so I knew I was getting closer.
Riders gathered in bunches and took off in waves down the steep and twisty street. There was some consideration for their safety, with hay bales providing some impact protection for the riders that weren’t quite able to make it around the corners. They skidded and understeered their way down the hill forwards, sideways and backwards, bouncing between each other and these hay bales, unsuccessfully doing their best to avoid those that had fallen before them.
These crashes were all too frequent, though thankfully I didn’t witness anything worse than some torn skin/costumes, and a few heavy impacts with the hay bales that left the big wheels ready for the scrap heap.
It was colourful, chaotic, and I made a vow that I would be back next year – and that I would be bringing along my own wheels!