Note: article updated 8/25/11.
Not long ago I mentioned bicycle hashing on Facebook. A hasher from Austin, Texas — a hashing town if ever there was one — read my comment and added one of his own, saying he wished there was a bash in Austin.
No bash in Austin? Why the heck not?
Does anyone know how long bashing — bicycle hashing — has been around? I don’t, but I know it’s been a while. When I was a visiting hasher in Seattle in 1991, there were a couple of older guys with bad knees who did all the Puget Sound Hash trails on bikes. The Wheelhoppers Bike Hash in Atlanta was founded in 1992, and the Hare of the Dog Bike Hash in San Diego has been around since 1994. Bashing may go back farther than that, and probably does. One thing’s for sure, there are a lot of bashing groups today, and more are starting up all the time. Shoot, Florida even has interbashes . . . now there’s progress!
So look here, Austin hashers, if you want to bash, what’s stopping you? Hashers in Tucson were in the same boat in 2006: a few of us wanted to bash, others were against the whole idea, no one thought it would ever really happen . . . and then two local hashers, Bimbo by Day and Casual Friday, decided to stick their necks out and make it happen. I’m happy to report that we’ve bashed every month since, and that we’re in our fifth year and still going strong.
If there’s no bash in your area but you wish there was one, here are three things Bimbo by Day and Casual Friday did to get things going and guarantee the success of our new bash. Hey, it worked for us here . . . it might work for you there!
- They kept their expectations realistic. Our founders rightfully figured that Tucson couldn’t support another weekly or even biweekly hash — not enough hashers or potential hares, too many scheduling conflicts — so they decided the bash would be monthly.
- They opted for membership over killer trails. Long-established bike hashes, like the Bike-O Psych-Os in Florida, can afford to be mountain bike only, but Bimbo by Day and Casual Friday realized this would put big limits on our membership, so they decided our bash would be road bike friendly. And it turns out our trails are great anyway!
- They kept the organization and logistics simple. By setting up the new bash as a BYOB affair with A-to-A trails, they eliminated the need for big mismanagement, hash cash, and B-vans, meaning less work and more fun for everyone.
Details? Okay, I’ll fill in some details; just realize that some of these are Tucson-specific and may not be quite the right thing for your town or area.
- Everything is BYO. There’s no fee to go on a bash. You bring money for beer checks and on-afters. Since our circle is part of on-afters, it’s BYO too: no beer coolers, no beer master. The circle’s short because we have only one award, the Face Plant, and we always hope we don’t have to give it out! Bashers are also expected, of course, to BYO spare tubes, patches, and tire pumps.
- Trails are A-to-A. We meet one Sunday morning each month, early when it’s hot, later when it’s cool. We start and end at pubs where we can get food and drink, and since we’re bringing them business before and after the bash, no one’s ever objected to us parking our cars there. Another reason for A-to-A trails: no one has to figure out how to transport tired bashers and their bikes from the B back to the A!
- Mismanagement at first consisted of the two founders, who were also joint masters. Casual Friday moved away and for a while it was just Bimbo by Day, but she decided it would be nice to have a religious advisor for the circle, so now I’m the RA. That’s it. Well, that and hares. Update: Bimbo by Day moved away too. Now Redheaded Woodpecker is GM (and I’m still the RA).
- We usually have two hares, and we give them a good head start. It’s no problem throwing powder from a bike (especially since you don’t need to do it as often as you do on foot), but it takes more time to make chalk marks, since you have to stop and dismount to do it. Update: we give our hares a 15- to 20-minute head start, and all trails are live. Packs typically consist of 15 to 20 riders, but we’ve had as many as 30.
- Trails vary from 10 to 20 miles; longer when it’s flat and/or cool, shorter when it’s hilly and/or hot. We plan one beer check at the mid-point of the trail, usually at a bar but sometimes at a hare’s house (if the latter, the beer’s on the hare). Update: mileage is misleading, since so much depends on temperature and hills. We try to keep the pack out on trail for one and a half to two hours.
- If there are bike trails in the area, hares try to work them into their trail plans. Tucson is generally okay for bicycles, but not all streets have bike lanes and we try to stay out of heavily-trafficked parts of town. Bashing on Sunday mornings, cagers (car drivers) don’t give us too much competition, but we caution bashers to obey traffic rules when they’re on trail and there are cars around.
- We ask hares to put some thought into beer check and on-after venues, at least in terms of making sure the places they pick are bicyclist-friendly (believe it or not, some places aren’t) and have reasonably secure areas we can leave our bikes, either out back or near enough that we can keep an eye on them while we quench our thirst.
- Safety is a constant concern, but other than exercising common sense and obeying traffic laws we’ve had to adopt only one safety rule: early on a hare put on a bar-to-bar ride and we very quickly learned that while it’s one thing to walk or run when you’ve had a couple, riding a bicycle in traffic is a whole nother thing, and now we limit hares to one beer check per trail.
This may not be the universal formula for setting up a bash, but maybe it’ll give wanna-be bashers some ideas and encourage them to go for it. You know, some day there’s going to be an InterAmericas Bash, and I say the sooner the better, so get busy!