Bring your own big wheel and let the good times roll down SF's "crookedest" street

ByChris Bollini Localish logo
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Bring your own big wheel and let the good times roll
Bring your own Big Wheel, an annual event, gives children and adults a chance to dress up and ride Big Wheels down SF's "crookedest" street.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Nestled in the quiet Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, you will discover a hidden street with a very important distinction.

"There's the famous Lombard hill in San Francisco, but not a whole lot of people know about the equally as curvy and steeper hill that is Vermont street," Bring Your Own Big Wheel crew member Frog reveals.

Every spring, the Bring your Own Big Wheel event attracts children and adults alike to this otherwise serene place for a wild and carefree event.

"Adults are dressing up and riding classic tricycles down a bricked, curved street," former participant Jayman, reveals, "I want to do this. I want to be partaking in that."

"I want to get out of the routine. We are doing every day, the same, the same," rider Luis confesses, "we need to do something different and be with our community."

Hundreds of people participate and thousands spectate this uniquely San Francisco occasion.

"It's a really magical energy. You're coming out here to play with the world and have fun," participant Dasher shares.

Almost a quarter of a century ago, Jon Brumit created this landmark gathering on a whim.

"He found a big wheel and just decided; 'Hey, I'm going to do this,'" Jayman recounts.

"Being on a cycle that you remember from your youth, going back to the pure base of fun," Frog adds.

"And then other people were like: 'Yeah, let's do this again and it just kind of kept going,'" Jayman recalls.

The afternoon is filled with plenty of thrills and spills.

"There's a lot of wipeouts," regular rider Adam shares, "You can see pile-ups all the time, like mid-course, people running into hay bales, but that's also part of the fun."

After hours of big wheel heats, it is common to see piles of cracked petals, crushed wheels, and dislocated handlebars scattered about. In the spirt of San Francisco sustainability, one group created a solution for dealing with all the broken bits and pieces.

"I'm thinking about how we can take this problem and offer a very good solution which is joyfully upcycling all of the carnage," DIY Pit Stop coordinator Anne-Marie Litak says.

"It's a DIY pit stop; we want to let everybody fix their own bikes and provide stuff for them to do the repairs..." DIY crewmember Eric adds, "help mitigate the trash that ends up at the end of the day, keep some bikes on the road, keep people riding."

The BYOBW event has run 22 times in the last 24 years, and for organizers, there is not a finish line in sight.

"Keeping SF culture alive, that's my number one priority right now. Keeping things weird. Keeping it free. Keeping it creative." Frog declares, "that is a huge reason that I'm still determined to make this event happen."

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