(Photos © J. Maus)
The Sprockettes’ Operation: Bike Nation Tour got off to an eventful start today.
The engine in their converted school bus overheated before they even got out of Portland, they got a flat “about 100 miles north of Medford” on I-5, they left behind one of their crew after a rest stop (they went back and picked her up), and their performance in Ashland almost got derailed by the Ashland Police Department.
Their flat landed them at Les Schwab Tire Center, where the ladies told me they ended up performing “Sexy on the Inside” (a Sprockette classic) for the employees. Half way through the song, the batteries in their boom box wore out so one of the Les Schwab guys slammed the CD in his truck’s stereo so they could finish.
Before they left, one of the employees exclaimed, “You guys are the best customers we’ve ever had!”
They rolled into Ashland (a gorgeous little town near Oregon’s southern border) several hours late and Officer Smith of the Ashland Police Department showed up to tell them their performance permit had expired.
Ashland, he explained, is all about the Shakespeare Festival this time of year. That means no amplified music after 4:00pm (the town doesn’t want anything to compete with their signature attraction). Officer Smith also was not keen on the “fire dancing” portion of the plans.
Last year, The Sprockettes rolled up unannounced and the cops pulled their plug before they finished their routine.
They had a permit this year, but because they were late, it took some major cajoling and a few compromises for the show to go on. So, with only a boom-box (instead of their full sound system) and sans fire, the road-weary ladies went to work in front of a curious evening crowd in the city’s Main Plaza.
Ashland is a splendid place. It’s full of beautiful, healthy people, independent businesses abound, trails, creeks, and the amazing Lithia Park are just steps away from downtown. And bikes? They’re everywhere.
Unfortunately, besides a bike lane on some of the multi-lane main streets, there aren’t really any designated bikeways downtown and all the pedestrian paths are labeled, “Pedestrians Only”. It seems like this town would go crazy with bikes, if they were just given a bit more room to breathe (by removing some car parking or narrowing a few lanes perhaps?).
But regardless, a steady flow of bike traffic streams through the city. I saw families, older folks riding without helmets, kids on mountain bikes, and so on.
Speaking of not having room to breathe, today I met Steven Eliot and Zack Mindiola at a rest stop north of Roseburg. These guys were riding from Eugene to Crater Lake (190 miles) via I-5! Riding on that highway shoulder doesn’t seem like much fun to me, but these two didn’t seem to be phased by it.
That’s all for now. Tomorrow, the girls and I will head into Marin (north of San Francisco) to see some family and then meet back up with the Sprockettes for some practice before Saturday’s main event — the New Belgium Tour de Fat at Golden Gate Park.
— See more photos in my Sprockettes on Tour photo gallery.
[And by the way, what’s with all the stop sign running and bus window bashing in the news up there?!]