I couldn't tell you specifically what I like so much about the Freedom Thighs bike ride. There's an inexpressible feeling it gives you, something pictures and text may not have the ability to convey, but I'll try.
|Outside the Birdhouse|
The bike ride happens each 4th of July, meeting at the Birdhouse around 4pm. Bikers line up in the street, listen to a rendition on the Star Spangled Banner (this year, Dolly Parton's), and begin their patriotic cruise through the neighborhoods of Knoxville.
Most attendees are decked out in American themed apparel. I myself bought a flag vest a couple years back for my first Freedom Thighs, and it's become a go-to for this ride each year. This year, two synchronized boom boxes towed behind bikes busted out jams ranging from Ludacris's Roll Out to some USA themed songs sung in Spanish.
|Eagle on Rollerblades!|
I couldn't tell you either, if there is any common thread that runs through each of the bikers who come each year to ride this ride.
I overheard one hipster-looking biker say to his friends as I slowly meandered past them, "I can't tell if this race is satirical or not. It seems like there are a lot of truly patriotic people here, but I know there are some anarchists here as well... and just so y'all know, I bought this (American flag) t-shirt at Wal-Mart."
Sidenote: I don't know much about this subject, but it's true that there is a small contingent of anarchists that like to ride bicycles in Knoxville. They're some real nice people, yet would a true anarchist attend an American-themed bike ride? Are anarchists known to be especially ironic?*
Maybe what I like about the ride is the simultaneous delight and confusion I feel.
Freedom Thighs does mostly draw a bunch of white hipsters, it's true.
Part of the route winds through some East Knox neighborhoods which are predominantly inhabited by African Americans. These are some of my favorite streets to ride through because there is such a great community presence there. So many families came out on their porches to cheer on us white kids dressed like idiots.
And together, we all cheered on America.
If that's not patriotic, I couldn't tell you what is.
We made a stop at the Pilot on Magnolia. That Pilot made a billion dollars yesterday, and so did the ice-cream man who stopped there when he saw all of us.
|Love grows at Pilot|
I saw many faces on the ride that have moved away from Knoxville over the past few years. They come back for this ride, and that's saying something.
I didn't end up finishing out the whole route. I think they went about 10 miles in all, making various stops to rest, consume cold beverages, and eat hotdogs, but I had a cookout calling my name.
|The Ice-Cream man found us|
If you have been intrigued in the slightest by this post, you should consider taking a chance on shenaniganery and joining the ride next year. No one fits in, but we all do because we're American, you know what I'm saying?
Wherever the 4th of July took you, whether you were enjoying a/c with normal, calm people or with a bunch of hooligans on bikes, I do hope it was as merry one.
|Facilitators of Freedom Thighs|
*Questions for another time.