Come, sit ye round the glow of yon magic computer box and hear the tale of The Bring Your Own Big Wheel (BYOBW) race! It is a glorious tale, fraught with heroism, cynicism, and stoicism!!!
The race was conceived in the mind of a mad man named Jon Brumit. As legend has it, in 2000 Jon happened across a big wheel. He wondered what he should do with it and much like the apple that fell on Newton’s head, Jon had the vision of riding his newly found plastic toy down Lombard Street.
So, having passed out a few hundred fliers to invite anyone interested in joining him to partake, he chose Easter Sunday to ride down the second curviest street in San Francisco. That’s right, Lombard is only the second!
On that day in 2000 Jon was the only brave soul to embark down the hill. Under the watchful gave of thirteen spectators, he’d wait for the street car to pause at the top, clearing Lombard Street below so that he could ride freely without being run over.
Jon continued this tradition for the next six years, accumulating other riders and friends over the years. By 2006, 30 brave souls would join him to bravely brave that curvy street. A few hundred would watch in anticipation as these collective geniuses slid and skidded their way down that historic landmark of San Francisco. And then….. YouTube happened…
The above video was posted not long after the event. And that following year it accumulated view after view. At the 2007 gathering, riders and spectators swelled to hundreds.
Well, this did not sit will the residents of this most famous of curvy streets. They took up arms, raising pitch forks and torches (metaphorically of course) and chased Jon and his merry band off, possibly killing the race forever!
So what was Jon to do? The race was in peril! Jon himself was moving out of town and if Lombard was not available, what street could possibly be used?!?!?
And then, someone had a totally non-LSD induced Google map-a-thon search to find a replacement for the fabled Lombard Street…and lo and behold found VERMONT STREET!
This most excellent series of curves was actually designed by the same architect! And it was curvier! After a little testing, a decision was made that in 2008 the die hard riders would roll this street for what might possibly be the last year of BYOBW. With the life span of the event unknown, Jon and his BYOBW Crew took to the streets for what we believed might be our last event.
But how did the residents and neighbors of Vermont St. and nearby streets feel about having the event in their neighborhood? Did they approve? Could BYOBW have found a home?
Verily, it was true! Neighbors along the street had house parties and wrote glowing letters to the city in support of the happy weirdness that Jon and his crew brought to the already warm community of Potrero Hill.
So the tradition continued. BYOBW has happened on Vermont street since 2008 and is still going strong! Thanks to the kindness, patience, and understanding of Vermont Street and Potrero Hill residents and the various departments of the City of San Francisco (SFMTA – ISCOTT, Park and Rec, SFPD) we have been able to keep this race going for so long.
And all because Jon Brumit decided he wanted to ride a big wheel down a hill.
Thank you Jon, for your inspired insanity and hilarity. These days Jon is a successful multimedia artist in Detroit and you can google the heck out of him to find his many contributions to the art and music world.