Of course, Mardi Gras time doesn’t look or feel anything like usual this year, but biking still plays a key role in safe and healthy celebrations. Have you had a chance to check out Bike Easy’s recommended routes to explore the amazing House Floats that have popped up all over the city? Click here to check them out on the RideSpot app today!
To me, Mardi Gras, like biking, is primarily about community connection and community building.
Last Friday, sitting around a campfire in my backyard with two of my closest friends, we were reminiscing/lamenting about what we should have been doing instead: every year, a group of us gathers at my place on St Claude, and we ride out together – through the revelry in the Quarter, up around the Canal portion of the parade, ending up under the bridge to have our minds blown by the marching bands in the first big Uptown parades. From there, we go wherever the night takes us on two wheels.
This year, I’m walking and riding around to experience the Mardi Gras spirit so beautifully expressed by the Krewe of House Floats! My partner and I love to revel in the creativity and artistry while maintaining our distance from others, wearing our masks, and generally avoiding any additions to the Covid risk pool. We’ve also been working on our own house float! Unfortunately, we couldn’t get all the house floats on our recommended bike routes, and ours didn’t make sense to include. But keep an eye out during your Mardi Gras adventures for an undersea-themed house float with giant tentacles (and jellyfish and seaweed and more) on St Claude. I didn’t realize how much I was missing Mardi Gras until I was covered in paint and glitter.
In almost fifteen years of living in New Orleans, biking and Mardi Gras have both played outsized roles for me in becoming part of the New Orleans community. In my early years here, I didn’t have a car and rode everywhere I went, participated in Critical Mass rides, organized alley cats, and met life-long friends and future colleagues along the way. I was a founding member of Krewe de Lune and hosted the Mardi Gras Day walking parade launch at my house for many years, celebrating with so many new and old friends alike each time.
It hurts to miss out on so much of Mardi Gras this year. Running into old friends I haven’t seen in years and picking up right where we left off. Biking through all the fun to the next costume party or parade. Being held by loved ones, and sometimes strangers, as the memories of those lost flow from my eyes to join the Mississippi River. Walking for one block of Bourbon Street, just to see it, before slinking off to my favorite dive bars. Marveling at the constant stream of creativity from costumes, parade floats, and parties. Waking before dawn (or perhaps not sleeping) to bike down to catch Zulu at Hannah’s place on Jackson. Dancing in the streets! Ending the season completely exhausted and overfilled with joy.
Even without physical proximity, we still have the chance to celebrate our collective creativity, resilience, and commitment to each other. As always, my favorite way to do that is to bike Mardi Gras. I invite you to join the fun by checking out Bike Easy’s recommended routes on RideSpot through different neighborhoods for the Krewe of House Floats.
When Carnival is over, get ready for the Bike Easy April Challenge and lots of other opportunities to get riding – safely and healthily with solo or pod rides – and to connect online over our shared love for the joy of riding.
I’m excited to keep biking with all of you to build our community and move Greater New Orleans forward.
Happy Mardi Gras!