The Full Moon Fiasco

The moon’s gravitational pull causes the rising and falling of tides in our planetary oceans; we humanoid creatures composed of 70% water have no hope to escape the pull of the moon’s magic and mystery. So how can you not hop on a bike, head down to Soulful Soups & Spirits in downtown Spokane, perhaps in a costume, to tool around town with friends on a gentle ambling route to some unknown destination—almost always another bar or pub—perhaps hooting, perhaps hollering with the full moon lighting the way? This is the Full Moon Fiasco (FMF).

My first exposure to FMF happened in 2013 on what is still the biggest ever FMF with 400 or so riders. I was biking across town to ride my wife home from work around 11PM when I encountered group after group of riders peeling off in all directions, most of them wearing costumes and riding bikes bedazzled with light shows worthy of a UFO abduction. What the hell had I just missed? That was to be the last FMF for a while, because original organizer Jeff Everett was moving to Portland and wanted to leave a blank slate for the local bike community to figure out. 

How long had FMF been going prior to that? I caught up with current organizer, Joshua Hagen, to learn a little more. “I came to my first Fiasco 18 years ago,” he told me. There’s no telling when it actually began, but it probably coincided with Everett’s arrival here from St. Louis, whereupon he opened the Spokane chapter of the F%¿#ing Bike Club (FBC), a grassroots dis-organization of sorts existing in small but vibrant chapters all over the country. “The FBC doesn’t exist in any official capacity and is open to anyone at any experience level,” says the Chicago FBC blog page. “What we do is drink beer and ride bikes, the flagship ride being the Full Moon Fiasco every month.”

There is only one rule in the FBC: “Don’t be an a$$hole,” which implies things like wearing a helmet, following traffic laws (which includes not riding while intoxicated), and not being a creeper toward women on the ride. I forget exactly how one joins the FBC, but when you do you’ll become a “lifetime member for life,” and when you find yourself living in a town without an FBC, you have the responsibility to open one. “They opened one in Sandpoint a few years ago,” continued Hagen, “they’re getting a hundred riders at their Fiasco each month.” An interesting aspect of the FMF are the spoke cards featuring original designs from local artists. They’re a buck each, but you’ll most likely be handed one and never asked for your dollar.

To join the mayhem, hop on your clunker, commuter or carbon race machine and head down to Soulful Soups & Spirits at 7 p.m. on the next full moon. Just to avoid confusion, the ride will be on the calendar day of the actual full moon. Wheels roll at 8 p.m. and only one person knows where we’re going. Grant Shipley will be there towing his thumping sound system with a curated playlist that makes for a delightful soundtrack to the night’s adventure. If you’re lucky, that guy Ted will show up and light his bike on fire again … but not during smoke season. That would violate the one rule. //

Justin Short has a BA in English from California University of Pennsylvania where he spent five years avoiding responsibility and riding bikes as much as possible. 

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