Last Saturday, Adrian Gonzalez, a bike delivery person with an empty messenger bag and a mental to-do list, whipped down Oakley Avenue, away from Bucktown’s Holstein Park and toward his first stop: the nearest grocery store. Like many errand runners last weekend, Gonzalez was racing to pick up canned veggies, bagged stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
Unlike most other shoppers, Gonzalez was racing, literally, against a small throng of Chicago bike messengers and cycling enthusiasts. He and the others weren’t pedaling in the name of recognition or jonesing for sweet prizes. They were part of Cranksgiving, “a food drive on two wheels,” according to the New York organizers who dreamed it up back in 1999. The race aims to provide cyclists with an opportunity to give back—and in the process, to soften the sometimes prickly reputations attributed to members of the cyclist subculture. The last 13 years have seen Cranksgiving events crop up everywhere from Seattle to Miami, with 40 rides organized in 2012 alone.