We’re Jammin’

My first PVD Bike Jam, and the glory of social bike rides

Robert Isenberg
7 min readNov 1, 2021


Somewhere in Olneyville, I start trading small-talk with a giant banana.

“I’m enjoying all the 20-inch wheels on this ride,” says the banana, laughing jovially.

I also laugh jovially. We’re both riding compact bikes with tiny wheels. His is a candy-colored fixie. Mine is a Dahon folding bike.

“I gotta say,” I say, “I love the costume.”

“Thanks, man!” chortles the giant banana, and he pedals away, lost in a river of cyclists.

A banana outfit is hardly the goofiest thing I’ve seen tonight. I’ve pedaled alongside vampires, disco dancers, superheroes, and living skeletons. One burly guy is dressed as a Beany Baby, another as a chicken. Beetlejuice and Jason Voorhees pop in and out of vision. One woman wears the regal dress and powdered wig of Marie Antoinette. A guy is wearing a giraffe costume so unwieldy I can’t believe he’s upright. Spokes and frames are dotted in Christmas lights, and trailing behind are wings and veils and tresses. But the vast majority are zombies — pale, haggard, and spattered with blood. This is the Zombie Ride, after all. Undead is in.

And then there’s me, dressed as — myself.

Fall jacket, scarf, helmet, jeans. An ensemble so functional, I can’t even pretend it’s a costume. In the middle of a vast, mobile Halloween party, I’m the odd man out, the one who hasn’t made any effort.

In my defense, I didn’t known I could attend the PVD Bike Jam until a few hours before it started. Evenings are hard to predict in my household, especially on chilly Friday nights. I fully expected to read my son to sleep, then slump in front of Netflix for a few nondescript hours. But when I casually mentioned that the Bike Jam was happening tonight, my wife exclaimed, “Oh! I can put him to bed. You should go!”

K.’s enthusiasm was a pleasant surprise. Ever since COVID’s Delta variant started spreading, we’ve been conservative about our movements. But cycling is one social activity that feels low-risk. So I threw on some clothes, tossed my folding bike in the car, and drove to downtown Providence — completely forgetting that this was Halloween weekend…



Robert Isenberg

Robert Isenberg is a freelance writer and multimedia producer based in Rhode Island. Feel free to visit him at robertisenberg.net