Self-organizing motorcycles

Every year, on the last thursday in march, motorcyclists from all over Denmark meet in Copenhagen. This is the day when Bakken (an amusement park outside town) opens, and it has become an event for thousands of motorcyclists.

The most fantastic thing about it is that nobody organizes it. There’s no planning committee, no sponsors, no management, no advertising, no participation fee, nothing. Motorcycle riders know about it, and all day long they arrive from all over the country, parking their bikes all up and down Nørrebrogade and adjacent streets.

The whole thing started around 15 years ago, with just a few friends meeting at a certain cafe, to drive out to Bakken. This year they were expecting 8.000 bikes.

At around 7 o’clock, everybody starts their bikes, and begin the 20km drive from central Copenhagen out to Bakken. And for one hour, the motorcycles own the road. The Police block off all the side roads on the route, so the cars can’t drive it. You don’t have to worry about traffic lights and the speed limits are pretty much forgotten too. You can even see the really bold guys driving long stretches on one wheel only.

Every conceivable type of motorcycle is in attendance, from japanese supersports cycles to Harleys, from three-wheel mini-cars to huge Goldwings with trailers and sidecars.

I stood watching the parade for at least half an hour, and some of the highlights for me were:
* A couple of Goldwings with a HUGE number of lights on’em. They looked like christmas decorations on two wheels.
* Closing my eyes and just enjoying the sounds. From the high-pithced whine of the sports cycles to the deep bass rumbles of the Harleys.
* An off-road bike going by on one wheel.
* Across the road from where I stood, two young women were waving non-stop for at least twenty minutes. Passing motorcyclists waved, or honked their horn.
* Approaching the parade, and hearing the sounds from 500 meters away.
* A little three-wheel minicar swerved suddenly on the road, almost falling over – he was just showing off.
* The smell of the exhaust in the air.

It was beautiful!

To me this shows, that if something has enough pull, no organization is needed. You don’t need to do anything to make this great event happen. Actually, if you tried to engineer or design it, you’d probably end up with something that was nowhere near as good as it already is.

The event is also remarkably stable. Even in bad weather, when the last thursday in march is cold and rainy, thousands of riders still show up.

The attraction for the riders is of course the chance to gather, to show of your bike, to celebrate the coming of spring and the beginning of another motorcycle season. So the reason, the attraction is there. And when that pull is strong enough, no organization, no planning, no work is necessary!

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