The term “Circle of Death” evokes plenty of imagery. College kids may salivate at these words, conditioned by the popular drinking game also known as “Kings” or “Ring of Fire”. Others may envision a fiery pit encircling them, Indiana Jones-style, and prohibiting escape. For those who live in Denver though, “Circle of Death” has an entirely different meaning.
Denver happened to be one of the stops on my recent cross country road trip with Ole Dad. Having stopped in Jackson Hole, Wyoming just before and looking to continue east, it made sense to have a couple nights in Denver. It just so happened that one of the nights was a Wednesday… or, Circle of Death night.
We had heard tale of the Circle of Death earlier in the day from friends and friends of friends but honestly, neither of us took it seriously. It was a culmination of Denver Cruiser, a bike tour through the beautiful city of Denver. We both (unfairly) expected it was probably a circle of stoned hippies, tired from the long bike ride, passing around poorly rolled joints and at least a couple drums. Needless to say, we weren’t all that interested. So when we ventured out on Wednesday night and headed to Denver’s Civic Center Park in search of supplies for the night and saw the absolute rowdiness that is the “Circle of Death,” we were taken aback and of course, wanted to join in on the fun.
The Circle of Death in Denver essentially refers to a bicycling event unlike anything you’ve probably ever seen before. On Wednesday nights, hundreds of people amass near Denver’s Greek Amphitheater on their bicycles. Some are your standard 10-speeds, others are more customized and gnarly pedal versions of big wheels or even weird scooter/skateboard/bike hybrids, among other imaginative nongasguzzlers. These riders, (tonight decked out in Mad Max-themed shoulder pads and leather) drive their “bikes” around in literal circles around other riders who are trying to make their way back and forth through the treacherous whirlwind of cruisers.
Imagine dozens of bikes with neon lights, some with massive speakers bumping trap music and others carrying onlookers in hitched wagons, cruising around relatively high speeds in a tight space and then imagine trying to make your way through them. The ULTIMATE gauntlet! Without a doubt, several attendees got completely biffed. One girl slammed down so hard that the circle had to be stopped and she helped out of the warzone. Then, the circle continued on as if no one had witnessed the danger they were all in.
Here is the best video I could find of it (from Wake and Wander) since I was honestly too enthralled to find a good vantage to take iPhone images of it all.
And to top it all off, you’re allowed to bring beer with you to drink as you watch or even as you participate! Of all the pregaming Ole Dad and I did on the road, the Circle of Death was by far the most entertaining (and dangerous) of the entire trip. It wasn’t until the police, who had been standing ready around the circle, broke up the event that the massive crowd dispersed (and I realized I hadn’t snapped a single good picture or video). But oh, they did not disperse to their homes or separate dive bars. No. Instead, those ready to rage made their way to the adjacent McNichols Building for the after party, complete with a DJ and several active bars serving tequila shots and beer!
If you happen to be in Denver on a Wednesday night, do yourself a favor and make your way to the Civic Center Park for a riotous night. And if you’re extra daring, go rent yourself a bike and cycle on in the fun… at your own peril.