Thousands of thanks to all who partook in last night’s Best-Summer Ride – summer may be over, but we still have six Slow Rolls to go this season!

Props especially to the “advance cork” teams on our Independent Health Slow Roll Squad – those are the crews who ride ahead to prepare intersections for our arrival, and with a route that spanned east to west sides on that third stretch along with many stoppages in the ride to allow buses and at one point a firetruck to pass through, they were especially stretched. Still, all riders returned safely, and we enjoyed another afterparty at the ever-hospitable Big Ditch Brewing Company, where they call us the “Steam Roll” for giving their staff all they can handle – well done, everyone!

MVP honors to the crew who met us at our first mass-up, before the newly-finished Freedom Wall at Michigan and East Ferry – artists John Baker, Julia Bottoms-Douglas, Chuck Tingley, and Edreys Wajed along with Albright-Knox Art Gallery public art curator Aaron Ott, who are all rightfully and righteously glowing from completion of this monumental series of 28 murals depicting local and national civil rights leaders.

(L-R) Aaron Ott, John Baker, Chuck Tingley, Edreys Wajed, Julia Bottoms-Douglas, and the African Heritage Food Co-op Kickstand Kids after Slow Roll stopped at The Freedom Wall – photo by Jaime Wright

As so often is the case with Slow Roll, these scenes cannot be truly appreciated in a passing glance – people need to visit this corner with enough time to take it all in. While we recognize the work of these artists and institutions, we must honor the work of those featured on the Freedom Wall, such as Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President. After leaving Congress in 1983 where she represented parts of New York City, she moved to Williamsville, and in 2005 was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Cemetery in a vault inscribed, “Unbought and Unbossed.”

“I want history to remember me,” she once said, “not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be herself. I want to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America.”

Shirley Chisholm on The Freedom Wall, by John Baker

Addressing riders last night, Edreys – who also designed the Slow Roll Buffalo logo and provided our theme song, “Slow Down,”from his 2010 album, “Good Morning Amy” – said, “Slow Roll is a part of transforming Buffalo into what I hope it can be for our kids, which is diversity, togetherness, and for us to unite – and that’s what the Freedom Wall is about to me.”

We’re honored to be welcomed into this conversation about change – it’s what Slow Roll is about, reconnecting communities by creating conversations and changing perceptions, all by the pedal power of the bicycle. Our part is small, our spirit strong, our aim true – for all this to truly make change, we all need to spend more than these passing moments on these corners and conversations…

…for now, enjoy another round of brilliant photos from last night by Clay Davies – more to see in our public Facebook group – and see below for info on next Monday’s ride…

…into autumn we roll as next Monday, September 25th, will mark our first visit to the wonderful West Side Bazaar (25 Grant Street), a not-for-profit business incubator featuring authentic food from Burma, Peru, Ethiopia, Laos, China, and the United States, and clothing and crafts from Nepal, Laos, India, Burma, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Thailand, Rwanda and Iraq. This will also mark our final 6:30pm start time of the season, as we’ll move up to 6pm for October to maximize daylight. With the last ride of September always being the darkest ride of the year, we’ll keep it to 8 miles including Grant-Ferry, Elmwood Village and downtown along major streets West Ferry, Delaware, Franklin, North, Linwood, Delavan, Lafayette & Grant, returning for an outdoor afterparty with the Bazaar extending its hours for the occasion.

As always, the ride is free and open to all – this week, some riders will carry a special purpose with the return of our “Pedal for Peace” fundraiser for Peace of the City, which for more than 25 years has been a force for change in the lives of West Side kids with their four core priorities – literacy, the arts, advocacy and transformation. All funds raised by riders who register to Pedal for Peace will serve their Literacy for All initiative, which creates opportunities for increased literacy for our children and teens through two key programs:  Homework Club[s] and Ephraim Initiative Literacy Sites. Staff and students will be onsite and in the ride, happy to share their transformative stories – learn more here, and get in gear for Slow Roll Buffalo’s Peace of the City Ride!