Broad Street Bullies
Words by: Jay Skinner (Part 1) & Joseph Genest (Part 2)
Cover Photo provided by Broad Street Bullies. Photographer: No Tourists Mag
“What Up, Bully?”
That was just some stupid shit we would say to each other between pulling down monuments, torching cop cars, and running from tear gas.

Bradley started it as a joke about being tough guys, enforcers. That summer, everything was about authority- power, cops, and the state. We wanted to feel important, too – like we had some say. No one was going to give it to us, so we had to take it, bully it.
In the beginning, it was really just a few of us – Salad, Amin, Nick, Sophia, Funky, Bradley, Me, and a few others. A few of us knew each other from slugging meals around town for Quickness, the local courier company, but for the most part we were new friends, brought together by the freedom that came with the beginning of the pandemic.
We were already outside when the protests began. We had our bikes and knew the quickest escape routes for every street, the best alleys to cut through, the topography of the hills and valleys, the timing of the traffic lights, the roundabouts, and the dead ends. It was more natural for us to be in our saddles than on our feet, so we worked together with the protest organizers to keep people safe and vigilant. The protests usually began and ended at the same spot, the graffitied base of the Robert. E Lee monument, which had been renamed by the people to Marcus David Peters Circle

Every day we’d meet at MDPC with backpacks full of fireworks, beer, weed, spray paint, and cameras. We were aware of how serious the events unfolding were, but we had a great time, too. It was important too! The city told us to stay inside, hide, be paranoid and afraid – Fuck that, we wanted to live life and be happy.

Enjoying your life in public felt a bit like being a fish in an aquarium, but we embraced that energy and let it fuel us. If it was performative to show others our happiness, our lust for life, then so be it. We learned how to track stand and balance on our bikes like circus clowns. We learned new tricks, improved our hand styles, and held basketball games, races, as well as barbecues. But mostly, we practiced popping wheelies and pulling swerves on our fixed gears. 
Soon, our wheelies and swerves graduated to other streets: wheels up, hands over our eyes, cutting through traffic like bats out of hell. There were only a handful of us, 10 people tops most times. We were a ripple in the pond but we felt like a tsunami. 

We knew the wheelies and tricks made us a little different than previous bike clubs. We were riding like we knew everyone was watching, riding like Broad Street was paved just for us.
The first post on @broadstreetbullies804
As the widest road in town, taking over Broad became a weekly event. Thursdays, 7 pm at Kroger became the ritual. We didn’t care who called themself a bully, as long as they left their bullshit at home and didn’t bother anyone else.

The first BSB logo
Part 2
When Jay invited me to start riding with BSB, it was still this loose, peripheral group around the protests. I didn't pay it much mind as an organization but rather just some friends riding bikes. Biking was always my main mode of transportation, which meant I naturally fell into riding with clubs and other organizations around town.
The first time it felt like BSB was a real thing was the 2020 Halloween ride. Maybe 50 of us showed up, many in costumes, which was a great result for a bike club’s first ‘official’ ride. I never quite learned how to wheelie so I’d volunteer in as many ways as possible, eventually helping out the core team with ideas, events, or whatever we needed.
When Thursday rides became a regular thing the following Spring, Jay had left to teach in Thailand. It always felt bittersweet that we got our groove down while he was gone, creating clips of who pulled up, promoting, and watching the ride grow incrementally again. Even if you couldn't wheelie, we still showed love in the clips. People felt cool for just associating.

Our route circulated Broad, hitting the neighborhoods with the most popular breweries and restaurants. People outside eating dinner would clap and cheer. Word spread, and our rides of 20-30 turned into 50-70, and now into the hundreds. 
As Jay noted, BSB’s core has always been around wheelie culture, which made it drastically different from other bike clubs before us. Previously, there was an air of exclusivity, like you had to be an 'outsider’ but also a ‘real cyclist’ who knew how to spend money on a bike. Being based around a simple trick made it both alluring and inclusive since we all felt safer together, regardless if you rode a Huffy.

As the rides grew over the summer and into fall, so did the energy around them. A year in, we had visiting bike crews and toy drives rolling. We were throwing concerts and volunteering for community events. 
Spring Kickball Game with Holy Shit Fest
Speaking to an Urban Planning class at Virginia Commonwealth University
4/20 Ride + Show
2023 Kickball Game
BSB Beer made in collaboration with Bike Lane Brewing

Even with a diverse crowd of riders, the wheelies always reigned supreme. The weekly cycle of clips transitioned into featured crazier and crazier stunts. Did a suburban kid with an expensive bike swerving an overworked bus driver exactly match the protest ethos we started with? No, but like the pandemic BSB was born out of, the rides could only be mitigated, never truly controlled.

While BSB was never a political movement, at times it can feel like a political party in the sense that we're all under one big tent. Do I like everything going on underneath the proverbial tarp? No, but when it comes down to it, we can all leave our differences at home and unify under a singular notion: being a cyclist alone sucks.

The anxieties of riding a bike in the city never get old. Even those who proudly fly through the streets on one wheel still feel the same pressure that at any given moment, someone else's negligence could cost you greatly.

Not only do many drivers feel a sense of entitlement on the road but openly fantasize about hurting cyclists. A quick glance at Reddit after any Thursday rideout will be filled with comments like “I can't wait until someone drives their car through them" or “one day, they're going to hold up the wrong person with a gun." These thinly veiled wishes for a mass shooting are rarely removed by mods.
Hypothetically, if we did capitulate to the online threats, shut down the Instagram page, and pack up shop, people would still show up. The rides have become bigger than any of us. Thursdays, 7 pm at Kroger is a ritual. It doesn't matter who calls themself a bully, as long as they leave their bullshit at home and don’t bother anyone else.
A BSB Sticker found in Flatbush, Brooklyn
An average Thursday night
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