We tend to be pretty oblique in our route descriptions and, indeed, in our descriptions of the ride in general. The Passage is in fact probably best suited for those that can tolerate a high level of uncertainty. That being said, here are some answers to some questions you might have...
How hard is this ride?
It varies from week to week, depending on the route, but generally it is safe to say that it is probably an easy ride for a strong rider and can be a strenuous ride for a weaker one. Most people fall somewhere in between and therefore so does the ride.
So what do you mean by "medium pace"?
Faster than a typical "social ride" and slower than a typical "fast-paced ride." Maybe somewhere between 12 and 18 mph? But, again, it depends on the route. Longer routes tend to inspire faster paces.
And how about "some hills"?
There will almost always be hills. Sometimes just small rollers. Sometimes hills that are short and steep, sometimes long and gradual. Sometimes all of the above. We don't avoid them. A lot of interesting places are at the top of hills.
No, seriously though, you just started with three questions about difficulty -- is this a hard ride?
That's just what people ask about the most. Difficulty is not our intention; the ride is not about that. We are interested in exploration, not athletics. We try to keep the ride together and wait for anyone who falls behind.
You can do it!
Since your routes vary in difficulty, do you have some sort of rating system?
We do! One donut = easy. Two donuts = average (for us). Three donuts = challenging. Four donuts = very easy.
Wait, why is four donuts the easiest rating?
You try to eat four donuts after a hard ride!
How inconvenient are the "inconvenient passageways"?
It could be a footbridge. Or an underpass. Sometimes we ride on dirt trails. Sometimes we take pothole-ridden and glass-filled alleys. Sometimes we climb stairs. Or do a little hiking. One should generally be prepared for anything. But, don't worry, we'll give ample warning when we're going to ride several miles underground in a wet tunnel.
What if something happens to me on the ride?
We do our best to provide a safe and enjoyable experience, and rely on our riders to help us maintain a mature, responsible ride culture. But on very rare occasions incidents do and have happened, as on any bike ride. If something happens to you, we'll do everything we can to make sure you get the help you need. But please understand that, by participating in the ride, you assume all responsibility for yourself and agree not to hold the ride leaders liable in any way.
What should I bring on the ride?
A bicycle in good working order, with well-inflated tires; front and back lights; basic repair supplies like spare tubes and a pump; enough food and water for the duration of the ride (we do not stop at stores).
What kind of bike should I bring?
A cyclocross/touring bike is probably the most appropriate choice. That is what both of us are riding these days, and what many of our regulars end up on eventually. Most people, however, bring other styles of bikes. A geared road bike will be fine for most routes. Likewise a "hybrid"-style bike. People do ride fixed or single speed with us, though sometimes it becomes obvious that is not the most appropriate choice (riding brakeless, in particular, is a rather bad idea on most routes, and we'd really prefer you didn't). A mountain bike can work. We've had tall bikes on the ride and that sometimes worked out okay. Someone brought a swing bike once and that was one of the few times we outright dropped someone (sorry!). Cruisers and BMX are discouraged, unless it is advertised as a very slow ride (we do those occasionally). Whatever style of bike, investing in durable, puncture-resistant tires is a good idea.
I have an awesome sound system for my bike. Should I bring my awesome sound system?
While we are sure your sound system is indeed awesome, we do ask that people not play music during the ride. First of all, music can make it hard to hear people call out potential hazards, which can be a safety issue, as well as hard to hear conversation, which can be a conviviality issue. Furthermore, our goal to generally pass through the city unnoticed -- both for sake of access as well as to respect the neighborhoods of others -- can also be thwarted by people playing music. The most compelling argument against it, however, is probably the aesthetic one. Music is great on a party ride, but our ride isn't really supposed to be a party (sorry!). Music disconnects one from one's environment and making connections to the environment is an important part of the ride. Thank you for understanding.
How big is the ride?
For first the year or so, it was usually just a handful of riders. Then it expanded out to maybe 10-20. For the last couple years or so it's been more like 15-35. Routes advertised as shorter/easier generally bring out more riders.
How long have you been doing it?
The ride started in June of 2009.
Where are you going this week?
We announce upcoming rides through our mailing list. Honestly, sometimes we don't send out the announcements until the last minute (see next question), but that is usually okay because we rarely give more than the sketchiest details of where we're going. We do try to give an idea of distance and difficulty though.
Is the ride happening this week?
Yeah, sometimes we don't announce upcoming rides until the last minute. Sorry about that. But, rest assured, the ride happens every Wednesday. On the very rare occasions it doesn't happen (we sometimes switch to riding on Saturday, during the day, and we typically take one week off per year), we make that clear well in advance on the mailing list.
The most recent route listed on this site was several weeks ago, are you still doing the ride?
It is hard to keep the site consistently updated. We tend to do it in batches. But, until we make it clear otherwise, the ride will happen every Wednesday. We have no plans to stop.
UPDATE: We have actually decided the ride will end at our 10th anniversary, in June of 2019. But the ride will continue on a weekly basis until then. Hope you can join us for our final months of rides!
Does rain cancel the ride?
In theory, when it rains we go bowling. In reality, we have chosen to ride in the rain several times and sometimes that can be fun. More often, we have had extremely good luck and rain clears up before the ride begins. A clear night after a good rain is a beautiful time to ride. So, to answer your question, maybe...?
(But, yeah, if rain looks inevitable, we bowl.)
Do you leave on time?
We used to give a few minutes of leeway for stragglers, but we kind of stopped seeing the point of that. If you're not at 3rd and New Hampshire by 9pm, you will miss the ride.
There are a bunch of daytime photos in your gallery -- but doesn't this ride happen at night?
It does! ...Most of the time. However, on special occasions, we have held the ride during the day, on weekends. For our 100th ride, we did a century (that's 100 miles) and, for our 200th-203rd rides, we took the Metrolink train and explored the suburbs. Then we realized that riding during the day in the summer is often not that much fun and so, since then, we've done a series of weekend rides in the winter, the first week of each month for four consecutive months.
How can I contribute photos I've taken on the ride?
Submit them to the Passage tumblog!
(We're quite bad about actually posting stuff lately, though, so don't be too disappointed if your submission doesn't make it up there.)
And, while our Tumblr is pretty much defunct these days, we have been using Instagram a bit. You can tag us @thepassageride in your photos, if you want.
Or, if you just want to tag your photos on other social media platforms, use #tpoafptarbmit
Does the ride cost money?
The ride is free and open to all (that are willing/able to behave in a safe, respectful manner). We do it because we enjoy it. We hope you do too.
How do I obtain products that signify I am living the Passage lifestyle?
A small amount of Passage-related goods are available for purchase here: theroyalacademy.storenvy.com.
We also can probably dig up some patches we made years ago, if you ask Sean on the ride sometime.
Let's go back to your refusal to give clear ride descriptions -- what's that all about?
Where we're going is usually less important than how we get there. And, anyway, surprises are fun!
What's with the crazy long name?
It's the name of a situationist film (and, later, a book about the Situationists). It seemed to fit. They also wrote the line about dropping usual motives and being drawn to attractions on our home page. The Situationists had some interesting ideas about the city and one's experience thereof. But they are just one amongst many inspirations for the ride.
What is the best kind of donut?
Whichever came out of the fryer most recently.
Have a question you don't see here? Ask us!
passage [at] theroyalacademy [dot] org