GoBike Buffalo is having their annual Cranksgiving Ride tomorrow (Meets at 12 pm at Lafayette Square Saturday November 12th). I actually don’t know what it’s about here, so of course I’m going to find out.
The first Cranksgiving was the brainchild of Hodari De Palm and a guy named Ian, aka “Ass Man.” The first Cranksgiving which was actually called the “Thanks for Nothing Alleycat” and it was held in 1998 in New York City. The concept was to ride throughout the city on a scavenger hunt picking up food at grocery stores. Whoever got all the food on the manifest first, was the winner. In 1999 a guy, Tone, or “Moonshine” asked Ho if he could put on the race for Thanksgiving and rename it “Cranksiving” because it sounded more upbeat. “Ian was a punk rocker, it was kinda like that,” said Hodari, laughing, “It might be the name change, you know it was kinda catchy, that made the thing take off.”
Tone had a more intricate design for the race itself and designed the signature Cranksgiving logo to look like the Campbell’s soup can. Considering back then very few people had their own computers, his design skills were pretty impressive. He actually had cans of something, creamed corn, tuna, who knows what, with his “Cranksgiving” label on them.
18 years later and it’s an institution. “It’s amazing how far it spread” Ho remarked to me reminiscing about those days in the late 90’s when the NY messenger community was super energized by a super successful Cycle Messenger World Championships in Washington, D.C. in 1998. “We came home and started organizing Alleycats, we did a Halloween one, then the Thanks for Nothing, then of course the toy drive Alleycat where we gave toys to Mother Hale House.”
I happened to be working in NYC when messengers were first organizing the races and their bike messenger association. Who would’ve thought all those years ago that one day this race would be in Buffalo, NY; Greenville, SC; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Little Rock, AK; St. Louis, MO; Boston, MA; Albany, NY; Maplewood, MO; Bloomington, IN; Akron, OH; Sioux Falls, SD; Seattle, WA; Raleigh, NC; San Francisco, CA; Lexington, KY; Baltimore, MD; Portland, OR; Quincy, MA; Boynton Beach, FL; Memphis, TN; Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM; Indianapolis, IN; Madison, WI; Miami, FL; the Today Show; Frederick, MD; and Milwaukee, WI.
The best part of Cranksgiving in 1999, the year I rode it, was showing up at the soup kitchen, in Hell’s Kitchen. All these poor guys were lined up outside. They looked really nervous when we rolled up. “You guys trying to get something to eat?” they asked us. “Nah man, we’re here to give you food!” Concerned faces broke into beaming smiles. It was the best feeling in the world.
I guess that’s why Cranksgiving has been going on now for 18 years. Can’t wait to see how my hometown does it! Meet at 12 pm at Lafayette Square Saturday November 12th.