I've mentioned my journeys and adventures on my bike throughout the life of this blog, but I have never written about just bike riding.
As a kid I lived on my bike. Met the girl who would give me my first kiss while riding around my block, over and over again. My bike was a bmx, with heavy duty web rims, it was sweet but heavy. I raced others on ten speeds and would beat them somehow. I got jumped three times by older kids who wanted my bike. The fourth time they got it. Didn't have another bike til college.
I DJed a gig and in lieu of cash they gave me a Nishiki. I rode that all over LA and for school. It didn't last long. One of the cranks got messed up and I just didn't want to bother fixing it as work, school and life got crazy.
In the later end of summer '06, I was leaving Grand Performances with my Q. When we got to Grand Av. and Sunset some guys on bikes rode up from Sunset and stopped in front of the cars. Behind them were hundreds of people on bikes. They were blowing whistles, ringing bells, honking bike horns, screaming- making noises of fun. Some were on tall custom made bikes and I saw a few in pajamas and a rabbit costume. I said "I need to find out who these people are and get me a bike."
I began looking for a bike in September. I ended up on Craigslist. I found some decent ones for $50-$100. I emailed my friend who knew a little about bikes for his opinion on which to get. He replied saying he had a bike in storage that he wanted to get rid of. We met and got LA Red-y. She is LA, red, and always ready to roll.
I took her around Boyle Heights and realized how much I needed to get in shape to be able to take on the rolling hills of BH. So we began. I took her up and down the bridges over the LA river. We went into downtown to tackle the hills that separate the haves from the have-nots in the city. It was great.
I got online an searched group rides, and there they were The Midnight Ridazz. They were having a ride called "The Warriors Ride" where they asked people to dress like their favorite gang from the 1979 film "The Warriors." It was cosmic, I had just rented that film the week before!
The instructions were to pick a meeting spot: Highland and Santa Monica or Highland and Wilshire on the Northeast and Southeast boundaries, OR Fairfax and Santa Monica or Fairfax and Wilshire on the Northwest and Southwest boundaries. We were to meet at our chosen starting point and then ride into the designated area searching for bikers dressed like the Warrior gang. If we found them, we were to take them to Pan Pacific Park for the big meet up. If we didn't find any, we were to go to Pan Pacific Park at 1 a.m.
I went alone. As I parked on Highland, just north of Santa Monica I could already see other bikers pulling bikes out of cars and riding towards Santa Monica. As I was rolling south I ran into a high school friend who was unloading his bike along with several of his friends. I stopped. They had done these rides before and told me how much fun I was in for. They let my fill my tires to proper psi and told me that they would keep an eye out for me and to ask for help if I get a flat or anything. "We leave no rida behind."
When we got to the gas station at Highland and Santa Monica there were about 250 ridaz waiting around in costumes, drinking, tuning their bikes, playing music from portable systems. It was something I had never seen. Soon someone got on a bullhorn and said we were going to start, he repeated the boundaries, the goals and the meet up time and place. He then began chanting "Warriors, come out and playayay." That got us all fired up and we rolled out. I was hooked.
Other rides that I found on Bike Boom took me through Hollywood Blvd., Sunset, Melrose and other crowd filled trendy streets where people in restaurants would run out to wave to us and cheer us on. We seem to make more people smile than not. Of course we have had problems with drivers who don't want to wait for our rolling party to pass by and get mad. We've had stuff and curses thrown at us. Recently three ridaz were hit by a truck driven by guys who has just robbed a liquor store. The ridaz had seen them run out of the store, so the robbers went around the block and intentionally mowed them down. They all lived, but one had to be taken to the hospital. She is doing better.
There are rides practically every night of the week for every level of rider. Some train for Century rides which are 100 mile rides. Most of the rides are fun rides. Many of them roll at an easy pace, avoiding hills, with stops at stores to re-fuel, and stops at parks and plazas to dance and use restrooms. There is a ride for everyone. Most of them have themes.
The ridaz are great. On a recent ride I got a flat and immediately 5-7 people were around me offering inner tubes, tools, air pumps etc. to get me back up and riding. I have seen this many times. After hills we often wait for the slower riders or peeps who had to walk their bikes up. We leave no rida behind.
It is a political statement and it is not a political statement to get on your bike in Los Angeles. I see lots of raza on bikes here in BH. Maybe because I ride, I notice riders more. It makes me a more patient and cautious driver. I hope to see more riders and ridaz. Then we might have even more patient and cautious drivers. Biking helps get you in shape, cuts down traffic, cuts emissions, makes roads safer and if you go to any of the websites I have in this post, you will have a lot of fun with great people.
Next up is the Midnight Ridazz 4 year anniversary "The Mother of All Rides," and getting ready for the Rosarito to Ensenda ride in April.