Having participated in nine of the previous ten Midnight Ridazz, I can’t say for certain that in its two-plus years of existence there’s been a more ambitious one planned than last night’s “Swarm The Pier” ride, but I can highly doubt it. This 17-mile A-to-B trek convened about 300 or so cyclists at L.A. City College (LACC) and then met up with about 500 more at a convergence point in Culver City before rolling the final eight miles to its destination alongside the Santa Monica Pier.
Such a route so deep into the rarely Ridazz-visited westside was made even more unique by the organizers’ announced intentions that all intersections should go uncorked and all traffic laws go obeyed — which worked for the first few lights heading south on Vermont (and on/off after that). But when you’ve got everyone from BMX tricksters to dainty wing-ed waifs on grocery-getters approaching red lights at intersections yelling “Don’t stop! Don’t stop!” such best laid schemes are doomed to being discarded.
Various observations and recollections and incidents and reactions from along the way (after the jump):
‚Ä¢ A sincere thank you must go to the right and honorable and unknown sheriff’s deputy in attendance who blocked southbound vehicular traffic with his cruiser, thus enabling a safe and orderly exit to begin the ride from LACC.
‚Ä¢ Apologies to any ridah eardrums I may have damaged with my enthusiastic use of my outrageously loud Storm whistle
‚Ä¢ Another apology to and gratitude for the quick-reacting ridah behind me who somehow managed to avoid slamming into me at Wilshire and Normandie when I came to an abrupt stop after my video camera sadly toppled from its mount above the front wheel and did enough cartwheels along the asphalt to kill itself. May its pieces rest in peace (in lieu of condolences, send Pabst).
‚Ä¢ A heavy regret and simmering frustration for how craptastically deteriorated Wilshire’s patchwork roadway is and certainly the stretch alongside Hancock Park from Wilton Place to Highland. It’s freakin’ Hancock Park, dammit!
‚Ä¢ A righteous raspberry for the incredulous woman in the sedan at La Brea and Wilshire who first looked wide-eyed upon those of us in the left turn lane beside her as if we were aliens from beyond the edge of space and then deigned to lecture us on oadway ettiquette. To her I say “Barata niktu, beetch!”
‚Ä¢ A prayer for whatever will help (low bail? medicajuana?) the dude we passed down and seated curbside at the same intersection being detained by an officer of the law for whatever the reason be it legal or medical or political or otherwise.
‚Ä¢ An awestruck wow at the animated Helm’s Bakery neon sign. I’d never seen it lit up at night before and it’s just gorgeous.
‚Ä¢ More awe at rolling up on the mass of ridazz waiting for us at the Culver City Trader Joe’s. Making radio contact a couple miles away with IAAL‚Ä¢MAF co-founder Sean who was there with 5000! and his girlfriend Delmy, I certainly didn’t expect to unite with such a large group.
‚Ä¢ A roll of the eyes to whoever the chick was behind me when the ride recommenced for wondering aloud if the jamcrush of cyclists in front of her could “go any faster.” Uh no, not right now we can’t.
‚Ä¢ A big boo to the idjit ridah for hitching onto a passing pick-up truck by grabbing its bed rail and getting towed along Venice Boulevard. See dude, I know you were thinking you’re all risky-cool and shit, but in this crazy little thing called bike culture the rest of us just saw you selling yourself and your bike short and becoming that truck’s bitch. Do that lazy shit on your own time.
‚Ä¢ A rush of joy for the first and only time I’ve ever been on the beach bike path between Venice and Santa Monica when it’s actually and totally been pedestrian free.
‚Ä¢ A bit of disappointment that the ride ended rather anticlimactically alongside the pier instead of on it as had been planned.
‚Ä¢ A feeling of resigned dismay at the swarm of Santa Monica police who soon after our arrival at the pier descended like angels of doom upon our peaceful congregation, dragging people off for open containers and such and generally saturating the scene with a heavy-handed presence.
‚Ä¢ An urge to laugh out loud at one of said officers near us atop the pier who felt it necessary to beg us not to “destroy anything.” Huh?
‚Ä¢A sincere “nice to meet you” to LAist’s Zach Behrens who I chanced upon after I overheard our Blogging.la’s Jillian introduce herself to him. Good luck with the upcoming Sherman Oaks Neighbhood Council election Zach! I’d vote for ya if I still lived there.
‚Ä¢ A hearty we’re-not-worthy bow to the group of joint-sharing cyclists my biking bud and fellow IAAL‚Ä¢MAF’er Steve passed up on San Vicente after leaving the pier to escape the uniformed heat. They’d ridden in all the way from San Fernando and were on their way back homeward over the Sepulveda Pass. Dang.
‚Ä¢ A wistful though worthless dream that one day all the city’s streets could be as silky smooth and bike-friendly sweet as San Vicente through Brentwood.
‚Ä¢ And lastly after making our way across town via Melrose, an excitement at the new Orange 20 Bikes shop across from the Bicycle Kitchen on Heliotrope, which happened to be open and hosting a gathering allowing Steve and I a brief respite and a look around at their wares. Way cool.
All in all a great 37 mile loop and yet another excellent edition of Midnight Ridazz. Of course there’s a massive photoset on Flickr to be viewed here. And Sean’s pointed out a You Tube video post here: