I want to tell you a little bit about a tall young man I know (pictured at right during the Midnight Ridazz’ “Saftey Ride” of April 2007) who goes by the nom du bicyclette of Roadblock, but has also given other names both real and fictional to various civic committees, law enforcement personnel, census takers, and telemarketers.
Roadblock has been with Midnight Ridazz since the beginning — and I mean that very first 18-mile nightride by the eight original “mommas and the papas” way back in February 2004. He rode his skateboard the entire way.
When Midnight Ridazz blew up huge a couple years later with rides at times drawing more than a thousand cyclists, the founders decided to step back and give the once-a-month phenomenon over to the bike community. From there Roadblock opened up midnightridazz.com as something of a portal and incubator in which people could hatch and grow and celebrate their own rides. Genius.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that in this ephemeral shapeshifting storm known as L.A.’s “bike culture” Roadblock has a place in its center not just for how long he’s been involved in it, but also for his contributions to bettering and broadening it — although he would probably be the first one to roll his eyes and dismiss such a statement as ridiculous.
What I’m also trying to say is we came close to losing him to a hit-and-run motorist early this morning.
“Yep, I’m at county USC,” he wrote in a post on the Midnight Ridazz forum. “Was heading north On Glendale Blvd. Was in far right lane preparing for a change to left lane to make left at Park. I looked back and saw a car approaching at extremely high speed. I aborted my lane transfer and the car swerved into my lane and rear ended me at about 45 mph. I flew up onto hood and probably dented hood and windshield. Drive applied brakes and I flew off into the street in the right lane. My rear wheel is taco-ed and rear of bike smashed.”
The ensuing comment thread is a volatile mix of relief that he emerged so relatively unscathed and outrage at whoever the inhumane person was that committed the crime.
I tried to leave a comment when I read about it this morning. But I couldn’t find the words. I got hung up being unable to fathom how close I came to attending the installation of another ghost bike — and one less than a block away from the last one I’d been to.
It’s infuriating enough when I hear of a car v. bike accident when it’s someone I don’t know, but when it’s someone I do know a little bit of my soul gets vacuumed out and a dark little infested deadzone is left in its place.
Somehow in the immediate aftermath, sprawled on the asphalt 30 feet from his bike Roadblock had the presence of mind to get a vehicle description and a partial plate number as the motherfucker ran like a compassionless cowardly bag of shitmeat: “Dark gray sedan four-door; 6GYC11.”
Where the suspect fled is anyone’s guess — all the more reason wherever you are to make a note of it if you could and keep your eyes open. If you do happen to see a vehicle matching that info — one with hood and possibly windshield damage — please notify the police.
And to Roadblock? I’m glad your here with us to heal up and ride on, man. I get choked up just having to write that. Ride. On.