For several months now, Triple T (Tri-Team Tim) has been trying to get me join him on a bike ride with the Midnight Ridazz. Once a month, a group of cyclists get together for a late-night ride through the streets of downtown Los Angeles. And by "group" I mean five-HUNDRED people. Last night, I finally went.
A little history: when Mister P. first joined the triathlon team last year, he felt like he didn't belong. He went to their workouts and saw a bunch of really in-shape people wearing spandex and he felt pretty intimidated. But a lot happened over the past year; Mister P. put a few nice accomplishments under his belt. He even bought stretchy-shorts. And this year, Mister P. definitely feels like he belongs. So when Mister P. went out to meet up with a new group of cyclists, he felt OK. He knew the rules of the road, and since this was a night-time ride he put on the brightest, most reflective shirt he owns, his Orange County Half Marathon shirt. He put on his stretchy shorts and went to the meeting place in Echo Park, where he knew he would fit in.
Well...The Midnite Ridazz is not your typical bike club. Most people were wearing black, goth-ish outfits or long hippie pants. Probably 75% of them (*gasp!*) didn't have helmets. Of the 500 people there, I think I saw one other pair of bike shorts. And hardly anyone was wearing white. Once again, Mister P. didn't fit in. I felt like I was wearing a tie to a Gwar show. Impressed that I knew who Gwar was?) There were road bikes and mountain bikes and beach cruisers. One guy towed a little trailer with a car battery hooked up to a portable stereo to blast music as we rode. People had neon strips and blinking LEDs covering their bikes. It was awesome. I really need to pimp my ride.
We started out around 10:30pm and headed towards downtown. Homeless people would get out of their boxes to cheer us as we rode by. We went through Chinatown and Alvarado Street. We rode through the 2nd street tunnel. We criss-crossed several bridges spanning the L.A. river. It was just an amazing way to see the city.
Mister P. is many things, but he is not a rebel. Mister P. believes in playing by the rules. And if there are no rules, he makes some. And follows them. The Midnight Ridazz events aren't exactly USCF endorsed. One of the first things I thought as I watched 500 of us head out on to the streets was "shouldn't we getting some sort of permit to be doing this?" Bicycles are vehicles, and are supposed to obey all traffic signs. But not the Midnight Ridazz. At each traffic light, a team of "blockers" would park their bikes defiantly in the path of cross traffic until all of us rode past. It probably took several minutes for the entire chain of bikes to ride by, and I'm sure some very unhappy motorists had to sit through more than one light change before they could drive forward. I felt guilty, but it was very cool.
We came upon a place called "Mariachi Plaza" in Boyle Heights. I had never heard of the place. It was a small courtyard with a Mariachi Band playing which suddenly got overwhelmed with 500 bicyclists like a swarm of locusts. We all stopped for 15-20 minutes and listened to the music and danced (well, jumped up and down) and then we disappeared as quickly as we arrived. Freakin' sweet.
The entire ride was about 16 miles and we finished up on Sunset Boulevard around 12:30-1:00. We pretty much blocked one lane of traffic with of our bikes in the middle of the street, until the SEVEN police cars and 1 police helicopter were dispatched to tell us to disperse. The Man is always trying to keep Mister P. down.
The Midnight Ridazz meet the second Friday of every month. You should totally go. But leave the stretchy shorts at home.
Heading downtown, A blocker, Chinatown, Mariachi band, Mariachi Plaza, 2nd street tunnel