“Most people on bikes are resilient cool people. Most have dealt with harassment before. I will not let others prevent me from enjoying a fun and healthy activity in public space. I will ride my bike even if I have to adjust my route.”
That was my friend Laura Torres’ response to the news that the city put the kibosh on this year’s Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race. Both Laura and I have not only been crashing the race these last few years, but we’ve organized a small contingent of friends and neighbors from the Eastside to join us on the ride.
So when we heard the news about what went down, we both knew that canceling our marathon ride was not an option. We talked, adjusted our plans and let everyone riding with us how it was going to go down. We were going to be joining the hundreds of other riders that were still planning on riding the marathon route, police presence be damned.
Luckily, it didn’t come down to that.
Once word spread that Wolfpack was able to work out a last minute ride, we reverted back to our original plan of meeting at Mariachi Plaza at 2:30 a.m. Except 2:30 never came around, thanks to daylight savings. Our alarms went off at 3 a.m. instead and after rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I met up with the group at the plaza and rolled out to Tangs Donuts.
We cruised down First Street in Boyle Heights and took a slight detour on Broadway through the 2nd street tunnel to Figueroa to hit Sunset in order to avoid the hill on Grand. We left Mariachi Plaza at 3:30 a.m. and made it to tangs a little before the 4 a.m. roll out. We met up with friends already there and compared notes about falling asleep at the wheel because of the time change.
Before we knew it, the sea of blinking red lights started moving in waves as the LAPD lead the way down. For the better part, the ride itself was no different than previous years, other than the race component was taken out. With police cruisers blocking off the major intersections, the ride took on a critical mass feel, but that still wasn’t enough.
Not wanting to wait for the ride to finish passing through, drivers coming out of residential streets sped through gaps with no regards for riders on numerous occasions. This started as we got into Hollywood and continued once we got to the Westside as well.
During the entire ride, I only spotted one individual who took a spill. It goes without saying that when you have a ride with hundreds of riders of mixed levels, you are bound to have at least one. Fortunately, the person wasn’t hurt seriously, that I know of, and other riders were already helping by the time I passed through.
Once I got to Beverly Hills and Century City, things got dangerous again. Street lighting in some of those neighborhoods is poor, and I had to rely on my front light to spot other riders that didn’t have any lights at all. I saw a few close calls, which made me be extra cautious of passing others and keeping an eye for potholes on the road and there were no police cruisers to be seen. Getting into Westwood saw better street lighting and more closed off streets as folks were already preparing for the marathon.
The final stretch was a walk in the park as I saw those familiar flashing red lights cluster at the finish line. I saw a steady flow of riders coming to a stop, letting out a cry of self satisfaction for finishing the ride, followed by a selfie with friends that I’m sure ended up on instagram. I was too far off to hear what Roadblock had to say. And after we finished taking pics, we headed out for a well-deserved breakfast and rest before making our way home via the Expo Line. Another marathon ride in the books.