The Ride4Love Sets Powerful Example of Unity through Diversity in Watts
“Lemme guess,” I said to East Side Rider Dale Williams as he approached the Ride4Love’s ride captains with a printout of the route, “you worked all night last night.”
The big-hearted 55-year-old never fails to amaze me. He often works long nights cleaning venues, gets home in time to catch a couple of hours of sleep, and is up early with a smile on his face, ready to help shepherd bike rides, big or small, to ensure that everyone stays safe.
“Yup,” Williams laughed, “you know it!”
He wasn’t the only one. One of Los Ryderz‘ reliable road captains, Carlos “Cheech” Garcia, had also been up most of the night at his power-washing job, and had also refused to miss the ride.
Their dedication to their clubs and their community is part of what makes riding in South L.A. such a wonderful experience. Where a lot of group rides tend to be about moving through spaces, South L.A. rides are always about connecting with them and leaving them better than they were before.
The East Side Riders’ Ride4Love, in particular, has always had a strong community-based mission.
Early on, it was about bringing food and water to the homeless. Two years ago, in honor of fallen cyclist Benjamin Torres, the ride was dedicated to raising awareness about hit-and-runs and the lack of justice for victims and their families. Last year, in partnership with C.I.C.L.E. and Metro, the ride focused on expanding its reach and welcoming folks from outside the area to the community.
This year (also sponsored by C.I.C.L.E. and Metro), the ride built on that mission by bringing together cycling clubs from around the L.A. area, including the Los Ryderz, Cyclone Coasters, South L.A. Real Rydaz, Brothers of Color, Ridaz Choice, Saints Through Fire, Old Time Values, Ratrod Riders, Barkada, Latins Finest, and a few others.
Together, they numbered around 200 cyclists.
It was a pretty amazing feat to witness.
Different clubs have had their differences over the years, and haven’t always been interested in supporting each other or exploring each others’ neighborhoods.
That has definitely changed recently, and many of the riders decked out in gear representing their own clubs were also proudly sporting other clubs’ patches on their vests.
Their camaraderie made for a very positive atmosphere on the ride.
And it was fun for those that saw the riders roll by, too.
The diversity of the group and the wide range of bikes the riders were on brought families out of their homes to “ooh” and “ahh” over the group and prompted drivers to honk and wave in support, even as they had to wait for a couple hundred riders to pour through an intersection.
In an area where racial tensions can sometimes prevent people with similar needs and experiences from coming together, the message the riders were sending was that we are stronger — and happier — when we come together.
It wasn’t a terribly long ride — just about eight miles — covering the northeast side of Watts and part of South Gate. But it was just long enough to give riders a good sense of Watts, a chance to connect with each other, and a desire to ride together again soon.
The next ride through the area will be the fourth annual Tour de Watts, led by Los Ryderz and the East Side Riders on March 14. Los Ryderz president Javier “JP” Partida has posted a map of the route on their facebook page, here.