What’s your name (optional) and/or your Midnight Ridazz log-in name?
"mr rollers" Of course it could and does have all kinds of meanings, but it started as a corruption of my difficult to pronounce last name. Having handles is a good thing with so many people on the rides - you could never remember all the names otherwise.
How did you first hear about Midnight Ridazz and what was your first group bike ride?
I looked out the window one Friday night in August 2005 and saw a huge group of bicyclists and got all excited. I immediately went on-line to try to figure out what it was. In those days there was no "midnightridazz.com" and I didn't know what it was called anyway. After some searching I found the Bicycle Kitchen website and signed up for the e-mail notification, which was how you found out about rides in those days.
The ride I had seen was "The Tron Ride", so a month later I did my first Midnight Ridazz ride, which was the (first) "Heavy Metal Ride". I was hooked immediately, but in those days you had to wait a whole month for the next big group ride!
Currently what rides do you attend regularly and what ride(s) would you like to see make a comeback?
Spoke(n) Art, The Passage and RWNN are usually very good rides that I do the most often. I've attempted Wolfpack Hustle a few times, but those guys have just gotten way to fast for me! Anybody who thinks they can ride fast should get out and try it at least once - maybe they'd be less inclined to ride fast on the social rides . . . but I digress.
I miss Sins & Sprockets and of course RIDE-Arc. They were completely different rides, but they shared the trait of being very well organized and managed. But it's a lot of work and responsibility putting on that type of ride, so I think I understand why they stopped. It's better to get out when it starts to become an unpleasant task.
What advice would you pass on to new ridazz?
Be prepared, make sure your bike is roadworthy, carry at least a spare tube, hold your line, know your limits, stay to the right (at least the right of the center line), stay behind the leaders and the music, don't piss people off for no reason, stop for a red light every once in a while, get a brake, give someone a break. Consider wearing a helmet. Try to contribute something positive. The only trace you should be leaving is a trail of people saying, "wow, that looks like fun, I gotta do that!" Get outside your own social group and try to meet some new people, that's one of the beauties of the rides.
If you were leading a group ride, what would you do differently?
I have been a co-leader on a lot of smaller rides, even that is a responsibility to be taken seriously. You try to prepare, plan a good route, do a test ride if possible and anticipate what could happen based on the size of the ride and when it's taking place. But when the ride happens there are always chance or spontaneous elements that can't be planned for. In some ways that's the magic of the thing, but good preparation can help set the tone. But the bigger the ride gets, the less control anyone individual has. I've always been daunted by the idea of planning a large ride - it's big responsibility - but I try to help out however I can.
Do you prefer small rides (30 or less people) or larger rides and why?
For a long time I never missed a 2nd Friday ride and did most of the other big group rides, but lately I've been enjoying the smaller rides a lot more. They just seem to have a friendlier and mellower vibe that suits my needs these days. There's certainly nothing that beats the thrill of a large ride when it's going well, but there's also a huge potential for disaster as well.
Tell us about the best and worst experience you’ve encountered on a group ride.
There have been so many good moments that it's impossible to single them out, but I still remember the thrill of my first ride and the sense of a whole new world opening up for me. Seeing new parts of a city I've lived in for years and seeing old parts in a completely new way. Seeing joy on the faces of residents when we pass through their neighborhoods and getting support and consideration from motorists and cops. Coming home late, tired but energized and satisfied. Meeting people I never would have met otherwise. A feeling of being part of an incredible group of diverse people who have come together around the act of riding a bicycle.
The bad parts: seeing people use the anonymity of a large group to litter, tag and steal (not just from stores, but even their fellow Ridazz) or get aggro with motorists for no reason. Seeing Ridazz get crashed into and hurt by other Ridazz. Being hassled by motorists and cops when we didn't deserve it.
What did you do for fun before you started “riding”?
I spent time with a smaller group of friends that didn't ride bikes! Went to art museums, ate at nicer restaurants, wrenched on my hot rod, took road trips. I don't know if I was looking for something exactly like Midnight Ridazz, but it certainly filled a need.
What’s the best and worst thing group bike rides have done for cycling as a whole in Los Angeles?
Well, the best thing is that it has gotten a huge number of people out on their bikes and made them realize how much fun it is, whether you're doing it with 500 other Ridazz or by yourself. Motorists are actually getting used to seeing bikes on the streets. Midnight Ridazz is the "gateway drug" for a lot of people into biking in this city. Not everyone is going to stick with it, perhaps, but when they begin to see the possibilities, they're hooked. The longer people stick with riding, the more it becomes an integral part of their life and it's going to affect how they see themselves and the environment they live in. I think we're just beginning to see Ridazz grow and transition into a new era of activism that could transform this city we live in.
I don't know if there is a "worst thing". There have been growing pains - that's inevitable. But the more people there are that get out on bikes, the more we'll be seen as individuals and not stereotyped. Everything has its ups & downs, but I don't think the bike is going away this time.
If you can name 1 person who embodies the spirit of “Midnight Ridazz”, Who would it be and Why?
If I had to name one it would be Roadblock - for so many reasons. He's been there since the beginning, keeps on keeping on, and is involved in so many different aspects of what Midnight Ridazz is and has the potential to be.
But there are a bunch of others that I'd like to mention (and I know I'll leave somebody out): Borfo, Dak, Agent Orange, Trickmilla, Big Bike Dan, Barleye, Chynna, Studiodrome,the list goes on. Then there are the really old school people that I had a chance to meet when I was first doing the rides, like Skull, Muff and MaBell."
What do you think the public’s perception is of group bike rides?
I really have no idea and I don't dwell on it too much. Some people love us and some seem to hate us, but that's the way people are - we all have preconceptions that color our views. I just try to influence things in a positive way when I can. I think we should realize we all have that power.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
When I say say "Midnight Ridazz, you say RIDE ON!"