What’s your name (optional) and/or your Midnight Ridazz log-in name?
J.B. / J.B.
How did you first hear about Midnight Ridazz and what was your first group bike ride?
I started volunteering at the Bikerowave a couple of years ago, and folks would mention the "Midnight Ridazz" all the time, so I checked out the website and rolled out to a few of the WestSide rides. Taco Tuesdays and Crank Mob were my first group rides in Summer '08, and I could not have chosen better.
Currently what rides do you attend regularly and what ride(s) would you like to see make a comeback?
Not nearly enough. Eddie Gopez once told me to "comer menos pedal mas" (Eat less, pedal more) and I do need to do that. Where the hell are you anyway, Eddie? I tend to hit the weekend Westside rides, and the occasional LACM / RWNN / etc.
What advice would you pass on to new ridazz?
Learn how to work on your bike, tune it up, and then carry some gear with you (pump, tubes, patch kit, wrench, multi-tool, tire levers, etc., etc., etc.). This is handy for several reasons: 1) catastrophic part failure while riding in the middle of a group of people in varying stages of sobriety rarely ends well, 2) finding yourself alone in the middle of the night and trying to figure out where you are and call for a ride because you got a flat and don't have any tools is a total drag, and 3) being able to help other folks get back on the road without any undue fuss is pretty sweet. At a minimum, practice changing a tire beforehand. It's not hard, but practicing it in daylight in comfortable circumstances makes it a lot easier. Any of the bike co-ops (Bikerowave, Bike Kitchen, Bike Oven, Valley Bikery, etc.) will be more than happy to help you learn.
If you were leading a group ride, what would you do differently?
Not a thing. You all have it down. The speedy fixie kids that some complain about are usually the best corkers at intersections, so it all works out for the most part.
Do you prefer small rides (30 or less people) or larger rides and why?
Both are awesome. Regular small rides usually turn into big rides if they're any good, and giant rides sometimes go underground to get smaller, so it's more a question of how much fun the rides are, not how big. On the rare occasions they're not fun, who cares? You're on a bike and even riding solo at night in L.A. is awesome, so if you're out of steam or not having a good night, roll on home and try again next time.
Tell us about the best and worst experience you’ve encountered on a group ride.
Best? Rolling with dozens or hundreds of other bikes through a warm L.A. night, music playing, lights blinking, people smiling, bystanders laughing, that's what it's all about. Worst?
I've had a couple of "valuable learning experiences", but nothing bad enough to be memorable.
What did you do for fun before you started “riding”?
Not enough. Learning how to fix bikes by volunteering at the Bikerowave and riding with the Ridazz is probably the smartest thing I've done over the past few years.
What’s the best and worst thing group bike rides have done for cycling as a whole in Los Angeles?
Best? Put Los Angeles, the most gridlocked, car-centric city in America, on the map as a place, if not THE place, to have fun on a bike.
Other Best? We pedal around L.A. laughing and looking ridiculous and showing people just how much fun you can have for very little money while getting exercise, and that's pretty sweet.
Worst? We've shown people that you don't have to wear spandex or lycra to enjoy cycling (although I hear it helps), so they've got one less excuse not to get on their bikes.
If you can name 1 person who embodies the spirit of “Midnight Ridazz”, Who would it be and Why?
To quote a somewhat overused line from our current president and the Hopi Elders, "We are the ones we have been waiting for." The whole point of this endeavor is that it is what we make it, and it's up to us to bring the fun, and so far, we've succeeded. Roadblock deserves tremendous thanks for making sure this place continues to exist. The ride leaders deserve a ton of gratitude as well for putting in the time and effort to plan and organize rides that have been so consistently awesome. Throwing a mobile party for dozens / hundreds of people is no easy task, and these folks step up and volunteer to do it, again and again, and that's pretty great.
What do you think the public’s perception is of group bike rides?
Awe and wonder and envy. I was on a ride tonight and at a stop, a man was walking his 3yo grandson through the bikes, and this kid was just in total sensory overload from the shiny colors and silly people and blinking lights, and just looked around awestruck. A group ride, especially one featuring tallbikes, has that same effect on most adults. For some pedestrians / motorists, it's like the circus came to town for 30 seconds, and they just happened to be there to see it.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If you don't have a bike yet, get one. If you haven't been on a ride yet, GO! If you haven't been to your local bike co-op yet, GO!