RIDE LEADERS PART 2
* * * Your name and What ride(s) are you most known for organizing?
Marcus McKenzie aka SKIDMARCUS
Cubcamp – co-operated 2/07 to 5/08
Friends Of The Friendless – founded 11/07
Funderstorm – co-founded 7/08
Wetside Watergun Ride – founded 1/07
Los Angelopes – co-founded 1/08
Sharecuts – founded 8/08
CRANK MOB – 1 of 50 founders 11/07
Lance Kanawi, Chill Chinatown Mosey
Alex Amerri, RIDE-Arc
* * * Give us the rundown on your first organized ride…and how many showed up?
M - The first Wetside Watergun Ride launched my Ride-Artist career into international stardom and unfettered acclaim. All-night-get-krunk-piss-off-strangers-til-they’re-laughing-athon. It was pretty silly and climatically-inappropriate. We rode strictly Venice, 8 miles total, long party time, it was mostly about the concept.
No one remembers how many showed up.
L - Don't remember the first 6 months of the mosey all that clearly anymore.
A - I'll try to recall what I can, but it was years ago in the middle of a creative, intense prison that is otherwise known as graduate architecture school, so it may be a bit vague or off, I apologize. From what I remember, I asked a few friends of mine if they were interested in helping to put on a ride, they said 'sure'. It didn't really have a name just yet, but friend and original co-founder Gabe thought "RIDE-Arc" sounded good. I sent out an e-mail to the school , put together a route that I thought would be interesting, and it happened that Friday. There wasn't much talked about on the ride, it was just a ride - besides everyone who attended already knew the content and we all wanted to get out of that quarter mile monster for a night.
10 showed up including myself.
* * * What were your expectations? Were they met?
M - Yeah! I wasn’t sure how the idea would go over, being that it was a night-time watergun ride in the middle of winter. I remember reading the forum thread about the ride and having expectations crushed, haha… The ride was well-received and still is to this day.
L - I'd say I had no expectations and they were greatly exceeded.
A - No expectations, just a good time. These were definitely met.
* * * What has been the largest and smallest turn outs?
M - How about a funny story in leiu? Ok. One time I hosted what I thought would be a small birthday ride for myself. I got really drunk during Santacon, which was ALL DAY leading up to it. I fell asleep on a Fairfax sidewalk and missed my own birthday ride. My BFF got some awesome pictures of her waiting for me to show. They’re in internets.
L - Seventy and four
A - The largest ride had just over 300, the smallest was the first ride at 10. The recent "average" was 100 per ride.
* * * What motivated you to decide to organize a ride?
M - I am motivated solely by the fact that I firmly believe we are an art movement. We need to spell this with capitals. The Midnight Ridazz Art Movement of the Early 21st Century. Why are we different? I can’t speak for other ride organizers but for me - I am only interested in ride concepts. Socializing, drinking, and exercising are bonus features of this Art Movement, but I want the concept, the setup, the giant expressive social machinized chaos I can provide you as a Ride Artist. If you don’t know what I’m saying, come find out. We are pioneering Art right underneath your sleeping cars. We don’t care if you bike to work, just ride it to the party. We’re a modern graffiti movement, except after we get our kicks in, we’re leaving no trace. Join us. Or failing that, document us.
L - My work schedule kept me from going to any other rides on weeknights...also, at the time there was no real downtown-based every week ride.
A - The original Midnight Ridazz posted a non-ride ride, this was used as incentive to start our own ride. It was intended to be interesting and not fit into any of those categories.
* * * In the initial planning stages? Did you want it to be a Party ride? Training ride (wolfpack / Cub Camp) or just for chill/fun ride?
M - I’d rather explain why you can even ask this question. How amazing is it that we have GENRES of bicycle rides?? This very feature makes Los Angeles a very special place to be right now.
If you don’t believe me, consider other “bike-friendly” cities’ cultures relative to ours. They consist of a monthly Critical Mass, maybe some alleycats, and maybe a small rebel gang or two. Generally, people not in the LA Ridazz scene like to equate group bicycle rides with bicycle advocacy. Fuck that. In LA, I’ve been on all-night Architecture rides, wet-sand beach rides, crashed marathons, rides to see bands play in tunnels, and gone on massive road trips with 100’s of people that just happen to ride bikes too. FUN is in our bike-scene blood. Advocacy is boring. Critical Mass sucks. I hate going on those rides pretending to care. I share my buddy Roadblock’s vision, “You catch more flies with honey”. For some honey, go to MidnightRidazz.com.
L - Our vision was always a ride where people who live nearby could network and have fun exploring downtown and the surrounding areas...the pace was always meant to be rather slow; around 12 mph.
* * * Was your first ride modeled after another ride? Such as number of stops? Certain areas?
M - See what I’m saying? While you’re out there reading these questions, listen to how we talk about rides. I’m serious. We are speaking our own language.
L - Not really...I hadn't been on a ride exactly like the mosey before...it was essentially like a 2nd-friday kind of big-weekend-party ride, but with less people and only one or two shorter stops.
A - The first ride was modeled after everything happening at the time, everything and nothing. The second ride was the start of how RIDE-Arc came to be in style, approach, and method - and it grew from there. Stops and locations have always been based on the thesis of the ride.
* * * How long does it typically take to plan each ride?
M - I don’t know, what time does Ralph’s close?
L - Depends on the week...most weeks we'd make it up that day, anywhere between a couple hours and 5 minutes before the ride was due to start...others we'd make up as we went. the Scavenger hunt mosey, the moseyversary, the hill moseys and other special rides took a few days of planning.
A - Most rides have taken around 60 hours of planning per month, with a minimum of 40 hours invested in research and composition.
* * * Do you receive help from others or google maps, etc?
M - I’ve taken rides over canals, through tunnels to see bands, to see Frank Lloyd Wright houses, into factories, taken RV’s as support vehicles, through state parks, boarded trains and rode back after exiting the train. I pioneer.
L - Google maps, of course!
A - It depends on the ride, but historically there hasn't been much help on the whole. There have been a few rides that were co-authored by someone who was particularly keen on a particular subject, but that's it in terms of research, so far. That will change though. Route planning has been done through a combination of a few mapping tools (Google Maps, Google Earth, etc:.), adding in the research that was done, and then very extensive and thorough test rides.
* * * What are your biggest fears on each ride?
M - 1- Boredom. 2- Police.
L - That one of my friends will become dead or horribly maimed due to my negligence.
A - I'd rather not focus on fears.
* * * Does rain cancel your ride? If not, What would it take to cancel your ride?
M - I have a strict policy for rain. If it rains, my pants come off. I don’t care if you’re wet, I’m not wearing pants.
L - We generally cancel in case of rain...we're all wusses like that.
A - Luckily, RIDE-Arc has not had to deal with rain in its history. We have kept rides going despite a parting storm, high winds, or other factors - but no rain. There have only been a few cancellations of rides. The first came when the timing was simply too ambitious with a fast approaching finals (while in school), the others have been do to unforeseen circumstances.
* * * Do you have a back-up crew in case you can’t make it?
M - Most of my rides require beginner-level riding legs. I expect you to bring your professional yelling lungs and a bucket of red paint for this town.
As far as crew, nowadays I keep the company of only a handful of people I consider brilliant. Its not the same folks that you’ll see me hugging on rides, it’s a more inspirational circle of homies. Richie has always been my main ride partner. My Funderstorm Husband B-Rad and my real-life partner Julia is an inspiration source for planning bigger things... We've got some of the biggest things for MR in the works for Summer 2010.
L - Between me and Steph we've always been able to handle the majority of the work, but we definitely have 'lieutenants' within the mosey regulars who help us with whatever we can't do alone, ie riding sweep, regulating, staying with someone while they fix a flat, etc.
A - Not yet, but that is in the works. I wouldn't call it a "back up" crew, though.
* * * Why did you pick the specific day to have your ride?
M - Who do you work for? K.N.A.R.C. BOM…
L - Steph's work schedule for the most part.
The first Friday of every month was chosen because it was convenient. At the time it was not occupied by the largest ride, the pre-open source version of Midnight Ridazz. Ultimately having a specific day of the month for a ride is great for garnering a known, established presence, but it becomes restrictive and limiting. In retrospect, which is always 20/20 (heh heh), it would have been great to have a repeating day based on factors not limited to the baseless Gregorian calendar and instead have it on something more meaningful or substantial on a larger scale beyond our human scaled perspectives.
* * * What other rides were happening on the same day?
M - When I hosted the first Wetside Ride, Jan. 07 there were approx 2-5 rides per week. Seriously. If you look now, there’s 3-8 per day. Its heard to even believe it myself. I guys we’ve caught a lot of flies, and they need more honey!
L - None, at the time. It was hockey season when we first started, so Trenway was riding on Tuesdays.
A - Santa Monica Critical Mass, I think. I'm sure there are others now. There are 'rides' happening all the time, somewhere - many of them having decades of history and not posted on the MR website, so this sort of thing is not a concern.
* * * Do you check the ride calendar before each riide to see what else is happening that same day?
M - See above. Side note, you could see about two weeks’ worth of rides at the sidebar calendar, and it was only 75% of its current size!
L - Nah!
A - There's a ride calendar? Where? I think answer would then be: nope. I do, however, check calendars for events or happenings that would affect the route or subject material in particular. That is more of a concern than another ride.
* * * How did you arrive at a ride name? What names did you consider?
M - God gave me the gift of the “Clever Name” spell. I use a lot of portmanteaus. Look it up.
I get sole credit for “Wetside Watergun Ride”, “Los Angelopes”, “Funderstorm”, “Sharecuts”…. Also named some people, “Regular Mike”, “Mikebike”, “Midnight Snida”... Hmm…I wonder how much time is spent NOT wasting my talent.
L - Can't remember the many, many candidates, but it was your typical stoner brainstorming session.
A - The ride was founded while the lot of us were going through the ranks of M.Arch studies at SCI-Arc. Hence, RIDE-Arc. It's a simple name, but it stuck.
* * * Do you feel a catchy ride name is important for a ride's success?
M - Yes. Another interesting aspect of this culture is the “marketing” involved in hyping a ride. I am also blessed with the “Iridescent Hype Spell” and can make you wear your underwear over your head, waddling through Chinatown if I want.
L - ABSOLUTELY. It's probably the second most important thing after a charismatic leader.
A - For a social ride? No, I don't think so.
* * * Has your ride ever been hijacked? If so, to what extent? Please elaborate.
M - The largest ride I’ve co-hosted was the Midnight Ridazz #95 Alphabet Soup. It was way out of my control from the beginning. It took off without my consent, went a totally-fucked route, and since I couldn’t get people herded up in time, cops were called at one stop. I’m not the kind of person that’s going to do that again. I’m an architect. I still think of the night as a partial success, since at least 90% of people were dressed up! Again, I’m an architect. On the other hand, my homey/roommate/daddybear Richtotheie can handle it. We’re a very complementary team and have done about 20+ rides together.
L - Fo sho'. one week the ratio of friends/toys was running right around 1, or even a little less, so our usual technique of letting people fall off the front by throwing in extra turns wasn't working...basically the kids called a left turn when we wanted to go straight...i was frustrated and bailed on the ride at that point, but drew caught up to the front and managed to stop them, then berated everyone into relative complacency for the rest of the night.
A - Yes, once. The ride was going well and people were very enthusiastic about what they were learning, experiencing and so on - then this one guy on a tall bike that we had never seen before said that we should go see some murals painted on the walls of a wash/watershed system. Since it was /sort of/ related to the topic, I let it happen. Unfortunately this guy had no idea where the murals were in reference to where we were at the time, and this diversion added about 25 minutes and 7 miles completely off route, which threw the rest of the timing off - this was okay however, and while swearing to myself that I'd never let that sort of "cool idea" happen again, we managed to get back on track. The guy was thankful we took the extra time to see the murals, and also apologized for miscalculating the diversion. It's all good.
* * * What size ride did you envision when you started the ride? Has it ever gotten out of control?
M - See above. That Midnight Ridazz was 400+. Never again. I plan to keep my rides small and powerful. I don’t care about big numbers. I am writing history books with my rides.
L - We always figured 30-40 was a good number. It's been pretty crazy when we've had double that, but other than the aforementioned hijacking incident it hasn't gotten out of control, no.
A - There was no forecasting of ride size when it started, but the 'max' comfort was figured to be around 100. It has never gotten out of control, and probably won't by the nature of the rides and the quality of riders who attend.
* * * When you’re on other rides, do you analyze it and compare/contrast to your own ride? Or What you would have done differently?
M - I’ve developed a good sense about leading group rides and the sensitivities involved. I’m not a natural loud-mouth or drill-sergeant type of person, so I’ve invented some unique methods of preparing to lead a ride. I have a few tricks I’ll do to myself that flip my personality to allow me to give up public-speaking inhibitions and fears. I’m serious! Midnight Ridazz is like Speech Class for me. I’m sure there’s someone out there that knows what I’m saying! Ha!
L - Nah. Every ride is a snowflake, ya know?
A - Not too much, but it happens.
* * * What’s the best and worst part about doing a ride?
M - The opportunity to experiment, the rewards you get from hearing someone appreciate it, progressing as a Ride Artist. These are my favorite things. I’ve only had a couple rides I didn’t enjoy, so no comment as to the worst part.
L - Best - All the wonderful friends you make, the respect/gratitude granted by them.
Worst - being responsible for people's well-being, taking care of friends when they get too fucked up, stressing about same.
A - Best: Planning the ride, researching, presenting, seeing and hearing people actively engaged in the ride's content and participating in the experience. Seeing particular people become progressively better prepared and more skilled in the riding abilities with each successive ride.
Worst: Hearing complaints from people who didn't know what type of ride they were taking part in, it's just annoying and could be avoided with a little foresight on their part. Ah, well.
* * * How long do/did you envision the ride continuing?
M - My rides will go to the end. When I slack, others pick up the concept and go with it. As far as the riding scene in LA, I really have a hard time predicting what will happen. Either legal forces squash it all, or we’ll keep progressing and be in some history books.
L - Until I left town!
A - I'm not sure, it just kept going pretty consistently for 3 years despite a ride-hindering injury in the mix. Then, it stopped because I was simply spent. Will it continue? Yes, well I hope so - it's in the works, but there are a few external factors which need to be figured out before I can give the extra push it needs to start off again. If it does happen it will be of a different format entirely, which will hopefully allow it to continue on its own, in some form, factored by the energy, time, and locations of the Fellows* (working title).
* * * Do you consider spoke cards to be a reflection of the ride? the organizer? or both?
M - SHEEEIT. You’re talking to a back-braking spoke card pioneer. I love spoke cards as much or more than the actual rides! I definitely try to reflect myself and the ride and the current events that I’m feeling are going on. They are part of the experiment, if you can frame them in abstract terms. They are relics, and one of our modern hieroglyphs. I take them very seriously. Fun is serious business to me, and business is good.
L - We've never done regular spoke cards, and in fact the majority of our spoke cards were made by mosey regulars without our participation. I think we've had about four different designers over the course of the ride, plus the make-your-own-spoke card night. So in that way, our spoke cards are a reflection of the diversity of artistic talent present on our ride.
A - Both, with a 90% leaning towards a reflection of the ride. 10% a reflection of the organizer if she or he put together the artwork for the spoke card, naturally. The RIDE-Arc spoke cards attempted to reflect the ride's thesis in some way, but with the exception of one they are in effect a reflection of my aesthetic interests at the time. 90% / 10%
* * * Is there anything you’d like to add?
M - Funderstorm has been consistently playing Midnight Ridazz (and various) rides for over 3 years now and every one of them has been special and fun since the start. We've taken the levels of fun of an LA Bicycle Ride and made a potluck musical experience out of that energy. The term "F.U.N." came from our favorite song "F.U.N. (Are You Having Fun Yet?)". Come to a Funderstorm show if you ever get a chance. Also, www.TheFunderstorm.com! YEAA
A - If you ride as if the world is against you, the world will be against you. If you ride in concert with everyone and everything around you, you will have a brilliant symphony of an experience. Play nice, be respectful of others, and live with an awareness outside of your personal living perspective.