If straight-up, no-frills urban cycling is a drug, then I’d liken it to marijuana, not only because a large segment of so-called “society” wants to keep it stigmatized and its purveyors negatively stereotyped, but also because of late radical anarchistic bike rides have begun to take place because apparently the high one gets just from a bike commute or a Midnight Ridazz ride isn’t enough for some and so has sent them in search of a stronger rush.
I’m talking about yesterday’s freeway ride — the second in which a group of renegades who ride under the name “Criminanimals” entered the gridlocked 10 heading east. Pedaling through the traffic they transitioned to the 405 North then exited.
At first glance this seems like a really cool thing the really cool kids did. But me being a stodgy codger I second-glanced and came to my own personal conclusion that my little two-wheeled addiction is good enough for me and I don’t need to seek thrills of that nature. That’s a roundabout diplomatic way of saying I crunched the risk v. reward numbers and came away calling bullshit.
The first ride took place a couple/three weeks ago and was a success in that no one got dead, injured, ticketed or arrested. Word, pix and vids of it spread around the internest and among the various cycling groups and it was enough to generate a lot of woohooing and bring about an encore, and that too apparently and thankfully went off without a hitch as well — not counting a CHP officer’s involvment.
Several people who I’m acquainted with joined in the madness and several other people I’m acquainted with were in support of it and lamented not being able to attend. I’m not going to judge anyone for their decisions or endorsements, but I am going to call the events out as stunts that have the potential to do more harm than good, not only to the bodies involved, but also the efforts that strive to legitimately bring bikes out of the gutter pan and into traffic lanes.
One might say that’s a bit hypocritical of me, since I’ve illegally corked my share of intersections during plenty of group night bike rides these past two-and-a-half years, and in fact I’m reconsidering my future participation in those. I haven’t made any decisions yet, but we all evolve. Last year the bulk of my mileage was group-oriented riding and recreational. This year of the 2,300 miles I’ve cranked around the city so far, more than 1,900 of them have been solo, commuting to work and the occasional errand.
Last year was about partying, this year’s about business. Does that mean the party’s over? Unknown. But I do know that for the first second-Friday of the month since my involvement with Midnight Ridazz began in December 2005, I missed the ride not out of a prior obligation or an insurmountable sudden onset of lazy, but out of a genuine lack of interest.
We’ll see if that trend continues, but in the meantime at the core of my cycling advocacy be it for fun or a paycheck, I don’t claim to be a role model. I’m just a guy who likes to ride his bike. Safely.