Last night was a perfect spring evening for a bike ride around Los Angeles. A good crowd of perhaps 300-400 riders gathered for Critical Mass at Wilshire and Western. There was a warm breeze blowing through the city, and everyone was in a jolly mood. The route was a little different in that we headed west all the way to Beverly Hills, turning onto Rodeo drive and continuing up to rest at a pocket park on Sunset and Camden.
From there the ride headed back east on Sunset, making a fateful right turn going down San Vicente. For one rider of a fixed gear bike, his lack of experience (and brakes!) was no match for the effects of gravity. At the bottom of the hill the ride was holding for a red light. He was unable to stop on his own. Luckily a White Audi arrived at the perfect moment, and with a loud smack the rider slammed at full speed into the front of the car with so much force that the radiator dumped all it's coolant onto Santa Monica Blvd. The rider was thrown violently off his bike to the horror of all the riders. Miraculously, the rider sprung to his feet and pumped his fists in the air. Everyone's jaw hit the ground and the ride rejoiced in the averted disaster. No one could believe what they just witnessed. Perhaps he was spared due to white "ghost" bike he was riding.
The night wouldn't be complete without a "Circle of Death" at Hollywood & Highland.
Michael and I called it a night after we declined to follow a brave (or stupid) pack of riders that went on the 101 freeway, leaving about 100 to find their way to Echo Park.
Overall, it was a fun night but also more dangerous than usual. Inexperienced riders continue to put themselves at risk needlessly, riding without helmets and riding beyond their skill level. Slower riders that couldn't keep up were dropped by the pack. The brakeless, fixed gear ghost bike rider could have been seriously injured but escaped without a scratch. Motorcycle Police in Hollywood were seen pulling over cyclists for running red lights.
One trend I am seeing is more women riders. Hopefully as the weather improves, the ride will continue to grow in strength, quality and safety. I feel lucky that nothing truly bad happened.