One of the most essential rides in Los Angeles has been the Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Ride and yet, I had never done one.
Two years ago, I was riding over when my chain bent and I missed it last year because I didn’t want to ruin my sleep schedule for my race the following week.
So with this year being once again the last possible edition, I was faced with mounting peer pressure to come out Sunday morning.
I was pretty fatigued and had lingering cramps from racing hours earlier, so just doing the ride didn’t seem like a good idea.
At the same time, Don Ward has done an incredible amount of organizing behind the Griffith Park Traffic and Circulation Improvement Plan, Josef Bray-Ail’s campaign and many other issues, that I felt I had to come out and support.
Up until I went to sleep at 11pm, I knew this wasn’t a good idea so I crawled into bed without setting my alarm and let fate take it’s course.
Three hours later, I woke up from the effects still feeling dehydrated from the race and after not falling asleep for another half hour, I knew I had to give it a go.
Getting dressed was an exercise exposing how stiff I was, but once I touched my bike, some of that pain was gone.
My plan was the same as two years ago: drive out to the westside and ride to the start so I don’t have to make the long trek back after.
Parking across from the Federal Building in Westwood, I quickly mounted up and started making my way on Wilshire.
Traffic was almost non-existent and I was pretty well lit up with a headlight, Fly6 rearlight and a Lumos helmet.
Squirming over on Fountain before the ride.
When I reached Santa Monica Blvd., I latched onto a group of four riders and got to talk bikes along the way.
We got there around 4:40 and there was already a large crowd assembled even though we saw a lot of people just pulling up in their cars.
Saying goodbye to the guys I rode in with, I started wandering through the crowd to say hello to a few friends.
LA Bike Dad Terence Heuston with Big E all excited to ride.
I didn’t expect to come across LA Bike Dad Terence Heuston since they recently brought home a newborn, but I should have known better.
As more people began piling in, the atmosphere felt like a bike prom and even Don was making the rounds through the crowd.
I was looking for my Insane Bike Posse crew (totally sane) when I saw Bernd who was equally questionable for the Crash Ride since we just raced together.
Don Ward passing out stickers before the ride.
We found the rest of our “posse” and still had plenty of time to take our compulsory social media shots before heading out.
Don was megaphoning instructions to the mob and before we knew it, everyone was off.
We decided to hang on the sidelines and let the masses go first to stay from the frenzy at the front.
Still, hundreds passed before we made our way onto Sunset and I had no idea how many more were behind them.
The ride had the feel of a CicLAvia, just way faster while still having about the same density of bike riders around you.
We were moving roughly the speed of the pack, which might have been a little too quick to take everything.
Soon, we started to come up on some roller skaters that were keeping a slower pace, but the group was doing a good job calling them out so everyone stayed wide.
Nearing Hollywood & Vine.
The first few miles was quite a blur not just from the speed, but taking in an “open streets” experience at night.
Hollywood looks far more regal at night with the number of neon and lighted signs that gave the ride a Noir feel.
Riding the section from the Pantages to the Chinese Theater was the part of the ride I savored the most.
The opportunity to get to ride unencumbered one of the most iconic stretches in the world in your own backyard tells you how blessed we are.
Right in front of the Roosevelt Hotel we had our first test on how orderly the ride would be: a left turn into a downhill.
Not only did a lot of people speak up to slow down, but everyone complied.
Bernd was still smiles after emptying the tank racing hours earlier.
That was followed by another turn onto Sunset Blvd. where everyone held their line, but I might have done too good an acting job passing my friend Hector as I pretended to call him out for bad skills.
I think if I was slightly less recognizable, he would have shanked me.
Me and Bernd started losing sight of the rest of our group, but one of our guys was also wearing a Lumos helmet which made him easy to spot.
We caught up with them in time before we reached the Strip and at five miles in, the ride felt slightly thinner, but there were still plenty of people passing us as they probably got to the party late.
The heart of the Sunset Strip
Winding through West Hollywood, I forgot about how busy Santa Monica Blvd. stays throughout the night as there was still people out getting their groove on.
Earlier on my way out as I was riding with the four others on “Big” Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills, I joked with the four others about how wrong it would be to ride here with the Crash Ride with all the construction going on.
Yet for some reason, the ride continued on in this direction instead of following the marathon course.
Those lighted wheels won the MCR.
It did seem odd to be riding with traffic coming at you, but the drivers seemed a taken aback by this large mass of cyclists that they seemed to stay away.
We turned onto Wilshire and it still seemed a bit confusing as most of the riders assumed this was a closed course which could of had some devastating consequences.
As we neared the Federal Building, I knew it was my time to peel off since I was at the edge of falling asleep.
Oncoming traffic and parked cars in the Wilshire Corridor should have told people we were off course.
I did notice that at Sepulveda, instead of the group rejoining the course, they turned northward back away from it which seemed even stranger.
When I got back home, I showed, dressed in my jammies and tried going back to bed, but that didn’t happen.
I was too amped not just because it was a fun ride, but that so many people came out to support it.