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Wolfpack Hustle interview with Don “roadblock” Ward

(photo by bart_everett)

To say the city of Los Angeles is dependent on the automobile is a big understatement. Back in July, local LA residents waited with baited breathe when they heard a 10 mile stretch of their precious 405 freeway was going to be shut down for a weekend. I remember getting lots of raised eyebrows and shocked reactions when I told people about our family vacation to LA planned right in the middle of what was being labeled as Carmageddon. Fortunately there is a thriving bicycle culture throughout the vast landscape of cities like Santa Monica, Ventura, Pasadena and Long Beach. One renegade group of racers known as the Wolfpack Hustle seized the opportunity during this weekend by challenging the airline of Jet blue to race, bicycle vs airplane.

Wolfpack Hustle. Time Lapse from Midnight Ridazz on Vimeo.

The hustle put their fastest crew together to challenge the airline who was trying to compensate motorists by offering ridiculously cheap flights from Burbank airport to Long Beach for $4.00.

( photo by waltarrrr)

The pack easily won the 38 mile race which was mostly hyped up on twitter and meanwhile the 405 project was completed early and under budget, leaving nobody inconvenienced. The race probably didn’t convert anyone to ditch their automobile, but the media stunt did draw attention to the social network of bikers in LA as well envoke some serious discussions about car dependency and how people move about.

I randomly meet Don “Roadblock” Ward on twitter, (@wolfpackhustle) when I found out the wolfpack crew was heading over to compete in Austin Horse’s multi-city East Coast Messenger Stage Race. Don was the organizer of the Jetblue race and was willing to answer some questions about bike culture in LA, the wolfpack and plans to race down the East Coast in a very unique stage race.
(photo of Don Roadblock-by: Mikeywally)

•Name, age, what your riding these days and how long you’ve been riding in LA.

Mi nombre es Don “Roadblock” Ward and I’ve been riding in LA most of my life which is itself getting fearfully close to the 4 decade mark. Born in LA gonna die in KAUAI.

•What’s the alleycat scene like in LA?

Alley cats happen pretty frequently, espeically in the summer. DTLA’s Finest throws some of the best. They usually have a summer series downtown and the racing goes off.

•What is the wolfpack hustle, what events do you put on? Who comes out?

Wolfpack Hustle is an all-city ride concept that goes down every Monday night. It has been chugging along for almost 6 years now. The ride starts and ends at Tang’s Donut in Silverlake, is anywhere from 40-70 miles and has different routes every week. We ride no matter the weather or holidays. All kinds of people come out. We get everyone from the track bike fixed gear kids to BMX pros to the CAT1′s to just plain and simple commuters who want to get to know the city better. We also get travelers from time to time… people who’ve heard about our ride from other countries who see it as a way to take in some of the sights and sounds of LA. we give them a good survey of LA for sure.

•What lead to the jetblue race?

I woke up one morning 2 days before “Carmagedon” was going to end the world as we know it to a tweet that mentioned @WolfpackHustle and how we could beat JetBlue’s “Carmagedon Flight” from Burbank to Long Beach. I instantly accepted the challenge. Bikes vs. Jet was just too good to pass up. From that tweet forward it was a whirlwind of action. I grabbed the laptop and sprinted over to my favorite breakfast spot and spent the next 8 hours on Facebook, twitter and email rallying to organize the race, assemble Wolfpack A the team, and working with prominent bike bloggers like @garyridesbikes, (garryridesbikes.blogspot.com) and @ohaijoe (www.bikecommutenews.com) to identify a passenger, set up the rules for the race and make it happen. 24 hours later I was getting non stop phone calls from the local and international media. It was insane. I was doing radio interviews on the BBC, Korean state media, Germany, China… I have to give a shout to Gary’s wife Meghan Kavanaugh for handling the press releases. Her newsroom experience really helped push this. The most bizarre of interview was for some conservative AM radio show. I was on hold and the host was ranting about public transportation in Ohio and how stupid it was… I wanted to hang up or just blow off the Bikes vs Jet interview and school him about the benefits of public transit…

•It got a lot of hype on twitter and the web, did you expect such a big reaction?

Honestly I was so caught up in making it happen I didn’t care what the reaction from the outside world was going to be. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to race a freeking JET! But initially I didn’t think it was going to be big because in our team strategy meeting we were originally going to have the team race airport to airport. That’s 40 miles and do-able, but once I realized how many non-bike people were watching I ran it by a few transit advocates and Sean Bonner about whether it could still be considered a legit race if we made it about destinations. The one thing I didn’t want to do was put pressure on Wolfpack A to have to ride outside of the law. If we made it about destinations that kind of pressure and thus public criticism could be safely avoided. Considering the time it takes to drive to the airport, arrive early and then drive to the passenger’s destination – the Long Beach Aquarium – the pace could be relaxed for the riders and all the usual bike haters that complain of unruly cyclists would be silenced. In the end I think it was a fair choice. This was about transportation options.

But in the aftermath I am pretty amazed. You kind of see these “twitter buzz events” happen from the sidelines and then there I was right in the middle of one. It was really cool. Days later I found myself still checking twitter like a crack fiend hitting refresh like the hype was never going to end. But of course the chatter eventually faded away though there is still one last hurrah as the LA city council body will be honoring us for our achievement in October. Totally stoked about that.

•What was jetblues’s reaction?

JetBlue has been coy about the whole thing. They helped facilitate it by giving @ohaiJoe a ticket to follow the passenger @ezrahorne on his journey but they didn’t want to come out and fully endorse the race. Airliners never sponsor races for fear that a crash will lead to bad publicity. None the less, the CEO of JetBlue announced on board the flight “Now if we can just beat the cyclists.” They also gave us free round trip tickets anywhere we want.

•I was in LA at the time of the 405 closure and a lot of my friends and family said we were crazy for going at that time. What do you think of the perception of car culture in LA and did this come into play when organizing the race?

The perception is that car culture is the only way in LA. Obviously that perception is false and we are proving it everyday. When this flight was announced I knew it was a publicity stunt but at the same time it was the last straw. I was already disgusted with the Carmagedon coverage in the news and having a chance to change the narrative even just a little bit was absolutely awesome.

•Who came to race?

For every race we put together a team of our best Monday night riders which is called Wolfpack A. This time around was no different. The team was as follows: Captain John “The Roadie” Gabriel, Aram Dellalian, Fabian Vazquez, Jon Budinoff, Stephan Andranian, and Evan Stade. All have ridden on countless Monday nights and all could be trusted to handle themselves in a potential chaos of Carmagedon traffic. In fact we really weren’t sure if it was possible so we had a team meeting to go over the route and make sure everything was covered.

On race day, a rollerskater showed up and @garyridesbikes and his wife decided they would do the race as pedestrians using public transit. Everyone won.

•What were the racers biggest challenge?

Resisting the urge to blow stop signs and lights.

•What happened in the race? Who won?

The race went perfect. There was practically no traffic. People had apparently heeded the Carmagedon hype and cowered in their homes. I wish Carmagedon would happen every day.

•Did this give you the bug to organize more distance racing?

Honestly no, but it gave me the bug to do Austin Horse’s East Coast Stage Race!

•What’s this I hear about East coast messenger stage race? U coming out? Ever raced in NYC? Ever done this kind of thing (it’s fine to pretend my audience doesn’t know Austin or about this race)

Our brother from NYC is throwing a 500+ mile messenger race from Boston to DC. We are using JetBlue’s ticket offer to fly out and do it. Last year Austin came out to race the Marathon Crash race we throw here in LA and we’ve kept in touch through twitter ever since. I’ve never raced in NYC but myself and the Midnight Ridazz came out in 08 to participate in Black Label’s Bike Kill event. we were there for a week so I got a chance to ride Mahattan, Brooklyn, Queens… I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated about ruthless traffic in NYC. But once I got there I realized one thing. YOU GOT TO RIDE MIDDLE and then it makes complete sense. I noticed right away that while NYC traffic is ruthless, it is also sensible in that you know drivers, especially cab drivers dont give a fuck about you but they will respect you if you ride right. After nearly getting right and left hooked 10 times for the first mile I just got in the middle and blasted. Compared to LA I actually felt safer. Our drivers here in LA are some of the most distracted irrational brain dead people in America. They are barley aware of their surroundings and they definitely aren’t looking for someone on a bike they are too busy on the cell phone making a u-turn for the botox clinic.

•What challenges do you expect? what bike will you race?

The biggest challenge in my mind is routing. None of us know shit about east coast routes. The terrain is pretty flat which is to our advantage since we are used to riding hills and mountains here in LA. We are also used to covering long distances on the regular since our city is so big so hopefully that will help us. Personally I’m not expecting to place or even come close. I’m just going to ride. I’m leaving the race part to Wolfpack A. I’m going to be Wolfpack B.

(photo by: Mikeywally)

•Anything you wished I’d asked you?

“Are you politically involved in getting bike infrastructure in LA. ”

The older I’m getting the more I am realizing that politics DO matter. It’s just difficult to see change when as a youth your perception of time is days and hours vs being an adult and realizing that change happens in glacial terms but it indeed happens. For years now I’ve seen LA slowly warm up to cycling as a real alternative to the car and I’m proud to be a part of this shift. Last year I was awarded Advocate of the Year by Streetsblog and this year I’ve been working to earn that title by participating in local government – I’m a neighborhood councilman – and by rubbing elbows with the right people in city hall and just remaining focused on the safe streets message. Our LADOT has been traditionally hostile to providing pedestrian safety through traffic calming and infrastructure. In fact, our LADOT actively removes crosswalks and seemed to be foiling bike lane proposals…. It was getting conspiratorial actually. But now that the bike community here has been engaged and pressuring City Council for so long, the change is starting to happen. It’s an exciting time in Los Angeles. If we can make the streets safe for people to choose active transportation instead of mindlessly getting in a car to make 2 miles trips… we could have a healthier, less polluted world.

2 articles from the Times

There’s been some good bike coverage in the New York Times.

On Saturday, Op-Ed Columnist Frank Bruni wrote about his recent ride with D.O.T. commissioner, Janette Sadik-Kahn. They talked about her critics, vision and inevitable legacy.

Bicycle Visionary
by: Frank Bruni
published: September 10, 2011

20110915-055152.jpg(graphic by: Christopher Brand)

Something lovely and all too rare happened to Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City’s frequently demonized transportation commissioner, as she and I rode our bikes down Park Avenue South one morning last month: Sadik-Khan got unsolicited, unfettered praise.

It came from a young cyclist who happened to pull up beside us, glanced over at her and suddenly beamed.

“Oh, it’s you!” he stammered, then mentioned that he owned a bicycle shop and had recently placed a newspaper ad publicly thanking her for her cycling advocacy. “You’re going to leave a legacy, you know.”

Read more: here.

Then on Sunday, an expose on the rise of female bike mechanics in NYC local shops, including superstar K.T. Higgins (Bushwick Bikes) voted best mechanic 2010.

From the SPOKES column:

Women With Wrenches
by: Jed Lipinski
published: September 11th, 2011

20110915-055813.jpg(photo by: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times Repair Artist: K. T. Higgins, founder of the Bushwick Bike Shop in Brooklyn, with her daughter, Kacey Canales.)

On most days, Katlyn Hershman can be found smeared with grease, plying her skills as a mechanic at Bike Works NYC, a shop on the Lower East Side. When she answers the store phone, though, all that toil and expertise can suddenly seem invisible.

“Guys automatically ask for the mechanic,” she said. “But I don’t really take it personally.”

Ms. Hershman, 25, has a loyal clientele of cyclists, both men and women. And she has the satisfaction of being one of a small but growing number of New York women making their mark in a trade that was a men-only preserve not so long ago.

Read the entire article: here.

Interbike 2011, down and dirty in the desert.

Interbike 2011 is in full swing out in the desert world of glitz known as Las Vegas. This is the USA’s premiere bike convention where manufactures, makers and cyclists come from all over the world to see the latest in technology, fashion, innovations and of course, sexy ass bicycles. The festivities always kick off with a dirt demo where participants can try out the latest in off road bicycles on sick single track terrain.

Here is Jeff Kerkove from Ergon, bike ergonomics, riding with friends and a helmet cam at this year’s demo.

2011 Interbike Outdoor Demo from ergon

If your following along on twitter, use the hashtag #interbike.
Here are a few people to follow:
@iamspecialized
@wolfpackhustle
@interbike Rich Kelly, Brand and communications director.
@Cycleboredom
@jeffkerkove
and everyone’s favorite online bike shop: @bike_nashbar.

Also, today, September 14th, is Cross Vegas -a Pro Men’s and Woman’s cyclocross race being held on the first day of the convention.

Here’s a video from last year’s festivities:

Most secure bike lock

Here’s the most secure bike lock.

20110913-042013.jpg

Source: Sierraclub.org

Decades ago, a child chained a bicycle to a tree on Washington’s Vashon Island. The tree, unperturbed, grew around the bike. | Photo by Ethan Welty/Tandem

“The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.”
—Iris Murdoch, The Green and the Red

Brooklyn Bike Jumble

Saw this on Ethan Laek’s blog: www.laekhouse.com/blog.

20110913-031820.jpg

“Saturday September 24, 2011
Old Stone House at Washington/JJ Byrne Park
336 3rd Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Join us on September 24, 2011 from 10AM to 4PM at The Old Stone House at Washington Park for New York’s only bi-annual cycling flea market.

Small parts, bicycles, frames and forks, clothing, wheels, energy food etc, etc, have been for sale at past Jumbles.

This year, Recycle-A-Bicycle (RAB) technicians will be on hand to provide free estimates to help buyers and sellers make informed decisions. If you have a bike you’re looking to sell, bring your bike down to the Jumble and RAB technicians will provide an inspection and diagnosis and an approximate appraisal to help you price your bike fairly. For those looking to purchase a bicycle, RAB technicians will provide an inspection and diagnosis to help you have a clearer idea of necessary repairs to make the bike road-ready.

Recycle-A-Bicycle will also host a bike collection at the Jumble. A donation of a bike to Recycle-A-Bicycle is tax deductible.

Other great partners and events to be announced!

Come on down!

Stolen: Beloved Mossberg

Got this message from John Tremblay.

M Green,

Please keep an eye out for my green Mossberg with front (black) rack, it has a plastic container/bucket on the front rack (maybe its still there) and rusty rear fender. Or maybe I should say it HAD a rusty rear fender? In any case it is a one speed with a coaster brake. Kind of a nothing-bike but really great in a super-amazing unpretentious-generic way that most bikes are not these days. Everyone likes this bike because it is not a fancy bike, odd but true. It is a kind of 1970′s “department store wonder”. These Mossbergs were made in upstate New York, possibly in a prison (which is where you belong if you stole my bike, btw)

Bike was securely locked behind a security gate on N12th and Kent, in a parking lot behind a building at around Noon on Friday the 9th of September.
In 23 years in NYC I have never “lost” a bike. I loaned this to a friend from out of town, she had it for a few weeks she is not careless nor clueless. This was a crafty thief who got through a Kryptonite U-lock, an old one, the kind that they don’t make anymore because maybe they are not that secure? There is no photo of the bike, unfortunately. Owned it for 8 years.

We are actively looking for this bike. Please keep an eye out for it. Things have been rough lately!

Karmic retribution?
Hopefully!

Thank You

John T

Any information about this bike, contact John directly: johntremblay@earthlink.net

Squid’s looking for part time food delivery messengers

Saw this posted on urbancyclistworldwide.com
Squid is looking for food delivery messengers:
*Calling all pro food delivery crew NYC
*NOT Open to Cyclehawk Messengers

I am working on a Food Delivery Promotion and have to hire 20 Bike Messengers. It’s part time work and pays well. I need to find 20 people to fill these 13 dates:
Monday Sept. 26: 11am-2pm (80 deliveries)
Tuesday Sept. 27: 11am-10pm (999 deliveries)
Wednesday Sept. 28: 3pm-10pm (300 deliveries)BK
Thursday Sept. 29: 7am-2pm (300 deliveries)
Tuesday October 4: 3pm-11pm (750 deliveries)
Wednesday Oct. 5: 12pm-10pm (250 deliveries)BK
Thursday October 6th: 12pm-10pm (250 deliveries)
Tuesday Oct. 11: 12pm-10pm (250 deliveries)
Wednesday October 12: 11am-7pm (250 deliveries)BK
Thursday October 13: 12pm-10pm (250 deliveries)
Tuesday October 18th: 11am-4pm (40 deliveries
Wednesday October 19: 1pm-7pm (150 deliveries)
Thursday Oct. 27: 12pm-10pm (999 deliveries)

All shifts are in Manhattan unless noted (BK= Brooklyn)

Email me for more info: metropoloco@hotmail.com You will need an Social Security and Proof of Address. Flyer will be posted here soon, Thanks!

9/11 Together we ride

From Urbancyclistworldwide.com

My sympathies to all those who have died or been injured during 9/11 and in the aftermath. Let’s build a world of tolerance and equality…on and off the bicycle.

Edwin de la Rosa-reflects on 9/11

Pro BMX superstar Edwin de la Rosa is one of the owners of the fresh pro shop in Bushwick, BK– Post.

He was recently interviewed for ESPN, reflecting on ten years since 9/11 and how street riding has evolved.

Edwin De La Rosa reflects on 9/11
By: Brian Tunney–ESPN.com
Published: September 9th, 2011

20110909-060756.jpg
(photo by: Nicholas Schrunk/Red Bull Content Pool photo caption:
“9/11 changed everything, not just bike riding in the city,” says Animal Bikes/Skavenger pro Edwin De La Rosa.)

Ten years ago, Edwin De La Rosa was a 17-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y. based street rider, just starting to make waves on the BMX scene following features in Dig BMX Magazine, and video parts in the first Fit Bike Co.’s “F-it” and Ells Bells’ “Rebirth.” At the time, De La Rosa and his brand of street riding was well on its way to revolutionizing a new style of street riding. Along with friend Vic Ayala, Edwin would spend days in Manhattan, riding, filming and shooting photos.

In the early spring of 2001, N.J.-based component brand Animal Bikes was beginning to work on their first video, and De La Rosa was hard at work on his section for the video throughout the summer.

Then, on September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, and within minutes, life had changed in New York City.

Read the full story: here.

Video Friday!!

Back by popular demand, it’s video Friday’s. Delightful eye catching ways to watch bikes doing amazing things on the last day of the work week!

First off we take journey back in time to last weekend, where a large piece of the desert in Nevada plays host to 50,000 people who pilgrimage for the Burning Man Festival. Here is a short clip of the Israeli electronic band Infected Mushroom spending the day on the playa. If you haven’t been to this amazing event, here is a little taste and notice the amazing bicycles and human powered vehicles, best used to navigate this moonscape terrain of dust and rock.

Last week was also the Eurobike international trade show in Germany. Here is a quick highlights reel, mostly of the dirt demo track for BMX and mountain.

The US has it’s own bicycle tradeshow in Las Vegas. Interbike. Coming up, September 14-16.

Here is the popular fixed gear crew, MASH SF, with a video from last year at the convention:

Interbike 2010 Vegas from MASH TRANSIT PRODUCTIONS on Vimeo.

Speaking of past events, I love this one from a recent Bike Shorts, NYC’s monthly short film fest, coming up again in October. Here is a past alleycat race, Broadway Bombing from July 4th by Boda! Boda!:

Broadway Bombing 2011 from BODABODANYC on Vimeo.

Speaking of Bicycle Film Festivals, the one and only, is continuing on with tour dates around the globe. Their website, bicyclefilmfestival.com,” is a great place to see trailers for the films they’re showcasing. Here is a trailer for, “Racing towards Redhook,” by Jessica Scott about the now annual Redhook Criterium.

expresso: racing towards red hook (trailer) from Jessica Scott on Vimeo.

Last year the race took place in Milano, Italy:

I hear it’s coming back in October.

Speaking of bike racing, big shout out to Danny Hart (UK) for becoming this years UCI mountain bike champ. Here is a video of Danny in action, seen on: Cyclingwmd.blogspot.com winning recently in Champery Switzerland.

Ok, for something completely different, Alexis Finch from Chicago has been making a pin-up girl calender for a couple of years now. Thought You Knew, 2012 is getting ready to come out and needs funding. Check out their promo video:

Here is their Kickstarter page to get the calender.

Here is one from last week’s worldwide critical mass movement. (This one you have to go to the site)

For two week’s over 1,000 people were arrested in Washington DC to draw attention to the urgent need to stop the Tar Sands Keystone XL pipeline. (more info Tarsandsaction.org.

See the video here. (Iiveleak.com) A huge critical mass in DC at the end of the Tar Sands protests.

message:
Stop America’s destructive addiction to outdated, polluting, inefficient fossil fuels.

Love this one–You Go Girl!
Bike Chase, by Breeze.

And for the fixed gear freestylers, from John Prolly. the Overgrown Compound, featuring riders: Ed Wonka, Matt Reyes and Scott Horton.

The Overgrown Compound from Mikul Eriksson on Vimeo.

And one more. Coming up in London is the return of the world’s smallest velodrome, by Redbull. Check out Redbull.co.uk, for more info.

Video from a similar event in London, January 2011.