Tuesday, August 12, 2008

BFF L.A. Block Party 2008

Last summer, when my passion for cycling was just beginning to blossom into a cornucopia of two wheel love, I heard about some kind of bicycle party after scanning the internet for bicycle events in Los Angeles. Equipped with my new camera, one of my other passions, I set out to the then unfamiliar to me land of Heliotrope and Melrose. Thus began my role as a photographer within the cycling culture. The event was a bicycle block party, a closing event to the international Bicycle Film Festival, which show cases a variety of short and long format films made by cyclists or inspired by cyclist stories.

Innes's Fixie & BBF Chrome Bag

I had a blast shooting the event last year, and didn't even know anyone there then, so I was excited to see the festivities again this year. I showed up kind of late last time, not knowing how long it would take and making the foolish choice to depend on the bus part way, oh so slow in traffic, but cross town bike commuting on unfamiliar streets was still intimidating to me then. This year I showed up before hardy anything had been set up, so I lent a helping hand setting up banners and bike parking racks. Things were slow at first, bike culture is notoriously late, but before long the masses started rolling in and it started feeling like a party.

The Crowd Trickles In

With the streets blocked off from cars, and a growing audience, some BMX kids took it upon them selves to kick off the entertainment with freestyle moves and bar jumping. A tall bike rider rode laps around the block, and although he couldn't bust any tricks, who doesn't love the presence of a tall bike.

BMX Bar Jump
BMX Freestyle Tall Bike

Great parties can be made or broken by their music, and the DJ's did not disappoint. From Noon till sundown it was sonic bliss with spontanous dance parties in the street before and in between events.

Turntables Dancing In The Street

Food courtesy of Pure Luck in the form of delicious vegan wraps were available for satiating the hunger. They also made a delightful little drawing for advertising at their booth.

Pure Luck Advertising

The highlight of the afternoon was by far trick cyclist Ines Brunn, who's highly acrobatic performance while spinning around on a bicycle, was one of the most amazing things I have witnessed with my own eyes. The physics of of what was happening did not even seem real, it felt as though I was seeing into some other world. Truly breathtaking.

Artistic Cyclist Ines Brunn
Artistic Cyclist Ines Brunn Artistic Cyclist Ines Brunn

After Ines's performance began the games, testing the skills of the fixed riders. The first event was skids, which is a competition where cyclists sprint up to speed and lock their rear wheel to see who can skid the furthesest distance. Although it didn't happen as much this year, skids competitions often produce epic crashes. Next came the track standing competition, where participants have to balance in place on their bike with the difficulty increased over time, by eventually going one handed, then no handed, and then finally with one foot and no hands.

Skids Competition

Following track standing came foot down, the only competition of the afternoon with a few freewheel bikes, and consists of going in tighter and tighter circles at slow speed without taking any feet off the pedals. If a foot comes off or you fall over, you're out. Last but not least, backwards circles finished off the games. Another domain exclusive to fixed gear bikes, is the ability to pedal backwards to move in reverse direction. Most people could do or 2-4 backward circles before losing balance and falling over, but Alex of Orange 20 destroyed everyone by doing 31 backward circles and gave the impression he could do more but was bored and content with one upping the announcers claim that Alex could do 30.

Backward Circles Competition

With the sun setting thing were finally winding down, but to finish off the evening with a bang, Ines retuned for an encore preformance, adding even more awesome to what had already been an amazing day.

Artistic Cyclist Ines Brunn: Encore

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Will Campbell... said...

Awesome post. And I love that first shot of Ines in action. Great depth of field -- and I never before noticed her gearing. I think she could climb a wall with that set-up... or at least Fargo Street!

Gary said...

Thanks for the comment and yeah that gear ratio is crazy, but I think that is common for that style of trick cycling. It was funny earlier in the day before things really got started she was playing with someone's BMX bike and you could tell it felt completely foreign to her.