Showing posts with label C.R.A.N.K. Mob. Show all posts
Showing posts with label C.R.A.N.K. Mob. Show all posts

Friday, April 17, 2009

C.R.A.N.K. Mob, Not So F.U.N. For Me Anymore

The Crowd

The debates about the growth and changing nature of C.R.A.N.K. Mob, the highly popular West Side social night ride, have been going on in the forums for quite sometime. I've been going to the ride since it's earlier days, posting numerous photo sets and having loads of fun along the way, but I have seen some things change, and not for the better. I largely kept my nose out of the debates and nay saying, and was hoping that what I perceived as a negative element growing within the ride might lose interest and go away or be discouraged by stepped up efforts of some to self police the ride. Unfortunately as was confirmed to me last month, the ass holes vastly out number the riders who give a damn, and I don't know if any amount of scolding or leading by example can really do enough about it.

This post is not meant to slight the people behind C.R.A.N.K. Mob, organizers who are all friends of mine, they are so good at throwing fun rides, they are almost too good. Which is what attracts so many to the ride the first place, things like live bands, chalk drawing, wild costumes, great music and unexpected antics of hilarity. They also go more out of the way to promote safety than many other social rides, with efforts like Safe Mob, a crew of people who promote safety and hand out spoke cards only to those who deserve it, among other ideas that have been tried, but originally weren't necessary to keep the peace in earlier times. The problem is with the new type of riders showing up in mass, ones who don't care about anything, about common decency, common sense, respect for any one and especially authority, and certainly not the safety of their fellow riders let alone them selves.

Many of these new riders, all they care about is using the group as a cover to inflate their egos and think they are king of the world as long as mommy isn't looking. A few even use the group as a cover to try and shoplift, though they are liable to get tackled by riders who do care as we saw last month. Not to mention many of these new kids can barely handle riding their bikes, and when I see kids I really do mean kids, a lot of these new riders are really young. I was unsettled upon riding to one of the meeting points last month, and some kids on bikes asked if I was going to C.R.A.N.K. Mob, and I paused for a moment thinking to myself, these kids don't look like they have finished puberty, wtf! These kids could care less about the repercussions of their actions as it reflects on cycling. Cycling is something they are doing because it is the in thing now, and in the context of group riding a way to make them self feel superior. Three months from now maybe it will be skateboards again who knows, but those of us who still ride bikes will have to live with what ever fall out comes out of the growing conflict C.R.A.N.K. Mob has been creating with communities and law enforcement.

I miss the days when I could be chill and have fun on C.R.A.N.K. Mob, but now I feel as though attending means being baby sitter and being there to document police confrontations instead of photographing good times. It used to be there would be a handful of newbies, curious souls excited by the prospect of a rolling party. I would chat with them and give them tips about group riding and cycling in general. Now the newbies come in swarms of little gangs and they think they know everything already. Enough to even mock far more experienced riders by shouting things like only posers ride fixed gear bikes with brakes, of course in a shrill and not yet finished with puberty voice. What used to be thanking motorists waiting patiently at intersections and cross streets for the ride to pass, has turned into kids shouting obscenities and flipping off random people. This is not fun anymore, and it's attracting the wrong kind of attention and creating the wrong kind of vibe. Some totally cool, friendly creative people still come, they have always been part of the ride, and the reason I kept coming as long as I did, but they are getting out numbered.

Police Blockade Of Beverly Blvd

I've never witnessed such a massive police response to a group bike ride before as I did on C.R.A.N.K. Mob last month. While I wholly disagree with police violating proper protocol in their handling of the situation, bogus tickets and such, which I documented (creating my biggest spike of traffic on flickr ever), I cannot entirely blame them for doing something, anything, to respond to the mess. I cannot help but very seriously fear the possibility of some worst case scenario of a 16 year old kid riding intoxicated against traffic and getting killed, and the fall out such a tragedy would have. Always part of the appeal to big groups rides to me was the idea of safety in numbers. However, when the ride gets spread apart either by fixie kids driving the pace, or people hijacking the group in multiple directions, and dumb asses playing chicken in the wrong way traffic lanes, things could end in a very, very bad way.

Meghan already vowed to stop attending a month earlier after stopping to help a rider with a concussion, who was abandoned by her friends. I can't blame her after such a frustrating experience that has become far too common place on the ride. I clung on to the hope it could get better a little longer, and I always would do what I can to lead by example with my own riding, and frequent calling out to others, but increasingly no one listens.

On the last ride, just before the police blockade, an emergency vehicle was trying to get through, a scenario nay sayers of mass riding in general often envision as a problem. I always viewed this as a non issue since it's easy for everyone to shuffle over and get on the sidewalk, bikes are highly portable, and it was never a problem on other rides I had been on. That night however, after getting on to the sidewalk and seeing most people were just peddling there in the middle of the street blocking an emergency vehicle with sirens blaring, I started yelling at people to get over, and some others yelled as well. Sadly dozens and dozens of self absorbed ass holes continued to block the path of the emergency vehicle. This is utterly wrong, unacceptable, and no doubt played a part in the seriousness of the police response.

Alex Thompson hundcuffed for walking accross the crosswalk on a red flashing hand

Some riders took the police response, which included bogus tickets and excessive harassment of random riders, some of whom were behaving perfectly legally, out of context and made this into a us versus them issue. Making it into an issue of we were just out for a ride, why all this big bully police response for a bike ride? Well it wasn't just a bike ride, it was a moving disaster zone.

C.R.A.N.K. Mob rolls again this Saturday, and I know there will be creative efforts to curb the problems and keep the F.U.N., but I doubt more than ever that anything can "fix" what the ride has become. I really do hope for the best, I'm eternally optimistic by default, but the ride as it stands now, I simply cannot attend or be involved with, and it takes a lot to shatter my hopes. It stresses me out to no end now, and it used to be my highlight of the month, it used to be the only party worth going to. I still remember the good times, but good things don't always last forever. I really think the best thing that could happen to C.R.A.N.K. Mob would be for it to die, just go away, and start from scratch. Do over, hit the reset button, game over, float away ephemeral like the dust of the asphalt chalk that so colorfully decorated where we had been if only for a day or two.


This post sat in my draft box for weeks, I really did not want to hit the publish button, but I felt that I could not in good conscience hold on to this. Some of the criticisms have been expressed in buried endless forum threads by various people, but it does not hold the same weight as a public blog post by someone known in the community. If the cycling culture in Los Angeles is to thrive, we have to be critical of more than just motorists, politicians, and the police, we have to be critical of our selves when necessary. Sharing the road is a two way street.

P.S. To the organizers, I'm sorry I had to go out like this, but I felt it had to be done. This is in no way meant to be personally directed, the outcome of rides has as much if not more to do with who shows up than who is doing the planning. I always had nothing for praise for C.R.A.N.K. Mob on this blog in the past, but I can't turn a blind eye to what has been going wrong lately any more. The forum discussions have always had a mix of the good and the bad sides, but the various blogs have generally reflected a rosier view and omitted many of the less desirable details. For those of us writing about bicycle issues, for our words to be taken seriously by those outside our own cliques, we have to tell the whole story.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Saturday, Riding In A Daze. MS Century & C.R.A.N.K. Mob.

This Saturday I rode with my girlfriend Meghan for team KFI, the radio news station where she works. The ride was a charity benefit for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Using their media influence KFI was able to bring in a lot of donations for the MS cause. We rode the 100 mile ride option from Camarillo to Santa Barbara. I hadn't had much sleep in a while so mostly what I remember about the ride is that it was really pretty, had some hills in there somewhere, and was lacking vegan food options at lunch and post ride. Meghan and I ate lots of extra pistachio nuts and plain chips to try and compensate for this.

When we finally returned home, it was just about time to leave for the epic anniversary of C.R.A.N.K. Mob. Being tired was discouraging, but I had to see what all the fuss was about. I was glad I made it out and hung around for the Festival (for lack of a better word) in the Costco parking lot east of Lincoln on Washington. More details and photos soon.

After returning from shooting event photography the next day on Sunday, I went to sleep around 4:30 in the afternoon. I then hibernated until Monday morning. Another epic weekend of bicycles.

Monday, September 15, 2008

C.R.A.N.K. Mob's First Birthday, This Saturday


It's been one year since the now infamous
C.R.A.N.K. Mob had it's first monthly ride. The crafted route planning, wild abundance of often unrelated themes and costumes, rest stop games, and staged events, revitalized the social ride scene on the West Side. The most amazing parties I've ever been to, bikes or no bikes, have all been nights with C.R.A.N.K. Mob.

I've been made privy to tantalizing top secret planning by the ride organizers, however I have been sworn to secrecy. I feel I can safely say without spoiling anything that this is shaping up to be awesome on a level that extends into dimensions almost unfathomable by human consciousness. Don't have plans on Saturday night? Come out and ride. Have other plans? Change them.

So get your bike, or other human powered rolling device (I have been known to rollerblade), and come party like there is no tomorrow!!!


Ridazz Calender Listing

Sawtelle and La Grange (Map)

Sept. 20th
Meet at 9:30 PM
Ride at 10:00 PM

Sunday, May 18, 2008

C.R.A.N.K. MOB 5.17.08


The coming of C.R.A.N.K. MOB is always an exciting time, but I was especially stoked that my birthday weekend coincided with the notorious Westside party ride.

Here are some highlights from the ride, which featured copious amounts of jump rope, beach ball F.U.N., a pick-up truck dance party, a parking garage, crashing a parade of stretch hummers at the Beverly Hills Hilton on prom night, water guns from the Wetside Ride the night before, staged police brutality for AIDS LifeCycle fundraising, an awesome playlist on the bike trailer sound system, party balloons, chalk drawing and bodies covered in chocolate.

Complete Photo Set.










What more could you possibly ask for on a Saturday night?

Monday, April 7, 2008

C.R.A.N.K. Mob March 08


C.R.A.N.K. Mob is a monthly bike ride responsible for maximizing the FUN quotient of the West Side bike scene. Some things you might see at C.R.A.N.K. Mob; bike riding, giant pizza, tall bikes, road bikes, cruiser bikes, wtf bikes, men dressed as women on bikes much too small, occasional outcast on rollerblades (one of my claims to fame), fireworks, loud music, portable dance parties, and often something completely unexpected. C.R.A.N.K. Mob is where the party's at.

To see more images from the last C.R.A.N.K. Mob check out my
C.R.A.N.K. Mob Flickr Set.

To read a full run down of the mayhem check out the two part post on Westside Bikeside, with written accounts, photos (yours truly included), and even video (in part 2). Besides being loads of fun, this past C.R.A.N.K. Mob produced loads of documentation.