Tomato Heads! Another Look at Santa Monica’s 2 Year CM Ride

[[image:sm_spokecard_copy1.jpg::left:1]]When Zack Beatty founded SMCM he chose this starting location because it left ample room for hundreds of riders – a seemingly audacious precaution given that the first mass was either 5, 6, or 7 riders strong.


Published February 9, 2007 by C.I.C.L.E.
Contributed by Alex Thompson :: Originally Posted on Westside…BikeSIDE!

[[image:spoke_card.jpg::inline:1]]Santa Monica CA – Late Friday evening on Colorado Blvd walkers enjoyed a surreal experience. Strollers on the empty, broad, flat boulevard flanked by corporate offices meticulously manicured shrubbery were quietly overtaken by a sparse group of bikers riding fixed, BMX, and high performance mountain bikes. This rag tag group was oddly subdued while they stalled by zig zagging around the street, track standing in driveways, bunny hopping curbs, or jumping off half flights of stairs. Surprised by the presence and makeup of this group most walkers looked behind them and discovered 300 joyous bikers proceeding up the street.

The advance group of riders had every reason to be pooped having just spent two hours in the most epic of Santa Monica Critical Mass. It was the 2 year anniversary of Santa Monica Critical Mass and, even ignoring the rockin afterparty, the ride was amazing. There was the destruction of a Hummer Pinata, goofy bike races, and, as always, the maniacal circling of the Venice traffic circle.

Promises of beer and raffles, and the enticement of the Bike Winter opening party lured the largest group of riders yet to the start at the top of the Santa Monica Pier. When Zack Beatty founded SMCM he chose this starting location because it left ample room for hundreds of riders – a seemingly audacious precaution given that the first mass was either 5, 6, or 7 riders strong. His audacity turned out to justified as the Mass grew to become the 2nd largest in LA county, but with this turnout even this location looked somewhat inadequate. The ride set off with music trailer blaring, siren calls, yells, shouts, screams, antagonized honking, supportive honking, bike horns and soccer horns.

Earlier that day a 40 ton crane toppled onto the northbound lanes of the 405, closing the northbound lanes. The cascading congestion produced the worst congestion I've ever observed in Santa Monica, so as the mass rode through the areas around Main St we were forced to ride through bumper to bumper traffic. “We Are Traffic!”, true, but we don't have to like it. So the collective decided to head south to our usual haunts on Main St and Abbot Kinney.

Main St and Abbot Kinney are the BOMB! Everytime we ride down them all the bar hoppers and shoppers yell and whistle their support and we yell back. It's rad, like being in elementary school and running around the playground screaming your head off for no good reason. Last Friday was great as always, and I was impressed when most cars patiently waited for use to pass by.

Once we finished off the run of bars and shops we bent the corner and headed up Venice, and then up Grand to the Venice circle. The Venice Circle is a traditional traffic circle about 200ft in diameter – BIG – and it's SMCM tradition to ride around it for a few minutes, again, a lot like 5 years running in circles on the playground. Zackatista inspired a sprint from Venice to the circle and so intially we appeared to be 10 or 20 cyclists wearily riding around the circle. But more and more cyclists kept piling in until we were 300 strong riding 15 abreast fulling taking up the circle. Absolutely amazing.

Once we were all too dizzy to ride straight we headed straight off to a plaza on Venice boardwalk. We handed out spokecards with a lot of help from the SMCM Most Valuable Rider of the Month – a toddler whose mom pulled him along in a covered bike trailer. Put that kid on a trike!

After that we needed to purge our Hummer demons. Alec, of El Segundo and well known for his hand made cycling caps and shirts, made a yellow hummer pinata full of raffle tickets for the after party, candy (I think), and other goodies (were there shirts!?) But you can't just beat the living hell out of pinata with a wiffle ball bat at a bike event – no – your implements of destruction must be bike related and you must be bike mounted while doing the beating in question. So, while riding at the hanging pinata, SMCM riders brandished seatposts with saddles and whacked the Hummer until it was destroyed. Many riders at SMCM would argue that the only good Hummer is a dead Hummer, but apprently destroying it's physical integrity wasn't enough, so Brian tied the hummer to back of his bike and dragged it back and forth through a gauntlet of angry cyclists who took pot shots and yelled taunts. Demons exorcised!

Firmly situated in our cyclist happy places it seemed a good time to guide the Mass back to the Bike Winter launch party. So we headed back, with a short detour to Stewart St park. On the way there a bunch of us played a game of “call and response” with our Most Valuable Rider – the toddler spokecard distributor from earlier. It was lengthy, but it went sort of like this:

cyclist – “rickle tickle”
MVR (sing song voice) – “rickle tickle”
cyclist – “blue apple”
MVR – “blue apple”
[some giggling]
other cyclist – “upside down pant arm”
MVR – “UPSIDE DOWN pant arm”
[cackles, snickers and giggles]
cyclist – “carrot lettuce tomato pants”
MVR – “carrot lettuce tomato plants
[more snickers]
cyclist – “there's no such thing as tomato plants! Tomato plants!”
[ridiculous giggling]

When we got to the park the guys from El Segundo came through again and had two “goofy bikes” stashed in the park. One bike – the buckin' bronco bike (Go Western Michigan!) – had a wheel with a large hop so that the bike bounces as you ride it. That's tough on the rear but at least it steers straight – the other bike – the drunk bike – had a spring for a stem so that the handle bars didn't really do their job so well. Some of the riders of that bike may have been sober but they didn't look like it on the bike. We raced the two bikes and it turns out broncos are faster than drunks – who knew?

From there we took a hop, skip and a jump and landed at the Bikerowave, a new communal space for bike repair fashioned after the Bike Kitchen and Bike Oven, for the Bike Winter launch party. Another epic time was had by all, but I think that's a story best left to another to tell.

What a ride! And all that in two hours!