The City Opens Up At Night: How LA’s Underground Bike Scene Took Off

Longreads

The underground bike scene in L.A., most people agree, took off thanks to a single group: Midnight Ridazz, whose origins can be traced to a chilly evening in February 2004, when six cyclists and two skateboarders were hanging out in Echo Park and spontaneously decided to tour the fountains of downtown Los Angeles.

Their 18-mile adventure became known as the first Midnight Ridazz ride, a name devised by its eight participants. One was Don Ward, now a well-known face of L.A.’s cycling community. At 6 foot 8 inches, he’s better known by his nickname “Roadblock,” given because he would step into intersections and use his huge frame to block cars until all the cyclists, sometimes many dozens, had passed through.

“We called ourselves ‘the Mommas and Papas,’” says Ward, now 41.

For the original eight, the fountain tour was something of an epiphany. As the Mommas and Papas explored downtown…

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