What’s your name and/or your Midnight Ridazz log-in name?
My name is Rick Darge & my Ridazz login is the same.
How did you first hear about Midnight Ridazz and what was your first group bike ride?
I first heard about Midnight Ridazz in early 2007. I was going to a party with my fiancé and I saw about 20 ridazz gathered together at a 7/11. Being a bike rider, I was immediately interested. I asked one of the ridazz who they were with and he told me about MR.com. I checked out the website later that week, but I thought it was so disorganized and difficult to navigate; I just passed it up for the time being. Two years later, I decided to try my first group ride. I found a ride that week, the Tattoo Ride, and asked a friend if he wanted to join. The friend flaked out, so we decided to go to the next night instead. That night was May 2009 Crank Mob. I imagined that there would be 50-100 bike riders and what I got was easily 800-plus people taking over the streets and turning pit stops into dance parties. That was my introduction to Midnight Ridazz—the people-orgy known as Crank Mob. After that I was hooked.
Currently what rides do you attend regularly and what ride(s) would you like to see make a comeback?
I attend as many rides as I can go on. My favorite rides that I always try to make are Taco Tuesdays, LACM, the Peoples Ride, Ride With No Name, FMLY and Six Pack Mondays. I'd like to see Crank Mob make a comeback. I think L.A. really needs one big massive blob ride per month just to shake it out, remind the cars that we're here. I have a feeling FMLY 2010 is going to be the new Crank Mob come summertime.
What advice would you pass on to new ridazz?
If you are going to ride stupid, don't let it affect other ridazz or cars. I hate seeing people doing stupid things to the risk of other people. It's really selfish. I'm all for being flat-out insane while riding your bike—just don't be dumb about it. Also, get a front brake, lights, helmet—as un-cool as that sounds. It will save your life one day. Most importantly, ride your bike all the time. If you have to be somewhere across town, give yourself an extra 30-45 minutes and take your bike instead. Don't let the rides determine your own personal bike riding. Take what you've learned on the rides and apply it to your day to day riding. Screw the metro and trains. If you don't have a flat, ride home. You'll feel better. Also, the most important advice I can give, if and when a police cruiser rolls alongside the ride to intimidate you, don't look them in the eye. Just keep going forward. Keep trekking on. Know your rights.
If you were leading a group ride, what would you do differently?
If I was leading a group ride I would make sure the music was always great & the route was even greater. Less chilling, more riding.
Do you prefer small rides (30 people or less) or larger rides, and why?
I like them all. I went on a 6-person ride once and it was awesome. We were able to go so fast and saw cooler places because it was easier to communicate with just 5 other people. I'm a huge fan of the Taco Tuesday size, which is around 75-plus. I think that's a good size to start the night with, because by the end it will inevitably dwindle to a dozen. I think there's a place for 500-plus person rides. Despite the theft, crashes, cops, fights, it can be a really great time and you see a lot of people who would otherwise not be on a bike. I think the big rides are a good way for attracting new ridazz, as it attracted me.
Tell us about the best and worst experience you’ve encountered on a group ride.
[There are] many experiences, but the best would probably be this past [Midnight Ridazz] Gonzo 2010 ride [in January] for me. The police stayed out of our way. Great music and a great route. We road hard. We partied hard at the stops. It felt like what all Midnight Ridazz rides should be like. Never forgetting that we're on our bikes ... pounding the pavement. Taking over the streets. Everyone was pretty insane with purpose on that ride.
The worst experience was seeing a kid on Taco Tuesday come down a hill, through a median, super fast, and crash into a moving SUV. Also, getting my bike stolen sucked pretty hard.
What did you do for fun before you started “riding”?
Drove places. Parties & lame bars. Hiked in the sand.
What’s the best and worst thing group bike rides have done for cycling as a whole in Los Angeles?
The best thing that it's done is showing this city that cycling is here to stay. You don't need a car to get around. The worst thing that it's done is left beer bottles behind, accidents, occasional vandalism. Clean up after yourselves.
If you can name one person who embodies the spirit of Midnight Ridazz,who would it be and why?
Matt Stilline is the epitome of the Rida. I see him on almost every ride. He rides all different kinds of bikes and always helps people with flats. He's also insane and I like that … I can't just think of one Rida. There are so many good people out there that are passionate about riding.
What do you think the public’s perception is of group bike rides?
It depends on what neighborhood you're in. I think overall, positive. But I think there are a lot of people that don't like us out there. People that don't understand ... that think we're a gang or something. Then I think there are those that love us and want to be with us if they weren't in that car/walking/not on a bike. You can hear the differences in how they honk.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I think more rides should go longer and for later. I'd like to see a ride where you start with a huge group of fish and by the end there is only one fish left. Keep riding until everyone slowly breaks away one by one. If a ride is slated to end at 2am but the energy is still there, the ride shouldn't have to stop. Keep going...