What’s your name (optional) and/or your Midnight Ridazz log-in name?
Alec Schwarz. alec. ibikela on flickr and facebook. I’m called Mr. Alec more than anything else.
How did you first hear about Midnight Ridazz and what was your first group bike ride?
I think I was given a flier at Critical Mass or the Bici Kitchen but maybe someone just told me at one of those places. I ended up here because of a random spur of the moment decision I made eleven years ago to be vegetarian. That lead to veganism which introduced me to the punk/ anarchist/ black block/animal rights circles. After being arrested for a bunch of crazy charges including felony assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer I decided to lay low. Witch meant riding Critical Mass. My first MR ride was #3 The Mural Ride witch was the second month of MR.
Currently what rides do you attend regularly and what ride(s) would you like to see make a comeback?
I ride mainly on the westside. When I started riding I lived in El Segundo and I helped create and build the westside bicycle culture. Its changed a lot over the last few months and it feels really weird to not be able to tell you I ride ROBOTZ, Bear Calvary, Pier Pressure, and SMCM (I’m happy to tell you I DO ride CRANK MOB). Would I want those rides back? No. I love the bike family they turned into and am super excited about what is coming next. I ride Angelopes and Friends of the Friendless when they happen. And the Westside Mosey.
What advice would you pass on to new ridazz?
This is a DIY community. MR is extremely inspiring and I know you have a million ideas. Guess what? You have permission to do all of them. And someone else isn’t going to do them for you, I’ve tried. You are the one you have been waiting for. If your idea is too crazy for your friends I’ll do it with you- email@example.com
If you were leading a group ride, what would you do differently?
I do lead group rides although very sporadically. Its been a personal project since before bike-life to bring fun activities to events that will bring strangers together. I’ve done a lot of that with my rides and other peoples rides as well. My most successful being the introduction of jump roping into bicycle culture. It actually took months of work to get jump roping accepted. I also am interested in biking in unusual places. We have done bicycle jousting and follow the leader indoors, on the fourth floor of a downtown building. And I do an annual event where we ride on the wet sand of the beach during an extreme low tide. I also like to play with the structure of rides. I came up with the idea for Bike Town Beta (you can look it up) and have a new ride in the works.
Do you prefer small rides (30 or less people) or larger rides and why?
I find rides to be the most fun when there are around 50-100 people and the ride concept if fairly new. Rides also seem to get better the longer you stay at them. Sometimes the first 8 hours is just warm-up.
Tell us about the best and worst experience you’ve encountered on a group ride.
I left this one blank and came back to it. I don’t know where to start. This community has created some of the most ridiculously fun experiences to ever happen on earth. There have been so many nights where my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. So many images are popping into my head, all amazing, and all just tiny fractions of individual rides (and there were other rides around the city at the same time!) The worst experience is not a viewpoint I like to entertain. Knocked your teeth out biking? You get to join the Fake Teeth Bike Club! Win!
What did you do for fun before you started “riding”?
I would go to punk shows (put on by anarchists so I could do whatever I wanted) and play keep-away, handball, capture-the-flag, and other games. There was one game of keep-away that got pretty out of hand. We were running across rows of chairs and people where fleeing us to not get run over. These were always full contact fighting matches. I made a zine about that whole project and someone else turned it into Rock Fight Collective.
What’s the best and worst thing group bike rides have done for cycling as a whole in Los Angeles?
The group rides and the culture around them is all I’m interested in. It doesn’t concern me if it has helped some bike group get more bike sign funding or whatever. I often hear people concerned about some of the rides making bicyclists look bad. Those people are just encouraging me (see public perception below).
If you can name 1 person who embodies the spirit of “Midnight Ridazz”, Who would it be and Why?
That person would have to be active in creating rides, community, and culture. They would need a motherly quality of being accepting of everyone and fatherly traits to take control and make their ride what they want it to be. Just seeing them should make you happy because they always contribute to making rides great. Richtotheie, Alex Thompson, and Roadblock are my picks.
The person who inspires me the most and has done ridiculously amazing things for LA bike culture as a whole, not just MR, is SKIDMARCUS.
The person who brings the most energy and excitement, witch is by far the most important, is Tarmonster.
What do you think the public’s perception is of group bike rides?
My goal is to take everything too far so that new boundaries are made and the public can fill in that new space a bit. So hopefully they think we are nuts.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes. A quote that makes me lol and a link to my Rider of the Week:
“what kinda boggles me its posted..by user id number 4 alec .og mr user a respected cyclist. idk weird.”