What’s your name and/or Midnight Ridazz log-in name?
Gern has been my nickname since 1979.
How did you first hear about Midnight Ridazz and what was your first group bike ride?
My first group bike ride was boy scouts in the early 1970’s. By 1976 I was group riding with friends in Santa Cruz. We did Downhill’s all over the Santa Cruz & San Francisco Bay Area, including Mt Tamalpais, and Mt. Diablo in the East Bay. When we could arrange it, we would get someone to truck us to the top then BOMB down. By the mid 1980’s we were doing night rides, but it seems we never had more than 12 riders. Full moon rides are still taking place there. In the mid 1990’s I did a couple SFCM rides. LACM -2004 was my first Group ride in LA, then SMCM. I heard about MR from Big Bike Dan@ a Critical Mass ride, but my work schedule made me wait a year before I finally made it to M.R. #22 Dead Theatre Ride.
Currently what rides do you attend regularly and what ride(s) would you like to see make a comeback?
Lucky for me; I’m busy with work.
Unlucky for me; I can’t regularly attend a ride.
I always enjoy and have F.U.N. @ Choppercabra’s events, MR 2nd Fridays, C.R.A.N.K. Mob. Hell, I get a thrilling feeling every time I mount up. I enjoy riding around the block with my dog Noodles, or running an errand. Funny, after 13 years, my wife still asks, “your going to take your bike to the store?”
What advice would you pass on to new ridazz?
Make sure your bike is ready, BEFORE the ride.
Have LIGHTS; tools, tubes, patches, air. Know how to use them.
Brake Early. Call it out. Don’t jump off curbs into the ride.
Hold your line; No swerving left & right.
‘Be Aware’ of your surroundings.
If you were leading a group ride, what would you do differently?
Carry more recycle / trash bags. Circle the area, clean up before leaving. Leave no trash. Chalk is O.K.
Do you prefer small rides (30 or less people) or larger rides and why?
I like any ride where the lane is taken, even if it’s small. This way it feels safer to have more area -visually & physically- taken in the roadway. I feel: “We are traffic” is the important message to educate vehicle drivers with.
The Joy of a large ride is exhilarating. It transforms the riders and bystanders alike, into an event of greater proportions. I think that these larger rides may impact more people in a positive way to see bicycling as joyful, and not only as a means of transportation. The cheering of bystanders reacting to our large rides is a wonderful feeling to me.
Tell us about the best and worst experience you’ve encountered on a group ride.
Best: Happiness and Joy riding down the street with 1000 bike friends. Sharing a cold drink with my old friends and people I’ve just met.
Riding on the 405 in rush hour!!
Seeing all those cops on Wilshire in Westwood on the “World Can’t Wait-Drive Out The Bush Regime” protest ride years ago. 14 bikes made it from DTLA! Spectacular Police presence, they really expected more than 14!
Worst: “Name Censored” Smashing into the abutment of the mustache bridge at full speed, looking like he was dead. Scary & Gruesome. And such a little scar, that one made on his face!!
What did you do for fun before you started “riding”?
That would have to be ‘played with toys’. I’m pretty sure I was enjoying the freedom of riding my bike away from my house by age 5, forever expanding my boundaries. I got to follow my big brothers & sister at an early age. I’ve always loved riding a bike, even other people’s bikes. Concurrently, with the bike, I rode my skateboard @ the skate parks, pools or drainage washes around town.
What’s the best and worst thing group bike rides have done for cycling as a whole in Los Angeles?
I think the best is the encouragement and education we give each other on proper street use. Before I joined LA group rides, I never took a lane.
The worst things I see are the few bad manner cyclists angering the motor vehicle drivers, making people dislike all cyclists.
If you can name 1 person who embodies the spirit of “Midnight Ridazz”, Who would it be and Why?
Big Bike Dan. He is there for the all the ridazz, as well as for himself. He has always stopped to offer aid to ridazz & bikes. He towed the heavy sound trailer on countless rides, through harsh conditions. He is always friendly and kind and gives a warm smile to everyone.
What do you think the public’s perception is of group bike rides?
I think most of the public who have heard of group bike rides, or have actually seen them, think they are a fun event. This is my observation on the rides and off the rides.
I think some people quickly “blame” cyclists for running red lights or stop signs. I bet these people have:
1. Never ridden a bike on the streets, themselves. Otherwise, I bet they would want to keep their forward momentum going, too.
2. Have forgotten, or never really noticed, how FEW vehicles actually make a “full and complete STOP behind the limit line”.
I have rolled through intersections in the past on my bike, after looking around to make sure I’m clear of vehicular traffic. I’ll do it in the future too. If there is ever a car around, I make sure to come to a complete stop behind the limit line.
Surprising to me here in LA, often, I see the car driver wave me through, even though they were there first, and they had the right of way! When I roll through a stop, I know I’m taking a chance by breaking the law. I don’t feel I have any right to do it, just a desire to keep my body in motion.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The first 16 years I lived in the southland I would mainly Mt bike; I would throw the bike(s) in a truck and head to the hills, and there are some great trails here. I did very little bike commuting. Now I bike commute when ever I can, thanks to the empowerment I’ve received through this greatly developing community. I’m very glad bicycling is getting the growth I’ve seen here in Los Angeles. I feel proud to be a part of the bike community that is helping promote bicycling in such a car-centric city. The growth in Los Angeles of Bike Co-ops, Bike Advocacy, Midnight Ridazz and group bike rides has given thousands of people positive enduring encouragement and knowledge. It has given me thousands of smiles. I thank all of you that help in this endeavour.
Let’s All Ride On!!