Night Riders

Multicultural group of BMX bikers rove the streets of Downtown LA

Cory Alexander Haywood | 6/29/2017, midnight
The sharp vibration of my cell phone snapped me awake at 3 a.m. It was Thursday morning, and I was ...

Thursday’s 20-mile excursion took us through Koreatown, Chinatown, the Arts District, part of Hollywood, and before we turned back for the return trip, the group had reached the outskirts of Glendale (yes, you read that correctly).

The ride consisted of sharp hills, curvy highways, steep drops and bumpy terrain. Occasionally, we’d pass by restaurants and bars.

Pedestrians cheered and asked for pictures.

Motorists howled profanities and honked their horns.

“Don’t you see the red light you aholes?” one driver yelled.

Someone in a white Honda whizzed by and popped two gunshots in the air to frighten us.

I asked the rider next to me, “how often does this happen?”

“Never!” he exclaimed. “I guess it’s one of those nights.”

Whenever a rider would fall too far behind, or a bike would malfunction, the entire pack was instructed to stop.

Certain members were selected to hold traffic as we passed through intersections; others snapped photos to showcase on social media; and a handful of riders were on hand to provide first aid in the event of an injury.

The entire operation was organized and closely supervised.

“That’s why we carry walkie talkies,” Cheech explained. “We have kids riding with us. There’s protocol for everything we do, especially when it comes to safety.”

The evening wasn’t entirely drama free, but everyone’s spirits remained high.

“This is my passion—a couple gunshots won’t turn me away,” says Long Beach resident Laura Fierro, 27.

“This is my stress reliever. Some people turn to sports or drugs, but I turn to my bike. Riding with these guys equals freedom to me.”

As we returned home, the skyline was illuminated by florescent lights emanating from the high-rise offices downtown. It was like riding into Vegas.

“This is something that you cant find anywhere else,” declared Orange County resident Erick Phillips, a 49-year-old father of two who sells commercial printing for a living. He was one of only three White bikers who came for the ride, but his energy was infectious and endearing to the others.

“Everyone around here calls me “Amper” — because I’m always amped up,” he explained proudly. “I look forward to this experience because of the people I meet. We’re such an eclectic group—you got dog walkers, lawyers, city workers, gang members, drug dealers, people from every walk of life. But there’s one thing that keeps us all bonded and that’s the ride. We’re here to have fun. That’s our motto: ‘don’t fk with the fun.’ I have a blast, and when I bring my children, they do too. This ride has something for everyone.”