By Danielle Charbonneau
As hundreds of hollering, hyped up bicyclists gather on a side walk in West Los Angeles spilling out into the street and blocking traffic, a man wearing a red cape is standing on top of a parked van with a megaphone. He passionately leans back and screams ,”Are you ready, are you ready for this? Crank…” The crowd fervently screams back, “Mob!”
The scene is C.R.A.N.K Mob – one of the craziest bicycle-riding extravaganzas in Los Angeles. As the excited crowd hops on their bikes and floods the street in one giant pack, motorists are left at a stand-still honking at the madness of the mob.
Bikes adorned with fluorescent glow sticks weaving through their spokes and riders sporting costumes of all sorts pedal their way through the streets to the sounds of giant speakers being pulled by a bike and radio backpacks blaring. The pack eagerly heads to their first destination, 7 Eleven, where the riding stops and the partying begins. Hoards of people pack the store to buy beer and the smell of marijuana wafts in the air. Two long jump ropes provide entertainment for those who aren't dancing.
The party lasts for a bit until a LAPD car pulls up and the pack hits the road once more. A guy on a 6-foot-high unicycle cruises past the cop car while sipping on a tall-boy Budweiser and waving, but the officers seem amused and let him pass. “Ride safe,” is all they say.
One has to wonder where the BUI’s are at. While some bicyclists are wearing decorative head gear, most are not. And riding in the street, semi-intoxicated, disobeying traffic signs while a string of bicyclists chain together to block traffic at intersections, can’t be the safest.
Nonetheless, the pack rides on, some wobbling, off into the night. The blinking reflectors on the back of the bikes look like a sea of red stars extending as far as the eye can see. The next stop, a Trader Joe's parking lot, has jousting – two riders approach one another with 10-foot long, pillow-protected poles and both crash to the ground.
Cops pull up and the party hits the road once again. Off to Venice where the bikers cruise around Abbott Kinney circle over and over, pissing off blocked motorists. Some bikers park to jump on the metal sewer covers in the center of the circle creating a ruckus, some climb up a statue, and others keep circling.
Cops again and it’s off to a Ralphs in Marina Del Rey. The line to buy beer is extended all the way down every open aisle confusing normal shoppers. It’s been all fun and games until the danger of drunken debauchery is realized on the way out – a young man flies over his handle bars and cracks his head open on a curb. As the news reaches the front of the pack, the ride stops momentarily. After informed that the biker is alright and getting help, the adventure continues.
Next stop – the docks extending into the marina. The ocean air tastes salty and the breeze dries rider’s faces as they race down the boardwalk. The cops there jokingly ask for bicycle licenses but let everyone go.
Lasting from about 10 at night until 5 in the morning, exhaustion finally hits and the bikers head home. Wow, what a night.
C.R.A.N.K Mob happens on the first Saturday after the third Friday of every month. If interested, check out the website at www.crankmob.com for more info, but if a party on wheels doesn’t tickle your fancy, check out some alternatives at bikeboom.com.
The Spoke(n) Art Ride, happening the second Saturday of every month at 6:30 p.m. starting in Highland Park, tours around eight art galleries in North East Los Angeles ending at Bike Oven & Sandpaper Books where a gallery opening awaits. The South Bay Cruiser’s Ride, which meets at 7 p.m. at the Lighthouse Café on Pier 30 in Hermosa Beach on the third Friday of every month, ends with a low-key barbeque and karaoke.
Need something to do for the fourth of July? Try the Big Bang Firewerckx Ride – a barbeque and pool party will offer some relaxation from 2 p.m. – 8 p.m., then the ride will begin, touring Venice and Marina Del Rey where stunning fireworks will light up the bay.