crash the marathon!

March 22, 2010

originally posted here

Five hours before runners took on the Los Angeles Marathon’s new 26-mile course, another group of local athletes subversively raced the route from Echo Park to Santa Monica.

Organized by infamous Los Angeles bicycle group Wolfpack Hustle, the “L.A. Marathon Crash Race” took advantage of the city’s early-morning street closures and invited area cyclists to take on a uniquely traffic-free course. Though the flyer was initially distributed on underground bike message boards — and the 3 a.m. meet-up time might have dissuaded some — more than 400 cyclists arrived at Tang’s Donut on Sunset Boulevard and Fountain Avenue, ready to take on the 26.1-mile route.

While most of the racers will tell you they were only there to earn the coveted Wolfpack dog tags given as prizes at the end, the event signified yet another level of vigilante urban cycling, one that holds more importance than ever in a city smogged out with car culture.

Despite Los Angeles’ belated entry into two-wheel appreciation, bicycle advocacy groups have already made great strides in our sprawling metropolis, opening co-ops, organizing new rides, hosting tons of themed events and convincing local City Halls to work together on bike master plans.

Somehow forgetting the city’s increased bike friendliness however (or as the official website says, “due to the logistics of the 2010 LA Marathon course”), the Los Angeles Marathon announced that it would not be holding its day-of Bike Tour this year.

Since 2000, cyclists had been treated to 26 miles of car-free streets in a casual ride that traced the closed-off runners course later the same morning. But without it, Los Angeles bike enthusiasts were forced to find their own way to be a part of the marathon festivities.

So, just as riders aim to take back the streets from motorists during monthly Critical Mass rides, Wolfpack Hustle’s “L.A. Marathon Crash Race” injected a heaping dose of bicycle awareness into a day that had been stripped of it.

Full race results will be available in the next few days, but hopefully the message was sent that the urban bike resurgence can not be stopped—even in L.A.

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