The movement originated about two decades ago as a spin-off from San Francisco’s Critical Mass community ride. LA cyclists, until then lonely, quixotic figures, felt emboldened to organise their own rides, using force of numbers to co-exist with traffic in mass rides, and for races acting like flash mobs, briefly sealing off an alley here, a boulevard there.
“They were taking over the streets, running red lights. The police were having a hard time controlling them,” recalled Gordon Helper, LAPD’s senior lead bike officer. “They were in and out so fast we didn’t know about it half the time.”
By 2006 an umbrella group, the Midnight Ridazz, had so many people flocking to its monthly rides that Ward created an online forum to encourage people to form off-shoots with their own identities and rides.
A bunch of people have spent over two years trying to recreate FBC. You know why FBC was so much fun? Because there was no trying to recreate the past; it was just a bunch of people having a bunch of fun on bikes.
Spokane's bicycle scene owes a ton to FBC. We also owe a ton to the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Trails, those who helped create the Centennial Trail, and any one out rolling around on their bike. But fetishizing any single one of these moments keeps our scene stuck in the mindset that there is only one way to get a big group of people out on two wheels.
The best conversation (and one of only like four conversations) I ever had with Jeff was asking him how FBC started. He told me that for the first 6 or 8 rides, FBC was Jeff riding his bike from The Swamp to somewhere else, but he had a lot of fun, so he kept at it.
I hope 2016 finds Nitehawks Cycling Club growing and pushing the boundaries of Spokane's bicycle scene, but I equally hope we are not the only ones doing it.
If you have an idea for a ride in 2016, do it. If you have fun, do it again. Until you don't have fun anymore. Then try something else if you're so inclined.
Above all, let's not take any of this stuff too seriously.
Nitehawks Cycling Club
Nitehawks Cycling Club is live.