WORDS BY NYLSEN ESCAJEDA // PHOTOS BY ELI PEDRAZA
In the niche sport of cycling lives and thrives an even smaller niche; Fixed Gear racing. You've probably heard it before; single speed bikes with no brakes and whether you like it or not in large cities around the world the trend blooms and in LA the movement is as alive as the city itself. Just how alive? 100+ men and women come from all around Southern California to race on a course with makeshift organization and traffic. On the 20th of August local team Mobbin held their Twilight Temple Crit, a 45 minute lap race around the beautiful BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple in Chino Hills. The Women's category, although with a small field, fought hard to stand on the podium. The sun began to set and the men's field began to line-up, I was one of the racers.Roughly 75 of Los Angeles' best racers lined up to battle it out in the dynamic and uncertain course and race. Although deathly nervous of a catastrophic crash I was still very stoked. With the blaring sound of a megaphone being our signal we took off; everybody went from 0 to 30 Miles Per Hour in less than 5 seconds and orchestrated the funneling of everybody through the first turn like a school a fish. Every turn played out in such a manner, even later in the race the barrage of flashes from photographers perched on corners where cyclist would zip inches away from their shoulders and lenses at 30 plus miles per hour. On the longer stretches of roads racers would shout, throw elbows, and rub wheels as we fought for the best positions. Some would speed ahead from the pack and others would follow. The scene is on the fringe of disaster but also harmonious in motion as racers shift and accordion in the huddle of racers which are inches apart in high speeds. When a car became an immediate threat the choir of adrenaline and testosterone filled racers would shout "CAR UP!" and the field would swing accordingly. After a while the sport attrition would rattle the weaker field off the back like the tail on a comet and leave everyone else in the center gasping for air. Three laps to go and police lights loomed in the distance but the race continued with everybody having their eyes on the prize. The pace increased and so did the adrenaline as the cruiser posted up on the finish line with one lap to go. The police officer only scared a few away and left the brazen majority with a further desire to finish in front, and with that came the final sprint. First, Second, Third and then on zipped by the angry officer and her cruiser. The dust settled and the organizers debated what the outcome of the race would become, continue elsewhere or wrap of the podium? In the end the podium was moved to the local In N Out. At the end of the night the race was in good fun and the community of racers bonded again over burgers My favorite part about this "niche" of cycling is that its unlike others, on the course its a display of power and vigor and off the course everybody associates with each other with a lively and friendly attitude. That is whats stoke is.