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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Ride, hustle, kill, repeat: the underground cycle gangs of Los Angeles @guardian

 Willo, a former gang member who served time in jail, leads the Hope Street race. Photograph: Noah Smith for the Guardian
A golden moon hung over the city, and as night deepened the crowd lounging off Hope Street grew giddy. People swigged beer, marijuana spiced the air, hip-hop streamed from a sound system. It felt like a gritty picnic, minus food.
A yell from a guy with a Hawaiian shirt and a clipboard signalled business, however, and the hundred-strong crowd promptly lined the sidewalk, expectant. The race was about to begin. About two dozen riders, many in Lycra, some in jeans, gathered at a traffic light with their eyes fixed on the race marshal, a ragged figure with a raised baton.
The contest that followed was noteworthy for several reasons. Some competitors had been among the boozers and smokers. The marshal was a homeless man who sleeps under a nearby bush. There were no traffic cones or markings delineating the route. And most striking of all: this guerrilla bicycle event unfolded in the heart of the world’s car capital, Los Angeles.

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