Tuesday, December 29, 2009

San Diego's Best Of 2009

2009 was another huge year for the bicycle in San Diego. During the compilation of this list and the chronological thinking required, the sheer plethora of awesome bicycle art/developments/events/rides/good-times that popped up from the memory storage part of my brain, convinced me, at times, that all this stuff couldn't have possibly fit in one year!

Did Death Pedal really get released during late April of this year?! Kareem is almost done filming DP2 already! How can that be? Where did the time go? Perhaps, I've just been surrounding myself w/ people who get tons of stuff done in a short amount of time...And so, this Best of 2009 piece is, to an extent, a list of people in SD who have been making the biggest moves all year.

First, I'd like to offer a little context in regards to how SD fits into the US urban bicycling youth movement: San Diego still has one of the largest Critical Mass rides on the West Coast and has, in the last four years, experienced more growth than any other West Coast CM. In '05 there were 35 CMers and four years later CM rolls deep w/ around 900-1,000 riders on a monthly basis. Bike commuter ridership is still rising rapidly, according to UCSD's commuter research team. As far as fixed gears go, SD has been a huge player in the US fixed movement. Both Death Pedal and No Cassettes, two fixed-gear trick films, held their world premiers in SD. San Diego was the only city in the world to host two premiers for The Revival; both of which experienced great turnouts and were quite unique in style from one another, in my opinion. SD has been blowin' up since 2006. There's no question. But 2009 has taken it to a new level. With no further ado, here's Bic Control's Best of 2009:

Best Artist: Matt Lingo

Matt Lingo, reppin' SD while in Seattle.

Matt Lingo has had an impeccably huge year in 2009. Matt's photographs and their signature metallic style have garnered attention from cycling-enthusiasts and photography-connoisseurs from around the world. In 2009 alone, Matt published a photo-essay book on fixed gear cycling called This City Can't Swallow Me, launched his website, locked up a cover photo for COG, a cover for Fixe Magazine, shot the best West Coast fixed gear riders for Leader, The Revival, Death Pedal, No Cassettes, in every major West Coast city from Las Vegas to Seattle, in addition to keepin' it real in SD by shooting local events such as the Cult Classic, The Cretins' Day of The Dead Ride, Foot Down and more. As of late, Matt has dropped a number of ill lil videos on his Vimeo account, including the The Revival Premier at The Whistlestop and a fun video w/ our boy Terrence Patrick aka Heavy Pedal. All the while, Matt is able to keep a humble attitude and seems to always have fun shooting.

Now, enough talk, more shots:
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(Jake Ricker (The Revival, Death Pedal) riding in Seattle).

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(Emi Brown (MASH) riding in SF).

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(Tyler Johnson (The Revival) riding in Seattle. Above photos by Matt Lingo).

Best Artist Honorable Mention: Kareem Shehab

(Photo by Matt Lingo. Font by Anthony Bareno).

Kareem's film Death Pedal, which he directed, filmed, and edited is like you're favorite punk-rock record--it's fast, fun, and just straight-up rips. As I'm thinking about it, I want to hear the soundtrack right now. In the meantime, X's album "Los Angeles" will have to suffice. That album is certainly a worthy comparison to where it is that Death Pedal fits into the fixed-gear film spectrum.

Death Pedal, which features our boys in SD (i.e. Joe Kelley, Richie Ditta, Kevin, Marcus Price and more) as well as some of the toughest West Coast riders from Seattle to Phoenix, also features riders from Singapore (i.e. Dre Reyes) and Beijing (i.e. Ines Brunn, who resides there). Death Pedal not only has employed a global perspective in terms of filmed content, but this film has also reached a global audience. Kareem toured Europe premiering DP. Check this fun video put together by a filmmaker in Paris. This short video is about the DP Paris Premier. When over 50 kids in Paris come out to party and have a good time at your bike art event, that's got to be tops. Big ups, Killa.

The Life of Tom #01 / Death Pedal Paris 1st ! from Thomas Prudon on Vimeo.

Best Artist Distinguished Mention: Gerardo "Acamonchi" Yepiz

No SD bike artist list is complete without Gerardo "Acamonchi" Yepiz's work. Acamonchi is a mainstay of the SD DIY, art, skating, riding, punk rock communities. Amidst making a big move to NYC in the middle of this year, Gerardo naturally didn't have as much time as he had in'07 and '08 to focus on art and bike-related art. Nevertheless, he still dropped some sick bike-related pieces and put out tons of rad buttons and patches for The Cretins, SDCM, and more. Kids throughout North America and especially Mexico, including the up-and-coming Mexico City D.F. Fixed community, keep an anticipatory watch on Acamonchi's latest works. Hope NYC is goin' well, man!

Best Artist Distinguished Mention: Jena Mind Tricks

At the SDFixed.com two year anniversary party, Eugene Cho described Jena as 'the queen of SD Fixed.' He meant it as a compliment. Jena is rad. No question. In '09, she came through big on some crucial posters for every Foot Down event, Bike Prom, the Cult Classic, Benefit For Ginger, and more.

Best Artist Distinguished Mention: Anthony Bareno

Anthony's style is super dynamic. His photographs are straight classy and he has a historian's appreciation for fine bicycle craft-work. It's no wonder that Sky Boyer (owner of Velo Cult, pictured on the randonneur above) has employed Anthony to take the lead on the Velo Cult blog and to shoot their incredible museum-like collection of classic bicycle machines.

When he wants, he can get down with a completely different style and create more edgy things like the Death Pedal font (above).

Best Artist Distinguished Mention: Brandon Means

(Rider Gus Molina tearing it up for No Co).

Brandon Means' work is putting North County fixed gear riders on the map. Brandon is blowing up and he just turned 16! He has all the signs of becoming one of the best bike photographers in the States. In fact, he already snapped two shots which made it to Prolly's Top 10 of 2009 Best Freestyle Pics. Dude's got 1/5th of the photos on the list! Keep up the great work, Brandon!

Best Artist Distinguished Mention: Marcus aka Muerte

San Diego bike life is better with Muerte. It's really great to have Marcus around. He blew us all away with this ill flier for The Cretins' Halloween Ride. So tough! Looking forward to his work in '010. And best of all Muerte reps the South Bay hard! C.V.!

Best Artist Noble Mention: Skyy aka Aperture Sargent

Skyy aka Aperture Sargent has had a good year as well. He took the above photo during the one year anniversary of Atip's passing.

There are a lot of great artists in SD who ride bikes. But to be eligible for the above category, the only art which applies is that which is directly related to bicycling or bicycling culture.

Best Bike Event: Cult Classic

(Flier by Jena Mind Tricks).

The Cult Classic was an absolute blast. The evening was full of laughs and posi-core vibes. It was a huge nite in San Diego and I think everybody came away from the event w/ high spirits. Not only were the comps super fun but the evening was very purposeful. We raised over $1,200 which will go to a permanent and city-sanctioned memorial bike rack dedicated to Atip!

Best Bike Event Honorable Mention: Bike Prom III

(Flier by Acamonchi).
Bike Prom was by far more magical than your average prom. That's saying a lot since we all know that the average prom is pretty much the most magical thing ever invented by humans. This year the theme was dirty sock hop, 50s-throwback, "blast from the past." Hands down, this was the most fun dance party all year, bike event or otherwise. Thanks to The Baja Bugs the "blast from the past" theme was real-deal. The Baja Bugs, who played some Chuck Berry and Chuck Berry-ish songs, was fronted by none other than Hector Penalosa, one of the frontmen for '77 Southern California punk rock legends, The Zeros, who are from South Bay, San Diego, to be exact! On top of that, we raised approximately $600 this nite! $300 of it went to our buddy who rode AIDS Lifecycle and $300 to our friends' mom who needed a type of surgery that could help her walk again.

(Yes! The frontman of the best band ever played at Bike Prom III= awesome).

Best Bike Event Distinguished Mention: Death Pedal World Premier

(Flier by Swampdonkey).
The Death Pedal premier was one of the proudest moments for San Diego bike life. This was it! San Diego's fixed gear film, directed by SD's Kareem, and featuring our SD friends turning tricks in SD! Many of us were connected to this film in one way another. And now the assembled work was finally ready to be premiered! There was tons of excitement for this film. Everyone was at their highest state of excitement, together in one room. The room--The Rat Tail Warehouse--erupted with good vibes. DJ sets, Leader frame raffle, and non-stop laughs---Overall, the evening was a straight rager.

Best Bike Event Noble Mention: Fat Lip at Foot Down (flier above)
Fat Lip from legendary 90s hip-hop crew The Pharcyde DJ'd bike nite in San Diego? Crazy, right? It happened and it was out-of-control. Fat Lips hearts the SD bike kids.

Best Bike Event that costs more than the average hourly wage: Bike The Bay

The most awesome thing about the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition's Bike The Bay event is that it's the one time a year, and the second time in modern history, where cyclists are allowed to ride on the Coronado Bridge. For those readers not familiar w/ the Coronado Bridge, this bridge discriminates against cyclists. Motorists are allowed to drive into Coronado for free and emit smog and GHG into the Coronado neighbhorhood all day long, but zero-emissions, pollution-free cyclists have to pay for a ferry or bus to enter this part of SD. Shouldn't the free-access be the other way around? San Diego has a knack for being backwards about many things. This is just one example. Motorists first, pedestrians and cyclist last.

Riding over the bridge is simply a beautiful and phenomenal experience. We, as sustainable public road users, should be allowed equal access to this public resource everyday. Until the bridge is modified for bicycle access, we have the Bike Coalition's Bike The Bay event to look forward to. Unfortunately, BTB costs $50-55 to ride. That is certainly more than the average wage. However, all the money goes back to the Bike Coalition, a non-profit org who works to improve bicycling throughout SD County. This is the Bike Coalition's largest fundraiser op and, as such, is an essential event for Bike Coalition to keep moving forward as an effective advocacy org.

If you couldn't make it in '09, contact the Bike Coalition to see if you can volunteer some time so that you can ride in 2010. Riding over this bridge is quite incredible.

Best Bike Event that costs more than the average hourly wage Honorable Mention: San Diego Custom Bicycle Show

(Some of the finest bikes on display were these two bikes designed and built in SD by our boy Carlos Maldoror at Slowcraft Maldoror. Photo by InterbikeTimes.com)

(Frame by Brian Baylis. Photo by Esteban for Velo Flaneur).

(Frame by Bilenky. Photo by Esteban for Velo Flaneur).

Sky Boyer, owner of Velo Cult, expressed to me that the first-ever San Diego Custom Bicycle Show spearheaded by the commendable Brian Baylis, was one of the coolest things to ever happen for bike culture in San Diego. I don't think Sky's statement was too far off at all. The bikes on display here were absolutely spectacular. There wasn't even enough time to nerd out on all of them. Having left--due to the show closing up--without seeing a number of the bikes, I couldn't help but feel like a deficient nerd. Certain nerding-out opportunities went untapped. So, camp out in the parking lot next year to get there as soon as the doors open. You can practice Park(ing) Day a few months early.

There were over 40 different frame-builders ranging from Texas to Portland, with bikes on display--too many to mention. Several that really stuck out to me were Slowcraft Maldoror, Brian Baylis, Rock Lobster, Bilenky, Moth Attack, Ditta, Gallus, Proletariat and of course the family w/ the collection of low-riders and so many more whose names escape me.

Best Ride: The Cretins' Third-Annual Halloween Ride (flier above)

This ride was out-of-control fun. Some awesome people in SD mobilized for this ride and I don't think there was one person who didn't have a blast. This ride brought back that DIY-large group -ride-spirit/camaraderie that characterized 2006, 2007, and the first half of 2008. Plus the costumes were so brutal! The Cretins'-shaped pinata was amazing and the games we played at Balboa Park afterward were straight hilarious. The Cretins still hold it down in SD.

Best Ride Honorable Mention: Chain Gang Second-Annual Waterpark Ride

We rode about 20 miles from Downtown SD to South East Chula Vista, with essential burrito stops and water-gun refill stops along the way. The ride itself was super fun, but the payoff was even better. We were happy to be there, as you can tell from the photo. Summer 2009 ruled. Never forget that inner-tubing is not a crime!

Best Ride Noble Mention: July SD Critical Mass Ride

The approximately 1,200 people who showed up for July SDCM happened to come out for the best CM ride of the year, in our opinion. The first portion of the ride was reminiscent of old-school 2006 CM rides--riding into Hillcrest, down Uni, up to uptown, down Adams, 30th connection, locals-only-style-weaving through South Park to make one of the most well executed Mass turns I've ever seen, which went down at the Golf Course Dr. and 26th Street intersection, to continue down the long hill through Golden Hill's lone forest. It didn't end there. We rode all the way out to OB, into Mission Beach, up through Pacific Beach, around Mission Bay, and took Presidio back up where some of us broke off for a well-deserved kick-back sesh. The pace of the 25 mile-ish ride was above average that nite, which was a nice change for us daily cyclists. The vibes were very positive that nite and the overall riding flow and sociology of the ride was super impressive. Big ups to the old-school CMer who lead the first portion.

Best Alleycat Race: Beach Party Alleycat by Bogus

This was another great summertime event and easily the best alleycat of the year. About 40 heads came out to meet at Mission Bay and participate in Bogus' Beach Party-themed alleycat. The manifest destinations were very well chosen and made for a highly entertaining race. I was super stoked to come in 4th! So fun. The bonfire after-party was a riot.

Best Bike Advocacy Development: San Diego's new bike blog community

As Kathy Keehan, Executive Director of the Bike Coalition put it, 2009 was the year for the bike blog. We fully agree. Bike San Diego.org and Velo Flaneur are more than blogs--they're news sources. In San Diego--an extremely auto-centric, motorist-first, pedestrians/cyclist-last establishment, with many of the surrounding news institutions following suit in auto-centric group think--livable streets perspectives are terribly needed.

Sadly, this year we saw a number of news stories on pedestrian and cyclists fatalities where the speed of travel of the motorist involved in the deadly crash was never questioned by the journalist reporting the incident. This bias must stop.

SD bike blogs are representing news from the perspective of a cyclist and are breaking stories which pertain to bicycling, livable sreets, urban planning, traffic engineering, and traffic sociology. The SD bike blogs are the closest thing our city has to Streetsblog, a livable streets news source for Los Angeles, San Francisco, D.C., and NYC.

SD Bike Commuter.com has been a great platform for constructive advocacy discussion this year. Blogs like Brown Girl In The Lane, City Heights on Two Wheels, and Farewell To My Car: The 30 Day Trial have been useful sources for those interested in pursuing a happy life without owning a car.

A very important thing that the above-mentioned bike bloggers realize there is that there is a difference between talking about pro-bike change and actually doing what it takes to create change. The above-mentioned SD bike bloggers do both.

At the Tweed Ride and Bike Coalition Retreat afterparty at The Station, it was abundantly clear that we are more than a network of bike bloggers--we're a community.

Best Bike Infrastructure Development: Bayshore Bikeway Bike Path Extension, Imperial Beach to Chula Vista

(Photo by SANDAG).

Finally, a car-free alternative to the dangerous 8-lane, fast-food wasteland that is Palm Avenue, Imperial Beach. Previously, when trying to ride from IB to CV cyclists had to contend w/ the high volume of motorists cutting in front of you to access the dozen strip-malls along the road stretch. When they weren't cutting in front of you, many were going 55 mph+. When they weren't going 55mph+ many would not let you change lanes. Instead of yielding to your obvious, communicated, and signaled intention to change lanes many would just keep driving and expect you to stay clear of their hegemonic 3,000 lb vehicles, even when approaching a nearby red light that will require them to yield and stop anyways!

(Palm Ave in Imperial Beach; one of the deadliest places in the county to get around any way other than a car. On the other hand, Palm Ave. is one of the best spots to legally chill in your car on top of a sidewalk).

Palm Avenue is one of the deadliest areas to ride a bike or walk. The new IB-to-Chula extension of the Bayshore Bikeway allows for a livable, peaceful, and more fun alternative.

Thank you, SANDAG, for building this essential extension.

Best Bike Infrastructure Development Honorable Mention: Lake Hodges Pedestrian and Bicyclist Bridge

As a result of the Lake Hodges bridge, cyclists riding in this area of North County no longer have to ride on the side of the freeway.

Appreciation Award: Kathy Keehan, Executive Director of the Bike Coalition

Kathy Keehan is the epitome of a go-getter. She's doing tons of behind-the-scenes work to improve the lives of cyclists throughout our immense county. Working as a full-time bike advocate in an auto-centric establishment can be a struggle. Fortunately, we have a person like Kathy to keep fighting for us. If you've ever had a conversation with Kathy you'll know that she has tons of energy, a positive attitude, a brain full of useful knowledge, and most importantly she has the vision for a bike-friendly city and society, in addition to the passion and skills to work towards making that vision a reality.

Kathy is trying really hard to reach out to younger, center-city riders, too. She wants more young energy pushin' the Bike Coalition. In fact, at the recent 4-hour Board Retreat meeting earlier this month, it was determined that in 2010 the focus and priority for the Bike Coalition will be the urban core, center/mid-city area of San Diego. Can't wait!


  1. outstanding breakdown of 09.
    i am so excited for 2010

  2. hell yeah, awesome breakdown of the year and everything that happened.

  3. Awesome breakdown is right! I would love to get in contact with Marcus. Does he have a site? If not, then through http://pedalblock.com/

  4. Thanks! 2009 was a damn good year in San Diego. It deserves representation.

    Ben, I'll let Marcus know. He'll be stoked! I'll send you an email as well. Pedal Block is lookin' good! Thanks for the link and thanks for reading.