The 30th annual L.A. Marathon is set to take place on Sunday, but before runners ever set foot on the 26.2-mile course, cyclists will be gathering to ride it.
The event originally began as the "Marathon Crash" bike race, but last year it was cancelled at the last minute by the City of Los Angeles due to a lack of permits. As a result, the underground bike race turned into an early morning bike ride similar to a CicLAvia, where riders rode the marathon route for fun. The unofficial bike event has become a tradition, taking place before the marathon the last few years, attracting a large, diverse crowd ranging from teens to 70-year-olds.
The event will take place again this year, but will continue to be a bike ride and not so much a race.
"The mayor's office took notice that there's still going to be a ton of people out there, and they called me up and they wanted to make it into a win for everybody," Don Ward, director of Wolfpack Hustle and one of the organizers for the ride, told KPCC.
This year the bike route will be escorted by the LAPD so cyclists can enjoy riding the streets of L.A. safely.
Ward said the bike ride route will also now have a full road closure, despite the fact there still will be no permits for the event. Ward, who organizes official bike races with the city, is excited at the news because he knows people were going to get out to ride the streets with or without permission.
"We don't have the kind of money that it would take to shut down that route, so in light that people will still ride it — its kind of a tradition now — this year they wanted to provide extra safety for it," Ward said.
Cyclists will gather at Tang's Donuts at 4:30 a.m. on Sunset and Fountain. They will begin the ride at 5:30 a.m. once the closure is complete, Ward said. The bike ride moved their start time back to accommodate the marathon, which moved a half hour earlier due to predicted high temperatures.
While the city will take the necessary steps to make it a safe event, Ward says he wants to make sure all the riders take the necessary safety precautions also.
"We put out the message: This is not a race, this is a ride," Ward said.
Ward said he hopes that if the event goes well, there will be a legitimate race next year.
"It's a chance to ride streets without cars," he said.