Circle of Doom was created six years ago by a small group of slightly deranged riders led by Rahsaan Bahati who wanted to extend the already slightly deranged Montrose ride, so they headed up Highway 39. Highway 39 goes up, indeed.
William Todd Buckley, Steven Salazar, Layo Salazar, and Eyob Berhane didn’t know what they were getting into that first Circle of Doom …
Once arriving at the junction of Highway 39 and Highway 2, the riders were flummoxed because all GPS and cell phone signal had evaporated. Confusion reigned, and no one could decide which way back was fastest, a crucial consideration because they were already five hours into the ride. The result was an 8-hour “adventure,” and like most bicycle adventures that end in nothing but pain, dehydration, cramps, curses, and misery, the riders unanimously decided that they would do it again, ditch the getting lost part, and invite
other suckers good friends to join them.
The Circle of Doom was born, if “born” is what happens when bad ideas become disasters that are then shared with unsuspecting victims.
The first and most notable feature of the following Circle of Doom was the practice of carrying along a big piece of chalk. As riders quit, gave up, begged for a diaper change, or slunk back home without completing the ride, their shape was chalked out on the road to memorialize their collapse.
Prez chalked out early and he chalked out often, but in subsequent years fewer and fewer riders rolled over like a harpooned whale, and Circle of Doom has become a doable beatdown, now with support.
2018 is the second year as a bona fide event with sag and support, and the cycling community has rallied together to suffer together, all the while sharing great stories and laughs. What began as a very simple way to bridge the gap between bike racer and bike enthusiast has become a community-wide embrace of a hard, miserable, totally doable and fun bike ride.
Going in circles
Circle of Doom makes a complete loop, and got its name from the event’s timing around Halloween. The ride’s popularity stems from the fact that it is hard as nails and broken glass, but it’s not technical, and anyone who prepares can finish it. For riders based in West LA, the South Bay, and Long Beach, the ride is a great chance to leave the normal ride routine and experience the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains.
The ride’s growth has been aided immeasurably by Rahsaan, who is more than a stand-out rider. He’s also a world-class babysitter and knows how to push at the right time, cajole, encourage, jibe, and make pain fun. The number of fondo-type rides in LA is tiny compared to the cycling population, so there is naturally room for growth.
At the end, though, it’s the same as it was at the beginning, to fulfill the oldest mantra of bicycling: If you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong. Working with Methods to Winning, Circle of Doom helps fulfill the mission of a good time on the bike while also doing it safely and giving back to the communities that make cycling exist in the first place.
Icons helping icons
The 2018 Circle of Doom starts and finishes at Velo Pasadena, one the premier bike shops in America and the long-time standard bearer for bike racing in the northern L.A. area. After the ride survivors will enjoy music, food, vendors, and awards, or they will sit around with dumb stare on their face as if to say, “WTF just happened?”
The answer, of course, is “Circle of Doom.”
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