This weekend was the totally insane Warriors Fun Ride. Like in the cult film, gangs donned their colors, met in the Bronx, and had to get to Coney Island by morning. Unlike in the film, there were games, photo checkpoints, and challenges along the way, relayed via manifests on Instagram. The ride was organized by Kevin “Squid” Bolger of Cyclehawk and Shardy Nieves of Track Or Die—both dads, couriers, and cycling fanatics. About 400 cyclists started in the Bronx, and about 150 made it all the way to Coney.
Here’s how the ride went down for the Space Babes, a team of cyclists (Laurel Leckert, James Telfer, Cara Lampron, Isac Roler, Alex Augusty), joined by myself and Alix Piorun, our gang leader and photographer.
7:13 p.m.: Arrive in Van Cortland Park amid a splendid chaos of costumed cyclists. We start slathering each other in silver makeup, wrapping our bikes in glowsticks, drinking and kibitzing with the other gangs: Boot Camp Furies, Crank Stars, Ball Handlers, Veloraptors, Hooliganz. The Uptown Riders wear Hawaiian shirts and fedoras: “We’re all Taino, so we wanted a Caribbean theme,” says Hov Polanco, a business consultant. The Bruisers don’t have much of a discernable aesthetic: “We’re a bunch of nonconformists—we can’t even conform with each other!” says Bill Scanga, president of the City Reliquary. The Crescent City Convicts came all the way from NOLA for the race: “This seems like the coolest fucking way to explore the city,” Owen Wagner says.
9:04 p.m.: Just as everyone is starting to get a little antsy (and a little drunk), we get the first manifesto: 16 tasks to achieve over three hours in the Bronx. These include "Do a wheelie while drinking a beer," "Take a photo of your gang walking on train tracks," and "Put a watermelon on top of a taxi and take a photo." We’re off!!
9:47 p.m.: We’ve taken a picture next to a gravestone, climbed a tall fence, hopped a turnstile (after paying and getting permission), taken a photo with a bag of blue Doritos. Space Babes teammate Isac has emerged as our navigator—he’s got some kind of photographic cartographic memory, leading us unerringly through big streets and little alleys, up onto sidewalks and down the occasional highway turnoff, focused and never slowing, in perfect lines from hither to yon. He’s also got a slow leak in his tire that we will contend with all night.
10:39 p.m.: At the Bronx Zoo we run into the Jingle Cunts and take gang photos for each other. I ask their impressions so far, and Dora Madrigal says, “Shredding at night is such a great experience. The streets are so clear!” It’s true: the South Bronx at this hour is desolate, and we slip over the silent roads in an eerie rush, like the last people on Earth.
11:32 p.m. Photos taken at: Starlight Park, Mr. Wedge Strip Club, Lions Square, St. Mary’s Rec Center, all in the Bronx. We’ve borrowed pumps for Isac’s tire from three other gangs. While pumping again at a gas station, a cop car pulls in and announces over their megaphone: “We’ve gotten a distress call about a bunch of aliens in a parking lot!” They laugh at our panicked faces, then ask to take a picture for their Twitter. Next a guy drives by and also asks to take our picture. He’s from out of town, loves our outfits, and wants to share a drink with us. He pours half a bottle of tequila into a takeaway cup, passes it over.
12:04 a.m.: We debate for some time the reasonableness of ringing a fire station doorbell in the middle of the night—whether we’ll be a bit of levity or just jerks. Eventually Cara rings it; when the fireman comes, before we can open our mouths, he says, “Oh boy, another group?”
12:36 a.m.: We gather on the Bronx Supreme Court steps, goofing off with many other gangs, awaiting the Manhattan manifest. When it’s posted, there’s an amazing ruckus as a hundred cyclists scramble to get their gangs together and zoom off downtown.
2:38 a.m.: We’ve ridden four abreast through the deserted Upper West Side, taken gang pix outside the Apollo, Riverside Park, and the globe outside Trump International Towers in Columbus Circle (at which a few among us dropped trou). Near Columbus Circle, we see two young women yelling at a man to leave them alone. Alex gets in front of the jerk and bellows him down, sending him on his angry way. One of the girls says, “Thank you, silver people. Are you on your way to a rave?” We explain our much nobler purpose, then mention that one of the items on our manifest is to kiss a stranger. Would she perhaps be willing? It can be a lady Space Babe, we say, and on the cheek is fine. She sizes us up and points to Isac: “I want to kiss the cute one. Not on the cheek.”
It’s hard being painted silver in Times Square at 3 a.m. Everyone gawps as we roll in—I overhear someone say, “Look at them just enjoying the shit out of life”—and people rush over to take selfies with us. Telfer particularly is in high demand; a woman visiting from India physically drags him away so her friends can snap a picture.
4:37 a.m.: We’ve missed karaoke on the Upper East Side and Sumo Wrestling on the Lower; the Brooklyn manifest is out and we’re starting to fade. More coffee (and beer), then over the punishing Williamsburg Bridge for arm wrestling and tattoos. Quick stop at Tina’s Diner; while we’re scarfing fries, the sun comes up. We only have all of Brooklyn left.
6:31 a.m.: That final six-mile stretch of Ocean Parkway may have been the hardest ride of my life—counting down the endless alphabetical avenues, waiting for the ocean to appear on the horizon, just numb from the waist down. I blew through every red light, sure that if I got off that bike, I’d never get back on.
6:54 a.m.: We rattle down the boardwalk and collapse in a gleeful mushbrained jelly-legged heap among a throng of other gleeful mushbrained jelly-legged heaps. It’s been 10 hours. We’ve ridden some 45 miles. Holy good goddamn WE MADE IT.
7:29 a.m.: We don bathing suits and scamper to the ocean, still glinting silver in the early-morning sun. Lots of other riders in the water, or dozing on the boardwalk, or playing tug-of-war in the sand.
8:42 a.m.: I wander around asking about favorite moments. Kristina, a mother of two from the Hooliganz, says, “Just riding with my friends, everything going off without a hitch.” Adam Selbst tells me about bringing the other Ball Handlers to his apartment for a 5 a.m. wine break. Blake Morgan from the Crescent City Convicts says, “Biking through Prospect Park at dawn—that brought me back to sanity.”
I approach the Indigos, who are lounging quietly. When I ask about their ride, it was like I’d plugged in their power strip: Suddenly they were whooping and hollering and jostling each other to tell stories. They’d gone over a bad bridge in the Bronx and gotten five flats; someone showed me a gaping scrape earned from a tumble; someone else had gotten arrested. But then, Jio Melendez said, after the final checkpoint photo, they all got their third (or tenth, or eightieth) wind, and they rode that last mile in perfect synchronicity, “practically going Mach speed,” just flying over the boardwalk and into the dawn.
Oriana is a writer, editor, and cultural hipstorian [sic]. She is the author of Brooklyn Spaces: 50 Hubs of Culture & Creativity (Monacelli, 2015), Events Editor for Brokelyn, QNS, and Greenpointers, and her writing has appeared on Slate, Atlas Obscura, New York Post, Hyperallergic, Curbed, Brooklyn Magazine, and more.