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The revered yet resented figurative trait, "lone wolf," is rarely that, a stable characteristic. It's rather a temporary state of human behavior, as it is in the literal wild. A pack wolf disperses, becoming a lone wolf for a variety of reasons, but commonly in response to aggression from dominant members of the pack. A lone wolf forges its own path, not seeking solitude but in search of another wolf – a new pack. Just like humans, wolves succeed in cooperation and suffer in seclusion. Man and wolves' livelihoods are perfectly congruent on the basis that we both need one another, and we're compelled to belong to something greater than self: the pack.
It's 2015 and Justin Williams has over a decade of racing experience that includes four national titles prior to the age of 20. As an African-American cyclist from South LA, he's competing not only for a spot in the international peloton, but most brutally for a place in a predominantly White sport that hinges on obsolete traditions of elegance and social hierarchy. Just as the overwhelming disenchantment nearly pulls him off the bike for good, Williams is introduced to LA's Wolfpack Hustle group ride and fixed-gear scene – a subculture of the sport he could finally relate to, a pack he already belonged to.
Lone wolves have great difficulty hunting alone, hence the prevalently inevitable migration to a new pack. Williams however defies nature through his years of competing without teammates, freelancing his way to the front lines and launching sprints on his own terms. He dominates like an alpha, but this is an elevated leadership driven by empathy. Williams knows exclusion. Instead of being victimized and perpetuating it, he deliberately seeks out the excluded as his pack. Through his first venture, CNCPT Team, and more recently, Legion of Los Angeles, men of color have an equal opportunity, and the future is bright. This is inclusion.
We begin our episode at Team Dream's Cubhouse, home of the Bobcat, a wild spirit most active during twilight. Us too, we sunset riders are very chill.
Team rider, Josh Tyrrell builds up New Bike Day.
Ain't easy bein' greasy
Shit is dialed, as is Team Dream, their beautiful shop and warm personalities. Much love!
"When you're here you're family."
We meet up with the Williams brothers and put our name in for Double Dinner. It's about an hour wait, so we get First Dinner at FS Mexican Food in the same strip mall. We know it's light fare because we know we go hard on Double Dinner. Adults plan ahead.
Double Dinner is all-you-can-eat at Show Sushi. Only two at this six-top did not all-you-can-eat.
I can't remember what Justin ordered, maybe a salad? Cory had nothing because it was his cheat day at Wing Stop earlier on. Not mad at discipline, and not mad they don't eat as hard, cause they're new to Double Dinner.
Adults plan ahead for snack attacks. You just can't see the good stuff.
There is only one caption:
Coffee at Augie's delivers, and just what everyone needs. Stoke is high and we head to the base of the base of Mt. Baldy.
Josh keeps it cool, but I think he's having flashbacks of Lone Pine.
Justin's contemplative as well of his gear choice when we all get a good look at the mountain. I know that you wanna know what it is, but I don't know what it is.
The heavily trafficked Mt. Baldy Rd. was supposed to be a "warm up," a little climb before the climb.
Actually, it's a climb before the climb before the real climb.
Car traffic is a bit much, and shooting is becoming impossible. We need to stop and scan out some radio interference, and I think the boys are grateful for the break.
So much for a warmup
Here we have the "climb before the real climb."
We approach the turn onto Glendora Ridge Rd, the real climb. There's something about sincerely epic landscape that can take almost anyone out of the pain cave and into the fun zone.
Audio interference here?
Sheesh, take yo time!
Josh Tyrrell and Justin Williams here to remind you that only YOU can prevent electrolyte depletion. WELCOME TO THE FUN ZONE.
Is it snack attack? Is it mic feedback?
It's CORY WILLIAMS. CORY WILLIAMS!!
I can't lie to you and say that we didn't plan to run into Cory. He watched us Double Dinner. We had morning coffee together. He was invited, of course. But Josh collided with a small boulder in the road and flatted, and it was damn near perfect time that the Nation's Number 1 Beast showed up.
"I feel like I'm home when I'm around fixed gear riders. Some of them are fiercely competitive, but as soon as you step off the bike, everyone is so loving and positive. That's why fixed gear racing is going to go so far. The community is way more colorful. Not everyone there has a golden-spoon background. I can connect on a different level to a kid that I know has had similar struggles to me. Everyone is treated like equals – whether white, black, Hispanic, Italian, anything." – Justin Williams (via Bicycling)
Saxon always asks me on these shoots to take a picture of him for his mom, and I'm just thrilled to oblige.
A question comes in just as we finish the ride from a prior episode's guest:
Phil Gaimon: "Have you ever been to the top of Mt. Baldy on your bike?
Justin: "I've only been to the top of Baldy when I was goin' to the Tour of California."
Josh: "That's ONE time that you went up to Baldy."
Cory: "There wasn't no story. There ain't no story there!"
Justin: "...and I finally see this dude comin' up the hill, and I'm like, 'yo, what happened?'"
Cory: "You won't believe this. I just passed out."
Justin: "And that's why we don't go to the top of Baldy, Phil."
And just like that, we give our kisses goodbye and send Josh du nord back to his homeland, Vancouver, BC. It was a difficult goodbye as you can tell, and it always is. Josh is only excited not to pay customs tax on his new bike via airline checked bag, smart boy. Otherwise we're mad at goodbyes.
Just. You don't. Have to say bye, ok? PLEASE DON'T GO.
See you for Episode 9 or else.