The Ride of the Century snuck up on St. Louis this year, which is no small feat for an annual event that normally draws thousands of sports biker riders to the region over Labor Day weekend. This year, however, the ride was organized in secret, by word of mouth and private social media messaging.
The result? Hundreds of riders gathered at a downtown gas station Saturday afternoon before tearing off along Interstate 64. As with past years, the large group of riders included a contingent of adrenaline junkies who weaved through highway traffic and pulled wheelies. So far, no arrests have been reported. Aside from a collision on Interstate 64, it appears the ride avoided serious accidents.
Founded in 2002 by a group south county stunt-riding enthusiasts calling themselves the Streetfighterz, the annual Ride of the Century has historically drawn panicked reactions from the public, police and media. In 2013, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department arrested 47 riders and towed 58 motorcycles. Two riders died in accidents that weekend.
The history of the Streetfighterz and the Ride of the Century reads like a decade-plus game of cat-and-mouse between riders and Missouri police. The Streetfighterz were the subject of a Riverfront Times cover story last year, and it chronicles the group's struggle to keep their sport alive, as well as their confrontations with Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson. This year's under-the-radar gathering was a significant departure from that contentious tradition.
The most glaring difference, Daily RFT observed, was the several riders performing wheelies on Interstate 64 on Saturday afternoon, all without a hint police presence. Spokespersons for SLMPD and the St. Louis County Police Department say their respective departments made no arrests related to the Ride of the Century, and they were seemingly unprepared for masses of riders who suddenly appeared over the weekend.
Of course, the ride still featured tons of bikers who affixed Go-Pro cameras to their helmets.
Past Ride of the Century weekends produced videos of bikers avoiding police blockades, halting traffic on highways and wreaking all sorts of creative havoc on Missouri roadways. The Streetfighterz, once merely a touring group of stunt riders, now promote their brand by way of Youtube videos and selling DVD box-sets. Each clip is more insane than the last.
This past weekend, one rider managed to film a multi-bike collision on Highway 40 that sent him crashing to the ground, mid-wheelie.
Here's another angle of the crash, from a Go-Pro wearing biker that's trailing the guy in the above video.
The videos appear to show the crash reported by KMOV (Channel 4), which describes a wheelie-popping biker who hit another motorcycle carrying Ian Boyher, 28, and a passenger, Audrey Holland, 27. Both were taken to a hospital.
The biker who caused the accident reportedly fled the scene, although the above videos appear to show multiple crashes happening simultaneously, and it's difficult to figure out who is at fault.
Though motorcycle stunts are undeniably -- even ludicrously -- dangerous, the risks can also produce stunningly cool payoffs. For instance, another video shot during the Ride of the Century weekend shows one rider pulling a burnout while weaving between on-coming traffic.
Not all the videos from the weekend included blatant traffic violations. This one shows the mass of bikers taking off from the ride's starting point at a downtown gas station.
We've reached out to the Missouri State Highway Patrol for comment, as well as Streetfighterz members. We'll update the story if we hear back.