Just before noon on Friday I got an email from Principal Patrick Keeley that an interesting photo opportunity might be taking place after school, something dubbed "Tour de Santee."
A group of students had organized a Critical Mass-esque bike ride from West Hills High School clear across Santee down Mast to the end of the boulevard. Sure enough, when I arrived at 12:30 p.m., driving down Mast looking for a group of bicyclists, a group of 20 teens on bikes had coalesced, which grew to at least 60 by the time the ride got underway.
This is how the event is described on the Facebook page publicizing the ride:
"Have everybody after fifth period meet with bikes and ride down mast blv. Bring your bikes to school because we will take off at 12:30. Finish line is at the end of mast."
I didn't get a chance to speak to any of the riders or organizers, some were in costume and all were flying by down Mast on their bikes. This was a good chance to just take in some wacky footage you don't see everyday. By the way, principal Keeley made it clear that this was not a school sanctioned event.
"This is serious yet this is a prank/social experiment," said the Facebook page, which was a perfect description of the air of the ride.
I got footage of the opening run, and hoped to follow them down Mast by car, which I soon realized wouldn't work. The mass of bicyclists inevitably caused a traffic hazard, the cars quickly realized what was going on and gave the bikes wide berth, but it did cause slowing on Mast. So, I cut down to Mission Gorge to beat them to the end of Mast.
I was driving past Santana on Mast, confident that I had beaten the riders. I parked at the end of Mast, waiting for them to arrive at the finish, snapping some photos of the area for an upcoming article on the extension of Mast Boulevard, but that's another story.
The bikers never did come to the end of Mast, and after twenty minutes of waiting, I drove back to West Hills to see what had happened. There was no sign of the riders! So, I memorialize this article to the 60 or so Santee bicyclists that disappeared into thin air on April 15, 2011 (though pictures from the Facebook page suggest they may have just ended up in a cul-de-sac I wasn't expecting).
There are plenty of other photos on the Facebook page and apparently a video is being put together. To whomever is putting that video together, feel free to use this footage. Also, please upload any photos or videos of the ride on this page.