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The Carmageddon tweet that cost skateboard company $7,000

July 21, 2011 |  5:35 pm

Photo: Bicyclists gear up for race against a JetBlue flight between Burbank and Long Beach. Credit: Paloma Esquivel / Los Angeles Times It was the tweet seen 'round Los Angeles –- at least in the cycling community.

After creating his first Twitter account, Anthony Converse, general manager of skateboard company Santa Monica Airlines, grew interested in Saturday’s “flight v. bike” race between a group of cyclists and a JetBlue plane flying from Burbank to Long Beach during “Carmageddon.”

So interested, in fact, that Converse pledged in his virgin tweet that he would donate $100 for every minute by which the cyclists beat the jet.

“@wolfpackhustle SANTA MONICA AIRLINES will give $100 for every MINUTE the bikes beat the plane by!!..DO THIS THING!”

Though Converse, a cyclist himself, said he was confident the bikes would outpace the plane -- considering such things as ticketing, boarding, taking off and landing -- little did he know the margin would be so wide.

Like, $7,000 wide.

PHOTOS: 'Carmageddon' shuts down the 405 Freeway

“All of the sudden, I leave a dentist’s office two hours later, and they were already in Long Beach and [the plane] hadn’t even left the tarmac,” Converse said.

Don “Roadblock” Ward, a member of the Wolfpack Hustle cycling group who organized the race, said he was shocked to hear about the pledge.

“I thought, ‘Wow, they’re crazy,’” Ward said. “I mean, apparently he thought it was going to be a closer race, but Santa Monica Airlines is awesome.... I felt a little bad for the guy because it was such a wide margin, but he came through and he said he’s selling his car to do it.”

That’s right. Converse said he sold his car to a neighbor to raise the money.

“My business has a van that most of the time, being a small business general manager, I am almost always driving,” he said. “I thought my actual personal car is redundant and it’s ‘Carmageddon’ and I had a neighbor who has been after me to sell it for months."

He said his neighbor agreed to buy the car and intends to keep it in Costa Rica, meeting the cyclist group’s goal of keeping more cars off L.A. streets.

Converse presented the $7,000 check to members of Wolfpack Hustle on Wednesday night at Tang’s Donuts on Sunset Boulevard. The money was given to the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, a nonprofit, member-based advocacy organization that works on behalf of L.A. cyclists. Ward said the money had been earmarked for a traffic skills class for young adults and teenagers.

Though Converse said he never thought one tweet could gain so much traction, he’s glad he made the deal.

“I feel lightened by the situation, certainly in the pocketbook, and I just love that LACBC got so much traction out of it,” he said. “I really, really feel strong about what those people do, and they never get any attention.”

RELATED:

Carmageddon ends: 405 Freeway reopens

Why drivers stayed off the roads during Carmageddon

Carmageddon: JetBlue passengers, race participants describe experience

-- Kate Mather

Photo: Bicyclists gear up for a race against a JetBlue flight between Burbank and Long Beach. Credit: Paloma Esquivel / Los Angeles Times

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