The Twelve O’Clock Boys

A photo essay from Baltimore

The Twelve O’Clock Boys — a group of renegade dirt bike riders named for the signature trick they pride themselves on, frequently transform the streets of Baltimore into a playground for their dramatic and dangerous athleticism.

These pictures aim simply to celebrate one aspect of Baltimore’s unique culture.

I shot them while working on a documentary film, which premiered a few years ago at SXSW. For better or worse, the group has since become a pretty insane internet sensation, there are copycat riders all over country, and the images have been remixed and memeified countless times. Just search #12oclockboys on your platform of choice.

Frequently playing a cat and mouse game with the Baltimore police, weaving through traffic, and performing for each other, the ‘pack’ rally the community for their impromptu rides. While some are motivated to do so purely to demonstrate their skill on a bike, others seek to solidify their claim to public space.

via @bikelifefamily_ on Instagram:

The alluring pull to be included in this wheelie elite is felt acutely by youth like ‘Pug,’ a 14 year old boy who dreams of one day riding with the pack.

Although many in Baltimore see the practice as wreaking havoc to public safety, The Twelve O’Clock Boys have been canonized as an important part of the fabric of the city.

Via @shawnsean on Instagram:

Side note.