Perhaps you've heard of RNickeymouse.
It's the screen name to a very popular YouTube channel that features motorcycle crashes along a section of Mulholland Highway called "The Snake." No, it's not the same as Mulholland Drive, in fact, they're two separate roads that do indeed cross paths but far from similar.
What Mulholland Drive is to the rich and famous, Mulholland Highway is to motorcyclists. And RNickeymouse has made a name for himself thanks to those riders who tackle the twisties along Mulholland Highway that stretches through the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California.
Ken Snyder is the real name behind RNickeymouse and he rides a Kawasaki Ninja 250. In the six years since "Mulholland Riders" went live, he's amassed almost 250 videos with about 100 of those showing crashes and some are pretty dramatic. Even more impressive is the roughly 243 million views racked up and nearly 242,000 subscribers to his channel.
Snyder didn't start "Mulholland Riders" to sensationalize blood and guts spilled over the roadway, but rather as a way to appreciate those who've mastered the tight turns at such high rate of speeds. He recognizes it's the crashes bringing the views but is surprised his channel is so popular because it's just common rider error sending these pilots into the pavement.
We reached out to RNickeymouse, found out his real name and he was gracious enough to talk to us about his very popular YouTube video series.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
I work full time as a facility engineer at a large swimming pool complex. I'm also a YouTuber who shoots motorcycles at a section of Mulholland Highway called "The Snake."
2. When did you start filming riders along Mulholland Highway and why?
I started out as a rider. I started filming the fast guys mostly out of admiration. I first used a cell phone to shoot video. YouTube offered ad revenue sharing. I got accepted as a YouTube partner and started making motorcycle content for my YouTube channel in 2009.
3. Clearly people like watching crashes. Is this why you posted them on YouTube or did you have another reason for doing so?
The crashes have given my channel the most fame for sure. Riding errors are just the reality of the sport. Riders crash from time to time. You learn watching them. Riders are better now because of them. Anyone considering a motorcycle needs to know the consequences of riding beyond their ability.
All photos: Shera Richter
4. You get millions of views. Did you think the crash videos would be so popular?
I'm surprised that my crash videos get as many views as they do. They are mostly common rider errors. Not really spectacular compared to other stuff on YouTube and I'd be the first to admit my titles are pretty boring.
5. The video in reverse is mesmerizing. What was your thinking behind this?
I wanted to avoid doing compilations for fear that if I put five years of work in one video no one would view them individually. A slow motion in reverse compilation seemed like a good way to provide something interesting without drawing attention away from the original videos
6. Do you think most of these riders are wannabe racers or does Mulholland actually offer off-track thrills without going to the track?
Many do repeated runs like on the track, but at much slower speeds. Sure it's fun, and there is a great community of riders to share the experience with. The place has a long history as a recreational area for motorcycles. Most of the best riders up here also ride track.
7. So why do riders keep crashing?
Most crash when they ride beyond their ability.
8. Do you have a permanent camera system set up or do you schedule time along The Snake and it's hit or miss, so to speak?
I just show up on weekends and shoot video.
One of Snyder's favorite videos: "The guy is walking away like a bad-ass before the bike stops tumbling. He just put $40,000 in that bike and handled the crash like a boss."
9. Describe the Snake section.
The Snake is located between the popular The Rock Store (a famous biker hangout) in Cornell, CA and Kanan Road. It's about 2.5 miles long. If you put "31200 Mulholland Hwy, Los Angeles" into google maps that should put you at the top. The road is made up of mostly tight technical turns with few residents. Speed limit is 45 mph, posted on both ends and most can't exceed it by much. Also it actually looks like a snake in Google Earth.
I'm guessing you know something about The Rock Store. In the 60s I understand it was frequented by celebrity motor enthusiasts. The 70s were Harleys & the 80s sport bikes came on the scene and made the area west of the Rock Store popular. At some point they started to call it the Snake and the name stuck. The area quickly grew out of control and police shut the road down in 1989 for a summer.
(Snyder provided a Los Angeles Times article from 1990 about the closure - Click Here.)
I think in the 90s most riders were scared off due to increased enforcement, then sometime after 2000 riders returned and the place started to grow in popularity. When I started riding, CHP (California Highway Patrol) would occasionally come through in a show of force and ticket for code violations but for the most part let riders alone. Of course most of what I've told I've gleaned from older riders who have passed through over the years.
10. When you video The Snake section do you look for anything in particular?
I capture most crashes by shooting pretty much everyone who is going fast. If a rider is looking like they may crash they get stopped and warned, but usually only after a few bad passes so sometimes they go down before they can be stopped. We don't want anyone to crash. Often a crash will occur for some unexpected reason, like their peg touches and the rider stands the bike up and goes wide. Or they just come in too hot and go wide into the dirt or guardrail.
When I shoot rider videos I move around from corner to corner, riders make repeated runs so I'm able get multiple angles and locations and piece them together. I also look for different types of bikes and other content to keep the video interesting.
11. What's the worst crash you've seen?
There hasn't been a serious injury crash where I shoot video. A few have broken bones. I guess the scariest crash I've seen was a Ferrari that tumbled down the hillside. There have been deaths on Mulholland just not any on the Snake section that I know of.
The worst crash Synder has seen involves a car not a motorcycle
12. Do you see a crash every time you go out to film?
No, there is usually a crash every two weeks or so in the summer. In the off-season many weeks even months can pass and no one will crash. But this is just when I'm up there on weekends.
13. What's your advice to riders who want to brave the ride?
Concentrate on being smooth, don't worry about dragging your knee. So many crash trying to force their knee down. If you don't want crowds the place is empty on weekdays, just bring a friend in case something unfortunate happens.
Another Snyder favorite
14. Do you ride Mulholland Highway?
I started out as a rider but my passion now is shooting video. I do still ride but not on the level as these guys.
15. Clever screen name. Anything behind RNickeyMouse?
All I will say is I made the name when I just had personal clips from movies I liked on YouTube. I only had one video I made myself of a Skateboarding Dog that ended up being used in an iPhone commercial. My channel became known after that and the name rnickeymouse was changed to RNickeymouse so not to confuse.
16. Is your video passion taking you elsewhere? If so, what else do you plan on videotaping?
I try to stick with what I think my subscribers want to see. I do hear cat videos make the most money on YouTube but don't think switching would go over well with my audience.