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Tacos And Cats Make Me Happy Humans Make My Head Hurt Shirt, hoodie, tank top
“You see his sticker everywhere,” says Rafael DaSilva, who speaks to me a few days later at Brian’s behest from his apartment in Venice Beach. Rafael is talking about the Pray for Speed logo. Dreamed up by Brian and designed by the Mexico City street artist Muta, it features a hooded skeleton with hands pressed in prayer, and it can be found across all Pray for Speed merchandise, from stickers to T-shirts to kit collabs. Alongside income streams that include sponsorship money and revenue generated via YouTube’s Partner Program, merch sales have helped Brian cobble together this unconventional life as social media’s preeminent road bike descender. Most of Safa Brian’s followers will recognize the Pray for Speed skeleton from the center of his V-shaped Syncros handlebars in any POV video. But to local riders, it’s most commonly spotted atop the hills of west L.A. And Malibu, where it’s become as ubiquitous as a graffitist’s tag. “All you have to do is look behind the street signs,” Rafael says. “It’s very widely recognized.”
Rafael sees the sticker as an embodiment of the community his friend has created. When the two go riding together, they get friendly shoutouts from disparate packs of cyclists—roadies, BMXers, fixed-gear riders, you name it. Sometimes, Rafael even gets recognized on his own— “Hey, are you the guy from…What’s his name? Safa?”
Brian and Rafael connected on Strava nearly three years ago and met in person soon after, during a group ride out of Santa Monica. Brazilian by birth, Rafael grew up worshiping the late Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna, and this love of motorsports led him to motorcycle racing in this country. He found success on the national level, until he crashed at a race in Wisconsin in 2017 and blew his right knee out. A doctor suggested cycling as an active form of rehab, and Rafael was quickly hooked, especially with the descents, where his motorcycle pedigree made him a natural. As they say, game recognizes game, and it didn’t take long for Rafael to spot a kindred spirit in Brian, even if their styles differed.