Saturday, July 14, 2007

Reflecting on my Independence Day Weekend.

This last weekend was the most exciting time I've had for a fourth of July ever. It's not usually a holiday I really get into, but I got two days off from work, took an extra day off and had a five day stretch. I ended up participating in a different group bike ride each of those five days, doing in total I think close to 180 - 200 miles.

The first day being on the 4th, was a critical mass gathering of a couple hundred bicyclists, taking over the streets riding from Santa Monica to the Venice side of Marina del Rey for the big fireworks show. Of note was a guy out there with barbecue on the rear rack of his bike, with coolers hanging on each side, and he started cooking food at the after party. The party was a lot of fun, with music, dancing and people lighting fireworks. Some of us also went down to hang out the beach afterward, a few even swimming, as the water is warm enough for that at night now.

The second day I went out to my second Cubcamp, a fast pace group of riders that goes out every Thursday night, and on Tuesday nights they have Cubscouts ride, scouting the route for Cubcamp. They were doing a practice ride for the All City Team Race East to the Beach, an underground street race hosted by the Wolfpack Hustle. This involved going from east Hollywood to Dockweiler beach as fast as possible the whole way, and trying to keep a paceline formation going. I've never riden that fast for such a sustained length of time before, it was certainly grueling, but also exciting.

On friday, was the second anniversary of the monthly Ride-Arc, a group ride hosted by students of SCI-Arc university. Each ride has a theme, and is led through different parts of Los Angeles stopping along the way to discuss architectural trends and history at the architecture being discussed. Bikes are a pretty ideal way to do this as you are able to cruise slow enough to appreciate your soundings,unlike cars, but able to cover far more ground then walking. It was an eye opening experience and I had an amazing time, I'll write more about this ride in a future post accompanied by photos I took from the event.

On saturday I joined the "Pier Pressure" ride because everybody is doing it. It was a more casual paced ride starting at the Santa Monica Pier and cruising toward Venice in search of the 7-11 that had been converted to a Kwik-E-Mart for the Simpsons movie promotion. Was a fun little ride, and I learned some new little routes cutting through Venice. I also got my self a Squishee and a hyperactive pink cartoon style donut, the most junk food I've had in months. I didn't finish the Squishee though, it was pretty overrated I felt. Afterwards a couple of the riders went out to see a gallery opening in Culver City so I joined them for that, and the day became an all day sort bike ride adventure.

On sunday morning I joined the West L.A. Cycling Club, which I've been doing for a couple weeks now, for their up the coast from the Marina area to Palos Verdes ride. They are a friendly group of folks, and the ride is about 35 miles (plus my miles getting to the start and getting home) with a little climbing. For how crazy I've gotten though, this has become my wind down for the week ride, and the route is ideal for a chill pace and chatting part of the way. The coast is always nice, and as usual gorgeous weather.

After that it was off to Disneyland, as my friend Sam had invited me to come with her and her boyfriend. They talked me into getting a season pass, which I agreed to if for no other reason then the photo opportunities. I find Disneyland to be an interesting intersection of American idealism and fantasy, consumerism and excess, technical innovation and imagination, as well as being a mixing pot of various demographics within America, and tourists from around the world. I'll be starting a Flickr set soon, with my Disneyland adventures.

Sunday was also the day the street race mentioned earlier was happening, and I found out the Cubs got third place in spite of a rider taking a nasty fall, causing a couple minutes to be lost. Apparently a car pulled out suddenly forcing one of the riders, Rich, to brake suddenly, and the rider behind him in the paceline, Annie, slammed into Rich's back tire and flew off the bike getting some road rash along the way. She got back up, made sure nothing was broken, and they went on to get third place, with apparently only 30 seconds between them and the first place team. Big props to the Cubs for pulling that off.

Then came Monday, and my weekend that I wished could just keep on going, finally came to an end. I met so many interesting people and had so much fun. This whole experience getting involved in the local bicycle scene, has given me a renewed appreciation for living in Los Angeles and taking advantage of what it has to offer. I look forward to more adventures in this big crazy city.

Most of these rides were found using the following links as resources:

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Bicycle Block Party

I decided to check out the block party celebration for the closing of the Los Angeles run of the Bicycle Film Festival, and got my first taste of the bike street culture at the heart of downtown. Feeling a little tired from a hard week of riding, I wasn't up to ride out there the whole way, so I took a bus bike combo, not wanting to show up for a celebration of bicycles in a car. I'm also trying to do more trips I would otherwise use a car for by bike, the night before having gone to a birthday bash in La Brea all the way on bike, with a change of clothes in the trunk bag. It took a lot less time then I thought it would, and I ended up there sort of too early.

Back to talking about the bike block party; which was loaded with fun, games, people busting moves, tons of bikes parked everywhere (lots of fixies out there), vegan food and delicious home made lemonade. The little area at the corner of Melrose and Heliotrope where it was held, is a perfect spot for such an event, with Orange 20 Bikes (a shop specializing in urban & commuter bikes) and Bicycle Kitchen across the street (a do it your self bike shop that teaches people how to build their own bikes out of donated parts or make repairs to their own bike). It was a blast being out there, and I look forward to the festivals return to L.A. next year.

Orange 20

Skids Contest

Skids Contest

Foot Down Contest

Freestyle Session

Big props to the Bicycle Film Festival (which unfortunately I did not get a chance to see the films, but I'll grab a copy of the dvd when it releases), Orange 20 bikes, who hosted this shindig, and the Los Angeles Country Bicycle Coalition for supporting the L.A. run of the event (an organization of which I am now a card carrying member, and organizer for the L.A. River Ride mentioned a few posts back).