Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bike L.A.

I'm in L.A. It sucks. L.A. sucks. I don't like the city. Never have. I don't like the car culture. I don't have friends here.

But my parents moved to Santa Monica about five years ago so I'm here every so now and then. My father's health is bad and getting worse, so I'll probably be here more and more.

I hate having to drive everywhere. And I hate that Santa Monica is like one big mall (albeit a mall with a beach and a great Farmers Market twice a week).

So I've decided not to drive. I've taken the bus, walked and biked. It does make me much happier.

Yesterday, my brother and I put our bikes on the front of a bus (I've never done that before) and headed out to a drunken game of kickball, actually called Sloshball, which tells you something. We were playing at a big park just north of Dodger Stadium.

After a 50 min express bus ride, we got off to bike the last mile or so. After one block, my brother's rear tire blow. And it blew with a very loud bang. We were fucked.

I asked a Mexican man on a bike if there was a bike store. He didn't speak English. And I couldn't think of the Spanish word for store. But he did offer to fix my bike with his patch kit. Alas, as I already knew from the bang but still had to show him, the tube had a 6-inch rip.

He pointed me yonder, perhaps to a 99-cent store that I scoured for bike tools and a 29-inch(?!) tube. Amazing, they had everything. But this in my mom's built up Dutch bike. Fenders, coaster brake, rear brake, internal shifting hub. I figured it would take me an hour to fix it. We locked the bikes and took a cab to the field.

We played Sloshball (my brother does have friends in L.A.). It's kickball, but you have to be holding a drink at all times, which makes defense a bit of a challenge. And there's booze at second base. And you can have as many runners as you want at 2nd. I liked being on 2nd. So I was lounging about refilling my beer when a guy threw the ball at another runner trying to get back to second. He hit me smack in my beer, shattering my plastic cup and getting me quite soaked.

We played a brief second game of 2-handed kickball. It was much more tiring, because if you're not holding a beer with one hand, you can actually get tired running.

After the game. My brother and I got a ride back to our bikes. I left him to fend for himself, somehow meeting up with friends. And I started biking back home. I knew I wanted to bike the whole way, to get a sense of the distances in L.A. Two hours and 22 miles later (it would have been 15 miles if I had gone in a straight line), I arrived. It's not a bad city for biking. Straight streets, mostly. Good weather, mostly. Flat, mostly. And downhill if you're going toward the ocean. But it's a big city. The roads are wide and ugly. A very few have a line-of-paint bike lane. On the plus side, the al pastor from taco trucks is much better than the al pastor in Astoria.

Still, I'll looking forward to being home.


Michael said...

Wow - this is quite a story. I took lots of buses when I was in LA once - it was interesting, they were like buses just for working class non-white people. It was wonderful, because I think the thing I dislike most about LA (aside from the sprawl, the driving, the pollution, the culture and the weather) is the upper class white people.

There is one great cycling thing in LA: SWRVE cycling


Anonymous said...

i ride full time in la... there are a lot of us... you need to make your way to the bike kitchen and Orange 20 in hollywood... trust me, it will change your view of la...

its a great town to bike in... like the untamed wild west...

PCM said...

I will check out Orange 20 and the Bike Kitchen. That will give me something to do.

I just extended my stay here till Tuesday.

PCM said...

Hey, so what's the best street to bike on going from Santa Monica to L.A.?