Sunday, July 13, 2008
The "Robot Duck"? ride.
Tonight's ride began at Crankmob Park, which is the unofficial name of the tiny Culver City Park in front of the Actor's Gang Theatre, making it one of the few places in the world where a theatre's entryway has a high potential for being substantially more entertaining than anything going on inside.
(Note to the guy who lost his melon: It went back to the melon bin outside Trader Joe's. You can't start a group bike ride evening off by stealing, at a time when we're trying to encourage LOVE for cyclists, as that's just lame. Even if they were closed, and it was only $3.99, how exactly does one transport, slice and serve a watermelon on a bike ride? Albertson's across the street was open, and equipped with a wide variety of delicious and easily transportable snacks.)
[Edit per comments - Sometimes I am a giant self-righteous idiot, the melon was not stolen.]
The ride was advertised as being "a little bit faster, a little bit farther" than the usual Crankmob rides, and that it was.
We went through Culver City, stopped at some building and rode up the parking deck, then rode down into Crenshaw/Inglewood, then onward to LAX, where we did a loop around the upper departure level (and were treated with courtesy by the LAXPD) and then on up to Howard Hughes Center, where we again rode up a parking deck and hung out there for a while, until I and a few guys from the Tuesday night rides (The numbers are growing! Join the fun!) decided it was getting late, so we headed out. Then it was back up Sepulveda and home by 3AM.
(Photos to come, as soon as I get them via e-mail or off the Midnight Ridazz gallery.)
Tonight I met some folks I'd only previously known/seen on the web, like Alex Thompson, founder of the Bikerowave and organizer of this ride, which was pretty cool.
I did not wear tin foil as instructed, but at one of the early stops found myself beset by some tallbike riding guy named Alec and was shortly ensconced in a midriff-length tin-foil toga-esque garment. (I can only imagine I looked even more ridiculous than that description implies, but we'll wait for the pictures.)
The Mom Ridaz ran into a little person (midget is apparently considered highly offensive) outside a bar [Edit per comments - liquor store]in Crenshaw/Inglewood, and let him ride a tallbike. I did see the photos, and hopefully they'll be on the web shortly.
The Kinetic Light Installation (Gateway Pylon Projects) outside LAX is awesome, especially after they replaced the lights with LEDs (at huge expense, but also at huge reduction in power usage). The LEDs added a huge range of colors for them to change, which makes them fascinating to look at, and can really be appreciated by, say, riding around the LAX departure level at 1AM on a bicycle. (Whether late night whimsy is the best use of tax dollars at a time when 55% of LAUSD high school students fail to graduate on time is a different matter entirely.)
The view from the top of a lot of parking decks late at night in Los Angeles is just spectacular (although it makes sense to find parking decks without security if you're going to hang out there for any length of time, cool as the folks at Howard Hughes Center were). I've noticed this before, especially when hitting golf balls at night at the Aroma Wilshire Center. (This is the funnest driving range in L.A. by far. They have automated tees so you don't even have to tee up the ball yourself. Totally worth a trip, and they're open until 11pm.)
There needs to be a good way to maintain the flow of a group ride through intersections. "Corking" them is all well and good, until the corkers get tickets, but things get sketchy when there aren't enough corkers (and sometimes when there are). SOMEBODY should talk to the LAPD / their city councilman to figure out what would be necessary for cyclists to essentially have the same authority as flagmen on construction sites, as cyclists with reflective vests and hand-held stop signs and the legal authority to use them would be a significantly safer/more effective means of getting the group through intersections, not to mention the level of volunteerism would increase if said activity were actually legal. I try to time the stoplights to make sure I get through on the green, but this gets tricky.
The guy who put his feet up and rested them on the handlebars of his beach cruiser, and the woman who did pretty much the whole ride without touching the handlebars both made me realize I need to hone my riding skills. The guy with his feet up wasn't quite as cool as this guy, but close...
This was the first time I've been on a bike in over a week. Really need to ride more, as I'm not in remotely the shape I'd need to be to do anything other than fun slow social rides. (Whether I actually want to do any group riding that's other than fun, slow, and social is another question.)
On the plus side, when I do get on my bike these days, it feels just right. When I first got it put back together a few weeks ago, it felt all wrong. It's a mountain bike, and one with reasonably aggressive geometry, and I bought it with plenty of clearance in case of accidental dismounts, so when I first got it put together it felt very strange. The geometry makes it handle well, but initially, after not riding it for 3 years or so, it was extremely twitchy. Now it feels exactly as it should, comfortable, with weight distributed properly between the seat and the handlebars, and ready to go. Sure, there are always things that could better, but there's nothing I could improve on the bike or any potential replacement that would make me even remotely faster than he improvements I could make to the rider.
It's 5AM, so I'm going to sleep.
Posted by JB at 3:11 AM