Monday, March 10, 2008

LA Bike Tizzle

On Sunday, March 2nd, I participated in the annual Acura LA Bike Tour. This was the 14th annual and the second year I did it. The backdrop of the tour ensures a unique experience: Not only are all the streets (23 miles snaking through downtown LA!) closed off but the race starts at 5:45am.

But my story gets weirder - I stayed the night at my friend Tim's in Gardena. I got to his house at 2am so I only had about 3 hours of sleep. When he woke me up at 5 I thought I was still asleep. Going down to load the bikes, I met one of his neighbors who was leaving for the same event. The neighbor's wife was even going along to watch - ouch. As we got on the freeway my sense of community only increases as I realized that most of the other cars had bike racks and similarly exhausted riders - almost comical that we Angelenos still relied on cars to get to a bike ride.

The ride itself was incredible. Starting at the Coliseum to the sound of Randy Newman and the shrill encouragement of the LA Bike Tour harpy, the mass heads generally east, then north, zigzagging across the LA river via a couple historic bridges. We meandered through the Toy District (my guess for the next neighborhood to be gentrified in downtown), eventually through the heart of downtown, through Koreatown, and back to Exposition Park. A Google Map of the route would be appropriate.

As the sun rose over Los Angeles, I was overcome by how connected I felt. Connected to the other riders and to the city. Isolated in a car it's easy to neglect the neighborhoods who's main purpose in my life are as barriers keeping me from where I am usually headed. When those neighborhoods become the destination they take on much more significance - like a Thomas Brother's Guide coming to life with people, places, and things. In other words, nouns.

There are other rides I want to do: Long Beach Bike Tour, LA River Ride, City of Angels Fun Ride. I doubt I do more than one or two but just the thought gets me excited to explore and connect.


tannaz said...

this sounds awesome. despite having never run/rode in the la marathon/bike tour, when i first moved to the city, i was driving somewhere on a sunday that happened to be marathon day. i eventually hit closed roads and just parked and spent some time watching and cheering and taking it all in. i totally get that sense of community you're talking about -- pretty awesome!
(except sadly the new route goes nowhere near my home anymore!)

BradleyB said...

The only solution to your marathon-less life if for you to move closer to the marathon route. I suggest Universal City. Close to Glendale, close to Atwater Village, close to downtown.

On the real though, as the Bike Tour becomes coincident with the marathon route through K-town, the number of onlookers really increases. Every coupe of blocks they have PA systems and either singers or full-up bands playing. There are also water tables being manned by different organizations (sororities, girls and boys clubs, etc.). I can only imagine what the actual marathon finish must be like.