a tale of two festivals and the ride home

CicLAvia, held on October 10 was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

It was a celebration and exploration of what the streets of Los Angeles could be like.

The City’s streets were open from Hollenbeck Park to Hollywood by any way you could navigate between the two points, by bike or foot or skate, was fair; any form of transportation as long as it wasn’t motorized.

Cycling with traffic in LA is possible. Cycling without them is heavenly. Not having to look over my shoulder to see if death was roaring for me on four wheels made me realize again just how easy this City is to navigate by your own power.

I have been on the rides organized by former Mayor Richard Riordan and they were great fun. We toured all parts of the City our fears being run over allayed by having an armed escort of motor officers. It’s very safe, but probably not realistic on a large scale.

And the LA marathon bike rides were another way to see the City’s streets and sights but the time you had to do it in was limited. Then Frank McCourt got a hold of the race and that was the end of that. And you thought he just ruined baseball teams.

There was great advantage to CicLAvia’s anarchy. There was no time constraint, so no one was in a hurry. There was no motorcycle escort because none was necessary.

Whole streets filled with bicycles, pedestrians and skaters meandering amiably on a beautiful fall day. We all had a day to appreciate the streets of LA, the architecture we rode beside and all our fellow travelers.

That’s something I rarely do in a car: appreciate my fellow drivers. I tolerate other drivers, but I really wish they’d all go away.

Cycling along, in no particular rush none of my fellow travelers were in my way, they weren’t competition. An urban experience like few others.

They are planning to do this again, next April, and seeking input from the public as to a specific date. To keep up with it all, look here: http://ciclavia.wordpress.com/

The next week would have been kind a let down were it not for Tour de Fat. As they used to say on Monty Python, “And now for something completely different.”

Where CicLAvia was a celebration of the ordinary cyclist, this was more “letting your freak flag fly.” Many people came in costume for the parade.

I hadn’t read the fine print about the parade so the most colorful thing I could muster was my Jelly Belly baseball cap…I was underdressed.

I’m not good at estimating crowds, but at least five hundred festooned cyclists took off from the Los Angeles State Historical Park, definitely not a cornfield, for a tour of downtown that was probably not authorized by any responsible person. And thank goodness for that. It was a roll through downtown that would only have been diminished by official sanction.

Besides, you don’t need a permit to ride a bike in silly clothes.

Most of the motorists were amused, some more than others of course. Only one guy, in a Jeep Cherokee seemed to want to kill us all, but he was likely humorless in other situations as well.

But, there is safety in numbers and there were too many of us to mow us all down so we prevailed to come back to the Park for festival food and drink. You have to love that the corporate sponsor for this is Fat Tire Ale. It’s only appropriate, nature’s most perfect food supporting mankind’s most efficient idea for locomotion.

My friend Harry and I rode to both of these events from where we live, in Eagle Rock. It was an easy ride both times and besides, it seems kind of precious to drive to a bicycling event.

On the way to these two special events we passed, and were passed by people not going any place special, just going to work. What was a celebration for us was quite ordinary for them.

Thousands of people use bikes to get around this City every day. Not because it’s green or stylish, or revolutionary, but because it’s cheap and effective. Now, if it were only safe.

This entry was posted in Ciclavia, Fat Tire Ale, Tour de Fat, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to a tale of two festivals and the ride home

  1. Robert Garrova says:

    If only L.A. had the biking set up of Amsterdam… Now that’s a place where everyone uses a bike to commute.

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