I’m a little slow, I admit it. While better bloggers were re-capping there ‘best of 2010’ I’m here doing it near mid-January. And, honestly, I hope to get them up before February! Such is life. What I would like to re-cap here is how fantastically a few of us brought in Spring last year. It was a weekend that encompassed so many ideas and actions that are dear to me, that I look back and I cannot believe it all happened in a 24 hour period. First I have to clarify that bicycling here in Los Angeles in amazing. I’m not just talking about the mountains and the beaches. While those are great, what makes bicycling here truly extraordinary is the potential of what can happen under the radar. As cyclists in a car-oriented city we operate in the margins. And it’s great!
That weekend was the second annual Los Angeles Street Summit and I had been asked to be a part of it. I decided not to contribute directly, but how about the post-summit party? Most def. And we’ll call it the Party Summit!
What is a flier without an obscure reference? We poked fun at a certain LA DOT employee who used the term ‘infeasible’ to describe possible biking infrastructure on some LA roads in the LA Bike Plan.
We rented a space, organized food, set up Gold Sprints and started inviting folks. I’ve a foot in the advocacy world and also the social world here. I think they don’t know enough about each other, which is why we (the bike club Swarm!) organized the party. We also had already planned our bike race/stair-climb event (an AlleyCross CycloCat?), Thus Climbed Zarathustra (read about 2006 and 2008 races) for the following day. We knew it’d be a busy weekend.
But then a few weeks before these events our good friends from Wolf Pack Hustle told us about their insane idea for a bike race. So insane it was beautiful. See the Sunday after the summit was the LA Marathon. You know, where they close the roads so at 7am 25,000 runners can run through the streets (paying over $100 each!). They told us they were going to host an unofficial bike race on the course at 4am! No traffic. No lights. Unbelievable.
Our party ended about midnight. After cleaning the space we had only a few hours before the Wolf Pack Hustle race. Without anyone saying it, we knew our house would be a base. About a dozen of us rode from the party to our place thinking about how, in some ways, the night was just getting started. Some people slept a precious few hours. The rest of us ate tacos and drank coffee!
At about 4am we rolled the few miles to the start. The scene was unbelievable. The corner of Sunset Ave and Fountain Ave was filled with over 400 cyclists! Not just the corner, but the entire street. It was beautiful. Don from Wolf Pack Hustle had stayed at our house and was therefore late (hey, it’s how we roll!). We chat with people we know. Others had stayed up all night too. SO exciting. Kids are on carbon bikes with race kits and others in cut-offs with no helmet on converted fixed gears.
I think this video really captures the race! And a few of us make appearances.
There’s no need to go into too many details of the race. I was in the front group with a few friends and about 12 other riders. We were the ones to alert the crews setting up that hundreds of cyclists would be descending on them. And to learn that not all the lights/roads were closed! It was fast. Really fast. And SO fun. The course was not easy to navigate and we ended up making some wrong turns and having to correct. We even opened a closed gate to get through the cemetery and stay on route. Near Santa Monica we caught a group that did not do this (I’m looking at you Mike Sz and Bryan Novelo!) and our pack doubled in size. It was foggy and cold as we neared the ocean.
How far to the finish? Which way do we turn? Working together was less readily happening as we approached the finish and everyone looked for an advantage. Metal hit metal and some folks went down hard at 25+ MPH (no one was hurt!). We were on edge. At Ocean Ave the route was not marked and the way toward the finish was taped off. What to do?? A few went right through it, knocking down the traffic barriers and almost taking a few of us out. The group got split up and Jon the Roadie (a real Cat1 racer) easily won the sprint.
It almost seems silly that this was one of the best times I had in 2010. But it had all the right factors: bikes, racing, diy, free, friends, illegal, fast, adventurous and close to home. What more could you ask for? It was an absolutely exhilarating time and whenever I hear anything about the LA Marathon I don’t think about the three times I’ve run it, but about this race. We hung at the finish, with the strange sensation of dripping sweat in the cold fog, till all of our friends came in. Everyone was so stoked. We re-grouped and started the ride back home before they did the awards.
By now the sun is coming up and the cops are enforcing the closed course, kicking us off whenever we try to utilize the empty roads. We were all smiling about our experiences and enjoying the early sun that warmed us and the quiet city. We got home and decided to make pancakes. I was the most awake and least cold so I took control of the stove while others huddled in blankets on the kitchen floor. I’d pass down each pancake as it came off the grill and some were topped with peanut butter while others may have been topped with leftover icing from the cupcakes the night before….
I slept a few hours before heading to the Silver Lake dog park for the high noon start of Thus Climbed Zarathustra. Steevo, who was visiting from PA and came to the party but not the Marathon Crash Race, headed over with us (he also wrote about the state of cycling and riding in the Santa Monica mountains while he was here). It was a small group, but a whopping 5 of us did all three races in 16 hours: Gold Sprints, Marathon Crash Race and Thus Climbed Zarathustra and were all given prizes. I cannot say that I enjoyed racing to and carrying my bike up 10 stairways (many with over 100 steps!) as much as I would have on some actual sleep, but I still had fun. After the race we chilled in the park and decided that dinner at the all-vegan, all-you-can-eat Happy Family was in order. The best ending to one of the best 24 hours periods of 2010!