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Monday, July 26, 2004

The Streets of LA

Starting out a ride with your knees complaining is never a good omen.
Thinking that the fourth mile is feeling a lot more like it's the fourteenth isn't a good one either.

I finally did the bike to work thing, and picked completely the wrong day to do it. By the time I made it 5 miles it was almost 100 degrees, and not long after I ran out of water. Between the laptop, change of clothes, bike lock, and CamelBak, I was carrying at least 20 pounds on my back. Much of the ride had poorly timed stoplights and buses, which meant a lot of the time was spent waiting for lights. On the upside, it was mostly flat.

More than once, in a rush to get going after a light turned green I missed my Stumpjumper's BigMeanMetalPedals™ and scraped them along my legs, by the time I got downtown I was wearing blood red socks.

Up until downtown the ride was long and hot but not that hard. Through downtown Los Angeles it got a lot more interesting. Main Street Los Angeles is it's own world.

At one point, just past City Hall, a corner I had to stop at was full of people on crutches and in wheelchairs, surrounded by gophers feeding them various poisons. As I waited to cross towards them I looked down the side street to the right, and I saw a woman very obviously strung out on something, with a thousand yard stare. The woman looked like a scared, cornered animal.

That's when I knew this wasn't a ride to take slowly.

I was stuck on sidewalks because of unionized streetwork, so I cruised as best I could. After I crossed, one guy standing against a wall watching people reached under his shirt into his pants while eyeing me through his peripheral vision. I grabbed for my bike lock and his arm went slack. Another rider joined me, on a fairly abused bike with not so great clothes - but his backpack was new, full, and had locks all over it. As I rode behind him I noticed all of the pimps standing outside of the "hotels" on Main Street said hello to him - my guess is that he was a courier. And not for a messenger service.

A few blocks down I neared one of those "hotels" with pimps and streetwalkers chatting outside. Out walks a fairly normal looking man with flip flops on. As I get closer I see bandaids on his face. He's dazed by the oppressive sunlight. He looks down to his closed hand, opens it. It's full of clean syringes.

It would really suck to get one of those in my tire.

At the end of the block there were yuppies coming out of a yoga class, mats under their arms. More of them were sitting outside at a trendy coffee shop, very obviously modeled on the one on "Friends". One end of the block was the bottom of the heap. The other end was "Friends". The effort to rebuild downtown for the yuppies seems to have some.... edges.

About a mile later I was searching for Union Station, not seeing the tall Gateway building that would tell me where it was. I had almost given up when I looked through the Olivero Street park to see it completely not where I thought it would be. One blue slushie later I was hauling my ass onto the Metro and bleeding and dripping sweat in a car next to a group of middle schoolers.

What really sucked was that the showers at work just had a piddly flow of cold water waiting for me.

7/26/2004 12:51:00 AM ] [  0 comments  ]
A good quick laugh