Monday, March 29, 2010

To Live and Train in L.A. #11

High on my list of complaints these days, as you well know, is a whiny version of boo-hoo, I always have to ride alone; nobody talks to me when I’m riding my bike; everybody’s such an asshole. The correct response to whining of this nature, as you also well know, is this: “Shut the fuck up, Magnuson.” Whining is bullshit. No denying it. But here I am, in full knowledge of this essential human fact, and I’m whining! There will be no goddam profit in this, folks.

So this weekend I classically underperformed on my bicycle and overperformed on my quest to eat lots cheese and watch basketball and become the most relaxed person in Los Angeles. (I was damned successful with the stay-mellow part, I’ll have you know). Still, because daily cycling is a religious obligation of sorts, I rolled a couple of times down the hill to make an appearance on the L.A. bike path. Saturday’s plan was mellow spinner, wave at other cyclists and also at the families and at the homeless people and the gangbangers and even at the L.A. Bicycle Police, who were for some reason rolling along the bikeway with air support. Couldn’t have asked for better weather, either. Perfectly sunny. Eighty degrees. No wind. And it turned out that during last week a miracle has occurred on the bikeway between the Fletcher Avenue Bridge and Figueroa. The City has laid new asphalt the whole way: three miles of new buttery black asphalt. Can a person whine about that? And will a person speculate where the City acquired the money for such a project? Fuck no. The new surface is fantastic, the kind of surface that when you’re spinning in your 34-tooth weenie ring (that’s a bike term, for those of you who aren’t bike-term savvy; not a naughty term) you can literally feel your nether eye winking at the joyously smooth texture of the pavement down below. I was so happy I was singing. My nether eye was singing. Small birds followed me along the path and I felt myself realizing my lifelong dream of transforming one Saturday afternoon into Snow White, the fairest maiden ever to pedal a bicycle through paradise….

Yep. It was that good. I mean, why ride bikes if you can’t feel like that? And why feel like that if you can’t share your experience with somebody else?

The following is not the answer but may be a part of it. I did talk to a cyclist on Sunday, in front of Rick’s Diner on the corner of Fletcher and Riverside. He was an old man riding a mountain bike and wearing a highway-worker yellow vest and he was shouting, “Stop, stop.” So I stopped and asked if everything was okay. He said, “Have you been on the new asphalt all the way down to Figueroa?” I told him that I had and that I was rolling there directly. He seemed to tear up with joy at the thought. I started to tear up, too. Why not? Twenty-five minutes later, when I was still standing in front of Rick’s Diner talking with this old man, I wasn’t just tearing up, I was weeping: This guy has been riding in L.A. for the last forty years: he’s been doored, hit by cars, beaten, robbed, spit at, shot at, chased by crazy people, his blood has become literally enmeshed the bituminous elements of the asphalt over which we roll. When I took my leave of this guy, he said, “Nice to meet you, Mike. You’re going to love it here.”

Wow. For the rest of Lent, I’m giving up whining.

See you out there this afternoon.


  1. Dude! My sister just tried to tell me how some rural road was a shitty place to ride a damn bicycle, and I couldn't even begin to explain. She wouldn't get it. I tried to start with the fundamental difference of type of weapon and probability of use on a female human (between gangbangahs and rednecks), but I made no headway.


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