Tuesday, May 08, 2012

A rose by any other name would still not look like that

I’ll cut right to the chase: I finally rescued my bike from the decay caused by it having been left, neglected and unloved, for five years in storage. I also installed a snazzy new child seat for Sana.
Sana narrates the trip: "What's that? What's that? What's that?
It's windy. What's that? You're going fast! What's that?
What's that? He's on a bike too! What's that?"

My first two-wheeled adventure in Los Angeles was modest in scope: a quick trip along the Ballona Creek Bike path, which sounded promising, and which received rave reviews from knowledgeable locals.

All I knew about the path was that it runs seven miles from Culver City to the ocean. There was an access point not far from us, and so I thought I’d try a quick jaunt to test out my long-atrophied cycling legs.
They hurt, not least because I was riding with 30-odd pounds of toddler with which I never had to cope when last I biked in France. What hurt more was the disparity between the mental image conjured by the words “Ballona Creek” and the reality.
I couldn’t help but make comparisons to the scenery and conditions that had made me fall in love with biking in the first place – waterways were supposed to have trees nearby. And banks on which spray-painted graffiti could get no purchase. Rainbows and Ponies this was not.
But you know what was more painful? The constant taunting knowledge that the neighbourhood directly across the creek from me is called (drumroll please)…. Alsace.

Post Script: Some people find motivation to improve ourselves through competition. Some find it through fear of senescence. Some find it through their belief that the Almighty has commanded it. Others among us find it through the desire to find odd stories with which to fill the ever-grasping maw of their blog.
 The 3,000 odd kilometers I put on my bike during my three years in Alsace should have confirmed in me a love of cycling. The fact that Amynah and I owned bikes that were superior to our French bikes in every respect, and brought them to Los Angeles at some personal cost and inconvenience should have induced me to get them up and running just to make the trouble worth it. The fact that I have daughters with whom I like to spend time, and for whom I want to be a good role model, should have encouraged me to install a kid’s seat ages ago.
None of those things worked. What did work was my inability to resist the lure to my curiosity set by the neon-yellow sign of the “Libreria Christiana.”  The placard of the small store, located roughly 1.609344 km from my apartment, boasts not a cross, as you might expect, but a bicycle.
I mentally dubbed it the “Bikes and Bibles store” (their website is actually the much more ecumenical “bikes and books”) and vowed that eventually, I would have to go in there. But to do so, I needed an excuse, and so I resolved to rehabilitate my CCM roadbike from Montreal. 
I managed it last week. Books and Bikes is a family store, as one would expect. The owner is Freddy (I didn’t get a last name), who runs the store with his two sons. The “Books” part of the store pre-dates the “bikes” part, though today it seems to occupy only the first quarter of the store’s space, the rest being given over to bikes and bike parts of all shapes and sizes (creeping secularism?). Apparently, Freddy’s facility for fixing frames, footbrakes and fenders found favour, and soon the small group of friends and neighbours grew into a steady trickle of local customers, who would drop their bikes at the back of the bookshop, leaving them for Freddy’s ministrations. Eventually, it became clear he had the makings of a proper business, and Books and Bikes was born. I plan to become a regular, so that I might continue my campaign to convince them to rename the place “Jesus Spokes.”

1 comment:

helena said...

Looks aren't the only thing this cruiser has though. It wouldn't be a sixthreezero without the smooth cruise configuration, so you know it will not only look great, but it'll give yopu the smoothest and easiest ride possible California Bikes.

cruiser bicycles