[CR] Los Angeles commuting CR-style

(Example: Production Builders:Tonard)

From: "Charles Andrews" <chasds@mindspring.com>
To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 2009 19:53:28 -0700
Subject: [CR] Los Angeles commuting CR-style

For those here on the list who live in Los Angeles..or those who figure there's no way you can actually bicycle-commute easily in Los Angeles, I'm recommending a web site, and the friend who owns it...not only is it a great site with lots of cool CR-in-spirit clothing, but its owner, Rick Risemberg, finally inspired me to do something I've wanted to do for a long time, but never had sufficient motivation to do.

First, the site:


Rick lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife Gina...and while Gina owns a car, Rick does not. He lives in the heart of the city, in mid-Wilshire, and does his business totally by bicycle. I've ridden with him many times, on vintage rides here in LA, and on his excellent "stitch-the-river" ride wherein we ride across 12 or so classic bridges spanning the LA River. Rick has impressed me for a long time not only with his skill as a rider, but with his nothing-can-stop-me-from-riding-wherever-I-want attitude. And I don't mean the bike-messenger F-U attitude. Just his perfectly reasonable expectation that he can ride anywhere he needs to with a minimum of fuss. He rides a flat-black Bottechia Pro, built as a trick fixed-gear, and he is FAST.

Anyway, finally, after years of thinking about it, Rick's example pushed me to ride from my work, to home, this afternoon, a distance of about 38 miles one way. I rode to our light-rail link to downtown this morning, took the train to within about 3 miles of downtown, and rode the rest of the way to my work in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Then, about 4:15, I thought "screw it, I'm doing this." Daylight-savings time certainly aided my decision!

I left work, just ahead of the really thick rush-hour mess, and worked my way south and east of downtown, through some scruffy areas, but mostly light industrial, through some tricky traffic (after many years of bicycle-commuting in metro Honolulu as a teenager, traffic holds few fears). I found the entrance to the Los Angeles River bike-path, via a route I've taken a couple of times with friends. And away I went, a straight shot down the river to my home in Long Beach. It was an absolutely exquisite day today, sunny and cool, with the usual stiff westerly afternoon breeze to make things a bit more interesting. Plenty of pedestrians to minimize the possibility of trouble from banger-types on the upper part of the path.

2.5 hours from when I left work, I made it home, as dusk was just beginning to settle over the Pacific.



some photos of my route, taken by another cyclist, and the lovely views as you exit the bike-path at its south end, into Long Beach Marina.. my final 2 miles along marina-front, then beach-front, then up the bluff to home.

I hope I do this more often. It's a long ride after a full day of work. But I feel a real sense of accomplishment...even more than when I used to bicycle-commute through three-feet of fresh powder in Homer, Alaska..that was novel. But this felt like a practical thing that was genuinely fun. I ride plenty for fun, but to combine the fun with the business of living. That's worth the trouble.

CR-content: the steed of the day is my beater bike. Even my beater looks too good for this particular service--one is well-advised to be as anonymous as possible on a commute like this. My sartorial ensemble consisted of jeans, tennis-shoes, and a sweat-shirt with helmet. If I had my druthers my bike would be flat-black with no markings, and no chrome, no polished aluminum. But, we do what we can. The beater is a nice old Romic touring frame with long point lugs and chromed ends, painted dirty gold with no graphics, on which is hung a menagerie of stuff. some campy-knock-off dia-comps with aero levers on drilled Giro d'italias, Suntour bar-end shifters connected to Suntour Cyclone II front and long-cage rear, a nice ofmega triple crank with campy-knock-off MKS pedals. No clips. Wheels from that trashed Ciocc I sold awhile back. They're good wheels, with fat Serfas cross tires on them. Brooks B-17 cut-out a-la selle anatomica by moi... This is my l'eroica-style fire-road bike, and it is a lovely rider. There's plenty of dust on it, and I'll keep it that way.. Romic made a nice bike, this one has an ocean-liner, ride-it-all-day comfort, with slack angles, long chain-stays and a very low bb shell. The usual things, but, boy, do they always work well..

Commute to work on your bike. If I can do this wild ride now and then, anything else would be a piece of cake..although, I will confess, the entire ride is either slightly downhill, or flat, the whole way. That is a bonus, I'll admit.

Thanks for your indulgence.

Charles Andrews Los Angeles

that's the puzzle of what has happened to the automobile world: feeling safe has become more important than actually being safe.

--Malcolm Gladwell