I just rode home from RideArc, night bike ride put on by some cool folks from SCI-Arc, which takes place every first Friday of the month. The theme for this ride was “Real Deals & Wannabees.” We started out at around 9:30 from the parking lot of SCI-Arc which is on 4th and the LA river. The first interesting fact presented by our tour guide Alex (who rode a fixed speed btw) was that SCI-Arc is the longest architectural school and is longer than the empire state building is tall. We were presented with laminated spoke cards that helpfully included the route on the back, which wasn’t actually needed during the ride because we all stuck together, following the Critical Mass rule: no rider left behind.
Our first stop was Olvera Street, which is supposed to be LA’s oldest street, but as we found out, that is a lie, a wannabe fact. We then headed to the original Chinatown (aka Union Station) and we talked about how the new Chinatown is really just a wannabe Chinatown, as the great majority of Chinese people actually live in a city called Monterey Park, so we headed there to get some boba at Tapioca Express on Garvey (I choose a taro icy, sans boba, but had nothing to take advantage of their free wireless) where we rested for about half an hour.
We headed back through East LA and stopped at Mariachi Plaza where our gracious tour guide explained how the wannabe-old stone gazebo used to be a coffee and donut shop that was torn down by the Villalobos family in the 1950s and the rotunda was actually built in Mexico and imported in pieces. The Villalobos family happen to have the contract for all the Gold Line Stations via Barrio Construction.
The trip was 18.3 miles according to the Gmaps Pedometer, you can check the route out here. In all there were between 30 and 40 riders on the trip and I think I counted 5 fixed gear riders, 2 on track bike and 3 on conversions, all with front brakes; 1 BMX rider; 3 beach cruisers, 1 with a 7 speed hub; and the rest a mixture between road and mountain bikes. It was my first experience with a large group of riders and I helped cork and talked to folks who were nice enough to stop while our group was passing and they were very positive about the whole thing. For the most part the motorists were interested in what we were doing, one asked if we were cold, others just wondering why we were riding around in a large group at night.
Good stuff, I’m looking forward to some more group rides, although I’m going to have to make a trip to the Bicycle Kitchen to tighten my hubs which developed a little bit of play about halfway through the ride. [btw thanks to Eric Richardson for reminding me about the via Blogdowntown]