Bike culture in Los Angeles is a bubbling cauldron of activity these days. The car-enslaved metropolitan area has developed a two-wheeled culture that has become an outlet for self-expression, solidarity, frustration, social identity and sense of community. Like any culture, it has a range of members, from self-less to self-interested to just plain troublemaking contrarians.
Rising gas prices, ever worsening traffic, ecological awareness, vexation over seeming political powerlessness to impact on the government’s Iraq War policy and even a sense of style are all factors that converged to create the Big Bang of today’s LA bike world.
Group outings and protest demonstrations serve as floating town squares in a city with no center. Angeleno-style solipsism can easily be transposed from driver seat to bike saddle.
Battles and skirmishes play out that, depending where your sympathies lie, can have as much relevance as one’s constitutional rights being infringed upon or as little dignity as a schoolyard brawl. Some times, they’re a mixture of both.
After the jump, first prize in a bike race is a pair of shoes, but not just any shoes.
Ich bin ein cyclist, usually a solitary one, stupidly with no helmet, foolishly listening to an iPod, almost always on quieter side streets with few exceptions. I cycle mostly for exercise, up Vermont Canyon in Griffith Park to the Observatory and then over and down the hill to Travel Town and back. I will visit nearby friends or run local errands on my bike if it doesn’t involve carrying more than will fit into a small backpack or if I’m not in a hurry.
Which is all my way of leading up to pointing out the article in today’s LA Times California section about the Brentwood Grand Prix.
Velo Club La Grange, the event organizer, plans to stage a grand prix over a 2.3-mile circuit on San Vicente Boulevard on Sunday.
The event, offering $10,000 in prize money, is expected to draw more than 400 professional and amateur racers from the Western United States.
And the west side of Los Angeles being what it is, other prizes range from pounds of Peet’s Coffee to, for the winner of the women’s pro race, a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes from Footcandy, a San Vicente shoe-tique.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Xiomara Zelaya, co-owner of Footcandy, said of the event. “Based on my neighbors, it seems everyone’s on board and everyone’s excited.”
I’ll assume she’s talking about excitement over the bike race and not the shoes, but I’m probably wrong.