My first bike ride with the knowledge that I’d soon enough be embarking on a cross-continent trek was a clean 5.6 mile loop to, around, and back home from Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Prospect Park is weird because the first half is a downhill so easy you feel like you shouldn’t be counting this as “biking,” but as “sitting on a moving seat,” followed by an uphill that makes you wish you’d never been born (it is not that steep, but biking is like carrying around a magnifying glass for slope– objects under pedals may feel much steeper than they appear– and I have a low bar for throwing in the towel on the human experience).
After that, I expected I would bike all the damn time before leaving the city, going so far as to postpone shipping my bike in the hopes that I would be able to use it until the last possible moment. I biked zero more times in New York.
When my bike finally made it to LA, Joe and I went together on a ride through the LA River Path. Getting to the path is the tricky part, as you have to weave your way through actual Los Angeles civilization to get to the barren wonderland that is the LA River and its adjacent bike path.
I will discuss this national treasure in a later installment, because I have since gone back to bike it many times alone and there is little to do as I do so besides compose potential blog posts in my head aimed at the imaginary people I assume read this thing so I will just write those as their own entities.
My second ride in LA, alone this time, was an exact replica of my first ride with Joe, since it was the only route I knew. I followed the landmarks I recognized, from which I gained some serious insight into what my brain must be like to make certain things stand out to me enough to make them useful signposts. Often there would be stretches where I was totally unsure if I was still on the right track until I suddenly spotted a sign for a burger place wishing Justin a happy birthday that I had noticed because I immediately began plotting to have Joe’s birthday there in September so we could get his name on the sign, a collision repair shop that was curious to me for its rainbow logo, a store that does something I’m not quite sure of that I remembered for having almost the exact rainbow logo as the collision shop, or a group of hedges that are entertainingly tall and lopsided.
I even stopped off at Trader Joe’s to buy gummies because we had made that detour on our first trip home, so I didn’t know how to get straight home without it. Anyway, I figured I could use some mango gummies and Australian licorice (yes, the guy checking me out made fun of me for buying $8 of only candy, but what he didn’t know is that I spent my first few weeks in LA living almost exclusively off gummy candy, of my own volition).
My third ride was with Joe again, back to the LA River bike path, but this time we kept going and found ourselves in Travel Town, a wonky theme park of old timey train cars that Joe said he would have been super into as a little kid. I watched one maybe one-year-old kid named Noah play, and as his mother observed, he was most intrigued by the gravel carpeting the park.
My fourth ride, again with Joe, was much more ambitious. We biked through the city to Hollywood, which is less the glamorous gossamer concept you’re envisioning and more a Hispanic neighborhood slash strip mall slash condominiums. Sure, there are lots of movies there, but mostly in billboards “for your consideration.”
Our original plan was to go to LACMA, but I forced us to detour to and stop at In n Out for obvious reasons. By the time we got to LACMA we wouldn’t have had much time to explore before it got dark and biking home would suck. So we checked out the La Brea tar pits instead, and biked home in the light.
Ride five was on my own, back to the LA River Path.
Ride six was a crazy odyssey which I will go over in the great detail it deserves in a separate post, because how much of this can you read (at least without a break)??