Of Nods, Waves & Bell Rings

I’ve certainly noticed an increase not only in bicyclists on the road, but in the more open commaraderie we demonstrate toward one another. I’m not talking so much about the organized group rides like RIDE-Arc and Midnight Ridazz of which I’m a regular participant and enthusiastic proponent, as I am referring to the random passing of cyclists on the street. Be it a nod or a wave or a ring of a bell, there’s just more acknowledging going on.

Certainly it is not across the board. I can still pretty much count on being snubbed by 94% of the streamlined and spandexed roadies I might come across, who either look down their carbon fiber forks upon my bulk astride my bright orange bastard or outright ignore my nod or wave or bell ring (but at least that’s down from the 98% of a few years ago). And I can count on a solid percentage of bike messenger-types to present the same sort of front, but it’s not so much from some silly elitest angle as it is from one of stripped-down daredevil authenticity.

Regardless of where a rider’s or my prejudices might lie I do my best to include all in the grand community of bicyclists, and unless the vibe received is totally off-putting, I’ll throw ’em some form of recognition as a fellow biker-in-arms.

I bring all that platitudinal prefacing up because I’m still somewhat buzzing over what happened prior to our “10 Bridges” ride last night. At the confluence of Glendale Boulevard and 2nd Street while me, Sean Bonner and Manny Treeson and Stephen Roullier were waiting for Steve’s wife Alice to arrive from fixing a flat she’d found up at their Echo Park house, a solitary rider rolls up on us and from the saddle of his Trek bike notices Manny’s Trek bike and compliments are exchanged. He asks about Steve’s bike and eventually gets around to inquiring about what we’re doing and we tell him about the ride we have planned and in the next beat he asks if he can come along, to which we don’t hesitate to say sure. I ask him his name and he tells me it’s Alex and introductions are made and we learn he’s from South L.A. and was just out for a ride. Eventually we set out without Alice who’s still dealing with the deflation (and will meet us at a point to be determined somewhere downstream). We arrive at the start point on Factory Place south of the Arts District where we find Michael Baffico, along with couple Eric and Kathy Richardson. More introductions and away we go to soon be joined by previous IAAL•MAF participants Mehi and Brigitte and later Alice who catches up to us after we crossed the Sixth Street bridge.

Long story short: Alex comes along for the enjoyable and unique 13.5-mile length of the ride and bids us farewell shortly after we arrive at our destination of Joy Mart in Little Tokyo. And I just think that’s pretty cool because there just aren’t that many scenarios that I can think of out there where an outsider can just be so immediately let inside. Sure, it takes someone such as Alex with the go-get to ask a bunch of strangers if he can come play with us (I don’t know if I would’ve), but it also takes an inclusionary frame of mind. For sure, if he’d presented himself to a bunch of hardcore fixed-gear messies or a league of Lycra-clad Lance wanna-bes and asked if he could ride along he’d have risked some sort of rejection and perhaps even ridicule, but there was no way he was going to get that from me or the people I roll with.


So here’s to Alex from South L.A. (pictured front and center above, just after we crossed bridge No. 9 on North Spring Street). Glad to have him along and hope to see him again.

More pix from the ride are in this Flickr photoset.

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with laonstage.com, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."