Of all the reasons to ride a bike everywhere in Southern California, the best reason is the weather. Here it is, mid-November, and all you need is a light sweater, even at night. If you live at the top of a tall hill, as I do, even that might feel too warm.
Last night I rode to Santa Monica, across the street from Helen’s Cycles, to attend a Velo Club La Grange board meeting. It’s a 50-mile round trip, and I was there as a guest to present an award to Joe Duerr, the guy responsible for bringing the LG Grand Prix to the Porsche test track here in Carson.
Leaving Santa Monica at 7:30, things were hopping. But you simply don’t have trouble with cars when you are riding with nine high-beam bike lights. That’s two Diablos on the handlebars, four ApaceVision blinkers strapped to the seat stays, a Cygolite 150 on the seat post, and two more clipped to my rear jeans pockets.
Cars may think you’re in the way and they may think you slow them down, but when you are lit up they avoid you.
Coming home it was really quiet, especially on the bike path. We got passed by a couple of e-bikes. One guy said, “Great lights!” as he sped past. We caught him at a stop light.
“I used to commute on one of those,” he said, pointing to my bicycle. “But I got this for picking up groceries and stuff.”
I looked hard but didn’t see any groceries or any stuff. He sped off again.
In Manhattan Beach we were hungry for ice cream. When you ride your bike everywhere you don’t think twice about stopping for a giant double scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone. We sat outside with some German tourists, who were talking about tipping and how strange it was.
They were drunk-ish and began talking about smoking. “Do you think it’s okay to smoke?” one guy said in German.
“Probably not,” a lady said. “They don’t smoke outside here.”
“I don’t see any signs,” he protested. “And the street is empty except for those two.” The group glanced over at us, weird bicycle people, and I pretended not to understand.
Finally the guy took out his cigarettes, lit up, and started offering cigarettes to everyone else. The lady took one, then said to me in English, “Is smoking allowed here?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “but it’s really nasty to breathe in your smoke.”
“That wasn’t the question,” she snapped.
“Well, it’s your fucking answer.”
Everyone paused in mid-puff, awkwardly. They were in business attire. Then they got up and started moving away. The lady looked at me, then at the group, and said in German “I suppose they are sensitive.” Everyone guffawed.
I looked back at her. “Leck mich doch,” I said, which means “Kiss my ass.”
Her jaw dropped. “What did you say?” she said in English.
I answered in German. “You heard me.”
Confused and embarrassed, the group hurried off, and we had the smoke-free street to ourselves.
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