In the belly of the beast

I’m yard-camping for a couple of days in Long Beach, taking care of a few odds and ends, minor details like getting my brake rotors replaced, new chain and cassette, BB overhauled … the little things, courtesy of the Dropout Cyclery and funded in part by a generous $250 donation from Dean P.

Riding into LA from Leo Carillo State Park was strange. Many things I always accepted as normal now look weird beyond belief, and the feeling intensifies the closer you get to the city. It’s partly a result of bikepacking. When I live on my bike I get up before the sun rises, eat when I’m hungry, bicycle along until I’m ready to stop, put up my tent when it suits me, and go to bed when the sun goes down.

Once you’re in the city, which is all about control, hierarchies,, and exploitation, that changes whether you want it to or not. What I noticed:

  1. PCH is a bad place to ride a bicycle. It is ugly, it smells bad, the drivers are often rude, the traffic moves too fast, and it is terribly ugly. Did I mention it was ugly?
  2. Everyone wants you to see their money.
  3. Everything is for sale.
  4. The ultimate and omnipresent California roadside decoration is the real estate sign.
  5. Time rules all. In the city everyone is subjugated to the clock. So dumb.
  6. People actually spend huge amounts of money on gasoline. One gallon of gas costs more than my breakfast, takes you nowhere nearly as far, and (I’m guessing) tastes a lot worse.
  7. Your Tesla is just as nasty as his pickup.
  8. On the bike path, there are more mopeds (e-bikes) than bicycles. No one appears excessively old or physically in need of the moped. But the riders do appear fat and lazy.
  9. Everything costs more and you receive less.
  10. Police are everywhere.
  11. The Avid Recreational Cyclists, a/k/a ARCs, never smile or look happy.
  12. The fat, lazy people on mopeds always smile and look happy..
  13. It requires an unreasonable level of skill, awareness, and fearlessness to ride in traffic.
  14. Cars are horribly noisy. Trucks? Moreso.
  15. It is never night.
  16. When you sleep in a tent in the backyard you can’t see the stars but you can still hear the freeway.
  17. Airplanes are horribly loud, too.
  18. There are hardly any trees.
  19. There are hardly any birds.
  20. There are hardly any flowers.
  21. When the wind blows, it doesn’t bring any fragrance, only stench.
  22. Whether they admit it or not, everyone is living the life they WANT to live.

END


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6 thoughts on “In the belly of the beast”

  1. Ugh, I avoid PCH and the bike path.

    I take the parallel route along Mulholland Highway.

  2. so are you saying there’s a solution or just going off about the cities that most of us live in? yes, it’s nice to escape but this is reality. i’ve been here my entire life and have found joy in being part of what our species has created (which has more than 22 faults), versus simply trying to get away from it.

    1. I’m saying that we all do what we want. And it is strange to see so many millions wanting this. And to think that I once wanted it, too!

      1. I am not digging your sentiments here because they are so one sided. I would argue most don’t get to do what they “want”. You no longer want it, as life is a series of phases and you have moved on. The fact is you have the financial means, and the wherewithal, to make this choice. I also have the financial means to make this choice, but I embrace the big “ugly” city I have lived in my entire life, for all its faults and its beauties, none of which made your list above. The cities of the world are where most all the people live, and people are oh so beautiful.

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