Bikes = Unity

August 28, 2019 § 6 Comments

One of the best things about bikes is that you can use them to be alone, to get solitude, to take a break from society and the world.

One of the other best things about bikes is that they bring people together.

I met Nancy Linn in 2008 or 2009, I think, when the PV Bike Chicks were first getting started. She was an early subscriber to this blog, accepting its wayward, outlandish opinions along with its legitimate ones, and supporting a voice that was needed, whether or not she agreed with it 100% of the time, or even 10%.

Last year Nancy helped out with the All Clubs BBQ/South Bay Cycling Awards by stepping in as a sponsor through her foundation, Race for RP. I wrote about her, and about relapsing polychondritis, here.

This year, Race for RP sponsored the event again, and in addition to cash on the barrel head, we got a couple of hours into the event and Nancy came up to me and said, “I think a TV crew ought to see this.”

“See what?” I asked, looking around for a dead body.

“This,” she insisted, spreading her hand at the park filled with people talking about bikes.

“Us?” I shook my head. “The only news here is that there isn’t any news.”

“I’m calling the TV station,” she said.

I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it because I was involved in some really important work standing around arguing with someone about something, so off Nancy went.

A bit later, as the awards ceremony was in full swing, someone rushed up breathlessly. “Can you go talk to the TV crew?”

“What TV crew?” I asked.

“There. ABC is here to film the event.”

“What event?”

“OUR EVENT.”

“Oh. Yeah, sure.” I went over to the news truck, where Channel 7 was doing interviews, getting footage, and coming up with a great story about how cyclists have put together an event that showcases diversity, unity, camaraderie, and barbecue. A couple of hours later it was on the six o’clock news.

Afterwards I tried to find Nancy to thank her, but it was late and she had already left, after propping up the event with a generous donation and getting us TV coverage throughout LA County, if not the galaxy.

I later reached out to her about the event. She had a few words I thought I’d share, because they say more than anything I could ever write.

A week ago today, I experienced the greatest feeling of togetherness that I have ever felt in my life.

Kinda says it all.

END


First Annual All Clubs BBQ

June 12, 2018 § 5 Comments

It is pretty much a commonplace that cyclists rarely see each other with their riding clothes off, by which I don’t mean in the buff (that may be less rare than we think) but by which I mean in regular clothes.

People look different when they aren’t doing bicycle cosplay, and you know what? They act different, too. The faster you go on a bike the less you talk, and the less you talk the less you really interact. My favorite conversation is the archetypal Donut Ride rollout conversation, the one between people who have known each other for years, if not decades.

“Hey, man, how’s it going?

“Great. You?”

“Super.”

Then jostle for a little bit more position as you prepare for Mr. Scott to ramp up the engines.

The long talk

Of course when the mix and the route and the roads are right, you can have quite involved conversations while riding. I still remember the countless hours that Fields and I would talk as we cruised the back roads of the Texas Hill Country, or the multi-hour arguments that I’d have with Kevin Callaway on long winter rides.

But those are the exception these days; most rides occur on dense roads with a bunch of other riders, and the terseness is exacerbated when you happen to be riding with a completely different club or group of riders. As my friend Ken Vinson noted, the helmets, glasses, and clown suits make it even harder somehow to talk.

So Ken had a great idea about how to address the problem, which may not seem like much until you realize that we have a lot of racial conflict in the Los Angeles peloton. It’s not always overt, but sometimes all it takes is a bump, a push, or an angry word and suddenly racial tensions flare. I’ve seen it many times, and I am sure a lot of other people have, too.

Much of that tension is a product of the fact that people don’t really talk all that much on the bike. The relationships can be thin and limited to a few cursory greetings, greetings that don’t cut it when people are fighting for a wheel or disagreeing about whether a particular move was safe.

Ken’s solution was an all club barbecue, where any bike club in Los Angeles could come, put up a barbecue pit, bring the non-riding members of the family, and actually mingle.

The date is August 12, from noon to six

This was the impetus for the first annual All Clubs BBQ, which will be held at Eldorado Park in Long Beach, and will include a cook-off competition and barbecue samplers for a few dollars per plate.

This year we’re also going to fold in the sixth annual South Bay Cycling Awards with the All Clubs BBQ, but more about that later.

The event will take place on August 12, 2018 at the El Dorado Park West “Willow Grove” Picnic site from 12-6 PM. The All Clubs BBQ event entry is free.

Details:

  • El Dorado Park West 2800 N. Studebaker Road, Long Beach, CA 90815
  • “Willow Grove” Picnic site enter on E. Los Arcos St. off Studebaker Road
  • Ample free parking
  • Extensive tree covering and covered picnic shelters (available on a first come basis)
  • Family friendly outing
  • Playground
  • Games
  • The chance to mingle and talk off the bike
  •  It’s a picnic so bring your own food–BBQ sampler plates will also be available for a few bucks!

     

    END

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