A two-wheel revolution cruises across Los Angeles
If you've ever heard the popular 80s song "Walking in LA," then you understand that well, nobody walks in L.A. Seeing that LA is an asphalt jungle between the beach, mountains and valley, it's become a faux pas to walk about the streets. But what about bicycling?
Drive down virtually any street and you'll be dodging bicycle riders left and right. The kind of people you will see range from experienced racers with fancy gear to girls wearing mini-skirts late for work, and even 13-year-old biker gangs terrorizing random people in the night.
In addition to those riding for exercise or the purpose of commuting, bicycle events are meeting grounds for mobs of people who dress up in costumes, and ride around the city into the late hours of the night.
C.R.A.N.K. Mob is arguably the most popular of the many bicycle mobs that organize rides, seeing as the usual turn out can sometimes exceed 1,000 people. C.R.A.N.K. meets up on the Saturday after the third Friday of each month.
Over the years this kind of event has become an underground phenomenon, with multiple rides every night of the week. Information about the rides travels by word of mouth as well as through forums such as Midnightridazz.com and C.R.A.N.K. Mob's Facebook.
People of all ages and walks of life attend these bicycle excursions with one main thing in common: a love for riding bikes. Los Angeles native Daniel Brooks, a student at SMC, says, "LA looks a lot different when you are on a bike. You'll see things that you could have missed in the blink of an eye driving in a car."
From the beach into the city, Los Angeles biking groups cover vast ground and explore the city in a completely different way. Routes are planned to cover the span of anywhere between 1 mile and 30 miles at a time, sometimes beginning in Santa Monica and traveling through the city streets into downtown. With courses like that, it's likely that LA riders are likely to witness parts of LA that are only seen via bike.
"We once passed a colony-like place for homeless people downtown behind an alley. Its insane that it was there and I would have drove right past in a car without even looking," says Daniels.
While C.R.A.N.K. is described by its loyal members as a "religious organization," there are others who ride simply for the exercise and breath of fresh air. A popular spot for tourists and locals alike is the Strand bike path.
Running directly alongside the sand the ride runs about 22 miles and takes riders through Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan and into Redondo.
Along with the plethora of adventures available for those interested in cruising LA, there is a type of bicycle appropriate for every venture. Most popular, especially in California, is the beach cruiser, which is loved in bright, fluorescent colors. The only downside to a beach cruiser is that cruising the beach is all it is really good for. The enormous weight, single speed, and girth of the bike make it hard to go very fast or up a hill. If you want to get somewhere fast and easy you should try out a road bike set up with gears, which are typically used for street riding and community by many Angelinos.
I always say that Los Angeles is like one big playground, so get out there and go play. Get back to your inner child and get on a bike if you haven't recently. Whether you ride to get somewhere or just ride to ride you will find that the best things in life really are simple.