My love for Ciclavia is a passionate love that defies words. I feel a bit like the people who were at Woodstock and now say things like, “You just had to be there.” That sounds like hyperbole, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Ciclavia is a spiritual experience. You not only experience your own familiar city in a completely new way, but you have that experience side by side with thousands of fellow Angelenos from all walks of life. Whatever stereotypes you might have about what a typical “bike rider” looks like – put them fully and completely aside. Ciclavia is, quite simply, LA on a bike. Imagine driving on the 10 freeway or the 5 – but everyone is on a bike instead of in a car. There are no barriers between us.
Cruising peacefully for a Sunday afternoon earlier this month took on a special poignancy in the wake of the bombings in Boston. I believe in my head that most people in this world are good, loving, caring people – when I participate in Ciclavia, I feel it in my heart.
See what Ciclavia feels like in my short video (overlook shakiness at start). And yes, it really was that quiet.
Scenes from Ciclavia to the Sea, April 2013:
- Three old guys sit drinking beer in their garage, watching the bikes go by. When I bike past them again three hours later, they’re still there. Just another Sunday afternoon.
- The sounds of praise drifts out of corner Iglesia Pentecostal – a man in black pants and tie steps out with a bemused expression.
- The sound of a young child’s voice belting out karaoke floats through the windows of a corner apartment building.
- Two bikers go rogue and cut off the route – a middle-aged black man in full biking regalia complete with neon orange shirt and a middle-aged white mom in beach shorts. “I’m riding with my home boy,” she comments. He grins as they as they disappear into the neighborhood.
- A girl and guy hipster with shades, skinny pants and ironic t-shirts blast some old-school Snoop Dog from a huge stereo affixed to the back of their bicycle built for two.
- A 5-foot man on a makeshift stage blasts cumbia and salsa from giant speakers in front of a Salvadoran restaraunt pushing pupusas. According to his neon sign, he’s El Tremendo.
- Two Rastafarians sing along to Bob Marley outside their pan-African thrift store calling to passerby to check out their wares.
- A chubby 8-year-old Latino boy runs to catch up with his dad, carrying a white trash bag as big as he is. They’re collecting cans and bottles along the route.
- A paletero with a huge straw hat strolls between several ladies grilling hot dogs on small carts next to the bike repair tent. The air smells of pork and jalapenos and the onions make your eyes smart.
- A transvestite in coveralls is perched on top of a double-decker bicycle. “How do you do that?” someone exclaims.
- A low-rider bicycle club hangs out by a gas station. I’m envious of their shiny bikes with their twisted chrome handlebars.
- A fit man outfitted entirely in spandex is pulling a neon yellow cart for kids behind his bike – a small gray dog pops its head out, its ears blowing back in the wind.
- A little boy pedals past sporting a fuzzy pink mustache.