Monday, April 11, 2011

Ciclavia 2 and other thoughts

I haven't blogged in a long time, and perhaps it's because my standards got too high. Perhaps I felt like I had to write really well to make people want to read.

But in reality, I don't need to write well. The writing is merely an exercise for getting my jumbled thoughts straightened out it my head.

You see, I used to journal. Yes, it's dorky. Yes, Doug Funnie was the last character on TV I remember doing it. However, I journaled most of my life. Especially the hard times. That's what journals are for I think. Helping you cope through the hard times that inevitably rear their heads.

Yesterday I brought Wil out for CicLAvia 2, the second CicLAvia event in Los Angeles history. I attended the first one and I tell you there was a palpable peace and joy in the air that day. Wil, being from Holland, knows first hand how amazing bike transportation can be, and I was thrilled to show him a side of Los Angeles that sparkled--thousands of people riding together for fun, being courteous and peaceful.

When we got there, he was initially concerned about the festival-like atmosphere at Heliotrope and Melrose. We had to get off our bikes and walk through the crowd.

But his excitement rose when we started down Heliotrope--suddenly the sounds of busy LA faded and the air filled with whirring bicycle tires, laughing people, and thousands of smiles. It was amazing.

Being the second time this ever happened, I expected it to be bigger, but it was easily 3-4 times bigger. Articles I've read this morning claim "130,000" which means either the numbers for cicLAvia 1 were grossly over estimated, or the new estimate is about 170,000 short. If CicLAvia 1 had 100,000 people as claimed, then there were easily 300,000 this time. I personally brought 3 new people, and almost everyone I know brought 3 new people, so... you do the math. This paragraph is long enough.

We rode all the way to Hollenbeck park, enjoyed a Coca-Cola (with real sugar in a glass bottle!) and headed toward little Tokyo to enjoy Shabu-Shabu house.

We go to the Shabu Shabu House almost every weekend. The owner recognizes us and always is so friendly--he even gave me a delightful dose of manzai humor. It went like this:

Him: You bike here?
Me: (Observing that we usually have to wait 45 minutes to eat and but we were seated immediately) Yes! The event is going to get bigger so you will have more business!
Him: Oh No! (Complete with genuine concerned look)

Yeah, I thought it was pretty hilarious too.

Anyway, we ate quickly and got back on the route. But immediately there was more tension--there were more people being snide and talking about others around them. On girl even remarked that she felt on edge the whole time because it was so crowded.

As I dived west on 6th, I spotted a Bank of America, and I'd been meaning to get some cash. So I announced to Wil that I was going to stop. So I moved towards the middle and went to flip a u-turn.

That's when I cut off a cyclist going very fast. He was apparently passing me on the right and I turned in front of him. He hit my back tire and flew over the handlebars, landing in the street. I ran over and asked if he was alright, and profusely apologizing. He yelled at me that "Sorry isn't going to fix my shoulder".

I felt so ashamed and embarrassed. The cops made us exchange information, and he was generally a pretty good sport considering he had dislocated his shoulder. He joked that he was going to have to go to Prada to get a new suit (because his arm was now longer from being dislocated)

Anyway, my back tire rim was warped, so I was able to ride slowly to the next ride line station and hop on the train. I was silent and on the brink of tears most of the time. Wil knows me well enough to not try to talk about it, so we rode almost all the way home in silence. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed.

Spent most of the day after that feeling guilty, like a fool, for causing someone else in-advertant bodily harm. It took me a lot of time to relax and start forgiving myself. Even now I feel so embarrassed I don't want to ride anymore.

But then I remember the words that he actually said before he climbed into the ambulance: "Don't stop riding because of me". Because he wasn't mad at me and didn't hate me. He hated the pain he was in and that I'd been a bit careless, but he didn't want me to get afraid to get on my bike because of something like this.

So I am glad he said that. I pray that he will be understanding and will not sue me.

Anyway, CicLAvia is already to crowded on its current route. We've gotta have more room to fit all the people!


Ned said...

Not many blogs bring me to tears anymore. Your's just did. Good writing. Yes. Great story. Certainly. Nice to hear from someone who feels like an old friend even though we've never met face-to-face. Yes, that too. I'm so glad to hear from you again. Glad that you introduced others to this grand event. Sorry that you inadvertently caused pain. Glad you didn't kill anyone. Very glad that he was classy enough to give you such good advice, "Don't stop riding because of me." I don't know what it is about that line, but that's the part of your story that makes me tear up. Did it again just now when I wrote the quote. You're the story teller, you tell me why? Wish me luck this Saturday on the Salt Lake City Marathon Bike Tour. I'm going to avoid any U turns, I'm not going to even think about banking. You will definitely be on my mind, you and that guy they hauled away in the ambulance. ((( hug )))

Ned said...

Because of your experience, I was more vigilant that I otherwise would have been during the Bike Tour on Saturday. I am saddle sore and have a stiff neck (I am a stiff-necked man, which of course is not to be confused with a neked stiff man) but I am injury free and, to my knowledge, caused to immediate injuries. Thanks for being part of that for me.