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12/19/2007: "English Weather"
I had my first real rain ride of the season today--though I'd ridden in the a couple of times rain a few weeks ago, it was not very far; today I went out to South Pasadena to meet with Velo-Retro's Chuck Schmidt, jawbone a while, and pick up some T-shirts he'd printed up for us, and then later to meet (at Buster's Coffee, Chuck's favorite South Pas hangout) Claude Willey, an artist and analyst of matters sustainable who also has one of the longer bike commutes around.

It was misting when I left, which I never care for, as I wear spectacles, and while rain falls, and so a visor is able to keep it off my lenses, mist floats, and no visor works well at all. But off I went, and by the time I got to Silverlake it was raining hard enough to switch to my rain cape, and to keep most of the rain off my glasses.

Much of the route I ride to south Pas is, to put it mildly, charmless, consisting of bad roads and worse buildings, cinderblock and stucco predominating, with gray, beige, and dingy white the favorite colors, but rain, like night, gives even the wilful banality of Los Angeles a certain vividness and feeling of life. And of course it smells good too.

bambina_rain (66k image)It was a nice ride to Buster's, followed by hot chocolate and conviviality, a genuine pleasure, heightened by the view of my Bottecchia, the Bambina, waiting outside for me, with my helmet shielding her saddle from the rain.

finally, around two o' clock, I saddled up and headed to downtown and the garment district to check up on hats and a couple of other projects.

Downtown was spectacular in the rain. In part this was because I had arrived there just as a particularly brooding mass of cloud arranged itself behind the rooftops and skyscrapers, but partly it was because the twin rows of tall Art Deco buildings blocked what little light sifted through the clouds and gave the wet, bright streets an aspect of dusk at half past two. Add to that the neon lights of Broadway, the jagged reflections of head and tail lamps in the lightly-spattering rain, and the cool air wet and sweet in the lungs, and you had a vivid sensual gestalt.... One of my most pleasurable trips downtown, even if the factory was running late with everything!

And it pleases me to report that even here, in LA, at Ground Zero of Carmageddon, land where they grow excuses to drive for the stupidest reasons, I saw lots and lots of people out on bikes in the rain! Not just messengers and delivery riders, not just the poorest of the poor who can afford no other vehicle, but working and middle class folks out getting somewhere on their bikes.

So it was a day that gave me hope as well as pleasure.

A good round day. Thirty-eight miles in the rain, and all of them good miles in many ways.


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