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03/28/2009: "Nice Idea, But...."
Friday, after taking care of numerous chores in the morning, I did not go home but pointed the bike southwest towards, of course, the beach. My friend Bill and I usually meet at the Bridge at Playa del Rey on Fridays, watch cyclists ride by, talk over the state of the world, the usual stuff.

This time the Bridge was a wee bit more crowded than usual, in that three separate hordes of "youths" came riding by in what appeared to be an organized (if in name only) ride: kids from around 11 to around 14 years old, all wearing the same T-shirt, with the legend "College Bound" often visible.

Good idea, of course; no quibble with that. No quibble either with getting them on bikes and shepherding them down to the ocean. The kids were a mixed batch: black, white, latino, but all had an inner-city look to them. A good project.

But I wonder whether they were having fun, because it was obvious that no one had put any thought at all into this bike ride, beyond getting a bunch of bikes and some ride monitors.

There was a stiff wind blowing in from the Pacific, and every last rider in the three hordes, "youths" and monitors alike, was sitting bolt upright on an old beach cruiser with handlebars wide enough for the heaviest motorcycle. Parachutes, every one of them, grinding gamely against a headwind....

To make it worse, no one made the slightest effort to fit these bikes to the kids. Every single rider I noticed had the seat far too low for comfort--in some cases well over a foot too low. So there they went, grinding away at the miles, wind in their faces and their knees rising up to their elbows as they rode.

I'm glad kids are resilient, because it couldn't have been too comfortable, not at all. I hope they won't judge cycling by their Friday experience. The judgment might be very grim indeed if they did so.

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