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07/21/2008: "Hoedown at Hel-Mel"

Watching the chaos.

Ines Brunn relaxing.

Next year's hero.

Sunday was the Bicycle Film Festival's annual block party at Heliotrope & Melrose, the LA "Bicycle District" corner that is home to Orange 20, Pure Luck, Scoops, and the Bicycle Kitchen, all of whom sponsored the event.

Though publicity was a bit lacking this year, resulting in a smaller crowd than usual, a crowd there was--a couple hundred happy cyclists arriving throughout the day on fixies, cruisers, road bikes, BMXes, MTBs, Xtracycles,and just about everything else that had two wheels and pedals, including a tallbiek or two, and a couple of ancient rustbuckets that were well beyond identifying. Kids, too, a couple of whom engaged in modest versions of the tricks performed by their pierced and tattooed elders!

Ines Brunn, of YouTube fame, was there with her glitter-clad fixie, doing the dance-like acrobatics that have won her fame, and clowning around on a BMX bike before her show. It was a typically spectacular performance, as anyone who has seen her can imagine.

Unfortunately, the vegan biker brew pub Pure Luck was closed for the day, having suffered a peculiar accident when a drunk driver veered onto the sidewalk and smashed into their portside picture window--apparently late at night, so no one was hurt, but it left us without any means to assuage our hunger but more ice cream at Scoops! (Tai Kim of Scoops, a Cal Arts graduate, is the undisputed world master of ice cream, both milk- and soy-based.) The accident also left us few options for the soothing of our thirst--a pal handed me a Budweiser, which reminded me why I am an unprepentant beer snob. Liquid cardboard!

Patrick Miller, aka Trickmilla, spun the turntables with his usual mastery, and various laddies and ladies hit the asphalt (sometimes literally) as they showed off spins, skids, and jumps. Various friends cruised by--Chuck Schmidt, John Vu, Patrick, Brian, Patty, Derek, and more--and I spent a good half hour inside Orange 20 talking with Jim C., one of the finest folks in LA bikedom.

Unfortunately, though this time, I had remembered my "real" camera, I hadn't remembered spare batteries to replace the ones that died halfway through the fun. I did manage to snag the shots you see to the left....

I had to leave early anyway, so I missed the stem-humping competition--oops, I mean skidding contest--as well as the trackstands (which always leave me jealous, as my own trackstands have a somewhat drunken quality to them which unfortunately I don't require booze to induce), a lot more music, and the evening revelry, but it was plenty good to see the bikes and feel the comradeship in a tiny slice of an LA street given over, if only for one afternoon, to humanity instead of cars.

And all day long more bikes poured in through the street barricades, singly or in groups, smooth and silent in the sun, building up a lot of bike love in LA on that sunny Sunday.

It happens every year--don't miss it next time!

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