Venice Beach

In los angelenos, stateside, travelling on December 4, 2010 at 9:27 am

So after the low-key trauma that is Vegas, I head back to LA and this time I’m staying down by the coast at Venice Beach. There’s a bike rental/repair place right on the corner, so after I settle into the hostel, I’m outside building the bike up. Intent on getting on it and seeing what else is out down through the sand.

Whats down through the sand is a long winding bike path, which follows the coast, right down to beginning of the PCH, and is populated by skaters, bikers and rollerbladers. I’m enjoying the leisurely nature of the ride, nothing too fast or hectic, just turning the pedals, feeling the coastal breeze on my exposed skin and the warming sun on my shoulders.

It’s all good.

It’s not so good when I wake up the following morning to go and watch the football, Brazil get dumped out by Holland, in an ugly game they should have won, Dunga’s defensive tactics and squad selection leaving him hamstrung when the game starts to slide away from him.

I’d had to leave the bike locked up outside the front of the hostel, as the girl on reception had told me that there was  no place to lock it up inside. It’s the first time this has happened and I’m perturbed but, I’d double locked it, and hoped for the best. So on awakening I’d sneaked a peek at the lamp-post the bike was locked to and fuck yeah, it’s still there, and I’m off to the footie without a fear in my heart. It’s only when I return and have a closer look at the bike do I realise that the seat post, seat, and seat post clamp have been stolen. And its only later as I mutter to myself upstairs that I realise that I can replace everything else easily enough, but just not the good luck charm you may remember me buying in Japan. Which fucks me right off.

I really do want to put my fist through something, and the feeling only gets worse, when I inform the girl on reception about the theft, and she responds that they have access to a secure lock up inside their sister hotel just a couple of blocks down, where I could have left my bike overnight.


I calm myself, and after getting the locations of a couple of bike shops, I wheel the bike down the street to find replacement items, how difficult is it going to be? Well more difficult than I’d originally anticipated. Not so much the seat post, or the seat, which is piss easy to find, it’s the seat post clamp that takes longer, most of the rest of the day longer, especially as I have to push the bike to where I need to be. Because I’m not attempting to ride fixed with no saddle.

Most of the bikes I’ve seen out by Venice Beach have been big unwieldy beach cruisers, curved Schwinn frames and big pneumatic tyres, ugly things, hella ugly things, only good for pootling along at just above walking speed, so it’s no wonder I can’t really find a seat post clamp which is the right size for the travelling bike. I’m still confused by why someone would want to steal my seat post clamp, well why someone would steal my seat and seat post at all. Do they think it will fit their bike? Is it a ruse to make me abandon the bike so they can come back cut the chains and be off with the rest of it? Has someone done it to them and they are returning the favour? Do they think they can sell it for any sort of money?

I’m left shaking my head at this, but the deed has been done and I tramp from one bike shop to another, for the better part of the morning and early afternoon, encountering as I do so some kids on a skateboard and a fixed conversion, which has a weird sized spoked front wheel, which the kid riding it informs me is a wheelchair wheel.

You couldn’t make this shit up.

Finally I find the right sized seat post clamp and with that sorted and seat and seat post angled flat, and at the right height, I’m back in the saddle and rolling again.

The days roll along and as I ride around more I start to like Venice, it’s a bit sweet and sour, oil and water. There’s a definite divide between the beachfront and the vagrancy, down and outism, tourist wanderings and the streets further back and in, where there is a nice neighbourhood feel, kind of bohemian and middle class, it’s quite a contrast. 

I spend some time over at the skatepark down by the beach, watching the kids drop in, with their elbow and knee pads, and the adults, trying to grab some real big air, in their extra long shorts and headphones, stuck deep into their ears. And for my enjoyment their’s a couple of off the peg fixed bikes parked up as well. In my time on the west coast, Pavlovian like the sound of skateboard wheels over concrete, that chukka, chukka, chukka makes me happy. West coast and skateboards become entwined, and the sight of man on a long board leisurely rolling down the street, or a younger dude pushing energetically on a shorter board ollying on and off the kerb, brings a smile to my lips. I even spy a man who has eschewed the board altogether and just straps the trucks to his feet in a kind of minimalist rollerskate way and sidewinders along, legs scissoring to get him going.

Loving the taco trucks, that appear on street corners and outside, bars and clubs late at night, Aram said I should eat as much mexican food as possible, and I’m doing my damnedest, and it is so much better than the stuff we get over in blighty. Weightier, more filling, and infinitely spicier. Each burrito, quesadilla, and taco is a drooling delight. It’s a nice contrast to the kebab shop on the corner that I’m used to, the mobility, the ability to pop up anywhere is great, the food comes to you, rather than you to it. Might see if it’s possible to import the idea into london, would save a shit load on overheads for a start..  

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