Success (originally drafted 04/07/09)
Friday afternoon, a wake up and them jump onto the bike to ride down to San Diego. It was a beautiful afternoon, perfect for a solo jaunt down the coast. Arrival at ChIpPy's place was nice in that he and his lovely wife Dale (Yeah, Chip & Dale!) were the hosts with the most. They had a BBQ chicken dinner right off the grill waiting and a cold beer to boot. Their offer of couch space for this wandering bike freak and hospitality was most kind.
After a cup of coffee Saturday morning, I said my good-bye's to ChIpPy and Dale and then pedaled down-valley. Before dropping off of the mesa they live on, an eatery seemed to beckon and produced an inexpensive Machaca breakfast plate that was the goods. Down-valley and close to the convention center that was housing the San Diego Custom Bicycle Show, a stop for more coffee was in order.
Once in the vicinity of the convention center there were signs directing cyclists to the Bicycle Valet parking, which was being provided by the kind folks from the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. After parking, I ran into the first of many LA area cyclists I know, this particular character being the nefarious Rasta Raj. The day just kept getting better by the minute. I got to talk with a few people who I have wanted to meet and ask questions for quite some time, saw many familiar faces, make some new friends and even have a free beer that was courtesy of Velo Culture Bike Shop. I ran into a friend from the MTB world that I had not ridden with in a couple of years at Sendero Cycles and after catching up a bit he helped direct me to the Velo Cult booth for a beer. That's where I ran into Mark from Long Beach who I had coordinated
a ride back up to Anaheim with in lieu of taking the Amtrak Surfliner. Mark had been there a while and had perused the convention center already, so we looked around a while more, ran into a few more friends, then departed.
Since Mark had been so cool in offering me a ride back up, I asked him if he wanted to stop at Stone to let me buy him a beer and lunch. While there, the infamous Mountain Bike Bill and one of his sons joined us for a quick visit while we were in their neighborhood. If you've not been to Stone and are contemplating going, stop contemplating and GO!
After getting dropped off, the UNC/Villanova game was on and the Tar Heels were victorious, allowing them to advance to the NCAA Basketball Final where they ultimately beat Michigan State. Having lived in NC over nine years collectively, it's hard to not be an ACC Basketball fan.
Sunday, the icing on the cake that was the weekend. Being greeted with a tailwind for the ride over to the Anaheim Train Station was a good sign to get things started. Once on the train, I got to ride up with Dave and Fred who were already on board. Union Station LA, we picked up a couple more riders and moseyed over to Chinatown Station for the Mike Vincent Benefit/Ride. As the crowd grew larger, the meeting of friends old and new grew right along with it. Eventually we all threw our legs over our trusty steeds and pedaled off into the streets of Los Angeles to show solidarity for one of our fallen comrades.
The ride was purely social, as intended. The multitude of ongoing conversations throughout the pack during the ride was phenomenal, with the conversations changing gears, something most of our bicycles were incapable of. A few rally-ups happened, along with a stop to eat at a Whole Foods and/or the farmer's market at The Grove. After the halfway rest and food, other planned stops were eschewed in favor of beelining back to Chinatown Station for the raffle.
The raffle raised a sizable amount of dough for Mike V and it seemed like nobody walked away empty-handed. Some walked away with a ton of swag and others won full BMX bikes. My fortune entailed winning a cap, lip balm (which came in handy after standing there and thinking I needed some), t-shirt, BMX DVDs, and a light set. I'd never won anything in a raffle before, so it was a pleasant surprise.
During the raffle, it was discovered that Kenny and Matt were riding back from Chinatown. Since we had not ridden together in quite some time, it was a no-brainer to just ride with them. After saying good-byes, we headed into the East LA evening. Traffic wasn't too awful and once the light of day left us, the lights won in the raffle came in handy because I hadn't brought any. Kenny and Matt had originally intended to ride to Bolsa Chica for a party, but changed their minds about Downey. After dropping Kenny off in Norwalk, Matt and I would our way over to Anaheim.
The final success of the weekend was awaiting me at my place. After starting up the stairs, I look down at the obnoxious doorslammer's apartment and it was almost empty. The hell that was the worst "neighbor" I'd ever had the displeasure to live adjacent to had become a thing of the past. Yeah, success.