Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gang Land

By the name of this post most would assume that this blog is about a ride that took me through some of my old neighborhoods, and then maybe some others like East L.A. or Frogtown. But no. This ride took me from my adopted home in Burbank to the beach in beautiful Santa Monica and back. The reason I chose the title I did is due to a phenomenon I've noticed over the past couple years of riding around Los Angeles and it's connecting suburbs.

Gangs in Los Angeles, and every where in the world for that matter, have always made themselves conspicuous by sporting colors or uniforms. The Bloods and Crips are the two most obvious examples. Gangs are also typically very territorial, protecting neighborhoods and cities as if they were the underground's stormtroopers.
In Los Angeles, and other places in the world I would assume, cycling clubs do the same things. I ride in lots of different areas in L.A. My cycling footprint goes as far east as Pomona and San Dimas and as far west as the land will allow. I've also traveled north up the coast as far as Oxnard. Through my travels I've run across many different cycling clubs, all with different kits. Each club has a different and distinct look, and each of these clubs seem to be centralized in a different geographical area. The Club that sticks out in my mind the most, and probably because it's the first one I had an experience with as a cyclist is Amgen. Amgen has a very distinct white and red kit. although the graphic usually varies, the black "Amgen" type stands out from the white and red, making it almost impossible to ignore. Along with it's distinct looking kit, they also have a very distinct geographic footprint. With the exception of one or two Amgen riders who I see at the Rosebowl from time to time, Amgen riders almost exclusively stick to the areas surrounding the Santa Monica Mountains. They dominate the roads, and if you find yourself climbing Mulholland drive you should expect to be passed by at least one of them, as they are typically exceptional climbers.

Amgen is not the only club. The Westside, including Brentwood, Santa Monica, and West L.A. has La Grange, (from whom I collected many less than kind stares in my PAA kit today). The Pasadena area has PAA with it's Red and Black, or Red and Blue, kits branded with a massive bull. Mulholland has the Hollywood guys with their black and purple, and Griffith Park has the Dope Peddlers. Despite the coolest name, the Dope Peddlers have the dumbest looking kits that should only be worn around Halloween. There are a couple clubs I've seen out east whose names I can't remember, but their there. What's more annoying than anything is the inter-club antics that ensue when one club rider ends up in another clubs stomping ground. Perfect case in point: today.

I try to wear my PAA kit whenever I ride. I'm extremely loyal to the club and I'm proud to be a member, regardless what my friends at Bicycle John's say. I cover a fair amount of ground, but I don't show boat. I get out, do my ride at my pace and that's that. Today was no different, except for the fact that I felt really, really strong. I made my way out of Burbank, through Griffith Park, up Mulholland and down Sepulveda and San Vicente to the beach in Santa Monica. As I was heading south at what I thought was a reasonable pace on San Vicente, I was attacked numerous times by La Grange riders as I passed them. I would pass fairly quickly, they would accelerate from behind and pass me, then slow again. What's the deal? All I'm trying to do is get to the beach before my calves explode, I'm not trying to have a race. What is this macho posturing and why do you insist on doing it. Look, don't bother, you're not going to impress anyone so just stop trying to make people think that you run shit because you spent 10k on your Pinarello and your shorts match your jersey. It's not that big a deal. I could feel the resentment being left being thrown around on the road as I headed back up San Vicente after a short break. I came across a large group of La Grange guys and passed them. Not a big deal, again, I was feeling strong and I was setting a pace that was challenging for me. But there was definitely some judgment from the peanut gallery as I passed "well, somebodies showing off" Yea I showed off, showed off my middle finger as I left them at the light at 26th street.

Next time I ride to the beach I'm going to pack my shank eh homie? Just in case some of those foools try to step.

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