We were rushing for the border. Day 3 and we were crossing from The Netherlands into Germany. And yet, our Dutch friends never ceased to amaze us. This museum sign is literally in the middle of nowhere on some back country road. Since of our hurry we never did get to check it out. Lucky for me, the internet let me have a second chance. PS, my friend biked all the way to Budapest, this being his only faux injury. No poles with museum signs were harmed during the taking of the picture.
The crash museum website:
Growing up as a big fan of hip hop I recognized the name Crenshaw Blvd as I pulled into the parking lot of a small strip mall on the corner containing a bank, a Chinese restaurant, a KFC and something that was either a laundry mat or an old folks home (hard to tell). The street’s name was synonymous with gangsta music to me with images of 2pac riding by in a Cadillac, screaming profanities at the 5-0 and Eazy-E playing bones on the corner with his homiez. I didn’t relate to that life style, no, and never tried to emulate it all too much (I did have a FUBU shirt, that was multicolored and glowed in the dark…I wore it once). I admired the spirit behind the music, the unabashed enthusiasm, a window into a world I didn’t know. I wasn’t interested in “the struggle”, “the hustle”, “the grind” or anything else political, economic or social relating to the music, I was infected by the fat beats and the stories from a place that was as far away as Mars.
So here I was. After biking through the pretty arty streets of Malibu, and catching the Bohemian vibes and reefer induced rhythms of Venice Beach, 20 minutes or less away, I was smack dab right in the middle of my musical oasis, something I had heard of countless times, but had never thought would ever live up to it’s hype. But with everything, that music describes no just a place, but a time, and a right exact time to be exact.
I had met up with my friend in Santa Monica and she was showing me around the city for a few days. Chance had it that I really needed to use the restroom. My friend spotted the random parking strip and pulled in. As I stepped out into the humid air, the glint of the blue, swinging sign with white lettering above the intersection caught my eye immediately. BAM. There I was. Crenshaw. I took a deep breath. My friend waited in the car, gave me the thumbs up. I looked around. Just an average intersection in a big city, nothing too special. My first choice for bathrooms was the Chinese restaurant. Nope, no English and no bathrooms for non-patrons. Wasn’t too keen on entering the non-descript purpose buildings, men stood at the window staring out like inmates shoved into a holding cell that was too small to do anything but be squeezed against the caged walls, eyes bulging towards a dissipating freedom. So it was KFC.
And how gangster a KFC was it? It actually was! I entered into a stark room. There was no open counter, no waiters with smiles to greet you, just a two way glass wall with small slots in it. It felt like I had entered the visiting centre of a prison. I approached the glass, not knowing where I was to address, I started into my own reflection…..”Hello?”
“Hello, welcome to KFC, can I take your order?”
“I just need to use the restroom, please”
Click. Click. Clackity. A door, appeared out of no where.
I braced myself, I expected a flickering fly filled single florescent bulb highlighting all the murky, gut wrenching details of all types of matter. Quite the opposite, I could eat, say, a popcorn chicken, off the ground it was so clean. Crenshaw, a real mind fuck it was, but I am so glad that the bottomless Mimosas had kicked in and I had to stop and see this shit hole to most, but this childhood fairytale to me.
Um. I love you Germany…but not for this. Not. For. This.
This post is for anyone who has driven down the coast or ridden via the 101. The 101 has gone through many different stages and this is one of them. The current road in California at this point goes through the valley. This more treacherous and scenic portion was closed the vehicles years ago and now used primary by Camp Pendleton near San Clemente to test tanks and as an emergency runway. When it’s not being used by the military the path is the perfect bike path on top of a large mountainous sand embankment along the shining bright blue ocean. Cycling the path, I saw some version of a futuristic looking helicopter take off and land several times. Before leaving the base, I stopped at the near to the barracks Micky Ds, eating among staff sergeants, corporals, majors and some very big and you don’t want to fuck with privates (tee hee).
I have a point and shoot camera from 2008. It has no bells and whistles, barely turns on due to constant inhumane abuse and takes meh pictures. It does shoot Macro. For non-camera people, macro makes details kept in focus while the background looks out of focus, giving the image a depth. With my camera if you want to achieve this you have to go really, really close to the subject.
These are my subjects. It’s a hot, sweltering day in California, just outside one of the various Spanish Missions that were set up throughout the state in the 18th century. My eye caught these little critters milling around, seemingly aimless, around their hole of a home. Dare I? I dared. Holding my breath, because that for sure will defend me from their painful bite, I jumped into the centre of the melee, making sure as to not crush any of these vicious pint size red bullies. SNAP SNAP SNAP and dash, I was down the dirt path, faster than it takes a Canadian to name all the US states (if he can…I sure can’t). Did I get a good shot with my camera that is Lumiere Bros not certified. You be the judge. Was it worth it? Well, the tyke tourists and school students who weren’t too keen to learn the history of the place, sure did have a snicker at the Jesus like fellow running with quarterback speed in no apparent direction. Happy to be of service.
My name is Ira Cooper and this is the first post, of many, for Each Mile, a blog and episodic travelogue about my experiences, trials and tribulations in inexperienced, world bike touring.
Why do I say inexperienced? Well, when I decided to bike from Vancouver to Mexico last year I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I hadn’t biked more than probably 30 km in a row. Down the coast wise, that wouldn’t even get me out of this country. But that was the plan, down the coast, for two months. The consequence of doing so, a mere after thought probably processed at the American border where I was greeted with the I 5 and 20 km headwind.
“Why” is what psychiatrists and court room drama show viewers are most interested in. But what they aren’t too keen on is “I don’t know” as the answer. As I look back on it, I make up a plethora of logical sounding reasons; I wanted to prove that I could do it, I was bored. But really, to be dreadfully honest even if it doesn’t give you that tantalizing soundbite to make you want to follow my writing discourse, I really don’t know why I did what I did. What I do know is that from day one, biking was shot carelessly into my blood and everyday I fiend for a fix.
In February I bought my then unnamed black stallion. She cost me $220 and a not for profit bike shop, Our Community Bikes (http://pedalpower.org/our-community-bikes/), which is a wonderful place that everyone should check out if they want to learn, fix, indulge in bike-y-goodness. I attached a flashlight to her, some paniers, a sleeping bag and towels, a tent that a borrowed from a friend and never returned, snug to the back with of my steed with bungee cord. Since I wanted film as I travelled, I also brought a ridiculously heavy backpack with additional supplies. I didn’t really understand what clipless was, so bike shoes were out and Lugz were in. By day two, my spandexy, bulge inducing biking shorts started their new residency on the side of Chucknut Drive, just outside of Bellingham.
I had a GPS that made sure I was going in the right direction and a few tools that I had no idea how to use. On March 16th I was off. Go Pro? Go Handheld (another thing I realized I probably shouldn’t have done). The first few episodes I tried to make the show kitsch with a “hilarious” intro. Hope you enjoy Episode 1 of Each Mile: