Biking in Flats

Remember riding your bike around the neighborhood when you were a kid? My most fond bike riding memories are of our neighborhood in Plano, Texas. We lived near Plano East Senior High in a time before heroin and strip malls and housing developments took over the area.

We rode to school, around construction sites, over cattle grates and turtles (the lane dividers not the reptiles). We’d stop off at the convenient store for Laffy Taffy and then head to the dirt mounds. I don’t recall ever getting tired. We went home because the sun went down, not because of exhaustion.

Oh how times have changed.

Here’s the thing about me. I want to BE in shape. I do not want to GET in shape. Isn’t there a machine that can make that happen for me? Is that what Pilates machines do?

I do enjoy riding my bike. She’s adorable and I love her. Most often it’s neighborhood jaunts to the Trader Joes or a friend’s house or along the beach or the LA River bike trail.

On Saturday tho, Biking in Boots and I decided to try something new. We turned to a book called Bicycling Los Angeles County and headed out to the area surrounding Huntington Library.

You would think I would have noticed I had two flats, but I didn’t. Nope. Not until we arrived at the starting point. Luckily there was a gas station nearby.

Neither one of us wore boots on this bike ride. I wore black flats. Foreshadowing.

So we finally got on the road and the book weaved us around the neighborhood, bringing back memories of those childhood bike rides. At one point I mentioned hiring some neighborhood kids to lead us around so we could quit stopping to look at the book. But who am I kidding, I needed those breaks. I blame the altitude.

The area we rode through was hit hard by the wind storm a couple of weeks ago. And there were still branches everywhere.

If you know me in real life, you may know that I love looking at houses. Maybe it comes from all of the moving around. Or living in developing neighborhoods. I spent countless childhood hours exploring and playing in houses that were in the process of being built.

I wish more neighborhoods participated in Holiday Open Houses or whatever they used to be called. Like when a whole street decorates their homes and opens their doors and you get to walk through? There are so many houses I would love to see the inside of.

This particular neighborhood featured some doozies.

It’s blurry because I was riding while taking pictures and clearly need to get better at that activity. The house is dark, which doesn’t help…but know that it was large. And fancy.

This is the part where S was yelling “I’m Lance Armstrong!” and I’m realizing I can’t brake properly and take a picture at the same time. Talk about extreme sports.

PS Hills?! TOTALLY different as an adult. Sure the downhill is still fun and exhilarating. But the uphill? Buzzkill.

I like the way the guard lion is looking straight ahead like he doesn’t see me. Must be British. This house was incredible, with gardens and grounds. It looked deserted to me. And ubes fancy. Again. Let me in!!

An example of the directions we were following. We would memorize like four or five turns and then have to stop and look at the book. That was the only annoying part of trying to follow the route. Sometimes we would do what we thought was right, and then look at the book when we had no idea where we were. And then we would downshift a cog. (?)

Ok, so I was REALLY convinced that this was Hillary’s house from Beaches. You can’t tell in this picture, but that big huge window in the middle is stained glass. Just like I remember it being in the movie.

Anyway, the house had two gates and one of them was open. It was too tempting. I couldn’t get a good picture through the fence. So I headed down the driveway. There was a row of trees so as soon as I cleared them I tried to take a picture and instead almost bit it on my bike. My shoe (a black flat, remember?) slipped off and went flying. I collected it and went back to the street. I hated that I had left without getting the picture tho so I went back. And went further. And took this blurry picture.

I imagined the gates closing and being trapped, but at the same time also imagined it being a really nice old person who would regale me of stories about renting out their house for filming. You know, over tea. And after a tour.

Long story short too late, I looked up the address when I got home and it wasn’t the house from Beaches at all. As it turns out, tho, Hillary’s house wasn’t too far away from where we were, but unfortunately (acc to Google Earth) it seems to be surrounded by trees and not visible from the street.

Needless to say I was neither arrested nor did I befriend an elderly person with an affection for trespassers.

Bike. Truck. Trees. Traffic. Magic hour. The ride home.

While perusing the bicycling book, I came across a piece about the steepest street in LA. Lo and behold, it’s not too far from our hood.

The picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s a 33% grade. And much scarier in person. We didn’t drive up or down it. Apparently each year they have a contest to see if anyone can ride their bike up it. Judging from my hill skills earlier in the day, I’m going to volunteer to sit that challenge out.

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One Response to Biking in Flats

  1. Pingback: The Great Debate…in my Head | Biking In Boots

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