IN MY OWN COUNTRY I AM IN A FAR-OFF LAND
I AM STRONG BUT HAVE NO FORCE OR POWER
I WIN ALL YET REMAIN A LOSER
AT BREAK OF DAY I SAY GOODNIGHT
WHEN I LIE DOWN I HAVE A GREAT FEAR
- François Villon
(epigraph to Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels)
And on that moonlit Friday night in midwinter the Riders of Bicycles took to the streets. Cheer had been provided at nominal cost by the House of Spirits. A little after ten, with considerable whooping and weaving and flickering of safety lights, to the honking of cars and jealous gaping of onlookers, they pedalled north from Echo Park, by the hundreds -- estimates ranged from five hundred to a thousand total, from various corners of the city, some helmeted, others festooned with feathers and backpacks, at least one in formal dinner attire, another in white zoot suit bearing his lady upon a handlebar-mounted throne. Traffic signals were disregarded, trajectories interrupted, the flow of motorized vehicles brought to a standstill. Drivers had no choice but to wait, to idle, to watch -- as over the great Los Angeles River the bicycles rolled to Atwater and Burbank, across the railroad tracks to the Glendale Galleria and to that city's famed Brand Avenue of cars, there to be escorted back to the city limits by a significant show of local police. A helicopter surveilled from above. Arrests were made. We were told the charge was "riding on the sidewalk."
Back in Los Angeles law enforcement seemed to have its focus elsewhere. A dense fog crept inland off the Pacific Ocean, collisions occurred with pavement and moving vehicles, and gravity was generally found to have an effect upon momentum and unity and even hope for the future. Some gave up, others pressed on.
Wrote Jillian Tate in her glowing account: "The Ride Friday night was the biggest mass bike ride I've ever seen. It was compared to rides in SF and NYC, and some people said it was the biggest ride L.A.'s ever had." For more chills, spills, hills, etc., read Will Campbell's increasingly sour account on bici blog.
Note: other unidentified sources claimed to have enjoyed themselves all the way through the steep climbs and the foggy darkness at the end.