Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rainbow Rich in the Swish Alps

Several years ago a truth about attempting those things that may seem unusual, outrageous, ambitious, or ridiculous emerged for me: Either something great happens, or you walk away with a good story. Getting out of one's routine or even realm of reason, almost always makes for good pictures or good copy. Sometimes both.

I love riding my bike. I love it so much, sometimes I make S curves, weaving back and forth and singing that Bicycle Race song from Queen. I know, sounds pretty gay, but seeming gay never stopped me from much. "Much" includes dancing ballet in college, being the only runner in the conference to warm up in tights, on successive years being "Peter Pan" and "a sailor" for Halloween, or hanging out in gay bars.

All can be reasonably explained. For example, Ballet gets you into nothing short of incredible shape, and there are tons of girls there and not many other guys. The other guys? Let's just say 3 dollar bills come to mind.

As for the tights, they really are better for warming up, and being the best runner in the conference the other guys couldn't really talk shit. Halloween had more to do with easy/borrowable costumes (really, I was trying to be Frank Sinatra from New York, New York), and as for the gay bars...you try getting your gay friends to go anywhere else. The price of hanging out with them, which isn't that high since gay bars usually have great energy, a hip crowd, and I somehow almost never pay for drinks. Believe it or not, not a bad place to meet girls.

It's easy: Charm the shit out of them to the point they are thinking "OH MY GOD THIS GUY IS SO GREAT IF ONLY HE WERE STRAIGHT" (women only think in caps, the international font of irrationality) and then you ask for their phone number. They spend a moment with a confused look on their face, then next things you know they are rattling off numbers like a bookie on payday.

But I digress.

I made myself get up early Saturday to ride. Not knowing much about good rides in LA, I relented on my aversion to bike clubs in a quest to learn new routes. I found a good ride out in REdondo, but an afternoon appointment ruled out me getting there and back in time, so I had to find something closer.

5 Google minutes later, I found Different Spokes, a club in West Hollywood only 5 minutes from my house! Awesome! The ride up into Bel Air and down into the SF Valley was listed as hilly and difficult, so I figured only hard core cyclists would be showing up. Well, what makes these Spokes so Different? They are more hard core than the other cycling clubs? They only let in Native Californians? Could it be...They ride topless?

Nope, DS is the gay and lesbian cycling club, the only one in SoCal, and thus different from all the rest. They also had a ride starting right near my house on saturday morning with a route I wanted to learn, so ridin' with the queers it is!

A challenge of group riding is the difficulty in finding group that is just right for you. Typically, a group is too fast or too slow, or won't shut up about Bit Torrent protocols (cycling can attract a bit of a nerdy crowd). This was on my mind as I arrived to a group of 4 other riders, 2 on mountain bikes, and an old guy in that "if the 5 grand I spent to lose three pounds off my bike could do anything for this 35 pounds of extra gut" stage of riding. I realized it would be a slow day.

The very friendly group leader Steven gave directions and kept the group together and having a good time. Everyone was very nice, but we didn't exactly go, well, anything but slow. I did learn a great route up in Bel Air (I swear I passed the house from Entourage) and when we got to the top there are some beautiful views of California Oaks, the Stone Canyon Reservoir, and private tennis courts built off of what must be, judging from their size, gymnasiums. I guess Bel Air-yans (try that one out loud) must really like to work out.

Once everyone caught up, we spent a few minutes enjoying the view, when Richard (henceforth Rainbow Rich, you won't have any trouble spotting him in the picture) suggests we take a picture, for the club website. He sets up his bike and asks us to gather around. I cringe out of both reluctance and comic anticipation. His bike is Gayer than a bathhouse screening of "All About Eve." But who am I to ruin the fun? They are letting me hang with them, so I get in position and smile.

Right before snapping the picture, RR tries to get us to smile and sings "say GAY!" To which I COULD NOT help myself but respond "Uh, I'm pretty sure your bike already says it for us" which thankfully drew laughs from the other guys and not bitchy glares and gossip.

Thanks to Different Spokes for welcoming me along and providing both decent copy and a photo that will insure I never forget nor need to unconvincingly explain myself at a later date. I would write more, but I only have 51 weeks to sew 5,000 sequins on my Elton John costume.

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