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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Midnight Drag Race

You can tell what someone cares about by looking at what they do when they could be sleeping. For many in Los Angeles, including myself, at times that is cycling. There are two types of sleep deprived cyclists, those who get up early to ride, and those who stay up late. The early birds are typically in better shape, have expensive bikes, and are riding for fitness as well as fun.

But the late night cyclists have their own culture. The Los Angeles bike culture is definitely an underground culture. This is because their is a more dominant worldview that is at odds with the bike scene. The city was very much designed for driving cars. Unfortunately it has long ago reached a point where it can not sustain the number of cars that are being used on a daily basis. Because of the bad traffic and high cost of gas in Los Angeles, more and more people have turned to cycling.

One of the most prominent groups that have risen up in recent years is known as Wolfpack Hustle. This cycling group is a distilled and concentrated version of the late night cycling culture whose primary goals are to promote cycling and have fun doing it.

The Wolfpack Hustle hosts three main events each year and they have grown exponentially. Originally they began as a completely underground, unofficial get together for fans of biking in Los Angeles but have since gotten so big that they are officially sanctioned by the LA police (usually through the volunteer efforts of officers who also enjoy cycling).

The most recent event was the Midnight Drag Race. This is probably of all the events the most entertaining to watch. Taking place at midnight and lasting late late into the night, the contestants race along 6th street until the fastest man and the fastest woman emerge victorious to claim the coveted dog tags. Basically it is a big party all on two wheels. In addition to the high end or customized racing bikes, there are also variations of every crazy bicycle design that has ever been dreamed up.

These events also seem to attract creatively talented people and always has a lot of great media surrounding them both in video and photographs. Many of the cyclists in Los Angeles feel a little like the underground church in Rome. They are often persecuted and hated in the streets just for being a part of something that they love and that they believe can actually benefit Los Angeles. There are often cases of road rage involving hit and runs with the drivers of the cars never being pursued or prosecuted in any way. It is true that the cyclists in LA are not above reproach themselves and many behave just as badly as the drivers, but not all are the same and most cyclists, including myself strive to go out of our ways to be safe and courteous riders. Because Los Angeles needs cyclists more than cyclists need Los Angeles.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Rancho Park Archery Range

What are you doing next Saturday morning? Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm. I see. Well let me tell you what you should be doing next Saturday morning. Shooting things with a bow and arrow. One of my absolute favorite “insider tips” for a great way to experience L.A. is the Rancho Park Archery Range in Cheviot Hills. What makes it so great? Because it combines enjoying the outdoors, being a part of Los Angeles history, the low low price of free, and its a lot of fun.

The Rancho Park Archery was initially founded to accommodate the 1984 Olympic Games held in L.A. Los Angeles won the opportunity to host the 1984 Olympics basically by default, which interestingly is also how I plan to someday win an Olympic event. At the time the only other city interested in hosting was Tehran but they had a lot going on at the time and backed out. Despite the fact that much of Eastern Europe was boycotting that year, the Olympics set a record at the time for most nations participating, and the archery course itself was the site of the first ever paraplegic olympian to compete when New Zealander Neroli Fairhall was the first paraplegic Olympian at any Olympic Games, coming 35th in the Women's individual event.

Now you too can become the greatest archer that you or your friends knows. Every Saturday morning at 11AM there are free introductory archery classes which include free use of the equipment. The class is basically a safety class with some actual shooting instruction. Once you have completed the class you are able to come back to the range and shoot during any of their open shooting times. According to the website they happen on Saturdays from 9:30am to noon, Sundays from noon to 3:30pm, and for the more experienced, Wednesdays from 6:30pm to 8:00pm.

There is no rental fee, which is great. However they do take donations which go towards the upkeep of the course. I recommend bringing a couple of bucks to alleviate any guilt or peer pressure you may feel when faced with 12 year olds who are not only better shots than you but who also put $5 in the donation box.

The archery course is located in the back of the park next to the bocce court (yet another reason for visiting). The mandatory introduction class starts at 11am on Saturday mornings, however, it fills up rapidly. The first time that I went, it was already full. I actually recommend getting there about an hour before the class starts and putting your name on the sheet. Once you’re on the list you can go play bocce, have a picnic brunch, or hang out at the park until the class starts.

You can find all of the information including, times, directions, and more at the LA archery blog.