You know that exit off the highway that you would have no reason to get off or that part of the city that you only drive through on your way to your final destination? You know that corner retail lot that has the right mix of crappy fast food joints, dry cleaner, liquor store, UPS and that family business that's been around for way too long - you just can't comprehend how they're still in business? 9pm, on a nondescript Wednesday, what's happening over on that parcel? Who gathers there?
A rag tag bunch of cyclists stroll up. one guy cycles up from the south side, two fellas roll over from the west, a disheveled older gentleman walks his bike over from his car and I mosey on over from my perch. It's little Filipino, due east of K-town, west of Downtown. This happens every week, you have to know about it to know about it. The agenda here is to ride, capture 30 miles of LA quietness, find the alleys you've never heard of and explore the dark side of the city.
Headlights off as we enter Kenneth Hahn state park, a mountaintop that's smack in the middle of Los Angeles. There are live oil rigs working day and night - beautiful machines of steel bobbing themselves into the earth capturing the black liquid gold. This town was once farm land and oil fields - what's become of it? We ride silently, in the dark. Only the churn of sixteen wheels and the calm breathes of eight men climbing a nine degree incline - who are these men? As we reach the top, we see the flickering lights of the city below us - waves of light splashing our eyes as the radiant lights from the city bob and weave around the rising heat. It's past midnight - kids have been put to bed, grandparents have left their rocking chairs and cars on the road have dissappeared, so we take the lanes.
There will be mechanical casualties. One guy pops a tire; the veteran has every tool in the bag to fix it expediently. My chain comes loose; four greasy hands tend to fixing the derailleur. We keep on riding through the night. We trespass. Moving quickly, we want nothing more than to explore every inch of this city, every path, every hill. Our fearless leaders prepare the ride a day before and trace it by laying down a preparatory run of the next evening's fate.
It's the passage ride my friends. You have to experience it to understand it. Every week, for seven years straight, always a new route, same staple of guys with cameos who come and go. Ride names like "Crazy Eights" and "Exactitude in Science." From 9pm until Midnight finished off with a California Donut. Try it - experience the underbelly of the city on The Passage of a Few People Through a Rather Brief Moment in Time.