From our Backyard to the Beach
CicLAvia was recently back in our neighborhood, and I was finally able to corral the whole family to join me for a CicLAvia experience! It was my third attempt to get the whole family going. For my first CicLAvia, it ended up just being Doobie (age 6) and me, and the second time I did it alone.
But my success this time wasn’t without hurdles. First, I had to explain why I really wanted to do this again and have the whole family along. Then, the night before, when I had finally convinced all to join me and had planned the day, we discovered my husband had a totally flat tire that was beyond just pumping at home. Luckily, a local bike shop replied to my email overnight and confirmed they could fix it upon opening. We were good to go, just a couple of hours later than planned.
We live only about a mile from the Culver City Meets Venice route so we were able to ride our bikes to CicLAvia. Ideally, we would have started in Downtown Culver City and explored what was going on there (Cirque du Soleil was offering the chance to create stop-motion videos, and we could have learned how to put our bikes on public bus bike racks just in case the need ever came up), but in the interest of compromise and time, we just joined the route at the closest point which was at Motor and Washington near Sony Studios.
Joining the route was much easier this time than last time when I was with Doobie. That time there was such a steady stream of people that it was hard to find an appropriate time to join. The crowd was much more spread out now. It was a relief. Before we knew it, we were on our way towards Venice and the beach.
The route went by Mar Vista Farmers’ Market. We stopped here for lunch and we were not alone. It’s a popular farmers’ market to begin with and now CicLAvia was here as well. We managed to park our bikes and eventually found food we wanted. Many vendors had already run out of menu items. The few that still had items available had long lines. We found an available picnic table and watched the bustling life around us which included a moving band and a variety of cycling vehicles.
Then we were on our way again as time was running out. It was already 2 o’clock, and our goal was to make it to Venice Beach for a swim and then return to our part of town before the streets opened up to traffic again at 4 o’clock.
Arriving in Venice Beach by bike along Grand Street was like coming to a party already in full swing. The VENICE sign hanging over the street was the perfect welcome sign. The large, colorful murals on the buildings added to the festive atmosphere, as did the Venice Art Walls full of graffiti art. Venice Boardwalk was packed. Anyone who was there who was not aware of CicLAvia going on was in for an exceptional experience.
Speaking of Venice Art Walls, one of the suggested things to do was to take a selfie in front of the CicLAvia mural at the Venice Art Walls. Sadly, by the time we got there, it was covered over by new art. There was just a sliver of it left. Can you spot it in our picture below? Below ours, you’ll see a picture from earlier in the day.
We didn’t have much time to dilly-dally. The beach called. The kids were thrilled to be able to play and swim in the ocean, so eager that they didn’t notice the signs that said “No swimming”. My husband and I didn’t either for that matter. But the lifeguards were soon there to tell them to move over since that area was reserved for surfers. No wonder there were no people in the water in that area when the rest of the beach was so full!
It was hard to get them out when it was time to head back home. We needed to get back to where we started before the streets opened up to traffic again. It turns out the streets didn’t really open up to cars again exactly at 4pm as we had read in event materials, but festivities and hubs along the route certainly were closing at 4. It worked out fine for us. Just a few minutes after 4, we pulled off the route and soon we were back home feeling very accomplished after a 12-mile bike ride.
Despite the slightly rushed feel and our shortened route due to our delayed departure, we had a blast. We felt a great sense of accomplishment having ridden our bikes from our home to the beach and back (12 miles total). And there was something really exciting about seeing so many different people from all over the city using all sorts of non-motorized modes of transportation, many even carrying portable boom boxes, all with the common goal of enjoying the open streets and exploring the neighborhoods along the way. It was like a never-ending community party.
At the end of it all, my husband even said he understood why I like CicLAvias so much, and that’s a great endorsement. Even he is looking forward to the next one, which is downtown in the “Heart of LA” on Sunday, October 18, for those of you who want to mark your calendars and join in on the fun.
A little postscript for those of you who don’t know what CicLAvia is… It is a dedicated time when certain streets are closed to cars and only non-motorized vehicles can participate. It is not a race, but an experience. You can join the route anywhere along the path, and there are hubs at the ends and in between with food and free water, entertainment and activities, bike repair and parking, and first aid stations. Every CicLAvia is a different route. Neighborhood guides are even published so you can learn about the communities through which you ride, roll, or walk/run. The first CicLAvia was held in October 2010, and CicLAvia: Culver City Meets Venice was the fourteenth one held in the LA area since then.