‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house…

December 25, 2012

…not a creature was stirring, not cyclist, Corgi or spouse.

A happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.


The 1st Annual BikingInLA Holiday Spectacular!

December 24, 2008

FADE IN:

MARVIN BRAUDE BIKE PATH — NIGHT

Palm trees along the bike path are swathed in twinkling lights, as the Santa Monica pier sparkles in the background. There’s a magical feeling in the air, as holiday music floats gently on the breeze.

It’s Christmas Eve.

A lone cyclist pedals up the path. Since he usually rides during the day, there are no lights or reflectors on his bike. So taking his cue from this guy, he has wrapped his bike in low-wattage LED Christmas lights. And in honor of his wife’s side of the family, he has cleverly attached a menorah to his handlebars as a headlight.

Unfortunately, the candles keep blowing out.

He hadn’t thought of that.

SFX: SLEIGH BELLS

Pausing to relight the candles, he briefly scans the sky…nothing.

SFX: SLEIGH BELLS SOUNDING CLOSER

Up ahead in the distance, a very large man appears, slowly passing through the glow of each streetlight as he drawsnearer, struggling to pedal his overloaded bike down the trail. He is dressed in a red suit and cap trimmed in white, politically incorrect fur, with a large messenger bag full of gifts slung over his shoulder.

He is sweating profusely, and anything but jolly.

BIKINGINLA

Santa? Mr. Claus?

SANTA CLAUS

Yo.

BIKINGINLA

The Santa Clause? Kris Kringle? Père Noël? Father Christmas?

SANTA CLAUS

Look, I’m on a schedule here…

BIKINGINLA

Oh. Sorry.

SANTA CLAUS

Name?

BIKINGINLA

BikingInLa.

The fat man pulls a pair of lengthy lists out of his pocket, scanning quickly until he spots the right name. Brow furrowing, he narrows his eyes as he considers the other cyclist.

SANTA CLAUS

You’re the wise guy who asked me for a dreidel back in ’87?

BIKINGINLA

Well, I…

SANTA CLAUS

Had to retool the entire production line for one lousy toy. Cost me countless elf-hours in lost productivity.

BIKINGINLA

Sorry.

SANTA CLAUS

Next time, take it up with my brother-in-law.

BIKINGINLA

Your…?

SANTA CLAUS

Hanukkah Harry. Mixed marriage, you know?

BIKINGINLA

Yeah, I know what that’s like. So, um…where’s the reindeer and stuff?

 

SANTA CLAUS

It’s this damned economy. Bank cut off my line of credit, so I had to make some cuts. Something about a flawed business model.

BIKINGINLA

Yeah, I hear that a lot these days.

SANTA CLAUS

Sure, I lose money on every toy, but I make it up in volume. And once I get the new Cyber Santa 2.0 online…

Anyway, I had to outsource production to China and let the elves go. And fuel costs got totally out of hand — I mean, have you priced reindeer kibble theses days? So I traded the sled for a new bike, and turned the reindeer over to an animal rescue. Except for Blitzen.

BIKINGINLA

Blitzen?

SANTA CLAUSE

After the layoffs, some of the elves went on a hunger strike. Man, you do not mess with a hungry elf.

BIKINGINLA pauses, visibly struggling to get that image out of his head.

BIKINGINLA

Wasn’t there anywhere you could turn? If they can bailout GM…

SANTA CLAUS

Yeah, right. Billions for the banks. And not a penny for the little guy.

BIKINGINLA

Or the fat guy.

SANTA CLAUS

(GLARING) That’s going on my list.

BIKINGINLA

(CHANGING SUBJECT) Uh, cool bike.

SANTA CLAUS

Yeah, got it in China. Call it a Flying Pigeon.

Doesn’t, though.

BIKINGINLA

Bummer, dude.

SANTA CLAUS

Think I’d know better than to fall for clever marketing at my age. Should have gone for something faster, or least designed to haul a little cargo. I got a lot of miles to cover tonight.

BIKINGINLA

Speaking of which, don’t you have something in that bag for me?

SANTA CLAUS

Don’t push your luck, kid. You barely made the good list as it was. One more single digit salute to a passing driver, and you’ll be lucky to find a lump of coal in your stocking. And we’re not talking clean coal technology, either.

Besides, you already got your present. Just be careful what you wish for.

BIKINGINLA

What’s that supposed to mean?

SANTA CLAUS

Passing the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights was the easy part. But it’s another thing entirely to turn all those pretty words into paint on the street, or change attitude of law enforcement.

I’m afraid your work is just starting, my friend.

BIKINGINLA

Okay, but what about that other stuff I asked for? You know, like peace on Earth, and all that stuff?

SANTA CLAUS

Hmmmph! Little over my pay grade, isn’t it? Besides, you don’t want peace on Earth.

BIKINGINLA

But…

SANTA CLAUSE

You just want other people to stop fighting. If you really wanted peace, you’d keep those damn gestures to yourself. And try turning the other cheek the next time some jerk cuts you off.

 BIKINGINLA

(EMBARASSED) Yeah.

SANTA CLAUSE

So stop being such a self-righteous cycle jerk, already. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a few billion deliveries to make.

Santa slings his bag back over his shoulder, and slowly starts pedaling down the path, muttering under his breath. He pauses briefly, turning back to gesture towards his own eyes with two fingers before pointing at BIKINGINLA, as if to say “I’m watching you.”

He resumes riding, pedaling faster and faster until at last, his Flying Pigeon rises up from the pavement and soars through the sky. As he disappears into the stars, we hear him shout a final farewell.

SANTA CLAUSE

Oh, and happy Christmas to all and all that. And to all, a great ride!

FADE TO BLACK

Best wishes to all for a joyous holiday season, and a healthy, happy and prosperous new year!


These are the times that try a cyclist’s soul

December 19, 2008

Don’t get me wrong. I love the holidays.

But every year, I promise myself that I’ll stay in shape and keep riding through the holidays. And every year, something gets in the way.

Like couple years ago, when I had more work than I could possibly handle and not nearly enough time to do it. Or last year, when I was recovering from the injuries suffered in the infamous beachfront bee encounter, and under strict orders not to exercise until after the 1st.

This year, it’s been a combination of things.

From a couple weeks worth of on-site work that kept me tied up for the first part of the month, to physical therapy sessions to overcome the last lingering effects of my injuries from last year. Not to mention the recent — and predicted forthcoming — rains. As well as the need to place yet another toll-free call to Bangalore to wrestle with Earthlink’s technical support over my recently intermittent internet service, which has developed the nasty habit of simply ceasing operations every few minutes.

And then, of course, there are the myriad demands of the holiday’s themselves. For instance, this would have been a great day for a ride. A little cool, perhaps, but certainly better than riders elsewhere have to contend with this time of year (although discretion could come into play at some point).

Instead, I find myself digging out the steam cleaner, and taking another pass at reviving the carpet our landlord should have replaced years ago, before the relatives pop over for Christmas brunch. That follows a few days of excavating and erecting holiday decorations, and scrubbing the tile in the kitchen and bathrooms to remove the wax that makes it look clean and shiny.

I realize all you single guys are wondering why I would go to such trouble. But anyone who has been married understands that the motivation lies less in cleanliness than with continued connubial bliss.  And that the first stage of ensuring a happy holiday season is ensuring a happy spouse.

And that, in my case, means clean floors.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that I’ll get out on my bike next week if the weather allows. If not, as the primary pastry chef in our extended family, it will provide the ideal opportunity for a little holiday baking. Because it’s just not Christmas without a plateful of cookies tempting you into a week’s worth of caloric intake in a single sitting.

And I may take some down to the alley behind our building, along with a few extra coats and blankets. Because, as much as I may miss riding right now, I know I’ll be back on the bike soon. And as hard as this year has been, there are a lot of people who are a lot worse off.

Including some whose only form of transportation is a shopping cart.

 

The perfect gift for those kids who can’t decide whether to ask Santa for a bike or a pony — if you don’t mind the risk of psychological damage that could keep them in therapy for life. Stephen Box reviews the year in transportation, and calls on the city to actually live up to the recently passed Cyclist’s Bill of Rights — particularly the requirement for an educated police force that understands and respects our rights. After a number of near-misses, Will succeeds in his one-man canine rescue. Timur starts a conversation about why S.F. got it right when it comes to cycling, whereas L.A. got it so very wrong. And everyone seems to be talking about L.A. Magazine’s exploration of the local bike culture. Maybe once Christmas is over, I may actually get a chance to read it.


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