It was on a sunny L.A. morning when I blasted down the hill at 9:10 a.m. on my way to a sound stage in Culver City on my trusty Workcycles bakfiets.
Emily Finch and kids in the “Fiets of Parenthood” event supported by Clever Cycles. Image: Bike Portland on Flickr.
Emily Finch, a Portland mother of 7, was going to be on the Ricki Lake show. Emily had gained some well-earned notoriety for powering around 6 of her kids (the 7th rode along next to the crew on his own bike) in a Workcycles bakfiets just like mine. She is all of 5’4″ pedaling 350+ lbs. of bike(s) and kids around the streets of Portland. Bike Portland did a story on Emily a few months back and she is has become a personal hero-bike-mom to many (myself included).
I saw Emily’s tweets a few days earlier about her upcoming trip to L.A. for the filming of the episode and I had the fun idea that she should have my bike be a stand-in for hers.
Ricki Lake’s Twitter people loved the idea and it was hastily announced that Ricki would go for a spin in the bike with Emily pedaling.
I made it across town (about 13 miles one way) in a little over an hour. Downtown, as those who ride through it know, killed 40 minutes of riding time. Once I got to Exposition, it seemed like I was in Culver City in what felt like a few minutes.
There is a reason a train line was placed on Exposition! It is dead flat. With the new black top and very small amounts of traffic, certain sections are like a bicycle freeway. Well, like a freeway but without the noise, without the pollution, and no deadly crashes.
With that praise out of the way, I have to say: the Expo bikeway is like a bad date. It shows up late, disappears at odd and dangerous intervals, and never really connects with your needs. Better than nothing but, sheesh, can we at least have some signs that say “You’re on yer own now buddy!” instead of just flinging bike riders into traffic like that?
I pulled up to the studio gates and was shown the sound stage. It only took four or five hours for Ricki Lake to make her appearance in my bike. During that long stretch of time I had a chance to lay down (minor back injury) behind her stage and listen to another episode get filmed about teenage pregnancy.
When the moment finally came for Ricki to hop in the bike I was beside myself: cell phone pictures or my old point-and-shoot? Agh! She’s here! Too late! Press every button!!!
Damn! They’re gone.
Emily Finch is a 1,000 Watt light bulb of a human being and she, dare I say it, tore around the studio lot with Ricki Lake faster than I thought my bike could travel. I got it back in its hardest gear – a gear I only use when the bike is empty and I’m going downhill.
The ride back was a let down – back to work, slogging through DTLA. I made the best of it with a stop at CBS Seafood in Chinatown for some take out dim sum (that Dim Sum Ride knowledge can come in handy!).
The big reveal? The payoff? Check it out below:
I don’t think the phones will be ringing off the hook, but that sure brought a smile to my face. Well worth the sunburn. Emily, you can borrow my bakfiets anytime!
The episode Emily was asked to be in was an “Extreme Lifestyles” show. She was on with a hardcore coupon clipper, some sky diving people, a woman who dominated competitive eating contests, and one of the guys from Jackass. That didn’t seem right to the people out here in cargo bike country, so one of Emily’s friends started a Flickr group to show how “extreme” cargo biking around an American city, or a megalopolis, really is (i.e. it is not extreme at all and is, in fact, quite safe and fun).
You can check out the collected images of cargo bike life in the group “Extreme is the new normal“.
While I ride my Workcycles bakfiets (and I love it!), we haven’t been able to get their excellent bikes in our shop (yet!). However, we do sell some awesome cargo bikes! At the moment we’ve got a two-wheeler like mine from a Dutch company called Babboe. We also have a Christiania cargo tricycle from Copenhagen, Denmark. If you’d like to try out a cargo bike, or are looking for some advice, stop by the shop some time!