Sunday, October 15, 2006

Stair-Master and Commander

SILVER LAKE/ECHO PARK, CA - Last week Urban Trendsetter and local activist SurviveLA took second place in category in a race to the top of the US Bank Tower, the tallest building west of the Mississippi.

The race offered participants the opportunity raise money for a good cause (the Ketchum Downtown YMCA) while testing their mettle against a huge-big-ass-urban-myth-sized stairwell.

Not to be outdone, Mr. And Mrs. SoapBoxLA entered the “Thus Climbed Zarathustra” half-alleycat and two-quarters cyclocross race/ride to raise money for Orlando Godoy, a local messenger recently injured in a bike crash with an automobile that resulted in hospitalization and surgery.

Organizers promised participants that they would see Echo Park and Silver Lake as it has never been seen before and they were true to their word. It sounded like a great bike race and it was.

It was a mildly overcast day with a wee bit of a chill in the air, great weather for a race through the neighborhood. A motley assortment of cyclists gathered in Silver Lake with an even motlier assortment of cycling machines. Road-bikes, mountain bikes, stripped down single speeds, loaded down commuter bikes, even a single speed tall-boy, bikes of all persuasions.

As it turns out the single most important advantage that any bike offered its rider during this race was, quite simply, its ability to be carried up stairs. Lots of stairs. Lots of sets of stairs. Ten sets of stairs spread throughout Echo Park and Silver Lake turning cyclists into carryists or urban Sherpas.

Within minutes of the start we had circled the Silver Lake Reservoir and were running up the Cove stairs, stairs of sufficient number that I honestly gave thought to retiring. We kept on and pedaled past Fargo Hill, which looked relatively benign and non-threatening today. And I never look at Fargo Hill that way!

The ride was plotted by Sadists and the stairs at Swan serve as the damning evidence. Three sets of stairs, one right after the other, left riders rubber-legged and wheezing for the descent down Micheltorena for…two more sets of stairs!

Mr. And Mrs. SoapBox finished last overall but upon examination it was discovered that the Mrs. took first in the Beautiful Hungarian Women’s category and the Mr. took first in the Overweight Australian Men’s category.

Swrve Cycling Apparel and Orange20 Bikes both provided swag for the winners and, for a moment, there was a touch of envy in the air as the winners took their prizes. Then the simple glow of knowing that simply completing the journey was a victory in and of itself settled in. And we've got the spokecards to back it up!

And so, while we are quite proud of SurviveLA’s performance in the “Stair Climb to the Top” we really must ask, “But did you carry anything up those stairs?”

We look forward to riding with SurviveLA and all our friends soon.

For more info on rides such as this, check out, sign up for announcements at and remember to represent by joining the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition at

No comments: