Now that the Errandonnee is over & I got off my tuchus to fill out my Control Card to be official, I’ve had some time to reflect on the experience. I’ve been in LA for just over a year now & went from riding almost every day…to almost never. Sure, part of that is I live Downtown (DTLA for the hip & happening) and most places I go are within a mile or two of home, so I just walk.
But the much larger part is that BOY AM I NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE, TOTO! Portland is such a bubble of bikeyness, it’s easy to forget that other cities don’t have the infrastructure to support biking everywhere. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition & nobody expects you to show up on a bike in LA. The bike maps SUCK! They are incomplete & each agency that produces one uses different color coding to denote bike lanes, bike routes, etc. For example, LADOT Orange is a Bike Path & Blue is a Bike Lane, but for Metro it’s the opposite. And times I’ve given up on the map altogether & looked for lower traffic streets, I’ve found sharrows on streets that aren’t designated on the map.
The Errandonnee made me think about how I’d given up something I really enjoyed. And it’s something my dog, Mochi, loves too. He’s good for about 4-5 hours in his basket (with water/pee breaks, of course) before he gets restless. He loves the wind in his fur & his ears flying in the breeze. So instead of focusing on what I don’t have: bike lanes, bike racks, drivers who are familiar with bikes on the road…I’m focusing on the positives: SUNSHINE!, no more rain gear, fenders – who needs ’em?!, and best of all DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH FUN IT IS TO SEE SOMEONE’S FACE WHEN A DRAG NUN GOES BY ON A BICYCLE?!
I’ve ordered a San Francisco coronet for bike riding (every city or “House” has a different headpiece) since the Hoobie-Doobie is hell in a headwind or going faster than 15MPH. The Flying Nun takes on a whole new meaning. In the meantime, Sister Donna Vanewday in Portland sent me some loaner Ear Boobs that arrived just in time for CicLAvia. HURRAY!
I managed to get Sister Gaia Love (a recent transfer from San Diego, my new bikey partner-in-crime & AIDS/LifeCycle teammate) and Sister Barbie-Q (my fellow LA Sister & AIDS/LifeCycle teammate) to join in. Barbie had never ridden as a Nun before & we had a blast. Lots of photos, lots of “SISTER!” exclamations from people who know who we are & opportunities to explain it to others. MORE BIKING IN THE FUTURE! Adventure is out there!
The Sisters have formed a team for AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545 mile ride from San Francisco to LA that benefits an AIDS charity in both cities. Sunday was the LA party for “Ticket to Ride”, since each rider needs to raise at least $3,000 to participate. I was there more as a Sister than as a rider, since I haven’t raised enough money yet to earn my “ticket.” With only 10 weeks to go I don’t think I’ll be able to make that goal. Fundraising may be a part of what we do, but it’s not my strong suit. Selling raffle tickets or Jell-O shots is one thing, straight up asking for money is another. (But if you were moved to donate: Sister Leigh)
The party was in Hollywood, just off Hollywood Boulevard with the Walk of Fame & all the wild people it attracts. If you’re in to people watching – this is your place. 2,000 tourists, 10 Darth Vaders, 12 Spidermen, 2 Michael Jacksons & a partridge in a pear tree. So a drag nun biking by wearing petticoats & a Sister Bertrille hat…not a big deal.
I gave them a bit of a hard time at the event, since there was no bike parking. My cyclist rep’s response, “We didn’t expect anyone to ride their bikes here.” And that’s LA for you. Nobody expects you to ride your bike as a mode of transportation, even when it’s a party promoting a bike ride & you’ve invited 100+ cyclists. Fortunately, I’m prepared for this and have an extra long u-lock for securing my Nunmobile (7-speed step-thru) to street signs.
For years as part of the cycling community in Portland, whenever I had to tackle some bicycle challenge, I’d tell myself I was channeling my “inner Ed”. The first time I met Ed, we were all going bike camping to celebrate a mutual friend’s birthday & Ed was riding a cargo bike with a Rubbermaid container filled with urns of coffee and CERAMIC MUGS to take past our campsite to refuel some randonneurs. (It was probably even a single-speed bike, because that seems like a very Ed thing to do.) It was a crazy undertaking, but nothing is beyond Ed on a bicycle.
When it comes to being a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, I try to channel a different Ed. Ed Huser, better known as Sister Barbi Mitzvah, was a tour de force. I only knew Barbi briefly in Portland before I moved to LA, but she was an inspiration to me as a nun. There are Sisters with all different skill sets: educator, advocate, emcee, lightning rod, fundraiser, etc – and Barbi managed to bring all those things to the table & be passionate about being a Sister after more than 13 years. Ed’s sudden & unexpected death from a heart attack hit me hard, because it’s difficult to imagine someone so full of life without one. At the time, I was also struggling with my own path to Sisterhood. On a couple of occasions, I had seriously considered quitting. Then Barbi became one of our Nuns of the Above and I felt galvanized to continue and be the best Sister I could be. Sister Reva Lation asked the Portland Sisters to wear pink poppies to remember Barbi at a fundraiser they were holding shortly after Barbi’s passing. I liked that idea so much, I found a silk poppy, added some glitter (MUST ADD GLITTER), and have worn this on my Coronet ever since. It helps me to “channel my inner Ed”. Whenever I look in the mirror, I see that giant poppy and remember that you never know how you will impact someone else’s life. Even a brief interaction can make a difference.