Sunday, August 2, 2009

All hail the Flying Pigeon, the Orange 20 of the Eastside

Yesterday my wife and I headed over to the Flying Pigeon Bike Shop an 3174 North Figueroa Street (two doors down from the Bike Oven) to picket out the cargo bike that will be the primary form of transportation for me and Samuel in a couple of months. The shop's owner, Josef Bray-Ali is no stranger to anyone that knows me well whether it be as the guy with the baby in the bike co-op Streetfilm or as the firebrand poster ubrayj02 at Streetsblog. What we discovered in the past two days is that he's also a heck of a bike shop owner.

When we arrived, I had already decided I wanted the Flying Pigeon's bucket bike, aka the Bakfiet Light as we were referring to it, but Josef insisted on walking me through all the steps. His "sales pitch" included offering me a ride on his bigger, sturdier, and heavier Dutch Bakfiet, a bike that he doesn't sell, and walking us through a series of Extra-Cycles. However, despite his best efforts to get us to buy from someone else, we held firm and got ourselves our Flying Pigeon Bucketbike (which Marybeth and I have already named Bessie).

Un-happy with the state of the bikes in the shop, Josef decided that before he would let me pedal away he had to give us new tires, a tuneup, straighten the rims, and do all sorts of little adjustments. I should also note that in the time we were in the shop yesterday and today Josef was fixing rims, selling tires and even the I Bike LA shirts.

After the bike was ready to go today, he put me in touch with a stenciler and had me out on the street. Let me tell you, riding a bucket bike brings to unique experiences versus riding on Gunpowder. First, people stop and stare at you. I had a couple of kids that recognized the Charlie Brown shirts from a group ride and rode next to me asking questions for awhile and one of the "purple shirts" downtown chatted me up.

Second, it's a lot like riding a tank. The route I took from Flying Pigeon to my house was 11.2 miles, but I felt like I had finnished one of the longer loops on the River Ride. I've got a lot of riding to do in the next couple months to build up my leg muscles to get ready for the kiddie taxi routine I'm planning in 2010...

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