[Chapter 1: Downtown, Los Angeles]
The term ‘nightlife’ has a different meaning to each individual and recently we looked to define it for ourselves. We headed up to Los Angeles, where the city always lends a unique experience. No matter how many times you’re there, each instance brings something new.
For some it’s the energetic pace of a night club, others a cafe paired with a cup of coffee and their favorite novel, some enjoy the calm presence of close friends at an upscale dinner gathering. Our definition seemed a mixture of many, which revealed itself throughout the night. A new experience indeed, as we became
midnight riders (not to be confused with ‘Midnight Marauders’ by A Tribe Called Quest, great album though). We were able to view LA at a glance, going from the sidewalk to the street in a zig-zag through downtown, taking in the city at face value, and most of all enjoying the ride.
Speaking of riding, we had some help from our friends John and Sterling of Phantom Bikes, San Diego. A humble gang of guys we had the pleasure of running into, their creations an adaptation of a simple idea for commuter cycles, with a smooth twist. After showing us the ropes of riding on our Racer and
Bobber cycles, the Midnight Riders were ready. With our tanks topped off and our heads clear, we set off at full throttle. With the crisp cold air of Fall in our faces, we rode up and down a few streets first getting accustomed to leaning and twisting on our cycles. Downtown proved quite appealing at this time of
night, the streets once filled with hustle and bustle, now completely deserted. With a set destination now in our mind, we rode towards 2nd street, to a long awaited, iconic, yet hidden landmark we have only read about until now. It was time to head underground.
Approaching Bunker Hill Street, we realized we had arrived at LA’s renowned 2nd street tunnel. Even at 1,500 feet long, it just didn’t seem to be long enough. Nothing is as captivating here as the mixture of green and orange hues against the neutral concrete. Hollow echos of the night interrupted by the sound of our 4-stroke engines blaring at full throttle, roaring something menacing through the aluminum exhaust tips.
After some spirited cat-and-mouse riding, we killed the engines halfway through the tunnel where we posted up to enjoy again the silence of the night. There we conversed about our first night riding experience of this kind. Being a 4-wheel auto restorer and enthusiast myself, it was exhilarating to have a similar feeling on two wheels.
The tunnels were quite empty that night, much different from the multiple packs of fixed gear cyclists usually lounging and riding around this time. Though there were no complaints about having the area to ourselves. I couldn’t help but hear one of my favorite tunes by Miles Davis echoing through my head as if being played in surrounding hollows.
Round Midnight – Miles Davis
Prepared for any type of terrain that night we were honored when presented the opportunity to debut the return of the Lounger Boot courtesy from our friends at LL Bean. A vintage, leather-toughened piece with a simple design we find useful for walking, pedaling, and simply riding. A necessity for moving around the city at our touch-and-go pace in any season. After reflecting on the sturdiness of both the boots and our cycles, we continued our midnight ride heading toward our final destination.
Quietly tucked outside of LA’s Business District are a few paralleling streets known as “Little Tokyo”. Just as it sounds, a town directly influenced by Japanese culture. As we rounded 2nd street onto 1st street, there was almost a feeling that we had left Los Angeles in the rear view mirror.
Alongside the modern architecture and traditionalist ways, we’re quite a few hungry locals and tourists alike waiting in line for a chance at their favorite Japanese cuisine. Riding down 1st street, the scenery appeared like something out of a vintage Japanese film, something like Akira.
One particular ramen shop, Daikokuya drew us in with the vibrancy of the yellow sign out front. The youthful chatter of our surroundings assured us we had made a good choice. We soon found ourselves immersed in the sounds of conversation, reminiscing on our pervious journeys.
After a long night of riding even into the early morning, a generously portioned meal was exactly what we needed. A chance to share a few laughs about some of the humorous happenings that night. Also speaking our appreciation for a newfound definition of nightlife and those we were able to meet along the journey. With some more riding to be done, we bid “Arigatou gozaimasu, dewa mata ne!” (Thank you, see you again) to our friends at Daiko.
Soon after we broke the definite silence of downtown Los Angeles as we rode off into the midnight.