It’s been quite a while since we last spoke, and it has been an eventful half a year. My family moved around quite a bit when I was young, but I spent junior high through high school graduation in Simi Valley, California. I left for college in Texas, but pretty much every job search since I graduated, I’ve included Los Angeles on my list of target cities.

Twelve years or so later and I’ve finally hit the jackpot with my current employer. They were kind enough to bring me out to Santa Monica for an interview, and ultimately they made me an offer that made it feasible to return to a place that’s closer to home than anywhere else I’ve lived.

At the same time, it’s very different than I remember. Simi Valley is a good thirty miles out of Los Angeles proper, and I spent more time sitting in my bedroom listening to Nine Inch Nails and The Cure than driving into the city when I last lived here. So my current experience of the city as an adult, living in Westwood (near UCLA) and working in Santa Monica, is very different from what I remember when I was young.

Paradise Falls

Wait a second, aren't we in a desert?

At the same time, a lot of what I loved about the area when I was younger is as I remember it. My favorite weekend activities when I was young were riding my bike from Simi Valley into Moorpark or Northridge, and hiking in the hills surrounding Simi. We’ve returned in Simi once, but have made it out to several other trails in the surrounding hills. For such a populated metro area with such high real estate prices, I’m amazed by how much open land there is in the hills. It really is beautiful here.

Bicycling was definitely a bonus in Florida. A1A running along the coast was essentially a beautifully scenic, nearly trafficless and traffic light-less ride for as long as I could go in either direction from Boca. The coastal routes near where I live here aren’t quite as bike friendly as A1A in Florida, but I still find this an incredibly bikeable city. We’re certainly not Portland, but the weather here is nice enough that I can ride my bike in to work every day, and I’m rarely honked at riding in traffic. Also, for as spread out as this city is, I feel like things are much closer on a bike than they feel like in a car. I’ve made it from my house down the coast, east to Hollywood, Silver Lake, Chinatown and Downtown, and though I’m not quite feeling up to it yet, there are hills to the north to tackle someday.

The Centurion needs fenders, a better fitting rack, and leather bar tape.  Someday...

Rebuild still in progress.

The bicycle community here is so much better than Florida. There are the same road/triathlon bike shops we had in Florida out here, but plenty of other types of shops as well. Plenty of places to buy beach cruisers, fixie specialist shops, and even places that carry bikes I’ve drooled over but never been able actually see in person. Orange 20 carries Surly, has a great selection of urban bikes, longtails, and just a massive selection of bags and panniers. Flying Pigeon seems to be the place to go for the even harder-to-find stuff. So many bikes there I need to find room in my budget for. The Pashlery Roadster is just ridiculously gorgeous, but I think it may be the Gazelle Cabby that’s in our future since we’re expecting a son in August.

In the meantime, I’ve taken advantage of the active Craigslist used bike section. I bought a late ’70s/early ’80s Centurion road bike that I’ve been working on the last few weeks. LA has several bike repair co-ops that have tools and repair stands they rent out at a reasonable rate. The closest to me is the Bikerowave, and that’s where I’ve been doing my rebuild work on the Centurion. The co-ops are great for those of us who don’t have room in our small places for bike repair stands or tools.

But I suppose I’ve rambled on enough, and I haven’t even made it to the wonderful food, the great music that makes it through here, the friendly people… Suffice it to say I’m very happy to be back.