For the next 8 months or so I’ll be travelling pretty regularly to LA for business. This trip I tried out 2 new things: 1) Staying at a B and B that’s in downtown LA, a mile away from the glitter, glitz and glamour part and 2) Bringing my Brompton along.
The Inn at 657
Staying here is like staying at a relative’s comfy old house. There’s a slight musty smell in the sitting room, as if the furnishings have spent time in storage (or maybe a junk shop). A snack room is outfitted with a fridge and microwave. Upstairs are 5 bedrooms, each with a private bath, complete with tub and shower. My room is clean and smells fresh. The furniture is old and attractive the kind your aunt might have had if she had enough money for quality furniture but not enough for fancy. Extra framed pictures are sitting on the floor , as if that imaginary aunt had more pictures than she knew what to do with and just left them sitting there until she figured it out. After a while she got used to them there and she never did anything more with them.
The B&B comes complete with a chef who fixes a delicious breakfast, made to your preferences. You sit at a dining room table downstairs with any other guests who have chosen the same breakfast time that you selected. Options are 7:30 and 9:30 on weekdays.
Patsy, the owner, accommodates special food requests, and suggested I keep my Brompton and it’s travel case downstairs in the snack room. She also steered me toward some nearby options for neighborhood restaurants, and cautioned me to be careful as LA drivers “aren’t used to cyclists.”
I like this B&B. It is comfortable, quiet, conveniently located and provides individualized service. It’s likely that I will stay here again.
Biking By Brompton in Downtown LA
This trip was the first test of my Brompton’s hard sided travel case. I sold the soft B-bag when I found that using it practically dislocated my shoulder. Ok, I am exaggerating. A lot. But it did hurt my shoulder and back.
The hard sided case is more expensive and definitely heavier than the soft bag, two minuses for it. A third minus: it’s awkward to pick up and has just one handle. Another on one of the sides would be useful. One more to be aware of: it somehow chewed up the back of my Brooks saddle. Lesson: cover the saddle with something protective. The pluses are 1) it holds the folded bike with a bit of room to spare. You could put clothes or accessories in it; 2) you can roll it comfortably and easily; 3) it meets airline’s checked bag size and weight limits; and 4) I imagine it gives the bike more protection. So, an equal number of plusses and minuses. For me the most important is the fact its not hurting my shoulder or back.
Knowing I would be commuting on the bike, I used my C-bag as a carry-on. It is surprisingly comfortable to carry and fits well under an airplane seat. I brought lights in case of nighttime riding, which hasn’t happened as I am on Eastern time still and exhausted at night. I didn’t bring a helmet because there was no good way to carry one.
Oh, and I flew Southwest, perhaps the only airline that doesn’t charge when you check a bag. Also the only airline I have flown in recent years that does this astonishingly civilized thing. If your flight is delayed, they hold the connecting flight until you arrive. I ❤ Southwest.
This was my first time to commute by bike while away from home. In a word, it was great. The C-bag easily held what I needed for the day: some papers, a Macbook Air, my small purse, a bottle of water, my phone. I set out at about 9:15 a.m. for the 2.5 mile ride to the office. I had chosen not to bring a lock on the trip, reasoning the bike would come inside with me if I stopped anywhere. Had I wanted to pack the lock, it would have fit in the case just fine. I would have padded it carefully to keep it from damaging the bike.
My Brompton got admired twice along the way, once by a woman who walked up to ask me about my “cute little bike” and once by another cyclist who thought my bike was “cool.” I saw all sorts of bikes on my ride but no other folders.
Rush hour was over so traffic was relatively light. At times I had signed bike routes, at others marked lanes just for bikes, or for “Buses only, bikes ok.” Each of these pieces of bike infrastructure was choppy though and tended to start and stop abruptly. At the final half mile, my until then flat commute showed some spirit and became quite hilly. Thus I arrived at my destination sweaty and breathing hard.
The ride home at 5 pm was bit harder, as I was in the thick of rush hour. It turned out I couldn’t retrace my route exactly as Figueroa, the street I’d ridden in on was one way in the wrong direction, something I had not even noticed in the morning. Intrepidly I rode to the next street and turned right on it. I have no sense of direction whatsoever and so hoped LA is laid out with its streets perpendicular and parallel. Luckily for me it is, at least in that area. I eventually rejoined Figeuroa, cleverly doing that where the street was most congested. Signed bike route or not, I didn’t feel safe and so for about 1/4 of a mile I rode slowly on the sidewalk.
Later on I walked the short distance (less than half a mile) to a nearby cafe. Customers had brought their full size bikes inside, so I certainly could have brought the Brompton.
This is a short trip. I return home tomorrow afternoon, and since I depart from the office, I will have to take a cab to transport me and my luggage. It was a bit of hassle to bring the bike, but worth it even for just a little riding. Next time I come I will be here for a day longer and will certainly bring the Brompton along. It was a fun way to commute, and it got me a little exercise as well.