Increasing mobility

Sunday, April 04, 2004, at 06:13PM

By Eric Richardson

For the last few months I've been stuck walking. Six months or so ago I took the wheels of my skateboard, realized the bearings were shot, and promptly neglected to go buy new ones. A month or two after that the front wheel got stolen off my bike, leaving just me and my car.

In the last 24 hours that all changed. Yesterday, driving from Santa Monica to Venice to get a little C&O's (heh, little and C&O's should never go together), when I realized I was passing ZJ Boarding House, which is where I originally bought my board almost three years ago. A quick stop there and suddenly my skateboard situation was looking a whole lot brighter.

Then today I dropped by the REI Store in Manhattan Beach and picked up three boxes of stuff I had ordered online. In the boxes were an REI Morph Tent, a set of Continental SportContact tires, a Deore X221 front wheel and a nice light Delta Mega Rack. Tomorrow morning I'm going to pop over to the bike shop at the end of the alley (less than 100 yards from my apartment), buy tubes, and get them to install the tires for me. Then, just like that, I'll be back in the business of mobility.

I set up the tent in my apartment tonight to check it out. First impression? Very cool. It's a 2-person and not super-wide, so if you're sharing it with someone you better want to get close, but it's not like you'd be sleeping on top of each other either. The length is great. Definitely room for me to lay out and still have room at the end for a pack. The whole thing fits in a really small package, and weighs in around 5 pounds. I didn't try putting out the footprint or raincover, but the tent itself was really easy to put together.

This was my first real experience with REI, and I came away very impressed.