Back in the Saddle Again | Cycling in London!

Like I am with bikes, I dove right back in the deep end. I’ve been a fairly good patient these past 9 weeks, following doctor’s orders, babying that pelvic fracture to the point where I’m overusing the cane. But today I couldn’t take another minute of it. London had dried out, and I had to get from the Waterloo tube station to the Tate modern- a considerable distance for someone who’s supposed to be “taking it easy”.

There they were, proudly waiting right outside the station, whispering “take me! I’m yours! I’ll get you there swiftly, safely, and with far more pleasure than any other mode. take me, I’m free!” So I did. Got on a bicycle for the first time since April 6th. Wearing the same pants I wore that night too. In London, a city I was so terrified to ride my motorcycle in I’d only ride on weekends and usually at night or in the burbs. I’ve ridden in lots of cities, American and European, but the whole left side traffic thing makes it a little too exciting. Especially on a bicycle. One which I can’t be bothered to figure out how to change gears. And without a helmet. I felt safe enough cruising around Barcelona without a helmet, but there’s a lot less traffic there than London and it’s all on the right side. Perhaps it’s also that I drive/ride more like a Spaniard or an Italian than a Brit. It felt so wrong to be riding without a helmet and with only my purse for hi-viz, but London was good to me, and I also rode slowly on the sidewalks when traffic was too scary. Looking forward to getting the official go-ahead! from the Doc June 20th…

Now I’m near Silverstone, looking forward to volunteering with Riders for Health this weekend. More about that later…

Adventures Of a TT Groupie

Just like the first time I rode on the back of a motorcycle, it’s not so much that I want to be around people who have them, but that I want one for myself. Same goes for the TT, even though I’m here for the first time. I’m going as a tourist and journalist, to witness the electric bikes make history, and help my brother celebrate his birthday. But I’d rather be flying through the air, 200 ponies between my legs, slamming back down to earth only to tip the bike into a sharp bend up ahead, then to fly along the Mountain as fast as I possibly dare. This all-out speed on the world’s deadliest racetrack is my idea of a good time.

 

But that’s not gonna happen this year, and honestly, I’ll probably never be fast enough to qualify for a TT race. Someday I will ride the TT course, but likely not in competition. This really shouldn’t be the year for that even, as my collarbone persists in being detached and the doc persists in forcing me to use this infernal cane. Because I’d rather be a gimp a little longer than suffer crippling arthritis the rest of my days, I’m following doctors orders. Well, as best I can…

Continue reading Adventures Of a TT Groupie

Why there are more bicycles in LA than motorcycles

I was really shocked when I saw this GOOD infographic, which states that 0.9% of LA commuters go via bicycle, and so few commute via motorcycle that we’re lumped in with “other”. But when I looked around, I realized I do indeed see way more bicycles on the streets of LA than motorcycles. And now I’m becoming one of the 0.9%. I got a new bike on Black Friday, a Fuji Absolute hybrid. I call her Miss Absolute. It’s immensely more comfortable and faster than the vintage bike I was on before.

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Fastest | TT3D Double Feature

I was so excited about seeing these films, I thought today would be the greatest day ever. Well, maybe not as good as a track day at Laguna Seca, but still good. Being in a theater packed with race fans was awesome, as was Fastest. But the most exciting part of TT3D was the ride home from the theater…

Fastest

Fastest showed two sold-out screenings at the Downtown Independent, a theater I can walk to, always a plus. It was a great movie, as I’ve come to expect from director Mark Neale. He did an excellent job of showcasing Rossi’s talent, going into detail about certain accomplishments the American announcers on Speed TV really hadn’t conveyed. But it was also a sad film. Not just for all the interviews with Marco Simonicelli, but for what felt like the end of Rossi’s career. 2011 has been the worst year of his career, and when they showed him announcing his plans to move to Ducati, I screamed “Don’t Do it!” and the whole theater laughed. Yes, I love being with my people. We understand each other. I cried openly when they read a few lines from the goodbye letter he wrote to his Yamaha, just as I cried when I first read the translation.

Continue reading Fastest | TT3D Double Feature

The motorcycles I have owned

1985: 1981 Vespa P200E

Greatest Memory? Every ride with Cheri (memorialized here), especially the ones where we snuck out at night and rode to the city 20 miles away.

The first time I went for a ride, on the back of Rob Bond’s Suzuki GS550, I knew I had to have one for myself. Sharing was simply not an option. So I spent the next year (until I was 15 1/2) working my parents over. By the time I was old enough to get my motorcycle permit, they relented. Because people (mistakenly) perceive scooters as being safer than motorcycles (it’s the other way around, actually), my parents let me buy a Vespa. I worked all summer in a paint factory to pay for it, but still only had about 50%. So my super awesome dad came up with the other half. The day I turned 15 1/2 I went straight to the DMV to get my motorcycle permit. I passed the test. Back then, you didn’t have to get a car permit in order to get a motorcycle permit. And I hadn’t heard about the MSF, as it was just starting up in 1985. Too bad, it would’ve saved me launching that 1981 Vespa P200E into the bushes across the street in front of my parents and the guy selling it to me.

Continue reading The motorcycles I have owned

Dreaming of Mecca, aka The Isle of Man TT

Thanks Kevin Rothwell for capturing the photo most like my dream, and sharing it!

Photo courtesy Kevin Rothwell via Creative Commons License

 

This morning I had the best dream- I was at the Isle of Man TT, which I’m finally going to in 2012. The only downside of the dream is I was also preparing my next project for the class I’m currently teaching on garment construction. But when I wasn’t doing that…

 

In the dream, there was also a MotoGP paddock, as if the TT were back on the schedule. Somehow I had access to Colin Edwards’ bike. Somehow I knew that if I disconnected the CPU, the bike would run solely on electric power. So I did, then later returned to Colin’s garage and rode off. I wasn’t even dressed to ride, and of course the streets were open to all traffic. But the bike was FAST and so much fun. I careened through the crowded streets and in my dream I was really in some mall (of course), so parts of my short laps were through a clothing store. It was pandemonium but the crowd loved it (as TT fans would). I loved showing them that a GP bike could be fast and fun even without gas. I did 3 “laps” around this little city block, then rode around some real streets.

Continue reading Dreaming of Mecca, aka The Isle of Man TT

I like big bikes, and I cannot lie

Photos courtesy of Andy Woo

I actually sang this, and completely rewrote the chorus to make my point on Sunday morning. The rest of my (all female) team couldn’t understand why I was so unmotivated. Something about having to fold my knees into my armpits in a suit that never seemed quite cut for actually racing might have contributed to my extreme discomfort on the baby bike. Timeline highlights follow… Continue reading I like big bikes, and I cannot lie

Is LA Suffering an Outbreak of the Crazies?

I’ve lived and ridden in LA for over a decade. In that time, I’ve seen some messed up driving and survived plenty of threats on my life.  (some perceived and some real). I’ve even grown pretty confident on my bicycle in the 5 months I’ve been riding. But the past couple days I’ve seen some seriously crazy shit. And it’s not even a full moon. What is going on?

Last night I rode my bicycle from downtown to Hollywood and back. I had 2 cars almost run stop signs into me. Then a minivan pulled into the oncoming lane to pick his friend up at the corner just as I was turning the same corner. I discovered I can lock the wheels on my bicycle very easily without crashing. two wheel slide! wootwoot! But just the same it scared the hell out of me.  That kid’s parents will be getting a nasty letter from me courtesy of the DMV’s letter forwarding system if I can find the link on their new website. Although I fear that budget cuts may have led them to discontinue that service. Continue reading Is LA Suffering an Outbreak of the Crazies?

Chasin’ the Dream

So I started this whole cycling adventure with a few goals-

1. get in shape. as in, be more strong, energetic, toned.

2. have fun getting from point a-b.

3. laugh at cops and gas stations.

All of these are happening, so I am raising the bar, as one must do with goals. Now that I feel a little stronger, I wanted to see if I’ve made any progress. Because with the way I get passed (like I’m standing still) by guys on fixies going uphill, I clearly am not ready for the Tour De France. Or even Malibu, for that matter. Malibu is the goal.

One day, I will be fit enough to huff it up those hills with the best of them. Until then, here is my progress so far. (click to embiggen) I think the gps got a little high on the 25th, as it’s the same route I’ve taken on other days and there weren’t any unusual hills involved. Sometimes the gps on my iphone likes to wander off.

It’s kind of annoying that we’re not seeing a general upward curve here. I know those calories burned are cumulative, and that I get stronger with each ride, but I’d like to also get faster…

Riding vs Wrenching

Here's Fred after he was "Pile" for a few months.

Traumatized By Carburetors

Some people enjoy working on bikes more than they enjoy riding them. I am not one of those people. I hate taking time out of my life to maintain my vehicles. Which is yet another reason I’m so gung-ho about electric vehicles. However, when I lived in NYC, I took an awesome motorcycle maintenance class my friends recommended. Only because it’s so hard to find a decent mechanic in NYC, particularly with reasonable rates, that you may as well do it all yourself. I was lucky because the teacher was really cool, the exact opposite of the ogre who taught auto shop in high school and forced me to study carburetors. On my own, because of some heinous and forgotten crime I’d committed as a student. And every time I’d return to him, convinced I knew every thing there was to know about those infernal devices, he’d ask me the one question I couldn’t answer. To this day, I despise carburetors.

Continue reading Riding vs Wrenching