When my friend Jenny said “I’d like to visit Portland for my birthday” I said “Let’s go!” I’d only been once before for the Net Impact Conference, and had a great time. Since then I’d gotten deeper into pedal-powered bikes, so I wanted to explore the country’s Bicycling Capital. We made a stab at getting bikes from friends, but wound up just renting these single speed hooptie city bikes. They were painfully slow, geared to handle most riding for most people, so we didn’t really get much of a workout. But we rode all over Portland for a few days! It was rad.
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.
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?
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…
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.
Recently I rebuilt my dad’s old (as in, 40ish years old) 10-speed, with the help of Jim and others at the Bicycle Kitchen. It’s been great to have a fun way to get some exercise and I can tell immediately that cycling builds all the muscles I most need to endure a full day on the track. Because I’m not one to set aside time to exercise, I’m also using the bike as a regular form of transport at least a couple days a week.