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.
No Half Measures
Last month, I did my first long ride, about 20 miles round-trip. I was so spent by the time I got home I feared I’d lose focus and get hit. I got home safely and collapsed in a heap until the next day. No wait, I got up and went out dancing for about an hour, then collapsed till Sunday. This past Saturday I rode 18 miles in skinny jeans that don’t stretch. I don’t recommend this, unless you’re really strong and need more resistance. I had to get my sunglasses repaired and figured I should take them to the store I bought them from. 8 miles away. Then I rode to the Doll House to watch a Derby Doll bout. Then home, this time too tired to go dancing. The difference being this was a later ride, and on major crosstown boulevards instead of a peaceful ride up the LA river.
Pedaling Through Fear
Cycling in LA (especially on roads without bike lanes, ie most of them!) is extremely stressful, and I really should make more of an effort to ride the side streets. It’s a little hard to condition myself to occupying different spaces than I do on my motorcycle. When I was a child, I had a recurring nightmare that cars were chasing me. They (mostly VW Beetles) chased me into the backyard, and I climbed up the fireplace to safety while they circled below, waiting to attack. The dream always ended with me safe, but stuck on the garage roof, and scared.
I always found it amusing that I insist on motorcycling in cities like LA & NYC. But on a bicycle, riding crosstown on Beverly and 3rd, I felt that same level of fear. Like, every car was out to get me, then they’d get stuck at a light, I’d catch up, then they’d have to pass me again. Might not be a bad idea to go out of my way to ride the side streets or bike lanes next time… This map shows my route from the mall to the Doll House. The green dotted lines are the bike routes, which I chose to ignore on this ride. My friend Mark turned me on to this great app, Cyclemeter, which shows me fun facts like how incredibly NOT flat LA really is. Someday I’ll be fit enough to join the Spandex Warriors I see in the mountains, but for now these little hills are enough for me!