Thursday, December 4, 2008
So kids, do not roll through stop signs, especially when you think no one is out. You never know when that 4 way stop is really a 2-way stop. And you don't want to liable for damaging an expensive luxury car like a Mercedes. Two seconds is a small price to pay for the pain and monetary cost that come from a jolting collision.
Public service announcement over...
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Phil tagged me to do a meme, so I guess I'll follow suit. Dude, we really need to talk now that classes are winding down!
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
5. If you don’t have 7 blog friends, or if someone else already took dibs, then tag some unsuspecting strangers.
Seven random facts
1. I have a serious affection for hats. When I was growing up, I used to decorate my room with them...
2. Even though my cat has a proper name, I still call her "cat" when I come home.
3. I haven't had a functioning iPod for over 3 years and I have no real desire to get another one. (This wouldn't be so weird if I didn't study music.)
4. I watch two or three TV shows on a weekly basis, but I don't own a TV.
5. My hair grows freakishly fast causing me to go to the hair stylist every 3 weeks or so.
6. I can touch my tongue to the tip of my nose.
7. I like going to the movie theater alone.
And tags: Bill, Regarding, Sam, and Xandra. I don't like the idea of tagging random people.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Interviewer: What interests you about our program at [fancy university]? Why do you want to work here?
KG: [some stuff related to the department's reputation.] Also, I'm a cyclist, and I'd like to live in a place where I don't have to worry about being hit by cars all the time. [Fancy city] has a reputation for being bike-friendly, am I wrong?
Interviewer: No, that definitely makes sense. You aren't wrong.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm becoming a parody of myself... In other news, check out the new streetfilm about LA's bike coops.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
See, there are many more cyclists out there, the majority of whom never think about safety issues on a bike. They wear headphones and listen to their iPods at top volume completely erasing the only method of signaling from behind that other cyclists have. When a passing cyclist calls out "on your left!" they don't hear, and even sometimes drift leftwards putting the passing cyclist at risk. I don't like being pushed into traffic.
Today, after dealing with many headphone wearing cyclists, I was almost taken out by a cyclist riding ::gasp:: on the wrong side of the road. I was attempting to make a left turn into a bicycle parking lot and was looking for oncoming traffic. This fellow came up from behind and almost hit me. I yelled, "watch out!" Really, though, I shouldn't have to yell. After he realized what had almost happened, I said something along the lines of "traffic laws apply to you too!" Dear. God.
And now, I end with a brief list of other offending actions only committed by irreverent cyclists in town:
• Passing on the right, especially when a cyclist is trying to make a right turn. Disaster waiting to happen!
• Switching rapidly between riding on the sidewalk and the right side of the road causing chaos among cyclists, pedestrians, and cars. Ack!
• Refusing to yield to anyone or anything.
• Riding two or ::gasp!:: three abreast on a busy street at a low speed, thereby eliminating the possibility of safe passing.
• Not looking before moving into traffic thereby almost causing a vehicle to hit a car/ cyclist.
And, my personal favorite:
• Completely running all red lights thereby making all cars hate cyclists. Boo!!
That's all. Someone needs to more actively promote basic courtesy among commuting cyclists. For the love of god, people.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
But then, something weird happened. I continued to do my long training rides on the weekends AND I woke up at an absurdly early hour on Wednesday to ride 20 miles with the UCLA cycling team (up Mandeville Canyon). Around yesterday afternoon, my left achilles tendon started to scream at me. Quite loudly. And then I noticed that my old injury in my right leg was making some noise as well. So, even though I had been training intensely for over 2 months to do the Angeles Crest Century ride, my body was starting to let me know that I have been overdoing it by just a tad.
I skipped the century in favor of my physical health (and to preserve my ability to ride in the future). It's a good thing that my scooter is finally fixed because my legs need a serious rest.
Part of me wonders why I have been riding with such manic intensity. I have it boiled down to three reasons:
• I cut off my hair a week ago and I now want to take advantage of the increased ease of wearing a helmet. It literally takes me 2 minutes to remove all traces of helmet head. Awesome!
• Getting hit by a car sucks. In my need to not let the accident ruin my love for my bicycle, I've let my riding get a little too intense.
• I recently let go of a very major commitment in my life, and instead of dealing with the reasons for leaving this organization, I want to distract myself from the inevitable.
Whatever it is, I think I need to tone things down just a tad. Or maybe I ought to stick to slower riding speeds for my training rides. Or something. The good news is that I don't need to be riding to wear my cute Surly cycling cap and look at the new bike models for next year. Nothing heals sore tendons like retail therapy.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Instead, I need to complain about the many motorists who had the nerve to honk at me once after the accident happened. OK, so you see a cyclist and a car collide resulting in a pretty nasty looking wound including blood, a dazed cyclist, and a whole lot of confusion. Does honking really help the situation? I wonder: if the accident had involved a pedestrian would the other impatient motorists have felt the need to honk at the injured party? Just thinking aloud here...
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
• Gas prices rise and driving a car is no longer a viable option for a number of people
• They start looking for alternatives, including public transportation, motorcycles, and bicycles
• Numbers of bicycles on the road increase
• Unaccustomed and/or inexperienced cyclists and motorists begin to express their frustrations on the road
• Tensions rise as Critical Mass rides become increasingly disruptive
• Chaos ensues
It's fine that the LA Times and NY Times are talking about bikes (coverage is a good thing if it leads to increased awareness), but my problem is the very foundation of the big bike switch-over: people are only crazy enough to ride bikes when cars are no longer affordable. That sort of determinist argument frustrates the hippie in me, and I think we in the bike community need to be more vocal about our diversity. We also need to complicate this explanation from a social and cultural theory perspective.
To borrow a page from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, people are different and that is an inconvenient narrative for the rise in bike riding.
I became a bike commuter long before gas prices rose above $2 a gallon. And I know that as a long-time bike commuter, I do not fall within this narrative. When I started riding my bicycle, just about everyone who was making the switch cited the reasons above as secondary. The big reason they were switching was because, get this, riding a bike is REALLY fun. It's a happy activity. I also feel much more free on my bicycle than I do in a car and I'm sure I am not alone. I remember a conversation I had with my sister right after I saved up some money to buy a cheap mountain bike. She said, "isn't it fun?" Eventually, the fun is what won out; it is what pushed me to ride my bike more often and eventually forsake my car. I've only heard the fun side of this rise in bicycles mentioned in reference to the fixed-gear frenzy that is taking over many urban spaces.
Second to fun, the efficiency of commuting on a bike around LA further urged me to continue to ride. Parking is rarely an issue and I always get to park my bike close to my final destination. My commute times are predictable and consistent, I waste less energy and arrive at my work or school in a good mood. Fun efficiency!
And I have a strong feeling that fun is huge reason why Critical Mass and other large group rides are so popular. Just spend a day watching people ride their bikes along the Santa Monica Beach Bike path, and the fun part of the revolution will be inescapable. Now I'm just waiting for the LA Times to catch up with that side of things.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
I think that bike community is finally starting to deal with all of this tension. See Exhibit A, my new favorite explanation for all the anti-bike bias and hatred. We need more than that opinion circulating out there, but seriously people, what on earth is going on? In other venues I have been calling for more policy solutions. I don't know how ready we as a society are to accept the fact that our bike numbers are going up. But seriously, we are going to have to deal with it.
* For the record, I do not frequent Critical Mass events in the LA area, mostly because the anarchist spirit is a little much for my taste. I do, however, firmly believe in the right for cyclists to ride in groups. That is all.
Monday, July 28, 2008
And also, I can't wait to get back in the states just to ride my Surly again.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I find it oddly ironic that this seminar which has such an emphasis on cultural policy is in a place that was thoroughly planned for a world which is no longer realistic. Growing up in a place like Laguna Beach, Irvine was often the target of much derision by my classmates and neighbors mostly because of its connections with the Irvine Company, Orange County's intensely powerful real estate firm. UCI only exists, for example, through a donation of the Irvine Company. Some would go so far as to say that all that is good about the OC only exists through the "generosity" of the Irvine Company. It's kind of hard to swallow.
For much of my youth, the wilderness-loving hippies of Laguna Beach hated everything that the Irvine Company stood for. This was mostly because they were responsible for turning most of Orange County's groves into an endless mass of controlled and pre-planned communities with look-alike homes. In 1989, many of Laguna's citizens (including myself) had to stage repeated protests just to persuade the Irvine Company not to build more tract homes in the Laguna canyon wilderness. (I could go on... but California's endless growth is finally coming to a close due to strains on water supplies.)
The ironies of dealing with the most unfortunate aspects of Orange County's development pattern will make my quest to go without a car quite... well... crazy. I'm pretty sure that my family thinks I'm nuts for insisting on not using a car for two weeks. However, I want to really experience life from my bike-saddle in a place that is really averse to making that work. And, to be honest, I also see my daily climb over Newport Coast drive as an excellent physical challenge...
Friday, July 18, 2008
Just yesterday I had a conversation with a friend of mine living in Rio de Janeiro about the possibility of a bike share program. "I'm afraid they would get stolen," she says. Part of me thinks that real revolution of a system like Vélib isn't that people who need bikes suddenly have them, but rather that people who otherwise would never think of using bikes have them at their disposal in a practical and convenient way. And for a place with such a close relationship with French culture like Rio, I would hope that bike shares would be, in the very least, a possibility... Maybe not.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
• High gas prices are pushing more and more people to commute by bike. You will notice that the article emphasizes how terrifying it is to ride a bike in Los Angeles due to distracted drivers. Despite this danger, bicycle sales for the month of June spiked by 20%. Ironically, for many commuters the biking option is much quicker than driving. Awesome!
I've got to say that there are some major downsides to this spike in bike riders in LA. First, the city has yet to implement its bicycle master plan and thus bike lanes and routes are often not very well advertised or supported. Also, an influx of inexperienced riders on the road can actually be dangerous if no one follows traffic laws. I could tell you stories of the police completely ignoring dangerous cyclists out there. Finally, the article notes that many bike repair shops are completely over-booked with this new influx. New bikes mean that they all have to be tuned-up within the first few months on the road. I guess that I can't just show up at my local shop for a quick diagnosis anymore...
• Apparently with the aforementioned terror of riding with clueless drivers, many cyclists really want to use sidewalks. It is so pressing that the City of West Hollywood wants to abandon its ban of cycling on the sidewalks. This is coming from a city that actually has marked bike lanes! I've got to say that I personally prefer riding with cars than pedestrians. Cars are generally predictable, while pedestrians often aren't looking for anything moving faster than walking speed, let alone a vehicle going 10-20 miles per hour in the path. I think it's great that so many people want to ride their bikes that this is even a consideration, but it sounds to me like a major step backwards.
• Aside from bikes and scooters, the high gas prices are also encouraging southland commuters to use mass transit. No surprise there. I can't wait until SoCal's rail system actually has the capacity and lines to make the transition easier; right now, the system makes very little sense. Just think: it is actually far less of a hassle for my to ride my bike 55 miles south to Laguna Beach than to take a train. None of it makes sense...
• And just when you thought it was safe to live in your car, it seems that the California state government wants to curb the bad habits of its motorists. I'm not talking about talking or texting on cell phones, I'm talking about such offenses as reading a newspaper, painting fingernails, or having one's dog on one's lap. My personal favorite offense is changing an entire outfit while stuck in traffic (which, as a cyclist, I've seen numerous times). If this actually works, perhaps the roads will be more encouraging to the newbie bike commuter and we won't need to have cyclists on sidewalks. I can dream, right?
Monday, July 7, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
É um modelo copiável? Do ponto de vista ambiental, parece interessante. Mas você acha que São Paulo é suficientemente civilizada para que carros e motos não atropelam os ciclistas?
Or in English:
Is it a copiable model? From a distanced perspective, it looks interesting. But do you think that São Paulo is civilized enough that cars and motorcycles wouldn't run over cyclists?
I've got to say, I'm not surprised by the author's doubt. Unlike Rio de Janeiro, there is no ciclovia or specially designated bike lane here. There isn't even enough space in the right lane for cyclists to ride independent of traffic patterns. Cyclists here are the craziest bunch I've ever seen, literally riding in the middle of traffic. They often ride mountain bikes with good reason: it allows them more flexibility to jump up on bumpy sidewalks. If any of my loyal readers ever thought that I was crazy to ride around LA, I present to you the craziness that is São Paulo cycling culture.
A few years ago (before I spoke a word of Portuguese), the Folha ran an article about a reporter's experiences on a bike for a month of his working life. Not only was he robbed, but he was constantly afraid for his life as cars would frequently cut him off. A motorcycle delivery boy (known here as "motorboy") witnessed such an occurence and expounded: "nobody here respects (the rights of) cyclists." Well, to be fair, they don't respect pedestrians either.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
São Paulo is different. (São Paulo is different from the rest of Brazil in a number of ways, but that isn't what this post is about...) It's at a higher elevation than either Rio or Salvador and is thus cold here. Every night I sleep with three blankets on my bed and often layer when I go to sleep. It isn't that it's dropped below 9 degrees centigrade (which is normal for a city in the south like Porto Alegre), but that some of the apartment buildings in the city don't have anything resembling insulation, or even windows that close completely. Mine just happens to be one of those buildings. The first week I was here, the weather fooled me. It felt like LA in the spring with extremely short days. But now it's cooling down. I know I'm getting away with something by missing LA's heatwave right now, but seriously this weather is bumming me out. Maybe I wasn't meant to experience two winters a year...
Also, in unrelated news, I really miss my bike and the research is speeding by like a metro train. Go figure.
Friday, June 13, 2008
But for now I just though I'd point out that hey, I'm famous! If you watch the below video to around 2:40 you will see me and Alina. At around 3:00 you will see our tent neighbor David. If you needed hard evidence that I participated, here you go:
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
- We are currently in Paso Robles. Yay wine country(though I would never drink the night before a 100 mile ride), and yay for paying too much money to sleep in a real bed!
- I can barely walk, sit, or do much of anything with my legs tonight. I guess 250 miles in 3 days is more than my body can take. I also suppose it doesn't help that I developed a new injury just one week before the ride. But, the Physical Therapists, Chiropracters, and Sports Medicine people (not to mention the bike techs) have made my riding possible. Thank the gods!
- I've never felt so much agony and inspiration at the same time. Weird stuff this athletic masochism.
And boy did I miss a lot of news over the last few days... I'll update again when I can spare the time.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
As a ritual of life passage, the wedding was psychologically transformative and wonderful in ways I never expected. This AIDS Life Cycle process is something quite different. For the last 6 months I've devoted my weekends and a few week days to training for the craziest and longest ride of my life. As the training rides of have extended to 80, 100 even 200 miles in a weekend, I've watched myself do things I never imagined. I've become really sensitive to certain foods (keep me away from granola and do not stand between me and my soy chocolate milk after a long ride), and I've also discovered that I like to climb hills. A lot. But all of these physical changes are going to be nothing compared to what I will likely experience next week. It's going to be tough and amazing and everything in between. I'm not sure I'm ready for the intensity of it.
I'm nervous and exhausted. I freely admit that I haven't been blogging due to an absolute lack of energy. I'll probably have a lot more to say when I'm done with the ride and looking forward to my next research trip in Brazil (that trip will commense a mere 5 days after the Life Cycle is over). I'll likely having some better insights for this blog at that point, but for now I wish everyone a safe week with peace and tailwinds.
Peace and tailwinds. kg
Friday, April 18, 2008
I'm sorry: whenever a driver realizes that he or she has hit a cyclist, they have a minimum obligation to stop and ensure that the cyclist has no real injuries. My shoulder hurt for a good three days after that accident. Not two days later another SUV pulled out of a driveway on Ohio without looking both ways and nearly hit me. This time I had enough time to yell, "WATCH OUT!" and avoid an accident. But seriously, people, is it that hard to treat moving vehicles like moving vehicles? I know we bikes are smaller, but the street in question is a popular bike route!
Needless to say, I've been much more paranoid on my rides. Maybe it didn't help that I recently spend a weekend sharing memories of a deceased friend and cyclist. Or maybe it's that the drivers are losing their sense of sharing roads. I try not to think of my riding as a full-contact sport, but sometimes I wonder.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
In upgrade news, I have officially given in and am now riding slick tires. Ask me some day if climbing big hills is any easier. On the commuting end of things, I don't sense much of a difference aside from the lower level of noise.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Today, I am off to Helen's to get new tires. I got a really nasty flat yesterday just 1 mile shy of Santa Monica. As I was changing the tube I noticed that the only reason why I haven't had more flats is my tire liner: it was all chewed up. The holes in my back tire are so bad that you can literally see them from the saddle. Clearly, a change is necessary. (Also, it's a great opportunity to downgrade to something smaller, say a 25cm tire.)
For those of you wondering where I've been for the last few weeks, I feel that I should inform you that I took on a second job for the spring quarter AND I am sitting-in on my advisor's social theory seminar. Both of these elements mean that blogging is generally the last thing on my mind. The job is for a good cause and the money is certainly nice. I keep telling myself that I won't let it distract too much from my research, but I can't be sure. This much is true: my fatigue is palatable.
Coming soon: comments on LA's new Bus Rapid Transit and getting hit by my first SUV during my commute.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
1) Alina and I had never ridden more than 65 miles in a single day and we didn't ride the previous weekend due to that wedding of ours.
2) Alina suffered from 3 flat tires during the ride. It turns out that her back wheel had a sharp object lodged in the tire-wall and her rim-tape was cheap. Curses!
3) The vegetarian lunch was incredibly low in protein.
Oh well. Due to the protein issue, my energy level crashed beyond repair around mile 80 (well before my fellow riders). I suffered from much more fatigue than anyone else in my immediate riding circle and it wasn't until I realized that my lunch was lacking that I stopped feeling shame about it.
Strange things happen on centuries. All of the minor quirks of riding have the potential become major discomforts. Many people complained of numb wrists and... uh... nether regions. I was lucky enough to have my discomfort limited to fatigue and some slight tension in my neck. Everything else, like muscle soreness, rapidly disappears with rest. My right knee did not give me any real problems which bodes well, I think, for riding 545 miles in 7 days. Now, all I can say is that I'm really thirsty.
I've learned something important in my training process: every time I break through some new threshold, say riding a lot of nasty climbs in a short period of time, or riding more days for longer distances, it always feels more difficult than it actually is. One of the training ride leaders explained to me that it's that anxiety of newness that contributes to one's perception of difficulty more than the energy required to complete the task. And from what I can tell, centuries will probably be the same for me. When I got home last night (yeah... centuries are all-day events), I wanted to fall asleep... at 7PM and I was really thirsty. So yeah... Newness.
Now to return to that gallon of water...
Thursday, March 27, 2008
And for the record, I failed miserably and kept looking beyond the group. Tells you how safe I am as a cyclist...
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Since that class, I had seen Elias everywhere around school. It seemed like he was always on campus getting involved in something. He always acknowledged me when he passed me on Bruin Walk even if he didn't remember exactly how he knew me. (This is all too common to TAs... students often don't recognize us outside of that teaching context.) I had my last conversation with him at the UCLA Bike Shop, where he and I were both doing some minor maintenance on our bikes. I had seen him there before, and we struck up a conversation. After a few minutes, he realized that I had been one of the TAs for the Rock n' Roll class. He told me he enjoyed the class, that it wasn't what he expected ("We learned the entire history of American Popular Music! We really got the big picture!), and that he was looking forward to medical school. As a teaching assistant, I rarely get that kind of affirmation years after the fact.
I didn't know him well, but that brief conversation with him in a different context, where I wasn't his teacher but a fellow bicycle commuter, allowed me to see how deep his involvement was in the UCLA community. Everyone in the Bike Shop knew him. And I'm pretty sure that his reach into campus life would have continued had he survived this last weekend.
I wish all who mourn for him the best. He will certainly be missed.
Monday, March 10, 2008
So while I may still be riding my bicycle (in increasingly larger quantities by the week) and thinking critically about musicology, I really can't spare the emotional energy to blog about it all.
I'll see you all on the other side.
Cross-posted on Musicology Matters
Monday, February 25, 2008
It is ironic since this blog and my other blog are part of a concerted effort to not hide who I am. Thus is the blog life.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Fantasies aside, I doubt this would work and I'm pretty sure that all of the activists in these two films would laugh at me for such a rapid dismissal of a Bike Move's feasability in my near future. ::sigh:: I await answers!
I must admit that I seriously doubt that a Bike Move would work in the LA area. Oh Los Angeles, you have so far to go! Just to clarify the origins of my pessimism, I recently completed a City of LA Bicycle Advisory Committee survey. The questions were rather frustrating (i.e. the very idea that fear of "helmet head" could compete with the dangers of careless drivers or debris in the streets as major deterrents for bicycle commuting). I doubt the city is actually serious about improving things if they don't include other municipalities in their plans. The argument persists that last year's survey resulted in the new bike lanes along Santa Monica Boulevard, but I don't think these lanes are the answer. Until there are safe routes through Beverly Hills, for example, I have very little hope.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
This officially made my week.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
But there were some highlights:
– During my early morning ride, I discovered that my knee injury is frighteningly common. I heard a bunch of cyclists talking about doing their time on the "foam roller of pain" to avert knee problems later in the day. And yes, I did my time on the foam roller, and yes, it was very painful but necessary. The whole situation with my t-band and knee makes me very sad because I can't run, and I certainly can't dance. You see, I went to a friend's wedding between Christmas and New Year's, and my little knee chose that night to become a big problem. It was horrible because on the surface, my refusal to dance made me look like a drag on the party mood. So sad! And I have another few parties on the horizon (not to mention the basic dancing I do when I get excited from playing music) and not trusting my right knee to do its job makes me sad.
– While riding from UCLA to the Temple Bar along Wilshire, my U-lock decided to free itself of my bike and fly into traffic. This has happened before. In the past, I was fortunate enough to be riding in a relatively safe area for turning around and I successfully returned it safely to its home on my bike frame. Last night the U-lock's attempt at emancipation occurred while I was rapidly riding down Wilshire between Federal and Barrington during the height of rush hour and bad visibility. Ever since the City of Los Angeles opened the bus lane (which bikes could share) to regular traffic, the ride down Wilshire has been significantly more dangerous. There was no way I was going to turn around to find my lock and I had to let it go. One rather pressing problem remained: how I was going to keep my bike secure while playing the gig? I stopped at a sporting goods store, but they only had coil lock (boo!). Out of desperation, I rode down to Santa Monica Blvd's Cynergy Bike Shop and, lucky for me, they were still open for 5 more minutes. With a new U-lock in hand, I headed over to the Temple Bar and played some good Bahian-style Brazilian music.
– Last Saturday's ride to Palos Verdes was great. I rode a total of 55 miles that day and still went on to work on my dissertation chapter for a good 3 hours. Perhaps I am finally learning how to do something else after a big training day. Also, I have discovered that I am a better than average climber. By no means do I like hills, but I love getting to the top. Also, I had no knee trouble on Saturday! Yay!
– I am now four dollars within reach of raising 1K for the Aids Life Cycle. Will you be that fabulous person to help me hit 40% of my goal? If you are feeling inspired, donate here. I get that very few people read this blog, but if you happen to be passing through and want to donate to a good cause, there is no reason to hold back!
Ok. That's all. Today will be my first day off my bike in over 5 days.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Such a beautiful way to celebrate the best of urban living!
P.S. An update on Saturday's ride to Palos Verdes is on the docket.
Friday, February 1, 2008
1) I am suffering from a flare-up of a right knee injury.
2) I am in the midst of a nasty bit of writer's block.
Both of these problems will eventually subside, but I have some rather pressing deadlines. Tomorrow I will embark on a 45-mile training ride to Palos Verdes. I will also submit a draft of my second chapter to a dissertation reading group. Clearly, I am feeling a tad bit out of time and luck.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
We spent another hour or so riding around Mulholland which was great and totally frightening. There isn't enough space for all the cyclists who like to ride around up there and many of the expensive cars don't really know what to do with us. This is me at the corner of Mulholland and Encino Hills. While it isn't very flattering and you can't see the snow-capped mountains behind, it is evidence that I was there.
According to people who saw me later that day, I was beaming with happiness. Good day! Too bad Alina couldn't make it out with me.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
If someone wants to go faster and be stronger, they probably have a fair amount of money that they are willing to invest in the sport. Racing and training isn't for the weak of mind nor the weak of wallet. And even the people who love their low-riding bicycles spend time and money fixing them up. That's just how it is. And just this weekend, I spent a fair amount of cash on new shoes and pedals. (My wallet didn't exactly cry, but it wasn't happy.) For this reason, this discussion about fixing up used bikes made me exceptionally happy. It's wonderful to see people from within such a consumption happy hobby talking about sustainability an using a bike to its full extent. Hurrah!
And in regards to the larger point about class, I clearly have much more to consider here. I'll post again once I've thought about it some more.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
In other news, I missed a 60-mile ride to Palos Verdes to do the good work of my union. All is not lost from a biking standpoint: my pitch for donations yielded some results. Yay for donations! I also managed to squeeze out 22 minutes of time on a stationary bike at school before they announced they were closing early for the holiday weekend. Boo! And I was so entertained by watching CNN pundits discuss just why Hillary Clinton won Nevada by 51%. Sometimes I wonder if the constant stream of commentary ruins our political process.
Tomorrow I am in for yet another day of unioning. I wonder if I can work in a ride after it's all over. I've never so anticipated the end to the weekend. I blame my bike.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
We got to the meeting point much earlier than everyone else. Some of the regulars were a little late today, so ended up leaving around 6:40AM. (What is that, 15 more minutes of sleep?) All was good, though.It was cold. My fingers felt frozen, and it was dark enough that I should have brought a back light. But the ride was beautiful. Apparently, many cycling groups do their daily training that early in morning (who knew?) and at various points, the size of the cycling crowd felt comparable to a critical mass event. Of course if I said that to the speed demons passing us on the way to the marina, it probably would have started a scuffle. There is so much competition among cyclists...
The best part about this ride, though, was watching the sun rise over the water as we headed to the bridge at the end of Ballona creek. The water may be dirty, but it sure is pretty to look at when the sky is pink and orange. There were rowing crews on both sides of the bike paths. It was gorgeous and made the 5:30 wake up time almost worth it. Almost. Maybe I'll be able to pull off an early morning ride again on Thursday.
Monday, January 14, 2008
I do have a lot of learn about riding in big groups. Since I am a commuter, I don't follow group rules very well. I'm not accustomed to stopping when it isn't absolutely necessary, and I am definitely not used to always yelling out signals and warnings to other cyclists. I am much more used to yelling at passing cars who are trying to run me off the road. During my worst 5 minutes on Saturday, I couldn't unclip on my right foot resulting in cutting off the ride leader. It was horrible. After he advised me to get used to alternating my feet for unclipping, I tried unclipping the left foot for the next stop sign. You can probably imagine what happened next: I proceeded to crash when I couldn't figure out how to properly shift my weight. When I replied that I didn't really hurt myself, another rider said, "But you hurt your pride." Ummm yeah...
After the training ride, we headed over to a training workshop where we didn't learn very much. Since I have already had my bike professionally fitted to my body (best decision ever!) and my only knee injuries have been a result of other activities, I didn't really learn much. It was sad. Most of what they talked about was common sports sense and the rest of it was so technical and performance-oriented that I can't see myself caring. Do I really see myself getting VO2 tested and strapping on a heart monitor?
My experiences Saturday did further elaborate something I had only vaguely perceived before: the huge cultural rifts within the biking community. I am a commuter which means that I don't care too much about speed: I'm happy to be outside and not using cars. Most of my decisions regarding gear have to do with practicality. Of the cyclists who ride on roads (as opposed to mountain-bikers), I am the extreme opposite of the weekend riders/warriors who drive their bikes to meeting points even if it is within 5 miles of their homes. I have also heard road cyclists complain about triathletes. I can't really understand this. Aren't they way more athletic and well-rounded than the rest of us? Whatever. The way I see it, the more people who ride the better. I also heard some smack-talking about bike messengers. Again, I am completely mystified. Maybe I'll better understand the more I take part in group rides.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
But this brings me to another point: ever since I started commuting by bike, I have noticed that a high frequency of my scariest incidents on the road involved Priuses. (Rarely do my fellow riders believe me on this one.) My doctor confirmed the point. She owns both a Prius and a Civic hybrid and said that Priuses have such terrible visibility that it forces safety-conscious drivers to be especially vigilant on the road. My favorite comment of hers was when she said, "I myself avoid being near Priuses on the road." I am wondering if Toyota is aware that their cars are so dangerous for their fellow vehicles in low emission. It makes me sad that their incidence of near accidents is so close to the other big offenders -- SUVs -- the polar opposite of the Prius in terms of political and environmental ideology. (Full disclosure: my partner and I will likely purchase a Prius in the near future.)
Speaking of dangerous road conditions, the Ghost Bike project is finally getting some widespread attention, not for the project itself but for how it has inspired Portland, Oregon to become even safer for bicyclists. The recent surge in bike-related deaths in the city, which in the past may have caused me to doubt the city's level of safety for bicycles, have contributed to an increased level of activism and awareness within the city's cycling community. And what a result! After the high profile death of an LA cyclist at the corner of Santa Monic Blvd. and Wilshire last year, there was a lot of anger and awareness. It pales to the activism and awareness that produced results like Portland's.
It makes me genuinely jealous. Can you imagine a clearly-designated space for cyclists to wait at intersections like Portland's "bike boxes" in major cities around the country? Surely such a move would help with visibility problems and an awareness that there are bikes out there. What I especially like about the article is its frankness in discussing the type of driving maneuver that causes the most accidents: right-turns at red lights. It was certainly a right-hand turn that produced my scary moment just the other day... So, when is moving day?
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
1. The AIDS Lifecycle
For years I have promised myself that when given the clear opportunity to participate in the 7-day, 545-mile ride from San Francisco to LA to support AIDS-related services at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, I would take it. This year, I have no reason to be stuck in LA for the first week of June, so Alina and I are taking the plunge. Why not? We were already planning to make a bike tour of California. We already ride around Southern California for various social events. And we have an activist streak that makes this event ideal. If you feel inclined, please support me (emotionally or financially) on my lifecycle homepage here.
2. Finish the Majority of my Dissertation
This is a self-generated goal designed to allow me to live my life in approximately 18 months. I want to finish my PhD before I turn 30. To do that, I need to defend and file my dissertation with enough time to receive my degree and walk in June 2009. Goals don't accomplish themselves, so here is my mini-goal for 2008. To do that, I need to have a real writing schedule and a clear plan. It's all in the works (and incredibly private), but here's the public component. Please hold me to it if you catch me blogging in excess.
3. Bike More Whenever Possible
I'm pretty sure resolution 1 and my general habits in LA will take care of this resolution, but so will doing the sort of things I did yesterday. For New Year's Day brunch with my family, my partner and I rode down the coast to Long Beach. Sure, I wasn't quite ready for a lengthy power-ride (we finished around 46.5 miles in total), but it was great to remind myself that these things can be done even when one has spent 5 weeks away from the bicycle. I've always taken the saying "spend New Year's Day doing what you want to do all year" to heart and I think riding around in a relatively car-free Southern California on New Year's Day was a great way to do it.
It helps that the City of Santa Monica has installed more bike lanes around town in the last month. Those simple lines of paint (and the accompanying reduced vehicle traffic) encourage me in very direct ways for my daily life.
Speaking of encouragement, I've heard a rumor that one of my best friends is moving to Topanga either today or tomorrow -- get this -- without his car. He's also training for the Solvang Century ride, so I will be gaining another cycling buddy. Awesome!
4. Reduce My Injury and Illness Frequency
This kind of goal can only be accomplished through care and persistence. Perhaps some professional guidance as well. (I'm wondering how expensive that will be...) For quite some time I've noticed that my body doesn't respond well to sudden bouts of high-impact activity. That sort of activity stopped well into my 20s. Take my recent knee injury, or the infamous bout of wrist and elbow injuries that started around the time I finished my MA Thesis nearly 4 years ago. For over 7 years, I've noticed that the only way to keep my illness frequency down is to be good to my body. It's just common sense, but well worth noting.
5. Lose 5 Pounds of Emotional Baggage
Kind of speaks for itself and I think it is way more practical than the fitness goals that drive gym memberships up during January. Anyone ever notice how long that influx lasts? Right. Losing 20 pounds of fat is not a very practical goal for January, but I do think working on how one emotionally reacts to the world has a small chance of actually succeeding. Also, I think the bike-related and diss related goals will help with this one.
That's all for the public resolutions. Happy 2008 everybody!