Monday, February 25, 2008

New Identity

According to another day ruined, I have a new name: Richard S. Chang. Huh... I've got to admit I'm puzzled. Maybe it will be my new blogging alias. At other points when he quotes me, I have the name "unknown." Strange indeed.

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

Bike Moves

Watching these two streetfilms about Bike Moves gave me both a rush of inspiration and a mild sadness. A bike move is when someone changes residence and moves all of their belongings only through the use of bicycles. So cool! (Watch the videos to see how it has been done in Portland, OR and Brooklyn, NY.) I seriously doubt this would work for my next major move after I finish the PhD. Has anyone in the alt transportation or biking blogospheres ever heard of this? Please, let me know. It could make for a fascinating post-graduation event!

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

Star-Sighting From My Saddle

On my ride back from the AIDS Life Cycle training ride, Alina and I had the good fortune to spot Edward James Olmos at the corner of Westwood and Pico. We made eye contact. It was AWESOME! All the exhaustion my legs felt after a 50-plus mile course through Bel Air, Mulholland Dr (via Stradella), Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Culver City, disappeared the instant I saw him. I literally felt an unexplainable push to ride on. The man exudes motivation even when he's out of character.

This officially made my week.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Big Fatty and the Fleeing U-Lock

So yesterday was not just Super Tuesday, but also Fat Tuesday and the last day of Carnaval. In my universe, this means that I voted 2 weeks ago by mail, woke up at 5:45 AM for a 6:30 ride with the good people at Shifting Gears, volunteered for our TA Union for few hours (rather unsuccessfully, I might add), picked up a package from the post office, did busy school things (research, went to the gym, attended a lecture), and then bolted over to Santa Monica's Temple Bar to play for its annual "Big Fatty" Mardi Gras event. Whew! Yes, ladies and gentleman, I had a very busy and long day.

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

Street Films

My new favorite website by way of billtron on all things involving urban living is StreetFilms. Those of you who want to know what life is like in a bicycle friendly city should check out their features on Bogotá, Colombia and Davis, California. (For the record, a similar beautiful urban thing also happens on Sundays in Rio de Janeiro even when it isn't Carnaval. Can you tell I'm experiencing some serious saudades?)

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


Just to dispel any rumors:

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.