Friday, April 18, 2008


A few weeks back I got hit by my first SUV during my daily commute. Luckily, I didn't get hurt but the timing and circumstances were rather auspicious. Just that morning I had shared stories of bike accidents and the normal trials of my daily commute. See, Alina and I have a route that while not the safest nor most dangerous ride on the west-side, it is certainly prone to road rage and idiocy. Two streets in particular, Barrington and Ohio, regularly feature cars not noticing that they are on a bike route. Ohio serves for many west-siders as an alternative to Santa Monica Boulevard. What this means is that cars treat it like a major thoroughfare when it is, in fact a two lane roud complete with stop signs and driveways. The culprit for my moment of impact was a silver Lexus SUV that was attempting to take a right turn on Federal Ave. Normally, we cyclists look for such signs as slowly swerving towards the curve or ::gasp!:: a directional signal of some sort. This Lexus did nothing of the sort and slowly drove right into me. The driver had a look of panic on his face when he heard the sound of my bike colliding with his door. He did not stop to see if I was ok (the nerve!), and continued to drive.

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

Should I Take This Prank Personally?

From last Sunday's LA Times: USC Student All Wrapped Up, But Not In Studies. I don't know if its the fact that this student society targeted cyclists (aren't we targets already?), or that the justification was that only early morning lecture attendees would suffer, but the whole prank feels so... personal. Do we as academics-in-training bear some of the responsibility for this type of failure in priorities? (And no, I'm not attempting to diminish much more significant evidence of failures in our midst.)

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


The training continues! I spent the weekend juggling my other commitments with cycling well apart from the AIDS Life Cycle crowd. Yesterday, Alina and I finally rode the Topanga Canyon loop. This is my new favorite L.A. area ride. Yes, it is climbing intensive (over 2300 feet), but the views are beautiful and the seclusion from PCH is incredibly peaceful (minus the racing cars and motorcycles, of course). Just before Thanksgiving of last year, we tried to ride up to just the corner of Topangan Canyon and Old Topanga Canyon Road for the first time. That ride was very difficult for us. Yesterday, the first 3-mile hill was no problem nor were the other hills in the loop. As the first real measure of my progress since I started doing longer rides, the Topanga ride was probably one of the most satisfying experiences in recent months. I felt like I had conquered a monster.

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.