Category Archives: bike

Cyclocross Racing!

I think nothing speaks to my ADHD like my association with cyclocross racing. It’s got obstacles, changes in pace, technical sections and requires some endurance. Right up my alley, no? It’s a very ADHD sport, actually, but I can never seem get my Fall schedule straight enough to have a running cyclocross bike AND make it to some races. My first race didn’t go super well. My second race later that month only went marginally better.  Then two years ago I was in SF and some friends basically did everything but ride the bike for me: They gave me a bike, clothing, shoes and a ride to the race. And it was super fun. That was the last time I raced cross.

This year I came across a brand-new Masi singlespeed cross bike for only $320 (!!) and couldn’t pass it up. Now I have no reason not to race! Dorothy Wong from So Cal Cyclocross had a UCI race weekend scheduled in downtown LA and I couldn’t pass it up.

Why drive rollers to a race when you can warm-up by towing a pug five miles?


I got there 20 minutes before the Mens B race and scrambled (no surprises here, right?) and to make the start. Then I had a mechanical! My wheel moved forward. I didn’t know what to do so I went to the pit, got yelled at for having my number folded, got my tools from my bag, fixed it and then resumed racing. I didn’t catch anyone, but I did hustle and ride hard. Plus it gave me the opportunity to do this every lap:

Jumping the Over/Under, photo courtesy of Errin Vasquez at FrontageRoads.com

An hour later I raced the Singlespeed B race and it was really fun. I still jumped this every lap and it turns out I finished third! I didn’t know what place I was in, I was just trying to stay out of the way. Stoked!

The next day I could only make the Mens B race and I gave it a good go and finished mid-pack. I tried to ride one of the run-ups and crashed and then tried to bunnyhop the double barriers and crashed there too. Some guy from Mudfoot then tried to catch me in the last straight, but I out-sprinted him on my singlespeed to hold on to the coveted 25th place. Oh and my friend Todd Munson, somewhere around lap 3 or 4, when I was nice and tired, said, ‘hey do a big air this time so I can film it.’ And of course I almost crashed there too- see video below. Ha.

Super fun times! I raced a $300 bike 3 times, spending about half of that on entry fees and a license, but definitely worth it. I love Dorothy’s events and can’t wait to get to more of them.

Jumping Over/Under at DTLA Cyclocross

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Filed under bike, off-road, race

The Pull of Habit

The statement, ‘we are creatures of habit’ is an understatement, and as much as I love newness and change, this is still true for me. And a huge part of my profession is teaching behavior change!

I ride a lot. Most of my friends probably figure if I’m not working, eating or interneting, I’m out riding or running. And this is true, sometimes. Only when I’ve created that habit.  It is as true for me, someone who aims to ride 800-1000 miles a month, as it is someone training for their first organized bike event. Same with running.  If you are not in the habit of running, training for a 5k is just as hard as training for a 50k. When I’m out of the habit, I can’t imagine devoting 2 hours or more a day to getting on my bike or strapping on my running shoes. And if you are reading my site, then I know you’ve had the same experience (if not, you are a special human being and I am envious!).

I’m writing about this now because failing at the Arizona Trail Race really knocked me out of the habit of riding. I just didn’t want to. In behavior change psychology we say that the new, healthier behavior must appear more rewarding than the old behavior. When you don’t feel like riding, sitting on the internet just feels better. Why go out and do something you don’t want to do? What’s the benefit to that?

But there is benefit. And I’m not talking about physical benefits, but mental and relational. So many great conversations with friends happen slightly out of breath on the bike saddle or while running up trails in the wilderness. Not to mention the ideas that come with the clarity of movement and being out in the world. This is what I have to convince myself of.

Over the previous week I did 7 rides in 7 days. Nothing spectacular. Nothing super long or super fast. Just riding in order to create the habit of riding. Everyone, no matter what crazy events they have done, need to start anew after not training or riding regularly.  My advice for anyone trying to ride or run more often or at all, which is partly professional, but mostly personal, is to first work to create the habit. Just go. No structure or plan beyond making the time for it. If you are one of those people who signs up for an event, prints out a training schedule and follows it exactly for 8 weeks, this does not pertain to you. But for the rest of us, just getting out there is huge. Our biggest critic is our own brain- we tell ourselves we aren’t running long enough or fast enough and it’s just not worth it. Ignore it! Just get out there.  After a week or two of just doing the activity you are into you are in a much better position to plan and focus. It’ll come, you have to trust that.

So for the first time in a month I’m thinking about what events to sign up for this summer. I’m obviously not racing the Tour Divide, but I know that is for the best. I may do an 8-hour mountain bike race, which will be a nice change from doing only 24-hour or 100-mile events recently. May also do a few double centuries, since I didn’t do any all of last year. And maybe some shorter runs like halfs and marathons? What are you doing this summer? No matter what it is, if you are changing your behavior and pushing yourself to do more than you’ve done in the past, it is awesome. I get as stoked on friends’ first 5k as I do for their 100-mile runs! Just get out there.

Lastly, thanks for all of the AWESOME feedback from the A Day in the Life videos (if you haven’t seem them you should! Part one and part two). We’ve already filmed episode two and should have it up within a few weeks. I’m super stoked on this project!

 

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Filed under bike, run

Bike Night at the Hammer. RAD. So rad.

My love for bikes started really young. I was riding without training wheels at 3 and racing BMX by 4. I was in the 5 and Under category at my local track where an adult helped you push your bike up the starting hill and then held your rear wheel so you could balance against the gate. You got to ride the same track and jumps as the older kids! I thought it was best thing ever and it didn’t take long before I was finding or building jumps in the woods and trying to ride skateboard ramps. I had two concussions before I was 7, but that didn’t stop me from riding all over my neighborhood and beyond. Once my neighbor found me 3 miles from home riding off some curbs. She was so exasperated that she put me and my bike in her car and drove me home!

I wasn’t that interested in traditional sports or being told when and how to do something. BMX was an outcast thing to do, like being punk or vegan, and even at 7 years old you have an idea of this.  Then in 1986 the movie RAD came out.  BMX on the big screen! Sure, there was BMX Bandits (with Nicole Kidman!) before that, but BMX was an aside, it wasn’t about BMX. RAD is. And it’s as cheesy as it is amazing to a 7 year old BMXer.  My friends and I studied that movie. We looked up the stunt doubles in BMX magazines. We learned the names of any of the tricks we didn’t know. We built bigger jumps. We felt like bad-asses tearing around on our bikes doing tricks.  Hell yeah I’d skip the SAT’s to ride Hell Track!

So my good friend Lisa Auerbach, who crewed 508 last year and took all of those great photos, organizes Bike Night at the Hammer museum every year. She picks a bike film to show in the theater and has drinks and vegan food beforehand. In 2009 it was Breaking Away and last year it was PeeWee’s Big Adventure with Paul Reuben there to introduce it! So fun. This year she chose the movie RAD. It also happens to be the 25th anniversary! The Hammer searched high and low to find possibly the last remaining 35mm print, the Director will likely be introducing it and the original BMX bikes will be there on display. Seriously, does it get any more rad than that?

Thursday, April 14th at 7pm. Details on the Hammer website.  Also check out RAD: The Movie.  Please pass this on and help promote this super rad (okay, last time) event. Trailer below.

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Filed under bike, bmx, race, vegan

The solution may be as simple as going from A to B

today I had the wonderful experience of  riding the train from Oakland to San Luis Obispo. I’m meeting up with my good friend Mike, who right now is on a train here from LA, and tomorrow morning we tackle the 200-mile ride back home.

My road bike dorkified with lights, fenders and giant seatbag

 

Travel in general, and trains specifically, are great for reflecting.  Staring off into the beautiful mountain ranges, with the sun in the background, I realized that 10 years ago I was living in Central America and planning for my first ever bike tour. I had just graduated college, was stoked on living life and had places to be.  So many new experiences were awaiting and I awoke every morning with an excitement for the future.

A lot of this excitement, in retrospect, comes from going. The simple act of getting from one place to another.  One of my best memories of Belize is the first view you have when you exit the airport. BAM! Another country. My first time in Latin America.  Ten years ago I also went to Chiapas for the first time and the bus ride through the mountains of Southern Mexico is still one of the most exciting things I have ever done.

 

Amtrak box I didn't have to pay for cause someone had left it! Just turn bars and wheel it in...

 

I don’t have a philosophy per se, but I did make the conscious effort about 10 years ago that my political focus was going to be food and transportation.  Why? Because everyone eats and everyone travels.  Both are inherent political acts (denying they are is political!).  And you know what? Both can be super fun! When my students complain about not having time to cook I ask them if they have time to spend with family. Or time to learn a valuable skill. If so, you have time to cook.  Recognizing that eating and traveling are political acts is one thing, making them fun and awesome is another.

So here I sit in my favorite coffee shop (which I have been to many times, though I often forget the name) 200 miles from home, stoked to ride back. Like my trips across the country, I’ve traveled the California coast by plane, bus, train, car and bike (would love to walk or kayak, get in touch if you’ve got ideas!).  Guess which is the most fun?

I get asked often to help people come up with training plans.  It’s hard for me because I hate exercise for the sake of exercise. I ran 10 miles last weekend in the Berkeley hills and I was struggling…then I realized I hadn’t run since the Calico 50k. Oops. I  had just forgotten to run.

 

My training advice is this:

Find physical activity you like.

Do it often.

Keep it fun.

Find unorthodox ways and places to do it.

Sign up for events that are over your head.

When it gets boring, find something else.

Now, unsurprisingly, I’m off to the local vegan Thai restaurant.  Whatever you are up to tomorrow, enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under bike, travel

Best of 2010: Party-Hustle-Pancakes-Zarathustra

I’m a little slow,  I admit it. While better bloggers were re-capping there ‘best of 2010′ I’m here doing it near mid-January. And, honestly, I hope to get them up before February! Such is life.  What I would like to re-cap here is how fantastically a few of us brought in Spring last year. It was a weekend that encompassed so many ideas and actions that are dear to me, that I look back and I cannot believe it all happened in a 24 hour period.  First I have to clarify that bicycling here in Los Angeles in amazing. I’m not just talking about the mountains and the beaches. While those are great, what makes bicycling here truly extraordinary is the potential of what can happen under the radar.  As cyclists in a car-oriented city we operate in the margins. And it’s great!

That weekend was the second annual Los Angeles Street Summit and I had been asked to be a part of it. I decided not to contribute directly, but how about the post-summit party? Most def. And we’ll call it the Party Summit!

What is a flier without an obscure reference? We poked fun at a certain LA DOT employee who used the term ‘infeasible’ to describe possible biking infrastructure on some LA roads in the LA Bike Plan.

 

We rented a space, organized food, set up Gold Sprints and started inviting folks. I’ve a foot in the advocacy world and also the social world here. I think they don’t know enough about each other, which is why we (the bike club Swarm!) organized the party. We also had already planned our bike race/stair-climb event (an AlleyCross CycloCat?), Thus Climbed Zarathustra (read about 2006 and 2008 races) for the following day. We knew it’d be a busy weekend.

 

 

But then a few weeks before these events our good friends from Wolf Pack Hustle told us about their insane idea for a bike race. So insane it was beautiful. See the Sunday after the summit was the LA Marathon. You know, where they close the roads so at 7am 25,000 runners can run through the streets (paying over $100 each!). They told us they were going to host an unofficial bike race on the course at 4am! No traffic. No lights. Unbelievable.

Our party ended about midnight. After cleaning the space we had only a few hours before the Wolf Pack Hustle race. Without anyone saying it, we knew our house would be a base. About a dozen of us rode from the party to our place thinking about how, in some ways, the night was just getting started. Some people slept a precious few hours. The rest of us ate tacos and drank coffee!

At about 4am we rolled the few miles to the start. The scene was unbelievable. The corner of Sunset Ave and Fountain Ave was filled with over 400 cyclists! Not just the corner, but the entire street. It was beautiful. Don from Wolf Pack Hustle had stayed at our house and was therefore late (hey, it’s how we roll!). We chat with people we know. Others had stayed up all night too. SO exciting. Kids are on carbon bikes with race kits and others  in cut-offs with no helmet on converted fixed gears.

 

I think this video really captures the race! And a few of us make appearances.

There’s no need to go into too many details of the race. I was in the front group with a few friends and about 12 other riders. We were the ones to alert the crews setting up that hundreds of cyclists would be descending on them. And to learn that not all the lights/roads were closed! It was fast. Really fast.  And SO fun.  The course was not easy to navigate and we ended up making some wrong turns and having to correct. We even opened a closed gate to get through the cemetery and stay on route. Near Santa Monica we caught a group that did not do this (I’m looking at you Mike Sz and Bryan Novelo!) and our pack doubled in size. It was foggy and cold as we neared the ocean.

How far to the finish? Which way do we turn? Working together was less readily happening as we approached the finish and everyone looked for an advantage. Metal hit metal and some folks went down hard at 25+ MPH (no one was hurt!). We were on edge.  At Ocean Ave the route was not marked and the way toward the finish was taped off. What to do?? A few went right through it, knocking down the traffic barriers and almost taking a few of us out. The group got split up and Jon the Roadie (a real Cat1 racer) easily won the sprint.

It almost seems silly that this was one of the best times I had in 2010.  But it had all the right factors: bikes, racing, diy, free, friends, illegal, fast, adventurous and close to home. What more could you ask for? It was an absolutely exhilarating time and whenever I hear anything about the LA Marathon I don’t think about the three times I’ve run it, but about this race.  We hung at the finish, with the strange sensation of dripping sweat in the cold fog, till all of our friends came in.  Everyone was so stoked. We re-grouped and started the ride back home before they did the awards.

By now the sun is coming up and the cops are enforcing the closed course, kicking us off whenever we try to utilize the empty roads. We were all smiling about our experiences and enjoying the early sun that warmed us and the quiet city. We got home and decided to make pancakes. I was the most awake and least cold so I took control of the stove while others huddled in blankets on the kitchen floor. I’d pass down each pancake as it came off the grill and some were topped with peanut butter while others may have been topped with leftover icing from the cupcakes the night before….

I slept a few hours before heading to the Silver Lake dog park for the high noon start of Thus Climbed Zarathustra. Steevo, who was visiting from PA and came to the party but not the Marathon Crash Race, headed over with us (he also wrote about the state of cycling and riding in the Santa Monica mountains while he was here). It was a small group, but a whopping 5 of us did all three races in 16 hours: Gold Sprints, Marathon Crash Race and Thus Climbed Zarathustra and were all given prizes.  I cannot say that I enjoyed racing to and carrying my bike up 10 stairways (many with over 100 steps!) as much as I would have on some actual sleep, but I still had fun. After the race we chilled in the park and decided that dinner at the all-vegan, all-you-can-eat Happy Family was in order.  The best ending to one of the best 24 hours periods of 2010!

Another video

http://vimeo.com/10343137

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Filed under bike, city, political, road

Snap! Literally.

Been an odd week of bike stuff. On my break-away track bike I got a flat in Brooklyn from patch failure. This rarely happens to me even though I’ll have 5 or 6 patches on a tube at a time AND then the glue in my patch kit was dried up /missing. I had only used it once! Then on my way to work yesterday running late and hustling of course, I got a flat on that $100 Benotto I bought on Craigslist and recently rode to the airport. Argghhh. I replaced the tube I had used but not the glue so I had to use another tube. These are like $5 a pop! A burrito in each wheel. Oh well. Little did I know it was only going to get worse.

The gearing on the Bonotto is a 52-18. Ridiculous. But when you buy a $100 bike you don’t really want to put any time into it. I put air in tires, but didn’t even bother to adjust the seat, so why would change the gear? Well the torque from that big gear was apparently too much cause coming down a small hill on my way home from work I felt a snap and instantly went into a skid. My first response wasn’t to look down, but to keep my eye in front of me to make sure I didn’t skid into anything like a moving car or an intersection. When I came to a stop and hopped off this is what I saw:

At first I thought that the chainring had just come loose and then broken. But no, the spider part of the cranks broke off and the force snapped the chainring in half.



Is it from the gear being too big? Or just of questionable history? Many of you are probably saying, ‘what did you expect from a $100 bike?’ and you are right. Could have been a lot worse. Luckily the burrito stand I was heading to was only about a mile off and Sasha, who was run commuting to meet me there, had brought her phone and ran toward me.


Now I have to get new stupid cranks. I hate paying for bike stuff. Probably also need some new tires on my commute bikes for the winter. I know that all of this costs less than the average person spends on gas or car insurance for a month, but it doesn’t mean I have to be happy about spending it! Be safe out there.

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Filed under bike, city

this is what it’s all about


I’m not sure who took this photo. I searched all over the ESPN BMX page (yes, you read that correctly) but cannot find the original story. Ends up the guy heard about these concrete structures in England and had to hike and wade through water to get there with his BMX. Only had a few minutes before security busted him. This is what riding bikes is about- whether it’s a BMX, road, mountain, fixed or city cruiser. Remember this feeling. It’s what cyclists try to describe when asked why they ride.

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10-10-10 10am CicLAvia details

This is going to be historic. When I first heard about Ciclovia coming to Los Angeles I thought, ‘no fucking way. Not here.’ I was wrong! It’s not only happening, but Mayor Villaraigosa even held a press conference promoting it. More than a cycling and walking event, it’s a reclaimation of the the streets. People over cars. End the dictatorship of the personal use automobile!


This LA Streetsblog post has details for the feeder rides heading there and the other events happening in the streets. Get over there if you can and please promote this to other Angelenos! The CicLAvia site has all the details of how to get there, what to do and what to eat.

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Super bike dork status achieved

Last night I was riding home from a friend’s place after purchasing his rollers (the bicycle ones, not to be confused with the bird or the photographer) . I was on my bike, with my bike-specific bag hauling a device made for riding my bike in place. I’m not sure if this is ironic, unnecessary, obvious or some combination of all those, but when I passed a cute girl on Fountain Ave (with new sharrows!) I realized how ridiculous it all is. But, I love ridiculousness!

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Fastest, most expensive child portage ever

Zipps and a trailer. Wow.

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