Category Archives: city

Photos, Videos and Coverage of the 2012 Feel My Legs I’m a Racer

Photos by Donovan, Wolf Pack Hustle and Area45. Links to more photos below.

Backside of Amethyst in Montecito Heights. Photo by Errin Vasquez

It had started to rain and even though we were riding the usual 10 hills, we were riding up Amethyst St from the backside and it proved to be an entirely different experience.  The road is narrow, filled with potholes and blind corners with steep switchbacks that wind up a seemingly rural mountain. Our group had diminished in size and smiles were infrequent. But as I stood at a switchback filming riders go by I looked out from the hood of my rain jacket and for no reason in particular thought to myself, ‘This is why I put on this ride.’

Eldred St from the top. Some say it's steeper than Fargo...
Photo by @WolfPackHustle

It’s a Los Angeles that most people never see.
It’s a physically and mentally hard journey with little reward.
It’s camaraderie. The fastest cheer on the others from the top of the hill.
It’s simple. Pedal your bicycle up hill. No money exchanges hands, no permits or road closures, just simple bike riding on public streets.

The famed cobblestones of Baxter from Echo Park Ave. Photo by @Donorun

 Results
1. 50 points – Jon (Wolfpack)
2. 40 points – Evan
3. 16 points – Ivan
4. 15 points – Jacob (Swarm!)
4. 15 points – Michael (La Grange)
6. 10 points – Chris (Orange 20)
7. 4 point – Mark D.

[update 4-10-12: Points/results now correct]

Jon Budinoff on Thomas. Props to him for winning every hill. Photo by @Donorun

Uyen Nguyen was the only woman to attempt all 10 hills in 2012. And if there was an award for Most Stoked she would definitely get it. Photo by @Donorun

It didn’t rain until hill number 7, but since we did the route backwards [map] this when we were farthest from the start- probably reduced the drop rate.

Everyone who endured until the end, excluding one guy who hadn't made it up yet- sorry man! I felt bad for keeping people in the rain even a minute longer... Photo by me.

Sasha, my partner for the Day in the Life series, made this cool video using our GoPro.

Road Block from Wolf Pack Hustle stopped by to shoot this video of Eldred St.

Thanks so much to everyone who makes this ride possible, from the Swarm! volunteers like Jesse and Molly who rode up every hill and kept score to those who come out and ride. It really makes me happy that so many people find joy in such a unique event! Below are some of my favorite photos and there’s more 2012 coverage from Wolf Pack Hustle, TakeOver LA, Velo Club LaGrange, and photos by Errin Vasquez/Area45  and Donovan Jenkins.  And there’s the history of the previous 6 years.

The rain was really falling by the time we left Eldred St. Photo by @WolfPackHustle

White Knoll to Marview is a classic hill, has been on the FML route since the very first year. Photo by @Donorun.

A 29er and a Rando bike! All bikes are welcome! Photo by @Donorun.

Riding up Boylston from Stadium Way ensures that we get the maximum elevation out of each hill. Photo by @Donorun.

We arrived at Fargo with our crew to the confusion of the LA Wheelman folks. Fortunately they were very cool and cleared the hill for us to race up it. It helped that a Furnace Creek 508 veteran was the one deciding who goes up when! Thanks Picachu! Photo by @Donorun.

Welcome to Eldred Estates. Photo by me.

Vegan waffles with strawberries and cream, potatoes, tofu scramble and coffee warmed us up nicely post-ride. Thanks to Sasha and Luz for organizing the foods! Bad photo by me.

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Final map and details for 2012 Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer

Racer I am, Legs My Feel?  We’re going backwards this year! Here’s the map of the 10 hills:

Hills- Red
Route between hills- Blue
Return from last hill- Green

Sunday March 25th, 745am at
Silver Lake Pedestrian Plaza

Sign in at 745, meeting at 815am, roll to hill #1 at 830. Please be on time!
Day-of announcements: @BikeSwarm
Yes- rain or shine, any bike, water, snacks, tube, tools, stokedness, riding for points, riding to finish, waiting at top of each hill
No- bad attitudes, cars, jock mentality, entry fee, prizes
See other FAQ on this earlier post, propaganda here, entire event history here and send any questions to BikeSwarm [at] gmail
I may need some more day-of volunteers, please come speak with me in the morning if you’d like to help out. Thank you!

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2012 Feel My Legs I’m a Racer Propaganda

 

Here’s an 8.5 x 11 pdf with two half sheet fliers for printing.

I realize that this is the same day as the LA Wheelmen Fargo Hill Climb but I couldn’t avoid that conflict. It’ll be a little chaotic over there, as Fargo may be an earlier hill this year, but maybe we’ll pick up a few more riders for the rest of the hills? Every year I email them an invitation to come to this, but they never do- or even write back. But I’ll let them know that we’ll be there this year.

Also, if you read through the history of this event you can see that despite having the word ‘racer’ in the title the majority of people are there for an unbelievable tour of back roads and hills in Los Angeles- Shawn Bannon’s photos from 2010 really capture this. And any and all bikes are welcome! Just bring a good attitude- and patience.  See you bright and early on the 25th.

Thanks to Swrve and Golden Saddle Cyclery for being supporters of this event.

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Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer #7 Date and Time

[Update: Feel My Legs I’m a Racer Propaganda]

It’s that time of year! Can you believe this race has been happening for 6 years ->; 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011. And the Feel My Legs category has everything in between, including the flier from the very first race!

The 2012 race will be on Sunday March 25th. We’ll meet at the same location, which is now the Silver Lake Sunset Triangle Plaza, at 745am, pre-race talk will begin at 815am and we’ll roll out to the first hill at 830am sharp. All updates between now and then will be posted here and on the facebook event page. For day-of info please follow the Swarm! twitter account. Flier coming shortly!

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Finishers of the first ever Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer way bike in 2006.

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What exactly is this?

This is a stage ‘race’ on 10 of the hardest hills in Los Angeles that started in 2006. We ride as a group between hills and then each hill is its own race with points awarded for 1st through 5th. We regroup and ride together to the next hill. The rider with the most points after 10 hills wins. It’s based on Danny Chew’s Dirty Dozen. Most riders are out there just to ride all 10 hills in one day, which is no small feat.

Do I have to race?

Definitely not. Most people on this ride are not racing, but are there just to attempt every hill.

Is there an entry fee?

No!

Are there prizes?

No!

Can I ride fixed gear?

You can try! We ride together from hill to hill and any gear that you could get up these hills with will be too low to stay with the group. You are welcome to come out and prove me wrong though.

Will I get lost?

No! Well, probably not. We ride as a group from hill to hill at a chill pace. At each hill it will be obvious where to go. At any turns or confusing parts I’ll have chalk and/or a volunteer. We regroup at the top only after the last person has made it up.

How can I prepare?

Familiarize yourself with the route and with the history of the ride. A good start is the write-up from 2010. A good gauge hill is Micheltorena off of Sunset Blvd. . It’s long with steep sections and if you can make it up that comfortably I think you can hang on this ride. Another test is Fargo St, which is a monster of a hill. It has been hill number 9 for the past few years, but that is subject to change this year.

Do I get a meal or picnic or something out of this?

I wish. In the past we’ve done everything from pancake breakfasts to picnics and from t-shirts to patches. This year there will definitely be a spoke card by Creative Thing, but no promises beyond that.

Who puts this on?

My bike club, known as Swarm!. We ride everything from alley cats to international UCI races. Collectively we think that the world would be a better place if people rode bikes and ate vegan food more often.

My friends want to watch, can they drive along the course and stop at the hills?

Nope, sorry. We’re going to be on some narrow roads in quiet neighborhoods; I don’t want to add to the car traffic. They are welcome to ride bikes along with us and I’ll help navigate the best places to see and how to get around. By the end almost half the people with us are just there to watch and cheer on the other riders!

How long is this ride?

Plan to be done around 2pm, hopefully sooner.

Why did you stop making fun of Bryan Farhy?

After 5 years of naming vegan events after him over an anti-vegan email, he recently sent me an apology and I’m letting it go. Don’t tell any of my east coast friends that I didn’t take a grudge to the grave.

Anything I can do to help?

Thanks for asking! I need help getting the word out. Please send this page to your bike club/crew/gang. I also may need some volunteers the day of. Getting up and down the hill may or may not be required. Photography is always appreciated, but again, by bike and not cars. Get in touch at bikeswarm [at] gmail.

Get me stoked?

Here’s a short video of Canton Street, one of the steepest hills in the world, from this past year’s Dirty Dozen race.

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Is this the definition of irony?

The other day I was riding my cyclocross bike on some great canyon trails here in the city. Nothing is better than riding to the trails, riding dirt, then riding home. It’s great when cities have undeveloped areas to explore.
I was riding along enjoying some fast sections, with perfect conditions. Then the trail was blocked by a 4-lane road. I know building bridges and tunnels costs a lot of money and I don’t mind having to pop onto a road for a minute, but then I came across this fence between the lanes restricting non-crosswalk crossing.
And then to rub it in they put images of cyclists and runners on the fence blocking the access of those very people in favor of automobiles.
The fence forces you to ride against traffic to a stoplight, where you ‘safely’ cross and then ride against traffic on the other side.
All the while those images of cyclists and runners stare at you mockingly.

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Vegan in Ocean Beach, San Diego: The Best Breakfast AND the Best Mexican Food?

[Note: I started this post on Tuesday before Bil Keane died. Rest in Peace.]

When I 14 I was paperboy, which I loved, despite being up by 530am every morning. The positives- riding my bike and getting paid, getting paid (!), outweighed the negatives- always having to be around and always having to be up super early. It gave me an odd amount of time every morning before school which I used to read the paper, mostly the comics. Like everyone, Calvin and Hobbes and the Farside were my favorite (Have you seen the zine that organizes Calvin & Hobbes by political commentary PDF!?). Though I did read all of them including the Family Circus, which I never thought of as particularly funny or creative.  But it did leave me with something else. Occasionally the author would show the path that Billy (is it Billy?) had been on all day with dashed lines all over the neighborhood. I’ve always though about what my line looks like each day. And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks about this- The French sociologist Paul-Henry Chombart de Lauwe asked a grad student to keep track of her movements in Paris to see if people really take advantage of large cities.

But when I’m in Ocean Beach San Diego, I don’t need dashed lines or a sociological study to know what my route looks like.  I love this neighborhood: some of the best vegan food in the world is here. There, I said it. And here’s why:

The Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market

The Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market is an all-vegetarian, member-owned cooperative that has been in this neighborhood since 1972. I love co-ops and always try and visit new ones when I’m traveling. But none have had what People’s has: A bangin  breakfast. Possibly the best vegan breakfast I have ever eaten outside of my own kitchen. Restaurant breakfasts are the Achilles Heal of veganism. Options are rare and when they exist it’s often meh tofu scramble. Not here.

SO GOOD!

The potatoes are real breakfast potatoes! Cut into bite size pieces and cooked until crispy with just the right amount of salt. The tofu scramble is good as are the tempeh sausages, but what wins the award is the vegan biscuits and gravy. VEGAN BISCUITS AND GRAVY FOR BREAKFAST! The biscuits are that perfect texture where they are flaky, yet filling. And the gravy is tasty and creamy yet not overly decadent for a breakfast meal. The best part? You can get a full plate and a cup of coffee for under $8. And the organic coffee is excellent! It’s a meal that I dream about. Famous vegan blogger Quarry Girl discovered People’s breakfast and also gave it rave reviews. Yes, it is worth a trip to San Diego.

Liticker’s Tacos

Last Spring, when I rode LA to San Diego for the Mt Laguna Cycling Classic I txt’d my friend Stu to let him know we were close and super hungry. He responded that they were going to get burritos from the liquor store. What? And that was my introduction to Liticker’s Tacos. Sorry Quarry Girl, I agree with you about People’s breakfast, but the best vegan Mexican food in San Diego is not at Pokez, but in a liquor store on Voltaire St.

Tijuana-style Taco

Seitan Burrito

Have you ever ridden past a taco truck and thought, ‘why can’t vegan food like that exist?’ Now it does! The cooks at Liticker’s work magic with seitan, tempeh and tofu from TJ style tacos to California burritos with french fries. And everything I have ever eaten there is better than anything in Los Angeles or San Francisco. The seitan must be marinated and then grilled to perfection. It’s slightly salty, the way it should be and full of flavor. Even the tempeh has a flavor that I’ve never experienced. My non-vegan friend Mark said it best, ‘Finally it’s real Mexican food made vegan.’

XhabaneroX

Stephanie’s Bakery

My dashed line in Ocean Beach is often between the two above places, but on weekends I try and stop in at Stephanie’s Vegan Bakery, also on Voltaire.  I’ve written about Stephanie’s previously. What a street!  Does it really rival the Vegetarian Paradise 2-Bagels on the Square-Red Bamboo situation in Manhattan? Maybe so.

Some Stephanie's Bakery treats

Rancho’s Mexican and Vegetarian Cuisine

Around the corner from Voltaire is Rancho’s which has a hugely expanded vegan menu: tamales, quesadillas, mole, and a number of burrito fillings including carne asada. Vegan carne asada! This makes Pokez the third best place for vegan Mexican in San Diego. The carne asada burrito comes with meat, daiya, guacamole and salsa. I add rice and beans mostly just to keep the grease from running down my hand and onto my arm and to remind me that I am indeed eating a vegan burrito.  They also have a location in North Park on 30th St at University. I can’t seem to find my photos from Rancho’s so instead here are two spooning dogs I get to hang out with when I’m in Ocean Beach.

Bear and Reba, possibly the two sweetest living beings I know.

Want a ridiculous day of eating that no nutrition professional should ever recommend? Here it is:

Breakfast at People’s Co-op
Lunch at Liticker’s
Snack at Stephanie’s
Dinner at Rancho’s
Dessert back at the Co-op

The Co-op also has a vegan bakery. What a world.

Just don’t eat like this every day and then go and tell people an RD told you to do so…

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Why Occupy Wall Street is a Health Issue Worth Supporting

I do not hide the fact that my profession, public health nutrition, is the direct result of my social justice activism. I was brought up by working class parents who instilled in me the ethics of empathy and consideration of others at all times. Very simple ideas, yet often not followed or just simply ignored. As a teenager I (unknowingly) turned them into a political analysis that quickly led to veganism, environmentalism and radical politics.

In the early 2000’s I was entrenched in the anti-globalization movement and the early anti-war protests. We didn’t ask corporations and the government to be nicer or to kill fewer people. We challenged their right to do so. Often people misunderstand this as not having demands; we did and do, they just may stand outside of what you think is possible. And that’s the point. A radically different world is possible.  Those left of the traditional left are pushing you to dream. Not just in tactics beyond marches, but in how the world can really be.

In public health nearly every issue is one of inequality. There is enough food for everyone, but it is hoarded by corporations to maintain its high expense. There’s enough space for healthy food for everyone, but the farm bill continues to subsidize companies to produce cheap unhealthy foods.  Automobiles dominate our streets not because they are the best choice, but the most profitable.  Cheap and free clinics are only necessary because most healthcare is beyond the means of millions of people.  Public Health exists mostly to address issues of economic inequality! Instead of treating the symptoms, why not address the cause?

So I ask all of you who work in my field to stop for a minute and think about the big picture. I know there are people we want to help right now. I feel it too. But what if we worked to change the system that survives on keeping people poor?

You may feel uncomfortable with this idea. Or going to protests.  You may want more structure. I feel it too.  But we have to move beyond that.  I’ve said before that most of the things worth doing in the world are hard and cause you to sweat. I’d like to add they are also uncomfortable at first. Most people reading my site are okay with discomfort. In fact, we seek it out!

So instead of persuading you to push your comfort physically, today I’m asking you to push yourself politically and support the Occupy Wall St movement.

How do you feel when you watch the footage of cops beating protesters? Or sweatshop workers making our products? Or the story of a widow whose partner died because he couldn’t afford a surgery and didn’t have health insurance? If you have any feeling toward human beings you are mad. Embrace it. Don’t make excuses for the oppressors. Stay mad. Use that anger. Fight back. It’s not useless. You do make a difference. We have power as individuals. And jail isn’t that bad, I’ve been many times.  What are you going to say when ten years from now you are asked what you did to stop the inequality that plagues our society?

Here are some resources to learn more, get involved and stay involved:

Occupy Wall St  main site

Think Occupy Wall St is a Phase? You don’t get it on CNN

The Daily Show take on how the media is wrongly portraying the protests

Sparrow Media Project is raising money to print the demands

On twitter you can follow the hashtag for the main NYC protests at #OWS. Local ones have their own, like #OccupyLA and OccupySD

Remember, you can get involved in a variety of ways. Noam Chomsky wrote that when he was young he didn’t think his time was best spent at protests so he decided to write instead. 40 books later….Or my fellow Swarm! racer just made a vegan breakfast for hundreds of OccupyLA folks this morning. There’s no one to tell you how to get involved, it’s up to you…

If you have good links please post them in the comments!

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