Category Archives: feelmylegs

Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer

Riding bikes with friends and strangers, sharing my geographical knowledge of this fascinating city and ending it all with a wonderful BBQ/picnic in a beautiful park is a way I’d like to welcome Spring every year. The FML09 route map is here.

(the short sprint of a hill that is #5: Quintero. Echo Park)

FML09 went really well and I thank everyone who put work in:
Morgan, Paul and Jesse scoring, Kiecker running sweep, Max running/rocking the cargo bike, Jenny, Kathryn and Brendan handling the BBQ, Sasha and others for making great food and everyone else who jumped in and helped out when needed. And of course, all of the crazy people who showed up to ride, had a great attitude and showed appreciation. Thank you!

After congregating at the Silver Lake Farmers Market, about 50 us rolled out for the 6-mile cruise to Mt. Washington Dr, pictured above. This is a sweet, 1.4 mile climb with multiple switchbacks. It’s not a taxing grade, but is consistent and gets steeper at the very top.

Unfortunately, not every rider got to experience the complete hill and all of its worthiness. A miscommunication between myself and the scorers put them at the wrong spot. Not the top! The lead pack got there, raced for it, then someone who knew it was not the top told everyone and another ‘race’ broke out for the real top. When I got up there (haha! I wasn’t in the front pack…) we had to figure out how to score it. I made my decision after discussing it with those involved and said that if this hill made a difference in the end (remember there is only a first place) we would have a run-off. Most riders were not that concerned, but one guy threw a temper tantrum and stormed off. It bummed me out. Here is a race with no entry fee and no prizes, put on by volunteers. Is it really worth being a dick about? Multiple people apologized for him and said it is best not to have someone like that along for the ride anyway.

Next up: Eldred St (above). Some argue it is steeper than Fargo. It’s steep, narrow and in poor condition. It took out a number of people. Between hills two and three we stopped at Cycle Way coffeeshop. Note to ride organizers: It takes a long ass time for a group of cyclists to use one restroom.

Hill number three is new for this year as well: Amethyst st in El Sereno. It’s .60 miles and has varying degrees of steepness, width and road quality. It winds tightly through a small neighborhood and at the top looks like rural Central America. The crazy descent reinforces this. At this point the ride leaders are establishing themselves: Jack (who showed up to race despite the rumors), Brian (not on a mtb this year), E-rock (westside cyclocross guy) and Dean (on a sick IF cross bike with tubulars).

After a cruise through Lincoln Heights and Chinatown, we arrive in Echo Park for White Knoll, #4. This has been on FML each and every year. At 11am it was still overcast and the possibility of rain loomed. After this point the rides between hills become shorter and the reality of 10 steep hills in one morning hits.

Quintero is a .20 mile sprint of a hill (also the first photo in this post) and I went for it. Brian teasingly let me take the photo finish for third, which would prove to make a difference in the end.

Another classic climb. We start at the coffee shop on Echo Park before turning left onto this monster with its bricks and unevenness. Usually after we descend, Baxter (where the bus was stuck) is the next hill, but not this year. After descending we roll down Lake Shore to Berkeley into Silver Lake.

Micheletorena St, usually the last hill, is number 7 this year. It’s only 0.60 miles, but it varies in steepness and is visually very intimidating. No turns and only up. It’s like it will never end. No photos from this year, unfortunately. This year I linked up Micheletorena to Duane by going over the ridge to the reservoir. The temperatures are starting to rise, the sun is out and people are ready to be done. Then Duane hits as number 8. That little push up on Silver Lake is tough and then you see the massiveness of Duane. It’s a busy area with the dog park and a line of cars had to wait patiently for the last of the tacking riders, but they were cool and one guy even clapped as he drove by. Sweet.

Thee Fargo as hill number 9 is cruel. But logistics ruled and that’s where it ended up. It’s gotten fame in the cycling world from the LA Wheelman hill climb and is a doozy. 32 percent?! Above the lead group hammers up.

The hammering wouldn’t last as even the strongest riders had to tack near the top. Dean is killing it out in front while everyone else does a coordinated bike dance. It was great to watch these guys battle it out, as the points were still close. From here a short ride lead us to the back of Elysian Park and a 1.6 mile climb up Stadium Way to the glorious finish.

E-rock, Brian and Jack on the slight downhill before it picks up again.

Brian would end up taking the last hill, which left him and Jack in a tie! Oh no, exactly what I was worried about happening. We considered a one-on-one battle up this last hill, going back to Mt. Washington, a banana-eating contest, a dance off…..but it ends up both were too hungry to care and we all went to the BBQ and didn’t think about it again. Awesome.

Kathryn and Brendan grill some big franks and veggie ham/pineapple kabobs.

Other friends arrived bringing food, beer and a kickball. Nothing like a group of adults playing kickball in spandex… It was great (except for the spandex part). I got to spend time with people I wish I saw more often and hang out with people I’ve only seen from a distance or in the internet. I appreciate the feedback I get and I really do feel honored that people come out to ride such a ridiculous event AND they have fun. Looking forward to the 5 year anniversary in 2010!

You can also check out Ingrid’s photos and Gary’s write up.


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Feel My Bus

Life is a lot like this bus that we spotted stuck on Baxter St during Feel My Legs. A bus has almost unlimited potential in how far it can take you and provides seemingly unlimited space to fill with your heart’s desires (not to mention it as a ubiquitous symbol of education/knowledge). But then sometimes you want to go to places you probably should not. Even if you know this, the idea is intoxicating and the potential for growth being in a new, uncomfortable space is huge. Going where we shouldn’t also has its risks. If it did not than it wouldn’t be any different than our everyday lives. And then sometimes you get stuck on a steep incline.

Photo from Ingrid’s Flickr. The bus made it up Baxter, from the steep Fargo St side, but is stuck on the ridge before the descent. In previous years we came up the road from the direction the bus is facing, but in 2009 I pulled this hill in order to include the new one in El Sereno.

What does this have to with a hill race? I’m super busy right now and going through some things I really, really wish I did not have to do, so I’ve been super slack on posting about Feel My Legs this year. Hopefully in the next couple days.


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last FML update for 2009

(main page for Feel My Legs 2009)

Map of the hills for 2009 (blue is route to each hill, which is in red)

Of course if you are on the ride the last hill ends near here. Pass on the map to anyone meeting you for the eating and hanging out session (and ask them to bring vegan food!).

Lastly, I want to pass on some info from the Midnight Ridazz forum:
Westsidazz will be rolling out of Virginia Park (pico and 23rd) at 6.30am. BE ON TIME, we will leave without you.

See you tomorrow morning.

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FML 09: The hills and training rides

Here are the hills for this year’s event. Three new ones!

1. Mt Washington drive / Self-realization* (Mt. Washington)
2. Eldred st (Highland Park)
3. Amethyst st* (El Sereno)
4. White Knoll/Marview -off Sunset (Echo Park)
5. Quintero st. -off Sunset (Echo Park)
6. Echo Park ave/Baxter (Echo Park)
7. Micheletorena st (Silver Lake)
8. Silver Lake blvd/Duane st (Silver Lake)
9. Fargo st (Echo Park)
10. Stadium way/Academy/Boylston* -off Riverside (Elysian Park)
*new hills

And we’ve got a few training rides

Feb 28th- 750am
Leaving from Highland Blvd-south of Franklin (map)
58 miles (8 big climbs) on and around Mulholland Dr. (route looks amazing)
Swarm! is not involved, it’s a regular Caturday Warriors ride. Here is the post on Midnight Ridazz.

Sunday March 1st- 830am
Meet at Cycle Way Coffee in Hermon (map)
We’ll ride hill number one in Mt. Washington and then cruise through Glendale to ride two great climbs near Chevy Chase blvd (Epicer and Catholic School Girl in our lingo).
Probably about two hours. Contact: bikeswarm at gmail.

Saturday March 7th- 9am
Leaving from Ballona Creek Bridge
We’ll do some short, steep, hill intervals on the westside.
2hrs (stages, not riding the entire time)
Mileage to be determined
For info hit up Brian: sellyourcarandgetabike at gmail or here

I’ll try to get a couple more scheduled and will post here. Thanks everyone!

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FML09 update

Thanks everyone who has given feedback and has shown interest in riding this year. We are all very excited. I hope to have the hills finalized next week. As of now there are two new hills that are just unbelievably awesome. What we need help with is promotion. Please forward the info to club lists, forums and anyone you think would be interested. Use this link:

Bike choice- You can ride any bike you want! The fastest few are always on road bikes with normal gearing. A good all around bike would be a cross with slicks. Some people do ride mountain bikes and while they are not the fastest, by the 5th or 6th hill those not riding them will be envious of your granny gear. You may want to reconsider fancy, expensive wheels (see below) and please make sure your brakes work very well.

The hills- All ten are on open roads, most of them poorly maintained. Think pot holes, cracks, uneven pavement, debris. It takes more then strength; good riding skills will definitely come in handy.

Training rides- I haven’t scheduled any yet! Will do though. I recommend Mitcheltorena off Sunset and Duane off of Silver Lake Blvd as good measure hills.

No cars- Seriously. The starting point is easily accessible from Union Station and numerous Metro buses and trains. If you absolutely have to drive to the start, don’t plan on seeing your car till the end. If you want your boyfriend to come along but he can’t ride very well, you’ve got five weeks to get him up to speed.

Food afterward- We are going forward with a vegan picnic/BBQ in Elysian Park (Stadium Way & Academy Rd) starting at noon. It is a facebook event here. Some of you may not be into vegan food, but it’s how most of Swarm! eats and you don’t have to come! But you are invited and please tell others (and ask them to bring vegan food!). Check my sidebar for info on veganism and recipes. We will be honoring Bryan Farhy and the motivation he gives us to be active vegans and “fucking boring semi-employed geeks” at the same time. Year one was the year of the pancake, year four, which this is, is the year of the rabbit. We will celebrate by eating what is commonly referred to as rabbit food. And vegan corn dogs (the year of the corn dog is not for another 13 years and we can’t wait that long).

Support- Very limited. We will have a floor pump, but please bring everything else to fix a flat and minor mechanicals. There will be a utility bike that will be at the first few hills and then meeting us at the BBQ.

Thank you all and looking forward to seeing you on the 14th of March.

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Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer 2009

Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer
Sat March 14, 2009
10 hills, 10 stages, 1 morning
A race for some, an epic adventure for others

A tour of the less traveled streets and neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
There is no entry fee and limited support. No cars please, spectators welcome on bikes (you won’t have to ride all the hills).
Just riding up any one of these hills is an accomplishment. Ten in one day is seriously hard. Come prepared.

Sunset Blvd and EdgeCliffe Dr.
(Silver Lake Farmers Market)
Sign-up at 745am, leave at 815

A Swarm! event. Tell others.

(This race is based on Danny Chew’s Dirty Dozen. Thanks to Swarm!, Danny Chew, Steevo, Chris Moeller and Dave Clymer)

Hills? Los Angeles? How hard could it be?
Fargo St, one of the steepest paved roads in the world, is only one of ten. Yearly the LA Wheelmen do a hill climb here with lots of hoopla for just riding up this one hill. For you it will only be hill number five. Are the others equally hard? No, but they will feel like it.

Do I have to race?
No. Only a few of the people out there are racing for points. Most are there just to attempt every hill.

I want to race and am totally going to win. How does it work?

Each place, five deep, is worth points starting with 1st place and five points. Each new hill is treated as a separate stage with a group ride between hills.

What does the winner get?

Recognition and bragging rights.

How should I prepare?

Climbing is a unique cycling skill. You may be fast and strong, but being both on these steep climbs requires a lot of training in the hills. This year I want to have a few training rides leading up to the 14th and will post them at

Why so early?

If you can ride these 10 hills in one morning then you can be out of bed and at the market by 745am. If you show up without having slept I’ll buy you a cup of Coffee Cellar coffee at the market. Most of these hills are in quiet neighborhoods with narrow streets. I want us to be in and out with as little impact as possible. The earlier the better.

What should I bring?

Water, some snacks, a tube, the ability to fix minor mechanicals and rain gear. It’s rained all three years so far.

How long will this take?

Expect to be out well past noon. We only do about 30 miles, but getting to the hills, getting set up, etc takes longer than you would think.

Do I get a t-shirt and brunch?
In the past we’ve had one or both, but I can’t promise either for 2009. Hopefully we’ll have a ‘Bryan Farhy Commemorative’ vegan brunch somewhere.

Who puts on Feel My Legs?

“A bunch of fucking boring semi-employed geeks” also known as Swarm! Hit us up via bikeswarm at gmail.

Will this be more fun than being stuck in an elevator in Newark?



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Feel My Legs, for the the third time

The start at Silver Lake Farmers’ Market
Racing up hills in an unsanctioned race in the heart of urban Los Angeles, I am figuring out, has minimal appeal. Or am I just not reaching the right people in my promotion? Regardless, for the third year in a row Swarm! put on Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer, the 10-hill stage event that is a race for some, an epic adventure for others that tackles the hardest, steepest, longest hills we can find in our city. It’s based on the Legendary Danny Chew’s race in Pittsburgh that’s in its third decade. Coincidently, my good friend and bike tour co-conspirator Steevo has won it four years in a row. Unlike their race, we do not attract Categorized road racers, but urban cyclists (almost everyone rode to the start) who are up for a serious challenge.

Including the Swarm! rank and file we rolled out of Silver Lake about 50 deep to a new hill for 2008 deep in Mt. Washington, Eldred St. With claims at steepness greater than Fargo St (hill 6), it was worth the 6 miles each way to add it to the route. When we turned the corner the hill was in view the gasps and ‘what the fuck’s’ from riders told me it was a good addition. Not only is it steep for a significantly long section, it is narrow, has uneven pavement and gravel and two loose dogs. In the photo to the left Brian shows that bike skills and patience can go a long way. 5 points.

We rolled back to Echo Park and Silver Lake hitting the string of hills (Marview, Quintero) along Sunset blvd before the long-ish stretch up Echo Park Ave to up and over Baxter. It was the strangest feeling: sun and warmth instead of rain and clouds. The descents were also significantly less scary with dry roads.

Jack and Cole lead the way up hill 2, Marview.

After climbing up Baxter from the Echo Park side there is a steep decline into a ravine, before hill 5, which is Baxter again up to the same ridge as the top of thee Fargo hill (but from the opposite side). Back in 2005 I did the water/food support with a BOB trailer in the rain and nearly crashed coming down when my brakes locked up and I launched over the bump in the cross-street. Even though my bike and trailer were airborne I managed to stay on the bike. It was super scary. Unfortunately Cole was not there back then, so when he bombed the hill in 2008 he had no idea the cross street lipped up. I saw him accelerating down at probably 30+ MPH, but figured it was Cole, who has mad bike skills, so I wasn’t that worried. Then I saw him launch off the street. And fly through the air. Then crash and slide UP the other side. Fuck. He leaped to his feet immediately, as we rushed over and made him sit back down. Fortunately a woman from the neighborhood happened to be walking by and told us she was a fire(wo)man and took care of him. Can you guess what he broke? Yep, collarbone. And some ribs. Someone from a house made a sling from an old sweatshirt and the fire woman took him to the hospital with his new Independent Fabrication bike that I do not think was damaged.

We were all pretty bummed, but we know Cole will recover quickly and we went on to the next hill. Someone commented, ‘See, maybe you hippies should have car support.’ I was too caught up in dealing with Cole’s injuries to see who said it, but here’s my answer wise-ass: Why should we waste the resources of someone driving along the course, on tight back roads that already have too much traffic, just in case a rare emergency happens? As this case proves, our neighbors are capable of helping and help beyond this (which we didn’t need) is only a phone call away.

After Fargo, we rolled up and over Earl St (which was one of the 10 hills in 06 and 07, but now only enroute) to Hill 7, Duane, from the dog park on Silver Lake Blvd. The extra miles in the start and the time spent dealing with Cole had already stretched out the day and people were getting tired. Then the sun went in. For the monster climb up to the Observatory it was cool and some sprinkles started to fall. When we regrouped and rode through Los Feliz back to Silver Lake it was full-on raining. Of course! We officially have had rain every year.

The hill that took Cole out

In Silver Lake we crossed paths with CICLE’s Green Living ride before hitting the last two hills of the day, Maltman Ave (brought back from 06) and the epic Mitcheltorena. Our numbers had dwindled down as the difficulty of riding all these hills in a row took its toll on a more than a few.

The mandatory Fargo St shot. Note

the Hollywood sign in the distance

With Cole out of contention no one could reign Jack in. Dominance for the third year in a row. Not only has he won every year, he is the only person to ride it each year. When will some real roadies show up and give him a worthy challenge? Other Swarm!ers did well. Brian scored points on a mountain bike and Budge held his own on virtually no training (though once he did a road ride, messenger race and bike polo in one day). And no women raced this year. Where you at?
Thanks to everyone who came out and made the ride a success. And the Swarm! comrades who come out every year to put it on. Credit for the photos goes to Stephen Krcmar and Stephen Roullier. Get well soon Cole!
Chocolate, lingerie and sweaty bike riders


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