Category Archives: city

Car-free Commuting Adventure

I’ve postulated that the same reasons I love being car-free: the openness, interactions, realness, risk and adventure; are the same reasons most people don’t want to bike or ride public transit. If it’s hot, I sweat. If the road sucks, I feel every bump. It’s freeing, but also a reality that you can’t easily hide from by rolling up your windows, blasting music or turning on the AC, etc. Probably why people feel so damn safe in their car that they can’t imagine that they nearly killed you (and also why they get bent out of shape when you bang on their car!). This sense of safety may also partially explain why more than 25% of automobiles drivers take off after hitting a cyclist…

Anyway, I’ve got a little story about being car-free and adventure. It started Wednesday night with a super awesome gesture from Jack. Remember the $100 Craigslist Benotto I bought last year? The one I broke the cranks on. I lost a few chainring bolts so I swung by for some new ones. He went up to his elevated workspace and I noticed an exact replica of the Bianchi steel frame I rode for years as a fixed gear, raced 508 with on Team Bonobo and then broke shortly thereafter. He said it was a friend’s and was working on it quickly before he replaced my bolts. I was hanging out with his housemates, we’re all shooting the shit and he’s plucking away on this bike. Then I see him working on the Benotto. Finally. I was getting hungry.

Then he passes down my old, broken Bianchi and I reminisce. Ah, Go Vegan! and Converge stickers. Then he comes down with the other Bianchi that has all the Benotto parts on it! ‘Dude, that bike was sketchy, I couldn’t let you ride it. I thought you’d be stoked on the same bike you had before.’ So stoked!

 

The 'new' Bianchi with the Benotto components and the old, broken Bianchi. Thanks Jack!

 

 

We went and ate at Pure Luck and then I rode it the mile back to my house. Sweet, no more untightenable headset or sketchy, loose cranks! Is this bike now too nice to be my junker commuter?

 

Thursday- Work, Work, Ride to Airport

I’ve no qualm with packing my days tight. Thursday morning I woke up early to pack for my weekend in SF and was out the door by 830am to teach my 935am class. I ride to the Rapid bus on the new Bianchi. After class I have lunch and then a teacher training for my other job from 1230-330pm. Flight at 530pm, so just under an hour to go the 6 miles to the airport. I’ve ridden to LAX before and had just gotten done telling my co-workers how easy it is.  Earlier I had felt the cog slipping a little, but I thought it was just settling. It looked okay. Then less than a mile away it’s slipping again. A lot. I look closely at the cog and it’s totally stripping the hub! Shit. I was 5 miles from the airport, on the side of the road with a stripped cog. Basically I couldn’t propel the bike forward.

But wait, I have a flip-flop hub! I could just thread it onto the other side and hand tighten it and hope for the best? I give it a go but the locknut won’t fit. There’s nothing to hold the cog tight.

 

40 minutes to get 5 miles with a broken bike.

My phone says over an hour to walk and do public transit. I call Brian and Jenny, who live 3 miles from the airport, whose house I’ve used to drop my bike off when I’ve flown with the break-away bike and had to go straight to work. Neither are home. So I tighten the cog down on the non-stripped side the best I can. With no lock nut. Basically I can pedal but can’t apply back pressure to slow down or the cog unthreads. It’s too sketchy to ride all the way to the airport, since I can’t stop. If I leave my bike at the Greenline station for the weekend any part not locked would be stolen. I aim for Brian and Jenny’s house. The plan is to hop their fence, leave the bike in the backyard and run to public transit.

 

25 minutes to get 3 miles

I pull up and knock to see if their houseguest is there. No luck. Then out of nowhere Jenny’s brother Alec rides up! Hey man! As I’m explaining my predicament I get a txt that my flight is delayed 30 minutes. Sweet! We open the garage and weigh my options. Try to fix it? Leave it and go on foot? Then he points to a beaten up beach cruiser. Dude, just take that. Score.

 

40 minutes to get 3 miles- on a beach cruiser!

Within minutes I’m riding the madness of Century Blvd toward LAX. When I ride I take the lane, comfortably. On a beach cruiser on a sketchy, fast westside road is something else. I actually had people slow down and look at me, not with anger, but perplexity.  I am pedaling frantically while wearing a white button-up, nice jeans and dress shoes with these socks:

 

 

As I get close to the airport traffic slows, I wave to the security folks and cruise into Terminal One. I hop the curb and ride straight to the bike rack. Boom. Early. Possibly would have made the original flight time!

So my record stands: I’ve never missed a flight. Sure, I got lucky, but what is luck than just keeping options open and having Faith in Vagueness? Now I just need to figure out how I’m getting to work Tuesday morning…

 

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Filed under city, public trans, travel

Not doing an event = awesome

This past weekend I bailed on riding the Orange County 300k because I was still sick from last week. Riding 210 miles on Wednesday while sick definitely did not help me get better (a post about that ride coming soon!). So I flaked and instead hung out hard. Fifty-five chill miles Saturday with a posse riding some of my favorite climbs near the Rose Bowl.  Then dinner at one of my favorite spots in the LA area, Happy Family.  It’s all vegan, which is good. It’s an all-you-can-eat menu where each dish is made to order and that’s great. AND  it’s some of the best Chinese food I’ve had in California, which is unbelievable. Win-win-win.

Sizzling Plate. Look at those bubbles in the sauce!

Sunday some friends had a vegan brunch unrelated to the sporting event, but I ate cinnamon rolls as if it was a sporting event of its own. Then we rode around the neighborhood and visited friends who have recently moved here. East Hollywood represent!

Lastly I’d like to share what I’ve been listening to over and over. Enjoy.

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Filed under city, vegan

Running in San Francisco

I don’t always take my phone/camera with me when I run, but I’m glad I do when I get shots like this.

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of the longest slides I’ve ever seen! Brilliant placement. Run stairs, slide down slide, repeat.  And running shorts are the perfect fabric for fast descents.  Perfect for intervals!

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Filed under city, run

2010: Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer #5

All race-day photos from Shawn Bannon’s amazing Flickr set which I recommend you watch in slide show. While you are at it, check out his great food blog Little Vegan Planet and his fiance’s beautiful Cute and Delicious vegan blog.

Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer is a 10-stage hill race I have been organizing in Los Angeles for the previous 5 years (see 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 or my Feel My Legs tag) based on Danny Chew’s Dirty Dozen race in Pittsburgh. It’s simple. Find the hardest/steepest hills in the area and each one is a stage. We meet up, ride as a group to hill one, race up it where the first five people get points. Then we group ride to hill number two, where we do it again! You can see the most recent map of the ten hills here (which somehow has 39,000 views?).

There is no entry fee. No prizes for first. Most years there is an award for everyone who finishes and in 2010 it was this patch:

 

 

 

[Update Saturday Jan 15th, 7:15am, In 2010 all entrants received this spoke card by multi-race finisher and Midnight Ridazz regular, Creative Thing.  The photo is of Jack Lindquist’s piston tattoos. Thanks Creative Thing!!]

 

 

Back in 2007 the race was held close to Valentine’s Day and I wanted a design related to love- love for bicycling. My great friend Chris, who is the design force behind much of the Swarm! stuff, and I worked out this one:

Which, minus the cog, I got tattooed on my leg later that year (by my good friend Thomas Hooper).  Since then two close friends have had it tattooed on them, one of which is Jack, who won this race the first 4 years I held it. It’s also where the name of this website comes from! Lacy, in a discussion about what name to use, suggested something that is already important to me. Why not one of my tattoos? And since Out Of Step is obviously not my original concept, I went with True Love.

Eldred Street. So much steeper than it looks.

Enough with the back story! For the first in time in all five years of this race, Jack was not there and therefore obviously could not win. Instead he sent his housemate, a former BMXer and MX racer whose focus now is single-speed cyclocross. Ty (below, on notorious Fargo St) took some early hills, faded briefly, but then with a strong showing on the last few gobbled up enough points to take the win. Could not have gone to a nicer person!

As always we start with more folks than we finish with and a few newer riders are left in awe of the difficulty of this race. The feedback on the MR forum was fantastic. The last climb is in Elysian Park and we ended with a big vegan picnic/bbq. Thanks to everyone who comes out and races and supports! I wouldn’t bother putting this on (I lose money!) if it wasn’t for the stokedness of those who ride it. More photos from Bootykika if you’re interested and the date for 2011 is yet to be announced….I’m working on it!

I’m trying to force out a smile here, on the top of Baxter St.

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Filed under city, feelmylegs

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

SF Farmers Market brings it hard!

I'm behind on posts as I work on my new site so for now here's a shot
of our farmers market score from the wknd. Yes, those are California
organic kiwis and yes over a dozen apples (pink lady and honeycrisp
for you other apple nerds who care).

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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