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!
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…