- No Ridiculous Car Trips
Makes me want to visit Sweden even more now…
- Another Cyclist Hit by a Car
First it was LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who broke his elbow when a taxi dashed through the bike lane a few weeks ago, now it’s the host of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Peter Sagal, who got banged up by a car while out riding casually on his summer vacation:
I didn’t get knocked out, but felt pretty bad lying there on the ground. I did an inventory and all my parts were still there, and nothing felt broken, but I was having trouble breathing so when somebody ran up I asked them to call 911 and tried not to move. Ambulance came, EMTs checked me out, and by that time I was starting to feel a little better and thought maybe I could shake it off and just call home for a ride. Then I tried to sit up and an invisible angry dwarf with a knife stabbed me in the back. So I enjoyed a relaxing scream and lay back down, carefully, and they put me on the backboard with the neck brace and put me in the ambulance and I stared at a series of changing ceilings until I got the emergency room at a nearby hospital.
I’m not sure if it’s the fact that more bicyclists are on the road these days, or if drivers are more distracted than usual… but as I plan a trip that will have me riding 250ish miles on-road, this sort of thing concerns me.
Guess the main takeaway here is that we cyclists need to be more defensive when sharing space with motorists, and do our part to obey the laws so that we can get self-righteous when the motorists do not. Also, we need much better bike infrastructure here in Los Angeles and across the country. Now that would be tax dollars well spent.
- Planning a Bike Tour Down the Coast
I’m getting that feeling that I need to get out of town for a little while again. It strikes unexpectedly and must be sated.
So, I’m putting together a bike tour to start in about a week around the 29th of this month and lasting for either 3 or 4 days. The plan is to ride Amtrak up the coast for 5 hours to San Luis Obispo, explore for the evening and spend the night, then ride back home to LA.
- Attitude is Everything.
Yesterday, I was out riding along the San Gabriel River Trail on a beautiful Southern California morning when something unexpected happened.
After making it far enough south and deciding to turn around I was cruising north, listening to Boston, hands resting lightly on the tops of the handlebars when I noticed I was overtaking a couple young kids riding single file on their bmx bikes. On this segment of trail, which runs directly adjacent to the San Gabriel River, the river is completely concrete with a steep concrete slope at probably 45 degrees from the top of the trail to the bottom of the “river”. Because the speed difference between the kids and myself was pretty high (I was going about 20mph and coming up on them pretty fast), I moved my hands down to the hoods so that I had access to the brakes in the unlikely event that it became necessary.
It became necessary. (more…)
- Joshua Tree Decompression
Sometime last week I decided that I needed to get away from the city for a few days. My old-reliable escape destination since I moved to LA has been Joshua Tree National Park. It has several distinct advantages over most every other destination within 2 hours of Los Angeles.
First, it is inexpensive. An annual pass to the park costs only $30 and I’ve had one for the past two years. Camping is just $10/night per campsite. I can say for a week at Joshua Tree for the same price as a single night at an inexpensive hotel/motel. And is an ice machine conveniently located just down the hall really worth 7x the price?
Joshua Tree’s second advantage is that it doesn’t attract large crowds of people. Last time I spent 3 days camping there, I only talked to one other person and only saw several people in total – it was fantastic. This time, even with the 100+ degree days and lack of most services (i.e. real bathrooms and running water), there were quite a few people visiting but still nothing like a state park on the ocean.
Third (and most importantly), it has basically zero cell coverage throughout the entire park area. This allows/forces me to really disconnect from the rest of the world. I get calls and text messages all day long (not to mention emails) and my morning routine before I even get out of bed is to 1) check email, 2) read facebook, 3) skim NY Times headlines and read any interesting stories, then 4) glance at twitter – only after all those tasks are completed do I even bother to crawl out from under the sheets. Not so during my time at Joshua Tree. You realize how long a day really can be when it’s not filled with constant attempts to “keep up” with various, often irrelevant, information. (more…)
- My “Return” to Cycling
Between the beginning of February and the middle of April, my mountain bike had been gathering dust in my office at work. It was living in my office because my car has no way to attach a bike rack (no trunk, no roof rack, no hitch) and because the office is closer to the beach than my downtown loft, it seemed like a great staging area. The only problem was that I never rode it and it never left my office for those months. I hadn’t really done any serious riding since my massive-ish wipeout at the end of last year and I was missing those beach at sunset rides. And eventually, as the weather transitioned from winter to spring – which is to say, went from the low 60′s to the high 60′s – I decided it was time to get back on the bike.
So I started riding on the super-convenient Ballona Creek trail which is very nearby my office and starts somewhere up in Culver City and goes out to the beach trail. My casual ride was about 10-15 miles depending on how much time I had. Best way to describe it was “relaxing”. After a long day of working in a chair in an office, I got to stretch my legs, get some fresh air, and enjoy that proximity to the ocean.
At some point I got the crazy idea that I could commute on the bike.
I mapped it out on Google Maps and it claimed to be just 16 miles one-way. The terrain looked pretty much flat. And the first portion of the commute would take me on the familiar Ballona Creek trail. The rest of the ride was a road route that I knew very well because I would drive it when the freeways were jammed up. In the car, with normal traffic, the route took just under an hour. I estimated that it would take me about two hours on the bike the first time.