29 March 2008

April 22 Car-Free Day Los Angeles

Yo! (Yo! MTV Raps is 20 years old )
So yo! Been busy with boring, non-bloggable activities , but I did do Los Angeles Critical Mass last weekend and it was off the hook! 250 plus. We rode through Hollywood, which I sometimes forget exists. I have to say, the best way to see Hollywood Blvd is with 250 people on bikes. Speaking of 250 cyclists, I have to point out that the City of Los Angeles has declared April 22nd a Car Free Day according to this Wilshire Center Earth Day. For real. Car Free Day. In Los Angeles. The 'official proclamation'(pdf) says, 'In recognition of the adverse impacts caused by motor vehicles, the City of Los Angeles declares this day a Car-Free Day City Wide...'
Is that not the most amazing proclamation you've ever heard from a city? Sit on that.
Oh, and the Swarm! site has some updates on it.

24 March 2008


I hope to get some photos up soon of my recent non-blogging activities: went on Dan Koeppel's 4.5 hour stair walk tour of Echo Park (seriously there are a lot of fucking staircases in Echo Park), mountain biking in the San Gabriels, mountain biking in the Santa Monicas, a Hip Hop festival and rock climbing in Joshua Tree. I love California!

But I can't be bothered to spend any more time on the computer than I have to right now, but here is some good stuff other people wrote:
Alex Thompson who writes westsidebikeside.com recently penned a controversial article called Bicycle advocacy: FAIL. Bike Activism, WANT! He's received some criticism, including this article: Great Energy, Wrong Targets.
And this book may be worth checking out: Pedal Power: The Quiet Rise of the Bicycle in American Public Life

10 March 2008

mountain bikes are like time machines

They take you back to when you were a little kid.

Mark, Jack and I rode Gabrielino trail in the San Gabriels yesterday. There were some hike-a-bike sections and stream crossings (over 50!) so we didn't make it all the way up to Switzer Falls. Before too long March 9th, 2008 with all of its modern-day responsibilities beckoned us back to present-day.

08 March 2008

LA Marathon for the third time

No one wants to hear about how my feet hurt or that the marathon was hard or how I did not train enough. 25,000 people ran this one alone; hundreds of thousands run them every year. The choir of suffering is loud enough.
This was my fifth marathon in two years and they keep getting slower! Sure, there are a lot of reasons why this is true, but come on. This one was fun in that I had a crew (at the start at least) and many friends along the way (thanks Chris and Luz for the photos). I hung out in East LA for awhile between miles 21 and 24 because by this point I was done and welcomed any opportunity to walk or even sit. Budge has some photos of the position he took on the 6th St bridge.
Did you hear about that guy who had to suffer through a marathon to realize that training actually is important? What a dumb ass. Did you hear about the vegan cheese factory that burned down? Apparently the cheese still didn't melt.
Here is the marathon from the perspective of someone who prepares: veganheartdoc.blogspot.com
I was worried about having some serious injury to my feet again, but one week later and I am doing fine. Only hobbled for a few days. Ha.

I cannot leave out that Brian did the Death Valley double on Saturday, marathon on Sunday ridiculousness that I did last year. But he ran a 4.14 marathon! Brian you are amazing. Imagine if you had been training! Morgan clocked his first marathon at 3.42 and Trista, despite a knee injury, completed her first.

03 March 2008

feel my addendum

Forgot to mention that that night, after Feel My Legs, Budge and I took the bus into downtown to see The Coup. We decided on the 14-minute bus trip cause 1) It was raining 2) Budge had raced and was feeling it 3) They don't allow bags at the show space. We met up with Luz at an Indian spot just a few blocks away, ate some good food and headed to the show. The Coup are an amazing group and they performed as a live band. We left totally satisfied and headed over to Broadway St to get the bus back to East LA.

One came, we hopped on and sat in the back. Not more than a few blocks away we were startled by a van that ran a red light and smashed into the side of the bus! It hit near the front and moved the front-end of the bus into the next lane. We jumped out of our seats and checked to make sure everyone was okay and there were no injuries. Then we hopped out of the bus to check on the driver of the van. I was preparing for the worst because the van hit the bus without slowing down. We look into the work van and don't see anything. Did the driver end up on the floor? In the back? No. Apparently in the ten seconds it took us to get out of the bus he had jumped out and ran down the street. He even remembered to close the door behind him.

Do we give chase? Part of me wanted to because as a cyclist I constantly get the sense that drivers feel there are no repercussions when they put others in danger. Here was an opportunity for vindication! In the end I decided against it. By now everyone else on the bus had wondered off, but we stayed with the freaking-out driver. The fire department arrived and were cool, checking for injuries, etc. Then the police showed up. Why do they always have to fulfill the stereotype of asshole cops? They demanded to see our I.D's. 'Do we have to?', we ask. Of course you do they insist. Then they began to berate us on why we were being so secretive. Hello, every hear of privacy? This is the thanks we get for sticking around. Instead of looking for the driver they harass us.

The MTA inspector called a bus we had just missed to turn around and get us to take us home. Super nice of her. Home around 2am. Crazy.

01 March 2008

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