26 September 2009

Crucial Vegan Friendship Picnic

Little late on this...but for y'all here in LA check this out Sunday:

Crucial Vegan Friendship Picnic
12-5pm, Elysian Park, on Solano Drive, North of Academy
If you have a facebook, there's an event page.

Join us for a vegan BBQ and Picnic in Elysian Park! Enjoy great food,
a beautiful park and old, new and future friends with us this Sunday
from Noon to 5. Bring something (vegan) to grill or make your best
dish or dessert (prizes awarded!). We'd also be super-duper stoked if
you could bring your own reusable plate and utensil so we can be all
environmental-ish. The park is easily accessible by bike or foot and
even automobile. Please pass this on to other interested folks!

This photo from Ulldepeix's flckr is totally unrelated, except that it sums up my excitement and overall outlook on life.

Mt Shasta CORPScamp

In late July I made the journey to Northern California for CORPScamp Shasta, 5 days of cycling and yoga, hosted by AdventureCORPS. Chris and Elizabeth were fantastic hosts: each night after riding and doing yoga there was either a group meal with delicious vegan options or a film.

Mt Shasta hanging out in the clouds above 14,000 ft.

Each morning we'd meet up, do some stretching and head out for a 50-90 mile ride. My goal was to swim every day. On Thursday's ride I submerged myself in some cold snow run-off:

On the way back from McCloud there was a bonus climb on an unmaintained road above Mt. Shasta city:

On Friday we rode up to Mumbo summit, which is on the Mt Shasta super century that we'd ride on Sunday. The bonus climb this day went up to Castle Lake:

I jumped into water that was slightly warmer than the day before and swam about 500 yards out to a big rock in the middle. Exhilarating! A rock in the middle of a lake in the mountains is a great place to reflect (what's important to you? Being in open water in the summer ranks high on my list!).

Sunday was the Mt Shasta Super Century, which I posted about previously, but I only mentioned the food :)

I'm fortunate to have these opportunities in my life and the health and capacity to take advantage of them. Are you?

23 September 2009

Park[ing] and Race[ing]

Yo social weekend here in Los Angeles! Friday was Park[ing] Day, a day-long event where communities transform parking spaces into parks. It's brilliant because of all the problems of automobile dependency, often overlooked is the amount of space it requires to not only move them, but to park them. In Los Angeles the bike community is especially involved, which included a 40-mile bike tour of the parks with the editor from LA Streetsblog. Photos, including the one below, stats and reports here. Dan Koeppel also covered a Dept of DIY Park[ing] Day event.

I can't think of a better use of a trailer than 100's of vegan cupcakes

I spent the day using the 'parks' as meeting spots with friends between work and other obligations. In Heliotrope Village the neighborhood council took over 5 spots and had a dj and a swimming pool. That evening I met up with some friends at Echo Park where the Echo Park Film Center was screening Les Triplettes de Belleville.

Saturday, this was worth my time:

A 3-lap race in Griffith Park, up and down climbs I've done hundreds of times, only 2 miles from my house. How could I not? I rolled over with my housemate and of the 50 people hanging about, I knew two: the organizer and his sister. Is old man status fully achieved?

Had to represent Feel My Legs (photo from Kelly's Flckr)

It was fixed gear only so it definitely attracted a lot of the LAfixed.com crowd, but I was surprised at the half dozen or so kids in kits.

40+ of us did a rolling start through the parking lot before hitting the top section of the two-mile climb up Fern Dell Dr/Western Canyon. There was some talk re gearing on the message board the week before and kids were talking running 47-16.....which seems way too big for me for the city, let alone a hill race. I palped my city gearing: 44x16 which worked well. Of course, I was totally spun out down Vermont Canyon, but wasn't everyone?

photo from Dev204. I love Griffith Park!!

Anyway, there was this guy way off in front that I just couldn't catch. Sean did a terrific job organizing this, but in his excitement he (and everyone hanging out at the start/finish apparently) lost count of our laps. So the two of us went out for a fourth lap before they figured out how to count. Hilarious. Ends up the dude who beat me is a Cat-1 roadie. Equally hilarious. At least he rode his bike to the race, unlike a bunch of the racers (only in LA people would drive to an alleycat?).

Sean hooked up an after party and I got so many prizes I couldn't carry them home. Gave lots of stuff away, but not the front light, which I happened to need. Score! Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen and who braved a tough climb three (or four) times.

20 September 2009


Taken from here (proceed with caution).

12 September 2009

Do like the Europeans: Death Valley in the summer

After the slaycation (Mike had to be back at work Saturday evening), I met Morgan in Lone Pine and swapped my stuff from the adventure van to his rental car to head to Death Valley and beyond for some 508 training.

I got out of the car in the Panamint Valley to do the 11-mile climb up Towne Pass. The sky was ominous and the air quality low due to the fires in LA 200 miles away.

It was super fun to do the descent into Death Valley in the daylight. Though seeing my computer read 62.6 MPH did scare me a little more than I thought it would. I knew I was going fast, but seeing it register over 60 triggers your mind to display the potential dangers...Each time I would hit 60 (It's a loooong descent) I'd sit up to slow down to a safer 50 MPH. In Stovepipe Wells this thermometer greeted us:

We camped in Furnace Creek after poaching the pool and seriously considering driving to Las Vegas to party with some friends. Up at dawn (the best time to see Death Valley, in my opinion) to drive to Shoshone so I could ride the sections that were miserable for me last year: the long, false-flat to Baker and the 23.5 mile climb out of Baker (see the entire route here).

Morgan was more than happy to do support for me, which I can't thank him enough for. The desert and black metal? He was content to spend the day handing me cold bottles of liquid. In the 6 hours it took me to ride the 85 miles of the route in 100 degree plus weather I drank 2 gallons of liquid. Didn't even think that was possible!

Morgan put up more of his photos here.

We drove the remainder of the route and made it to Loma Linda in time to score a giant can of my favorite vegan hot dogs for our upcoming picnic/bbq:

And with these back-to-back trips my 'summer' drew to a close. Yes, I live in Southern CA and am underemployed, but September in my mind always brings a new situation and a new outlook. After a slightly disappointing summer, I'm amped on making the most of Fall.

09 September 2009

ideas that involve act

In my previous post I alluded to being some sort of activist, but it's unfortunately true that my participation in 'activist' activities (action?!) is irregular. Though in the last month or so I've been keeping up more with sites like LA Streetsblog and Infrastructurist.com and am seeing more potential in the overlap between their ideas and my own. I'm trained in counseling through my nutrition schooling and one of the main foci is that knowledge is not enough to produce change in individuals. Regardless of the targeted change, there are a plethora of social and environmental factors working against us. Techniques to overcome these barriers as they appear are crucial in any behavior-change plan. My approach has been to be a quiet (okay, not always that quiet!) example and to be a resource for those with a thirst for bicycles, veganism, etc. So before I'm off for this weekend's adventures I wanted to share what I've spent time this week reading.

You should check out this event tonight:
Portland City Repair’s Mark Lakeman will be speaking Friday September 11th at 7:30pm at the Eco-Village and then Saturday from 10am to 6pm he’ll be leading an intersection repair project. more info

Would $5 Gallon Gas Cause Commuters to Change Their Ways?
This is very curious to me. As cheap as I am, I forget how driven by cost so many people are. $5/gallon gas could totally transform our cities.

Did anyone look closely at this controversial interview and research out of Toronto?
Professor Chris Cavacuiti on how to stay safe on the roads

Here's a criticism from http://www.cyclelicio.us:

Have you talked to your work about this?
Bicycle Commuter Tax Provision: Frequently Asked Questions

The Bike League worked hard to get that passed, but local cyclist, trouble-maker and mathematician Dr. Alex Thompson is rightfully unhappy about the bronze-level distinction they awarded Santa Monica with ZERO input from local cyclists: an open letter to the League of American Bicyclists. Props to him for articulating an idea I've had about drivers for a long time: murderously entitled.

Have a safe, adventurous weekend and thanks for reading. Lastly, here's what's been in my head while I worked this morning:

07 September 2009

2009 Mammoth Mountain Bromance Slaycation

I don't know about everyone else, but often I feel pulled in multiple directions at once. Because I've put so much emphasis in my life on being an example, politically, ethically, etc, this struggle manifests itself daily. Hourly? As an activist, professionally, intellectually, personally, athletically, spiritually, adventure(lly?)....all of it gets rolled into the ball that is my life. Sure, it feels great to ride my bike with my housemates over to the Eco Village to pick up our bulk Dr. Bronner's, organic dry beans, hemp milk, etc, but there's a part of me deep down that misses BMX. Not just the riding, but the whole lifestyle that ruled my life from pretty much age 12 to 20.

Gondala ride to 11,000ft. The faces they are making is a movie reference I didn't get.

It wasn't all narcissistic and 'extreme'. My friends and I would do anything for each other and we worked hard to build all of those trails and to travel the world to ride our bikes. We really were part of an international community and it forever changed my outlook on the world. Since then there have been some issues where overlap occurs, for example I regret being too punk in college to buy a mountain bike. State college is a great place to ride, as I experienced when I was there last summer, but I thought I'd be giving up my activism by spending time and money mountain biking. Glad I got over that!

I get a lot out of riding my track bike in the city, mountain biking local single track, etc, but lately it's just not felt like enough. As I've gotten older, despite still dressing like a teenager, I've suppressed this part of me. It's as if there is a continuum with Dan Cortese (mtv sports!) on one side and Noam Chomsky on the other. You've got to choose your spot! If you are more Dan Cortese than you are less Chomsky! Silly, I know, but I feel like a lot of people think this way and I've internalized it and have quieted my inner Dan Cortese.

Leading into the last weekend of August (of summer?) Mike, Max and I went to Mammoth mountain, rented freeride bikes, got lift tickets and had a Dan Cortese hell of an extreme time. I won't deny it!

At the end of the day we hit some double diamond trails that had gems like this. I wish we had photos of some of the drops and bridges, but we were going too fast to try and stop and go back.

The day we left we took our 'normal' bikes out and rode some of the trails lower on the mountain. This is the same trail as the other wall-ride/berm I posted about.

These were the types of jumps I hit when I was 10. But with a hydration pak, clipped in and a road helmet it felt appropriately sized.

My friend Stephen, who let us crash, scored us lift tickets and took some of the photos, had just written a short story about another friend of ours first time on a freeride bike. You can read it here.

Have a great week and please don't forget about your inner Dan Cortese AND Noam Chomsky. They can get along just fine.

02 September 2009

oh, fire

Those of you in the Los Angeles area need no reminder of the station fire burning just northeast of us. Here are some unbelievable photos from the ever impressive photo journalism of the Boston Globe. Note the helicopter in this one:

This National Forest has been very important to me over the years I've spent in Los Angeles. I've easily been there hundreds of times road riding, mountain biking, hiking, swimming, running, taking Angeles Crest as a shortcut to the 14....

Recently I was discussing with a friend how we seek out contrast. We were laughing that we had both done hikes in the desert (him in Death Valley, myself in Joshua Tree) to springs to see the greenery that arises from the smallest amount of water. Why go to the desert to see green? We didn't really come up with an adequate answer, but didn't feel the need to. There is something magical to experiencing that part of nature that refuses to be like the rest and finds a way to be itself in the harshest circumstances. And this explains what I love about Los Angeles: all of the parks and green space, the surrounding mountains; the places that feel the most un-LA. If I love these parts why not live in Missoula or Portland? Because of the contrast.

This doesn't have much to do with the fire, and I'm sorry I can't add anything to those discussions. I'm just taking the time to reflect on the spaces that are so valuable to me. Here are some previous posts from times spent in the Angeles Forest:

Gabrielino trail(mountain biking)

Strawberry peak loop(mountain biking)

Midnight Express ride (over Angeles Crest at night to Acton and back)

The running and road bike mountain bike shuttle trip

LA Bike Coalition article with photo of Echo Mountain

To Mt. Wilson on dirt with the cross bike

Crazy to think it won't be the same for generations.