Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And...Done

And then there were none...












I don't really have a lot to say. I've been so busy with everything else from work to personal stuff that I just haven't had the time or the mental energy to write. Even putting down these few words took everything I had. I feel like a big sissy saying this since I know a lot of people are putting in a lot more mileage than me but whatever... I'm just tired. really, really tired. Last Saturday night, after I finished the last of the 15 rides I told myself that I'm going to drink some beer, which I did. I drank half a bottle of beer and then went to bed. Anyone who knows me would know this is an indicator of just how tired I am since they would know how I hate leaving beer out to get warm, or just wasting beer in general. So, I think I'll spend the rest of the week with my nose to the grindstone at work and then write some epic and awesome post that is some kind of retrospective on the rides that I did this year....maybe.


or maybe I won't... I don't know.
Read more!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tell Your Government What To Do!!!

A while back I reported on a ground breaking study that was done by the Rails-to-Trails conservancy and Bikes Belong. Their ground breaking research showed that... wait for it... Biking and Walking places is good for you, the economy and the environment! Ok, so it may seem obvious to you as every single person that reads 15 Rides is in the 99th percentile of the elite academia and intelligencia, but apparently some folks needed a 50 page study to understand that concept and believe it or not, most of those folks work in our government...

But what would the Rails-to-Trails conservancy had done if they had just published the Active Transportation Report and left it at that? Where would that have left us? I'll tell you where; with me writing letters to 3 congresspeople on a monthly basis thus annoying the crap out of their staff.

Thankfully the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has followed up the the Active Transportation report with a petition notifying our Government that there should be significant considerations for active transportation in the new economic stimulus plan. That's right kids, Bicycling should get a piece of the pie. Here is this little block quote, clipped straight from BikeRadar.com:

"The threat: Unless we speak up, these transportation funds will go overwhelmingly to road projects—the same unbalanced strategy that has created our existing transportation problems.

The opportunity: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, in partnership with Thunderhead Alliance and America Bikes, has collected a list of hundreds of ready-to-go active transportation projects from communities across the country. These projects would create new jobs and revitalize communities by funding trails, bike lanes, sidewalks and other infrastructure.

This would meet the ultimate goal of the recovery package: creating immediate jobs. Additionally, such an investment strategy would provide both immediate economic benefits and lasting positive change.

The long-term benefits are many: promoting local businesses along active transportation corridors; reducing health care costs; and curbing climate change emissions and oil dependency. These projects would also establish the principle that active transportation infrastructure is a wise, efficient and desirable public investment.

Please sign our petition to President-elect Obama and key congressional leaders, encouraging them to fund these important bicycle and pedestrian projects:
Basically it's like this: Sign the Petition. I'm not going to be all nice and friendly like those Green Peace folks outside of WholeFoods with their green shirts and blue notebooks. No. Sign this F&%king thing. Look, I've given you two separate links to get to the petition, so go there, read it, and sign it now. Go ahead... I'll wait. Read more!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Slackin', Sick and Senile.

Since my return to the great state of California you may have noticed a significant lapse in blog posts here at 15 rides. I could come up with a myriad of excuses about being captured by rabid gangs of angry motorists and forced to give up my hardline pro cycling stance but I simply won't. I'll just tell you that I've been busy with some other stuff, like sitting at home doing nothing and working...

However on a more serious side I've been considering my next move. Yes, 2008 is rapidly nearing it's end and before the year comes to a screeching halt on December 31st to make way for the shiny and new 2009 I am carefully planning my 2 wheeled assault on the world, and I mean "World" like American Baseball and means World as the league doles out the Title 'World Champion' when a baseball team wins the 'World Series', which only includes American teams despite the fact that there was recently a true "World" baseball tournaments including a number of teams from a number of countries that are not the United States, in which the United States didn't fair as well as the most recent World Baseball Classic champions Japan.

But I digress. I've been seriously considering what rides I will be doing in 2009, if I'll race this year (for real this time) and what beer I should endorse as "The only beer of 15 Rides" even though I will continue to drink a number of different beers, as well as a number of different types of vodkas, tequilas, wines, schnapps and scotches.

So far my thoughts for 2009 look like this: 1 century ride every weekend. That's right. 100 miles every Saturday or Sunday. Then KOM Challenge, The Death Ride and Everest Challenge. And maybe some other rides like Solvang, Tour De Palm Springs and other favorites.

We'll see though. I'll be solidifying my plans soon, as the month is almost done.

Read more!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yay!!! Back to the News (from last week)

Welcome back 15 Rides readers. I hope everyone's thanksgiving holiday treated them as well or better than mine did. Yes, I found my way to Denver Colorado, home of Rocky Mountain National Park and the Leadville 100... And despite my best efforts to extend my hiatus through November and December and into the new year there was reports flooding the cycling blogs and news sites that there was talk of a cycling advocate becoming President Barack Obama's Secretary of Transportation. Though there were many sources reporting this a while back I've been slowly recovering from Thanksgiving, so here's the run down Bob Mionske gave on www.velonews.com regarding Obama's short list for potential Transportation Secretaries:

Representative Jim Oberstar — A Minnesota Democrat and nationally-renowned member of the Congressional Bike Caucus. Representative Oberstar chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Representative Earl Blumenauer — A Democrat representing Portland, Oregon, Representative Blumenauer—another nationally renowned Congressional Bike Caucus member and founder of the Bike Caucus—sits on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Representative Peter DeFazio — Another Oregon Democrat, and yet another member of the Congressional Bike Caucus, Representative DeFazio is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Governor Ed Rendell — The Governor of Pennsylvania.

Jane Garvey — The head of the Federal Aviation Administration from 1997 to 2002.

Well, I definitely hope the last two guys on the list don't get it, as they don't seem to have a lot on their list of cool cycling related stuff. So I think if I were to be making this decision it would be one of the first two, since those are the only two who really seem to be cycling advocates at all. I'm sure Barack will be calling me here in the next week or so to get my opinion, and since I'm a Super Genius my opinion is the end all be all when it comes to matters of national priority so I'm sure he'll agree with me and appoint Earl or Jim.

Read more!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hiatus...Yay!!!

That's right. I'm on Hiatus for the next 5 days. I get vacations too suckers!!! I'll be heading to the sunny city of Denver Colorado to lounge on the sun drenched beaches while sipping Pina Coladas and Margaritas. Oh... it will be pure enjoyment!

In the mean time, get your Euro enjoyment on over and over again with this classic tune by Kraftwerk:




See you in December!

-Corey Read more!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ride Report: 100 miles of Solitude.

The year is coming to an end. The winds blows colder now. The mornings and evenings have a distinct crispness to them that they didn't have 3 months ago. The leaves are falling and the days are short...








There are few things in this world that I find frustrating on face value. But one of those things is base training in the winter. See, in the Spring and Summer I've trained up, and I'm in good shape. But in the winter I have taken to relaxing due to shorter days and busier social schedules. The social schedule has a lot to do with the fact that by winter I'm burnt out on riding and I give myself more social time, but whatever, I'm slower and a little fatter in the winter than I am in the spring and summer. The other thing about riding that I find infinitely frustrating is doing a benchmark ride when I know I'm off peak.

Having missed Solvang's Finest (what was to be my November century) for a number of reasons I decided this weekend would have to be my century weekend. I wouldn't have another opportunity to ride 100 miles on a Saturday this month. So after thinking about a number of different, easy routes I decided on one that would include some of my favorite climbs (that are easy) and some easy miles through the valley. Yes, my route would take me from my house over Mulholland, through Brentwood, to the beach, up PCH, to Latigo, through Mulholland, then back to the valley taking me home. 102 miles. Now I mentioned that Benchmark rides when I'm off peak can be frustrating, this would prove to be ultimately frustrating.

Back in June I rode the L.A. Wheelman Double Metric, which included Latigo Canyon. Latigo is one of the well known climbs in Southern California and rightfully so. It's a formidable beast that is well traveled by all cyclists, from seasoned pros fresh off the boat from the European circuits to every day Freds. When I did Latigo in June I felt like a pro. Most of the climb was done at 11 to 12 mph, and I completed the climb in around 50 minutes. Saturday the 22nd I found myself on Latigo after 45 miles of solitary cycling. I'd left my house at 8:30 in the A.M. and had only a brief reprieve from my loneliness on PCH. Once I was on Latigo though, the solitary confinement would take it's toll. When I was a kid I was a Ball boy for the Sizzlers. They were a Topeka Ks. based Minor league basketball team. There was one point one game where one of the players caught me talking to myself.

"Who you talkin' to?" he asked
"uh... me" I responded, thinking there was nothing wrong
"You know boy, only crazy people talk to themselves"

To which I had nothing to say. But since that time I've been infinitely aware, thanks to the wisdom of that Minor League Basketball player for the Topeka Ks. Sizzlers, that if you talk to yourself you're crazy. And so on Latigo I was slowly going crazy. I found myself having whole 2 person conversations about a variety of subject matter. I was doing anything I could to keep my eye off my Garmin 305 as I knew from earlier checks that I was only clocking about 8.5 to 9 MPH this time. Benchmarks, don't do 'em when your out of shape.

I managed to get over the climb, get over a small hump on Kanan Dune, and get into Agoura hills with out incident. I even made it up a couple other small (relatively speaking) climbs that were between me and the valley at this point. I made it into the Valley and I felt like I was home free despite the 30 more miles that lay ahead. But I was home free, as the rest of the way home was basically down hill. I did it. All by myself, like that one song. I did 100 f**king miles alone. I don't recommend it to anyone. I don't know what I was thinking with this "Oh yea, I'll just go out alone for a hundred miles"... yea, f$%k that.

Never again... until maybe January.

Here's the Route.


Read more!

Monday, November 24, 2008

El Tour de Tucson = El Tour de WTF???!!!?!?!!?!?!

The Ride Report that was to be published today has been pushed back and will post on 11/25/08. First of all, I made a commitment to some close friends that I would clean up the content on this blog, and I feel I've done a pretty good job of that. So... Sorry guys, This post is going to be bad. I wasn't at El Tour de Tucson, but...

If further proof that Arizona is the F$%ktard A$$hole capital of the world was needed (I personally think there is already plenty of proof) it was published yesterday at www.azstarnet.com. Apparently some old guy in a car decided it was appropriate to run over ten cyclists, survey the damage, and then drive off. Yea, you read that right.

At El Tour de Tucson, a very large, very well known century ride that covers much of the sprawling Tucson metropolis, about 60 bicyclists were riding west on Ina Road, east of Oracle Road, at about 10:20 a.m. A car driving east made a left turn into the resort and hit 10 of the bicyclists. The driver got out of his car and observed the damage to the vehicle and the bicyclists before getting back into his car and fleeing.

"The driver got out of his car and observed the damage to the vehicle and the bicyclists before getting back into his car and fleeing"????? Are you F$%KING KIDDING ME???!?!?!?!!!? I have a serious problem with this. There are two groups of people I'm pissed at here if this article is accurate. First I'm pissed at the driver (given) but what about the other 50 riders? What the F$%k were they doing when "The driver got out of his car and observed the damage"? How many people does it take to subdue someone who's already gotten out of the car??? If I, or say, any of the 50,000 cyclists I've gotten to know over the past few years had been in that group of 60 that guy wouldn't have had time to "Get out of his car and observe the damage" with out me or someone jumping in the car, grabbing the keys and then subduing the suspect!!! Now, If this article isn't right, or if You the reader were there and saw this happen PLEASE write to me and tell me WTF was going on!!! Here's my e-mail.

I'm sure some of you remember the F$%ked up S*&t that happened back in January with that Melissa Arrington girl. If for some reason you don't, click here to revisit that whole mess. I'm pretty sure that if we were to take these two incidences, plus the slew of others I've heard about into consideration next time we vote on "Worst place to ride a bike" Arizona, and Tucson in particular, would take the cake.

Good job Tucson. Way to be only mildly s%&tier than hell.
Read more!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Get High, Drive, Text, Kill...Get off easy.

There were a number of events that transpired in 2007 that you could say "Helped" fan the flames that were used to forge this blog, the jersey, and the effort that I've been putting forth since. But none of those events were as heartbreaking to me as the event that transpired in August of last year...

I was reading the LAist and came across a grim reminder of that accident. Danny Oates was 14 years old when he was riding his bike to school on August 29th to pick up his schedule for the upcoming semester at Isaac L. Sowers Middle School. Jeff Woods was 20 when he swerved into oncoming traffic with his F-150 and mowed Danny down, killing him. I went back and found the article from the OC Register and reread it probably 20 times tonight, just like I did on August 30th. I remember when this accident happened. I watched every bit of news coverage that followed for a short time, and then lost track of the story as other things came and went. But today I saw that the Grand Jury convicted Jeff woods of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated and felony driving under the influence causing bodily injury.

It turns out that Jeff thought it a good idea to get loose with some Vicodin and Xanax, then get behind the wheel of his truck, and send some text messages to his drug dealer while driving. Well, good thing the justice system is there to punish folks who make terrible decisions such as driving while distracted while high off of prescription drugs. Now, I understand that mistakes happen. I'm sure that there are people who have prescriptions for certain kinds of medication who get behind the wheel and who probably don't have any problems. And even if they did, and got into an accident, the legal system would probably look at it and say, "You know, this is a fairly descent person, they were on their medication and they were driving, honest mistake..."

But this was NOT...NOT and honest mistake. This guy was F$&ked up, and was going to get more F%&ked up, and hit a kid and killed him. There's no way to look at this and say "Oh, you know, it was an honest mistake"! So why they convicted him of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated and felony driving under the influence causing bodily injury and not at least 2nd Degree Murder is just beyond me.

I don't know. If it were me I'd lock this dude up and forget where I put the key.
Read more!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Spot on Lads... Spot on.

I remember this one time that I was watching one of those crappy early morning talk/news shows for some reason. They were talking about some story about some guy and some crazy crazy circumstances and the hoops he had to jump through to right the situation. The very tall, very blond anchor then made the comment, "Wow, It's like, like a Reality Game Show!" Insert grumble, furl brow and rub eyes in disbelief. Since then I've been keeping a vigilant and socially critical eye open for examples of "Reality Copying Art"...

And so today, as I went through my pre-work morning ritual of checking various blogs and news outlets I came across quite a gem on Film Drunk, a blog usually reserved for movie stuff. I guess it works though since he was kind of knockin' Brett Ratner by saying that these unknown dudes from what appears to be California (food rating in the window tips it off) did something cooler than Brett did when he over payed Kobe Bryant to dance around in his underwear a la "Risky Business". And it is better, in my opinion... But whatever, I'm no expert on movies and TV and commercials or even video games. I'm just stoked that some kids who somehow managed to get bored of video games did something cool instead of getting jacked on some homemade Jankem

Watch the full video in all it's awesomeness below
(Note the flashing lights on the handlebars)


Read more!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Well, That's a Bummer

So, I've been doing the jersey thing for a while, for a year actually. I did my first order back at the first of December in 07 to get the ball rolling for 2008. I've been really proud of the jersey, and have gotten a lot of great feedback for the past year. But I had to make a decision today that was a hard decision...

Today I had to make the decision to pull the order off the table. I told everyone that I would close the order for the jerseys at the end of October, and by that time I had only sold two of the black jerseys, and not a single one of the white ones. I don't know if it's the new design or the economy or the fact that lots of people in my network already have "Share the Road" jerseys, but nobody wanted one of the new jerseys. Soooo, for now, this marks the end of the "Share The Road" jerseys. I suppose if I get some solid interest in the next year I'll put another order in, but for now, the jerseys are done.

The advocacy is still going to stay, the blog will still be there, but between the new post with PAA and the other stuff that's going on right now I just don't have the energy to really get out and push, then manage the jersey orders again this year. So for the two folks who did order the jerseys, I'm truly sorry.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Amgen Tour of Cali' in the Classroom!!!

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how regular news sources usually seem to get to the story before me. It probably has something to do with the fact that I have a full time job and a life outside of 15 rides, but regardless it still makes me feel like a chump journ-o for bringing certain stories to you a day late...

As usual, Bike Radar reported on something awesome and I basically am just taking the story from their website and reposting it illegally here in. It seems that the Tour of California, and the company that runs it, AEG, have found that it's a good idea to roll the Tour into the classrooms of the schools that inhabit the 16 host cities.

The Tour has developed a classroom curriculum that will cover all the content that would be covered in the classroom but it will all be content that will somehow be pertinent to the tour and it's route. So, much to the dismay of school children in the 16 host cities, Math will still be taught in Math, but it will be math that is Cycling or Tour of California specific. If you're interested in finding out more information regarding the curriculum that will be taught you can check out Bike Radar or www.amgentourofcalifornia.com. Do it, because typing "curriculum" at 10:30 at night after a few beers is really really hard.
Read more!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Long Weekend...No Post Today

Sorry folks, but there won't be any post today, with the exception of this. I've been wicked busy with tons of other stuff, and I just don't have it in me to write. Keep your peepers peeled for a full ride report of the Kern Wheelman's Spooktacular Century coming this Monday morning... Get back to work! Read more!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Special Bulletin... For Me Anyways.

The cycling club I belong to, Pasadena Athletic Association or PAA, held it's yearly elections Wednesday night. The votes have been counted and the results are in...

Here are the results...

President Corey Keizer
Vice-President Banner Moffat
Treasurer Jim Small
Secretary Johanna Tokunaga
Board Members:
Cici Arenas
Rick Babington
Fritz Bottger
Nor Oropez
Rob Shaw
Sue Thompson
Aaron Tuchfeld

For those of you who aren't familiar with PAA, it's the single greatest cycling club in Southern California if not the entire world. The club has a long and storied past. It's a club that has a deep respect for cycling tradition, but and openness to change and progress that makes it unique. PAA has strong race teams and great coaching, and has seen a number of members in state, national and world champion jerseys. Despite all of that, it's a club with members who are cool, down to earth people who love to ride. If your curious about PAA, or would like to learn more click this link: PAA Cycling. If you want to look into our role in Southern California's cycling past click the PAA History Page Read more!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Open Letter to Congress: Active Transportation

Recently I had written a post regarding "Active Transportation" which is essentially bicycling and walking. I mentioned that I had skimmed through the report and gotten the basics. Well now I've read the whole thing, from front to back. Not surprisingly the Rails to Trails Active Transportation report gives a full and complete justification for a greater piece of the federal pie going toward bicycling and walking infrastructure. What follows is my open letter to congress, urging for serious consideration of the facts in this report, and that there be swift and decisive action taken...

Congress of the United States of America,

The Active Transportation Report (from here on to be referred to as ATR) from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy was recently presented to Representative James Oberstar in mid-October. The ATR gives a very simple solution to a number of dire problems that face America today. The ATR makes the assertion that by motivating more Americans to walk or ride bikes for a number of their short trips and errands, we could lower our carbon footprint, reduce our dependence on oil, decrease the rate of obesity and obesity related health risks and alleviate some of the congestion that clogs are strained roads and highways

A large percentage of the trips taken by Americans in their cars are less than five miles. These are trips to the local grocery store, or to the gym, or to work. Many Americans drive for these short trips because infrastructure that supports bicycling or walking simply doesn't exist, making bicycling or walking unsafe. Increases in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure have been implemented in a number of metropolitan areas and have caused significant increases in foot and bicycle traffic. This traffic is good for the population, good for the environment, and good for the economy.

Global Warming is a very real, very prevalent threat. Our dependence on oil and coal, both of which are extremely dirty, have caused environmental damage on a global scale, damage that we will leave to our children's children, and most likely their children as well. We need multiple solutions to this growing threat, and we need those solutions now. Helping more Americans to get out of their cars by providing realistic and safe alternatives to driving is a step in the right direction. It's not the silver bullet that will lower the global temperature or clean up our dirty atmosphere, but Active Transportation is a significant piece of the puzzle.

Our dependence on foreign oil, and on oil in general has been a highlight of political debate lately. We've seen oil prices fluctuate wildly over the past year, causing an unbelievable rise in gas prices which crippled many Americans. Additionally, it is this expensive, dirty fuel that has been a major culprit in global warming. Bicycling and walking are modes of transportation that use no oil and gas, and have nominal associative costs when compared to driving a car. Convincing Americans that riding or walking for short trips is feesible will help them lower their fuel consumption, and will significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The ATR further shows that by assigning a fraction of the Federal infrastructure budget to Active Transportation cities and municipalities would be able to create miles of walking and bicycling infrastructure for the cost of mere feet of automotive infrastructure.

Many Americans find their days and nights consumed with a variety of responsibilities, and often don't have time outside of work and family for fitness or activity. Because of busy schedules and a lack of feasible Active Transportation options caused by auto-centric transportation infrastructure many Americans find themselves struggling with obesity and obesity related diseases. The CDC recommends a minimum 30 minutes of light activity a day. A 5 mile bicycle trip, or a 2 mile walk would give a person that 30 minutes a day. When Americans choose to walk or ride their bike to do basic errands, or to commute to work, there isn't as great a need to squeeze in costly and time consuming trips to the gym.

The ATR is not proposing that we discontinue spending on automotive infrastructure as it would be foolish to assume that America can continue to grow and progress without the automobile. The ATR is seeking though to offer real and feasible infrastructure that would increase Active Transportation, a solution to offset the pressure on our streets and highways. By reducing the number of short trips taken by car, we reduce the total number of cars on the road per hour per day significantly. This will decrease the strain on infrastructure, increasing it's overall lifespan. Additionally, bike lanes and walkways cost a fraction of roads and highways, and are more cost effective per taxpayer. Bike lanes and walkways also increase property value and drive traffic to local business that are within the path's reach. Americans will always have needs that require a car, but we can very easily reduce the number of those needs by offering safe and available alternatives to driving.

I urge you to speak with members of Congress who have championed this cause, and to obtain a copy of the report. I hope that the facts outlined therein will convince you of the need, and the solution that Active Transportation offers. We are at a crossroads in America, please help us make the right turn.

Thank you for your time and consideration,



Corey Keizer
15rides@gmail.com
15Rides.blogspot.com

You can view the report for yourself at www.railstotrails.org. There is a link for the PDF in the right hand corner of the page. Read more!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Westside Riders Beware the Pink Bullet!!!

I was on an insanely fast ride this weekend (reference this link for full ride details) with some guys from the club when I ran into an anomaly on the Westside that caught me quite by surprise. We were rolling down San Vicente in Santa Monica when my sensibilities were assaulted...

The Pink Bullet first caught my attention a few blocks away from where the incident actually took place. As we were heading south on San Vicente I could feel a car passing me in a manner that was a little too close for comfort and it startled me. When I saw that the car was a Pink Miata I immediately thought to myself "Oh, it's the fact that it's an extremely ugly, little car that startled me, not the nature or proximity of the way the driver passed me" and I let it go. Actually, I still did think it passed a little close, and that it was really, really ugly.

As we approached the intersection at San Vicente and 26th street I could see that there was a gradually right leaning line of cars that was developing. All of the drivers in this line were obviously turning right, but were respecting the autonomy of the bike lane that parallels the two driving lanes. Except for that is, The Pink Bullet. The driver of this assault on decency swerved violently into the bike lane trying to circumvent the line of cars and make a right hand turn before the other motorists could. realizing that the bike lane was too tight even for her diminutive atrocity she stopped, and simply stayed put.

Having no choice but to enter the driving lane because the bike lane was now "Obstructed" we did so, and on my way around this rolling pile of visual pollution I gave my usual polite but slightly sarcastic wave. To which she responded by waiving her hands around wildly, whipping a camera out of her purse and taking pictures of me while she undoubtedly screamed obscenities which I could not hear. Unsure as to why she was taking pictures of me (other than the fact that I'm devilishly handsome) I decided to take a picture of her, as she was still planted firmly in the bike lane despite the fact that the light was green and that traffic had proceeded and there were now people trying to pass her in the driving lane which she was partially blocking.



The Pink Bullet, in all it's bike lane blocking glory




The license plate of the pink bullet, documented here for safety's sake


Now it's fairly obvious to me, but maybe not to others, that anyone who would drive the devils delivery vehicle is obviously insane. I know this because I have common sense. Another indicator of her insanity is the fact that with only my stunning good looks as provocation she began snapping pictures wildly like a rampant paparazzi. I can only imagine the chemical imbalance that was driving her outburst, maybe schizophrenia or something else like chlamydia induced hysteria. Either way she is a frightening individual who is only made more frightening by her frightening car.

I advise all cyclists to keep their distance from all Pink Miatas, as I'm sure there aren't many in the L.A. area as most folks here have some amount of class and decency enough to know not to drive such an affront to humankind. Please beware, and good day to you all. Read more!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bike Friendly: The Americana at Brand, Glendale CA.

Seems a little weird right? The title I mean... I was definitely caught by surprise when my good friend Matt sent me an e-mail saying "Did you know the Americana has Bike Valet". Matt is one of those guys who helps me keep a finger on the pulse of all that it Glendale, the city in which I live, so when he said this I was inclined to believe... but I needed to find out for sure. Additionally there was some talk of a place called the Crepe Place, which is always appealing because I'm French so with camera in bag and my lock around my waist (just in case) I went in search of this "Bike Valet"...

Since the Americana at Brand was built I've been there once but only to scoff at it's "Mall-ish" Suburban Corporate shopping experience and prefab urban facade. I won't lie, I hated the Americana when I first saw it. To me it represented the kind of rampant commercialism and "Shop 'till you go Bankrupt" mentality that has doomed us. You know, kind of like This Visa Commercial. Actually, that's a total lie. I did originally view the Americana with some disdain, but once I saw that they had a Sur la Table my opinion immediately changed. I went there, had a good time, bought some stuff and went home. Whatever, I like Sur la Table... as I like to have nice stuff to cook with and I don't have a lot of time to go searching for obscure, hard to find Japanese steel so I buy Shun because it's good and (relatively) inexpensive. Also, if you're going to knock something for being "Corporate", don't let me catch you riding any bike with any Sugino, Shimano, Campagnolo, or SRAM part on it. In fact, don't let me catch you riding anything, or wearing any clothes, or doing anything "On the Grid" for that matter, as everything you do now means you are in someway patronizing something "Corporate"... so just suck it up, The Americana has some cool stuff.

But my opinion on this matter is neither here nor there really, and the promise of a bike valet and a crepe had me thinking it was time to ride down there. Before I pumped up the tires on the Hipster D-Bag Special I wanted to make sure my trip wasn't in vain, so I called. The concierge was probably the nicest person I've talked to who works in Glendale in, well... Ever, and he informed me that there was a Bike Valet, how to get there from the different traffic arteries, and ensured me that this was a service that was available every day that the Americana was open. This became something I had to see for myself.

So now that I was relatively certain that the Bike Valet experience was going to happen I got the Hipster D-Bag Special out and topped off the tires. I threw my dirty 10 year old Timbuk bag on and rolled down Brand Blvd to the Americana. I turned right onto Caruso st. and rolled into the (Car) Valet to ask the Valet if this was where I needed to be. Expecting him to say "No, it's down there a ways" I was surprised when he said "yes".

"Really?
"Yes"
"This is it? The same place as the cars?"
"Yea, but follow me over here to get a valet ticket"

So I followed the guy across the way, got the ticket, filled out a quick registration card (the registration card is used to identify the bike since there is no VIN number or License plate) and gave him my bike. I was really impressed that the Americana even offered a Bike Valet service, and that they treated it essentially the same as the car valet, and that... get this, the car valet costs money (without validation) while the bike valet is FREE. I was so impressed in fact that I took this picture (which got messed up somehow):



The Bike Valets at the Americana at Brand with the Hipster D-bag Special


After leaving the Hipster D-Bag Special in the care of The Americana's valet service I walked over to the Le Maison du Crepe to see what all the hype was about. I ordered the Chicken Pesto and a Strawberry Lemonade. It was delicious. Now, it's important to note that, while the Crepe Shack's Crepe's are extremely tasty and delicious they aren't really traditional crepes, but more like, a Crepe-Cone, that you can hold and eat while you walk around spending Citibank's money at Juicy Couture.

But whatever about the Crepe. The point is that the Americana at Brand has a Bike Valet, and they are cool about it. It's a pretty progressive thing for a place like the Americana to include a Bike Valet, essentially saying "People who ride their bikes here are just as important as people who drive their cars here" which is a statement that a lot of places are saying, but not really backing up the way the Americana has. It's simple infrastructure changes like this that make all the difference in my mind. I recommend that everyone who has a bike should ride it to the Americana, Valet it, and then tip the Valet generously so they know just how much we appreciate the service. Also, I applaud whoever the operations manager is who made the decision to include the Bike Valet. Thank you for putting some muscle behind the words "We think bicycling is important". Read more!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Awesomeness Report: OMG I'm Gonna Vomit...

Thankfully this weekend has been one with many bike related happenings in it, and such I have a pocket full of stuff to write about. I'm not going to smash everything into one post, but instead I'll divvy it out through out the week. But since it's a Monday, I'm going to quench your thirst for that special brand of 15 Rides bloggerizing with this Awesomeness Report!!!

On Friday I decided to post ride plans on the PAA message board. It went something like this:

Greetings carbon based life forms with similar interests and hobbies...

Sorry this is kind of late but I'll be riding out of Griffith Park tomorrow to do 80-ish miles including Mulholland, Topanga and Old Topanga. Leaving at 7:00 a.m. Come along and do all or part of this ride. Pace will vary between conversational and vomit-inducing.

See you there!
Now, usually when I call rides that are 80 miles or more the response I get is "I'm training for Cyclo-Corss" or "It's the middle of race season" or "It's Mtn Bike Season" which are all valid reasons not to tag along with me on one of my epics, although I usually get some company for at least part of the ride from folks who like bits and pieces of my routes. Because most folks never join me I usually get to set my own pace, which is a plus, but I end up with no one to talk to for 5 hours and my face is in the wind the whole time. Inevitably I end up having long and drawn out conversations about religion, politics, or BBQ with myself. This time however, I was very excited (At first, later I would be regretting being born) to have Doug and Ryan joining me for a part of the ride, and Aaron Wise joining me for the whole excursion. Let me start off by saying this: If your reading this Aaron, I'm sorry I'm so slow.



I snapped this pic of Aaron after I caught him on Mulholland. He had stopped to wait and in the time it took us to catch up had made an Espresso, drank it, and read the most recent copy of La Gazzetta dello Sport


For the first 20 miles of the ride there were four of us, Aaron, Myself, Doug Wolfe and Ryan. Doug and Ryan had things to do (pffft... Families) and rolled down the hill at different points. To that, our time on Mulholland was pretty fast, as the pace was high, I mean vomitously high (for me at least, the others were sipping mimosa's on the way up) and we were to Coldwater Canyon before I even knew it. Aaron and I jetted down Sepulveda and headed towards the beach. It was our plan to take the normal route to the beach, head up PCH to Topanga Canyon, and then head up Old Topanga for a little extra climbing. Afterwards we'd head back through the valley to get to Griffith Park. Which is what we did. Saturday was the perfect day for riding. We managed to get down to the beach and on to PCH by around 9:00 AM. Another rider named Shawn (possible misspelling there)caught us and went along up to the Old Topanga intersection. There's nothing I hate more than when super skinny cyclists like Shawn say stuff like "Oh, I'm not a very good climber" and then woosh! off the back for me like I'm dragging a cart of boulders. Honestly though by this time I'd spent most of the day barely hanging onto Aaron's back wheel so I was quite alright with the humiliation of being dropped. Oh well, my fault for taking on that "Drink Beer and Don't Ride" training program.

We stopped at the usual (CVS on Mullholland), took a break and then rolled out. We got a little lost in the valley, made our way to the bike path, then made our way off the bike path as it's kind of annoying and then hustled back to the park via Ventura/Moorpark/Riverside. It was a sweet effin ride, and if you get the chance I highly recommend riding with Aaron Wise. If you get a kick out of watching cyclist "handle" 10-12% grades while in their big ring then this is the guy to watch. Mind you that Aaron "made" that Espresso I mentioned earlier. He had an Espresso cart in tow the whole ride.

Read more!

Friday, November 7, 2008

This Seems Promising!

It seems to be that a reoccurring theme on my blog is Bicycle friendly infrastructure, and reasonably so as more and more municipalities and towns are looking seriously at the benefits of bike and pedestrian friendly paths and routes. But in an effort to trump my consistent news is this gem of a story that is actually a few days old...

According to www.bicyclenewswire The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials or (AASHTO) ha been mulling a plan for 50,000 miles of bike routes through corridors that would connect urban, suburban and rural areas. The plan has been under construction for a pretty considerable amount of time, and there have been a number of revisions since they started. At this point though, all the members of the association have signed off and it's go time!

John Horsley, executive director of AASHTO, praised the adoption of the national plan: "Bicycling is an increasingly popular transportation option that helps our environment and improves the quality of life for many Americans. AASHTO is pleased to be working with Adventure Cycling to foster the development of a national system of bicycle routes. State departments of transportation can now collaborate with local agencies and neighboring states to begin establishing these routes throughout the United States."
The great thing about this plan is it offers states and non profits the opportunity to work together with a common goal, that of creating more expansive infrastructure that's bicycle friendly. This will work to increase the amount of bicycle trips people take on a regular basis. In Europe, as well as various cities throughout the US like Portland increases in bicycling infrastructure have led to significant increases in bicycle trips taken as opposed to car trips which helps the local businesses.

Anything that's pro bike right now is good stuff, and this plan really appears to be pro bike. There seem to be a lot of things in the work not only at the local level, but also at the federal level, and now what we need to do is get everything to coordinate so we're working together, and not against each other Read more!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What Will All of This Mean for Cycling?

For those of you who have been living in caves and have only now come out there was an election and the candidate with the very socially progressive outlook won. Which is great unless your not into progress, and into sending things back 50 years like some folks are, but whatever, The socially progressive guy won, and it makes me wonder...

What will all of this mean for cycling? Will things change drastically or will things stay basically the same? I'd like to think, that with the economy in a spot of trouble, oil prices fluctuating wildly, and the populations health out spiraling downward, that things will change for the better for cycling. And aside from the small amount I spend on thinking, I spend the rest on hope, hope that pictures like this:



are in indicator of the positive change that is speeding down the road
Read more!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What About Something Like This

Many cities and municipalities across the United States have been looking seriously at increasing infrastructure for bicycles and bicycling. But one of the important elements that have been missing in many of the equations is the education element. Many communities work under the assumption that if they paint some extra lines on the road then "Problem solved"...

Throwing infrastructure solutions at bicycle integration is great, everyone knows I'd be stoked if there were bike lanes and bike paths that shadowed every road in the U.S. but the problem is bigger than that. There is also the massive issue of ideas and mores, habits and practices. This is an issue that needs work on both sides, not just motorists but also with cyclists as well. There does need to be greater education for bicycling, but there especially needs to be more education for motorists, and how to negotiate the roadway with a growing cycling community using them. It appears that the English County of Lambeth is implementing a training programs for bus and truck drivers about the hazards cyclists face when sharing the road with these monstrosities. Bike Radar has the full story, and I think this seems like a good start.
Read more!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Slow News Day

There hasn't been anything going on in the past day or so. Nothing... Nada. Today is election day so it's probably a good thing since there will be unrelenting media saturation all day today and for the next few following weeks...

Aside from politics though, and especially in the way of cycling it's just been a slow news day. I even went as far as to wade through the Advocacy forums on www.bikefourms.net and all that was being discussed worth looking at was some discussions about silly looking cars and bike lanes and car horns. Aside from that there was a kid talking about how he was being harassed by the a bus driver that drives kids to his school. I weighed in on the matter but was promptly ignored as usual.

Aside from that I've still been reading the piece on Active Transportation. I skimmed through it the first time but I'm trying to give it a very detailed read this time around. It doesn't help that I have the attention span of a 3 year old... Hey what's that over there?

Oh... right. Anyway, once I get done I'll probably be all amped up about Active Transportation and I'll start my letter writing campaign and I'll start insisting that my 12 regular readers start writing their legislators as well... except for my reader in Birmingham...This doesn't apply to you.

Cheers!

Oh, It is my Sister's Birthday today! So Happy Birthday!!!
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Day Light Savings Time

Well, That part of the year is upon us again. It's the time of year when the air grows crisp and the morning chill pricks your ears and nose like thousands of tiny little needles. Yes, it's that time of year when the leaves on the trees turn bright and vibrant reds and yellows and oranges. It's that time of year where lovers cuddle up with scarves and hot cocoa by the fire and relish the warmth of each others company to stave off the frigid night air. Yes, It's fall, and all of these things are beautiful seasonal reminders that mask a bitter truth...

It's soon going to be too cold to ride. Which is why I moved to California. Well, truth be told, I didn't move here to extend my cycling season, I'd like to think I'm that dedicated to my passion and fitness, but I'm not. Truth is I only learned of that wonderful benefit after I had followed one of the thousands of delusional female college graduates who migrate to L.A. to pursue a career in the entertainment industry only to be chewed up and spit out because they simply "Don't have what it takes", or are simply too hooked on the pot or too lazy. But regardless of that after we went our separate ways I found Team in Training and quickly got back on the bike and started riding. The only thing that gets in the way of my cycling now is my lack of a proper lighting system and daylight savings time. Yes, that confounding, jump in time that falls about half way though the fall and lasts through the winter and into the spring really cuts into my riding time. What this ends up meaning for me is that now is the time when I start telling everyone "yea, I'm gonna hit the rollers tonight" even though I'm not going to because I'll be drinking beer. So now I'm trying to figure out ways to manipulate the sunlight hours with my iPhone and despite what WiZaRdofTiMe2099 on the iPhone Chat Forums tells me I just can't seem to get anything to work. I suppose it wouldn't be that big of a deal if I could just get my lazy rear end out of bed at a time that most senior citizens saw fit but I can't. I don't like getting up early, so until I get into my 60's or 70's I'll continue to think that daylight savings time sucks.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Holy...

Well, due to some technical difficulties I've decided to change up the content for today's entry. See I saw an article on Wednesday about how the Department of Highways and Transportation or something (Basically the Federal branch of the DOT) was working out some sort of “500,000 mile bike route” across America. But since there's something going on with the Internet Voodoo Box I can't get online to pull down the details. So instead I'm going to tell you all about what I saw on my way home from work....

I was actually on my way over to a friends house as I was heading south on Cahuenga blvd. I was under the 134, just north of Riverside when I couldn't believe my eyes.

(I've made this childish sketch so you can see what I'm talking about)


I see this Black Cadillac Escalade or something brake all of a sudden as it was turning right off of the highway off ramp onto Cahuenga. I look and an can see a head, flailing arms and handle bars. I can also see sparks coming from under the SUV and I know already what's happened. The sparks tip me off that the bike is being dragged under the car, and I know that there's someone under there as well. I sped up to see if the guy was hurt. I was actually preparing myself for the worst, assuming that he was hurt, and I was just trying to see how badly. He looked to be pinned under the SUV. The girl jumped out, scared out of her mind. He was yelling for her to back the car up, so I assumed that his legs were pinned by the wheels. Fortunately he was just under the body of the car, and his bike had shielded him from being run over completely. I also think, that lucky for him, she wasn't going very fast when she hit him. She was very apologetic and was obviously shaken. She kept saying “we'll take care of this, let me give you my insurance info” and it was obvious to me that since he was up and moving, not crying in pain and in a generally good mood that she was ready to go. So I called 911. Then the AAA Locksmith guy who also stopped called 911. And it just so happened that a Motorcycle officer was pulling someone over so we had a pretty quick response. Now, I'm not going to make an agenda speech out of someones misfortune, but there was definitely some ignorance and negative attitudes towards cyclists at the scene.

The officer advised me to give both parties my info, so I did. I realized at that point, as both parties were giving info and the cops and firemen were investigating that both parties were at fault. The only way the bicyclist could have been where he was was if he was riding on the sidewalk, and in turn, riding against traffic through the intersection. That doesn't absolve the driver of responsibility though. When the girl jumped out of the car, It sounded like she was having a side conversation, and I wondered if she had been on the phone when the impact happened. She did have an ear piece so she was legal, however if she was talking she was still distracted. It really sucks to think that if this guy had just been following the rules of the road that this wouldn't have happened. He wouldn't have been there, at that moment in time, and she wouldn't have hit him.

I gave the guy my card, and told him to contact me if he needed to. I felt horrible driving away, knowing that this guys primary mode of transportation had just been completely destroyed, and this girl's car was just fine. Worse of it was that he was on his way to work, and he was probably going to be late, and he's probably got a family to feed. And what about her? She just gets to drive home, obviously shaken, but physically no worse off. I feel awful for that guy, just a dude and his bike, trying to make ends meet anyway he can. Sure they were both partly in the wrong, but look at who really truly lost in this situation.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

iMapMyRide...Awesome.

Almost 3 years ago I decided to take myself off the grid. I decided that I would learn to work with my hands and I would live off of cash. I lived in a house where I wasn't on the lease and none of my bills were in my name. I was well on my way to getting off the grid and living anonymously in a big city. Then I decided to open a checking account... I know right? Big step with that checking account. I thought to myself, "Man, here I go, sliding straight back onto the grid". Well yesterday I bought an iPhone, and along with it I downloaded a little App called iMapMyRide. Slippery slope my friends, the Grid is a slippery slope.

Anyway, I've used Map My Ride since May of 2007 with varying success. I was on early, back when they were still replying to e-mails about different problems. I started strong and was posting in a regular basis. It was conceptually awesome, but there were a lot of inconsistent problems and troubles. When I got my Garmin last December things kind of changed and I stopped posting on MMR as much. I was off the page for a few months and then popped back on to see what was going on with the site. It had totally changed. There were adds all over the place cluttering it up and they were beta testing some new mapping technology. I tried it out and it just didn't work. I got another e-mail from MMR the other day so I popped back on. The adds were still there, and the site was still a little cluttered, but it was looking better. I decided to update my profile and stuff.

I'd also been thinking about getting an iPhone for a while. When I saw that MMR had put together an App for the iPhone. I did a little research, and some of the wording for the App was a little weird, and it made it seem like the App might not work unless you set your phone to stay unlocked. I got the iPhone, and then downloaded the App since it's free and I figured I didn't have anything to lose.

I decided to test the app tonight on my ride home from work. I'd played around with it a little after work before leaving and decided it did look pretty cool. When I rolled out of work I set the App up, got it started and stuck the phone in my pocket. My thought was that if my pocket didn't turn the App off, then when my phone locked it would turn off. I headed home on the 4 mile ride. I stopped at a parking lot and checked the phone, and lo, the App was still running. Well, It had paused, but there is a resume function so it picked up right where it had left off. When I got home I checked the phone, hit STOP and it had recorded the 3.96 mile trip. I hit "SAVE" and went in to check my laptop. I logged into MMR and there it was, my route from not 10 minutes ago:



This tool is pretty sweet. I was really impressed. This might just bring me back into the MMR fold full time.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Modeling... It's Hard Work

Many of you may not know, but I'm actually a retired, world famous male model. You'll never see me in photo spreads, nay, I only worked the runway. But lo I retired many years ago, fed up with the champagne lunches and Hollywood parties with movie stars. I retired to focus on cycling, and being a recruiter, which are my two true loves in life. I've always thought that since I'm a cyclist now, and I do so many ridiculous rides that cover some ridiculous lengths of road that everything else that I would have to do in life would be that much easier; since everything else would be judged in the framework of "well I rode 107 miles and climbed 9800 ft. so this should be cake" You know what I'm saying? So on Sunday morning when I got a call from Julian to come out and do a top secret photo shoot I thought to myself, Meh... this will give me a chance to get in a 10-12 mile recovery ride and then sit around with friends all afternoon. It'll be cool, not stressful like runway work. Despite having given up modeling to focus on cycling and my career full time I decided to help out. So I rubbed some baby oil on to give myself a nice glisten and rode over to Julian's condo. We chatted for a bit, he showed me what they were trying to do, gave me my motivation and a cold glass of still Gerolsteiner water with 4 ice cubes... just the way I like it. The photographer Woke up from his nap and was like "Is the talent here? Oh, why yes!" upon spotting me, calves and quadriceps shimmering in the early afternoon sun. There must have been some kind of miscommunication since my limo wasn't there and instead we all piled in a couple cars and headed over to Pasadena, it was OK though, I like these guys so I let it slide. We took some chill shots on the road that crosses under the 134 overpass and suicide bridge, and then we rolled over to Buster's coffee and shot some over there. Now, I know what you think, chill shots right? easy right? wrong. We're all sitting there absolutely baking in the sun, it was tough to sit and sip my mocha and look stunning, believe you me. And this establishment DIDN'T have still Gerolsteiner!

After much mocha sippage we piled back in the cars and headed over to Griffith Park. We drove up Fern Dell and parked, then rolled up one of the restricted roads behind the observatory. At this point Joseph had joined the group, and promptly began making me look bad as he really seemed to be keen on what looks good on Camera. He was over emphasised every move as he descended down the hill. Whatever though, I was trying to keep things low key and natural, and not let strikingly good looks overwhelm the shot and mute the rest of the group. I'm wicked sexy, and I look good on the bike. So we shot some descending shots, some climbing shots, and then Joseph and I rode up this dirt path like a thousand times and I was all like "Where's my still Gerolsteiner with 4 ice cubes?!?!"

After the Dirt road set we rode down to the cars and headed out. Except we had to wait a little since Joseph had locked his keys in his car. We went back to Julian's ate, took a couple more shots, and then I hitched a ride home as it was pretty dark. All in all though it was a pretty successful shoot. It's not often these days that someone can draw a retired male model of my caliber out of retirement, so everyone should feel pretty special. Because I'm awesome to the awesomest degree.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Ride Report: SpookTacular Century

Man... It's been a while since I've written a post that starts with this picture ya? Amtrak Century was the last century I did, and that was back in the beginning of September, so it's been almost 2 months since I've done a century ride... and You know what? My legs, lungs, heart, arms, shoulders and brains could all tell. Spooktacular was a F&%$ing nightmare.







It probably didn't help that after Amtrak my training consisted of excessive beer drinking and shorter and shorter weekday rides that eventually disappeared all together. It also probably didn't help that the longest ride i'd done since Amtrak was the 70 miles just last weekend. The Spooktacular ride would prove to be deceptively difficult, and for starters I wasn't even properly prepared.

I awoke the morning of after having spent the night in my car at a small campsite exceptionally close to the start of the event. I drove over to the start so I wouldn't be charged for parking overnight. I checked in around 5:30, got ready, ate some leftover pasta for breakfast and then sat around and waited for the sun to start coming up. Once I felt it was sufficiently light enough I rolled out. The ride started easy enough with rolling hills through the western outskirts of Bakersfield CA. The ride then took a left hand turn onto the 178, which was to be the road most heavily traveled for this event. The 178 is a road well summed up in this picture here:



It's a poorly maintained road that winds it's way through cattle grazed hills of farmland. There's no yellow line, and just enough room for two cars coming at each other to pass if one pulls slightly off the road, which in many sections would cause the car to fall down the hillside. I was on this first section of Breckenridge road early in the morning, and the sun was just rising as I crested one of the many hills, and honestly it was quite breathtaking.

The road did exit this sparse landscape and entered one that was lightly scattered with trees of different types. The first sag stop followed not long afterwards, and the riding partner who I had teamed up with at this point and I decided to get a quick fill on water. Brock also informed me that the road was about to get incredibly difficult, but that it wouldn't be too bad, whatever that meant. He was not lying. About 5 miles after the sag stop the road pitched up, in a mean, vindictive and evil way. There was not gradual work up, there was no slight descent and then up, no. The road went from it's slow and grinding 5% and pitched skyward to a dastardly 12% which it maintained for what must have been a mile. It refrained for a bit, down to about 9%, then shot back up to 12 and 15% for a couple of sections, then leveled off for a while only to return to some high grade rollers later on. But the real test would come when we passed the weird little hunter. "only 40 miles to go" he shouted as we passed. 40 miles to what?

It turned out that he wasn't talking about anything that pertained to us, but what did lay ahead was a 14% section of road that lasted for about 3/4 of a mile. It was followed by a beautiful but chilly descent, and some other short climbs, which all eventually came to an end at the second rest stop at mile 33. It was at this point that I checked my Garmin to see how much climbing we'd done so far...6400 ft. 6400 ft. in 33 miles.



Not all of Breckenridge Highway was through hilly cow fields. Much was 13% gradient through wooded forest area" yipee!


The descent had to be guarded and slow, as much of the road was scattered with sand and debris, however it gave me a chance to check out the view concentrate carefully on the road. Fortunately I took this picture before the descent started, what a view!



That descent was fortunately followed up by some more climbing, because you know, descending sucks. Thankfully that climbing was between 5-11% but was cut tragically short by a sweeping descent that saw speeds upwards of 50 mph. I'm being sarcastic of course, at this point I'd have been happy to have not seen another positively vertical mile all day. But whoa is me, there was more, much more.

The breaking point for me came at mile 59, after the third sag stop that was at a graveyard, but still in the unfortunately hot sun. Yes, at mile 59 I'd had enough, after a grinding uphill section that was only about 5% most of the way I was ready to call it quits. But thankfully only a quarter of a mile up the road the climbing ended and it was downhill to the Twin Oaks General store. We stopped there and collected our wits, then continued the -1% descent into a blasting headwind at about 25 mph. The descent was on a road that followed a trickling river that brought us to a steep canyon. We caught another rider in the canyon and kept the paceline going. It was a much needed break for me, as I was able to take pulls and then rest for substantial periods of time. We rolled up nice and easy to the last rest stop of the day, 25 miles from the task completed. It was there that I took my most substantial break. Brock, who had family waiting went on without me, and I jumped in with a large group of older guys from the area who seemed cool at first.

However after proving my mettle with a long pull at 23 mph into a head wind on a false flat the group saw it fit to not soft pedal at the top of the following climb and leave me to suffer in the wind by myself. If any of you guys are reading this I have this to say gentleman's sport douchebags don't ever ask me to pull again. Whatever though, there was only 12 miles to go at this point so I just rubbed some vagisil on it, put my head down and hammered it out. I tempo'd the rest of the way home, got in my car and boned out. I didn't want to have anything more to do with the Spooktacular Century. Despite all the suffering, when asked a day later if I'd do it again, my answer was "Sure, why not?" Read more!

Friday, October 24, 2008

No Post Today... I know... Total Disapointment

Sorry folks, but there won't be any post today, with the exception of this. I've been wicked busy with tons of other stuff, and I just don't have it in me to write. Keep your peepers peeled for a full ride report of the Kern Wheelman's Spooktacular Century coming this Monday morning!

There's nothing to see here! Get back to work!
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

This Seems Promising.

On Tuesday, Some people in suits who like bikes gave a report to some other people in suits who work in Washington. The first group of people in suits are trying to tell the other people in suits that bicycling is good for the country, and for the American people. WHAAAAAAAA????...

I know I know, it seems obvious, and redundant and my thought was "we need to spend money to work up a 46 page report on this? I could have shown up on capital hill, told all those stodgy whosawhatsits 'see here now, we're gonna do more for bikes see' and that would have been that". But after reading the article and reading (portions) or the report it seems to also be about asking for money to fund more programs to get more people to practice "active transportation".

At first I was confounded "Active Tranpsortation?" is that like trains that move... more than other trains? I wasn't sure. So in the report I found the definition. It turns out "Active Transportation" is Governmentin' speak for "Walking" or "Riding a bike"

You see, when you're Governmentin' you can't ever call things what they actually are for two reasons: first because when you're Governmentin' you have to use large difficult words and phrases to prove that you're smarter than the next guy, and the second reason is because most likely if you were to call it what it is someone who is abject to it will shoot it down on the grounds that they have some allergy to the word you use without even hearing the plan. I know there are plenty of folks who are Governmentin' who are abject to walking, riding a bike or anything else that's not giving tax payer money to fat-cat bankers so I totally understand the need for "replacement phrases".

Whatever you call it, walking & bicycling or "Active Transportation" this report indicates that it does the population a whole lot of good, and that more people should be doing it and that the government should spend some cash on getting more people to do it. If you've read this blog more than say, once, you'd know that I'm all about getting people out of their cars and onto bikes. Now I know that often times folks can't ride bikes (a tragedy) so I'm telling you to do the next best thing and walk, or if you have to, take public transportation, or do a combination of all three, just get out of your dang ol' 4 wheeled earth killer! Ahem... sorry about that, I get a little carried away from time to time. The report has been presented, so lets do our part. Start writing to your senators and congressman, in support of Active Transportation (walking/bike riding). Tell them to read the report, and tell them to support it! Do it! Do it Now!

Want more info? great. Here's the link: www.railstotrails.org
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cutting Edge? Not Really.

I love my single speed, fixed gear bicycle with Mtn. Bike 2" riser bars. It's flat black with white tires and white grips. I built it up because I needed a bike that I could thrash around and use as a commuter without the worry of losing a 5,000 dollar bike if I was hit by another dummy who doesn't stick around to trade insurance info...and with it's flat black paint I figured it was pretty cutting edge. But then I got to thinking, This is my second "track" bike (and I use track very loosely) and there have been many many many thousands of messengers world wide who have been riding bikes just like mine for a long time. And on top of that there are a lot of folks doing pretty crazy tricks on Fixed gears... kind of like this:



I mean that's crazy right? Totally cutting edge right?...




Oh, well uh...


Well, I guess not so cutting edge... unless you're talking about the fashion, because that's cutting edge right? Tight jeans... V-Necks? Wait, what? Meh... Whatever. Read more!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Man... That's Just Mean...

You know there is something wrong with people when you read something like this. 72 year old woman rides her bike to the grocery every day and gets harassed by some jerk. The reason? She parked her bike close to his dog. I know... He must have thought the bike was going to attack the dog or something. Read on, I've reposted the Chronicle Herald Article below:

At 72, she bikes to the grocery store for her fruits and veggies to protect her heart and lungs. She is going through daily radiation therapy in her battle against cancer, but she said only a handful of people, including medical staff, know.

But this independent Halifax senior, who asked that her name not be used, was left shaken and afraid after a man yelled at her and slashed her tires Tuesday afternoon.

The man became angry when she locked her bicycle next to his dog. The owner of the dog "said dogs were more important than bicycles," the woman said.

She said he called her an old lady and he said: "I’m going to let the air out of the tires or slash them."

But she didn’t believe him.

"It doesn’t make sense," the woman said. "If you slash them, then you don’t need to let the air out, and if you let the air out, you can’t slash it."

She left her bike at the rack at Quinpool Centre’s parking lot and went inside the Atlantic Superstore. When she came back out, the dog was still there and her back tire was flat, she said.

She walked her bike and groceries over to nearby Canadian Tire, where the service manager put air in the back tire, and then she rode off. But she said when she got to Welsford Street, she "knew something was wrong with the front wheel."

"I pulled over to the sidewalk and my bicycle had no tire at all in the front wheel, so it couldn’t steer. I fell and the bike fell and I cut my leg and my knee, and I was lying on my stomach."

A man working in a garden nearby came over and helped her up, she said.

Eventually, she saw that the front tire had been slashed. She walked the bike to Jack Nauss Bicycle Shop on Agricola Street. They put on a new tire for her and she rode home.

The woman said she would have parked the bike farther away from the dog, but the bike rack was full.

She said it was a small to medium-sized brown dog. It didn’t have much room at the bike rack because it was on a short leash and she didn’t bump into it or touch the pooch, she said.

"It wasn’t that I bothered the dog. It was just that he (the owner) went crazy and said I shouldn’t be in there, bikes shouldn’t be in there because it should be for dogs. I would say he was insane.

"I was by the door and I said to him, ‘If Mr. Roberts, the store manager, was here, you wouldn’t be able to behave like that.’ That’s all I said to him. I never argued with him."

Const. Brian Palmeter, a Halifax Regional Police spokesman, said the woman reported the "nasty, unfortunate situation" to police on Tuesday night. At this point, the case doesn’t seem to be linked to any other crimes, he said.

Officers will interview the woman and those in nearby businesses "to see if they have any video footage, or any idea who this male may be (or) if he may be a regular," Const. Palmeter said.

Police hope anyone who saw what happened will come forward.

The elderly bicyclist wants to find out who this man is. She said he is white, in his 30s, has short curly hair and "I would know him again if I saw him."

But she isn’t planning any more solo shopping trips. "I’m afraid to go back there in case he does something more."
Real Nice huh? The bike rack shouldn't be for bikes, it should be for dogs, because its... you know a bike rack. Yea. Read more!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sat-Urrrr-Day!!!!

Some days are good, some days are great, and others are pretty Epic. So far I've only had a few distinctly epic Saturdays. The Death Ride was one of those, and a few early training rides of 2007 rated highly up there... My Saturday started like so many, but unlike so many at the same time. Usually my Saturdays start before 7:00 a.m. to get on the road early and get in some ridiculously high mileage count for a training ride. This Saturday had all those elements, except the whole getting up before 7:00 a.m... yea, Eff that Poo. I really hate getting up before 8, so this weekend I woke up a little late and didn't hit the road until about 8:00 a.m. My plan was to ride from Burbank, up to Mt. Wilson, down to Big T, see how I feel and then figure out my route home. I left Burbank and took Mountain to get to Cordova and Glenoaks. From there I went up Chevy Chase to get over to the Crest. Riding the rollers through Mountain and then getting that quick climb up Chevy Chase was a good way to get ready for the real climbing on this ride. Which came very shortly after my time on Chevy Chase. I felt pretty good on the Crest. I set my lap at the light by the Shell Station and clocked 51 minutes and some change up to the Clear Creek Station, although... I did stop here and there to take a couple pictures.

Like this one...


And this one...


And this one as well...


But I digress... After Clear creek I took it a little easy as I headed up to RedBox. From there I took the left up to Mt. Wilson. The climbing up to Wilson was hard. I kept looking at my Garmin, and it kept saying 6% grade, which is nothing for me, but man that was the hardest 6% I've ever been on, that road was insane. To make matters worse I kept looking up the road and everything looked so close, but the road just kept on going. But when I got to the top, man was it worth it.

See? That's Pasadena, L.A., Glendale and some other cities down there.


From there I headed back down to Clear Creek, then down Angeles Forest Highway, then down Big T. When I got to Oro Vista and Foothill I had had enough, so I hopped on Sunland Blvd and headed home.

Saturday night was the Rock & Roller party at SiteLA in Silverlake. This was the fundraiser for the Encino Velodrome. The roller racing started around 8:00 and once that got going I shot little video clips of some of the folks racing. The party was pretty fun. The space was nice and there was a good crowd of folks there. I know I give a hard time to the hipsters but I was definitely the biggest Fred there as I drove and was wearing a button down shirt... Lame-o. Anyway, here are some pics and vids...


This is Meghan(?), she's a frame builder who spends a good amount of time at the track


SiteLA


Let the Racing begin!




video

Awesome.
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Friday, October 17, 2008

Who's Responsibility?

Every once and a while I post something that riles some folks up, which I suppose is a good thing, as getting folks riled up is kind of what I do so at least I'm getting through to some folks, whether they agree or not... A while back I wrote a piece about some stickers that I'd found and how they're important to cycling and cyclists. I also commented about how I thought that folks in cars needed to take the extra 3 seconds to look in their mirror to make sure that there was no cyclists coming up that would be negatively impacted by a door suddenly opening in their path. This is a position I stand by with great resound, Motorists in general need to pay more attention. This post is about the other side though, and it's another side that we need to hear.

That post led to a very lengthy conversation with a friend of mine who wondered: "why is it always the drivers responsibility to keep you cyclists safe?" I insisted that in many posts I call for cyclists to take responsibility for their safety (which is true) and that when I ride with novice riders I teach the rules of the road, and the steps to take to ensure safe(r) passage. Still, she was convinced that the amount of finger pointing that I direct at cyclists isn't anywhere close to the amount of finger pointing that I direct at Motorists.

Now, I'll willingly agree that most of the finger pointing I do is aimed at motorists, but in my defense it's not based on the small number of motorists who are like her; motorists who are constantly on the lookout for cyclists to make sure that everyone is safe. No, most of my finger pointing is aimed at the drivers who don't look, who talk on their cell phones or text while driving. Motorists who insist that the road is theirs, even though the lobbyists that first lobbied for smoother roads weren't motoring lobbies, but cycling lobbies... that's right, thank your local cyclist for todays asphalt standards.

Finger pointing aside, my friend brought up a great point. Why are drivers always the responsible party? On her way to work she had pulled up to the stop sign at an awkward intersection, stopped, and had begun to proceed with her left hand turn (with signal on) when a cyclist blew by the line of waiting cars, through the stop sign and nearly hit the front driver side panel of my friends car. Now, if that cyclist had hit her car, and then told me about it instead of my friend telling me about it, how differently would the story had sounded? Would SHE be the one who almost hit the cyclist? And would I have immediately jumped to take his side and condemn her as a terrible driver? It's hard to say. If it were any other driver I probably would have taken this news with a roll of the eyes, as I always hear how "The cyclist swerved into the lane" or how "the cyclist totally blew through the light" or how "they shot out of nowhere" in the litany of excuses that drivers use to excuse themselves of responsibility when they hit or kill a cyclist. But like I said before, this friend is very cycling friendly, very fair and unbiased, and very honest. I also know that the intersection she was at is a favorite of cyclists who disregard stop signs.

The double stop sign on Victory Blvd in Burbank CA, leading into Griffith Park seems to be one of the most commonly disregarded stop signs, second only to every stop sign on the Montrose Route. I've seen cyclists blow through those signs like they aren't even there, and like there is no threat of hapless drivers coming off the freeway. If I'd been in the car that morning and seen that cyclist blow through the stop sign I probably would have chased him down and had some words. Now, I'm all for blowing off a stop sign or red light here or there... IF there is zero traffic, and absolutely no one at the intersection but me. But when you roll by five waiting cars, you should know that there's going to be traffic coming from other directions. If that's the case, you don't have the right of way, and if you try to ride through it like you own the road there are going to be consequences, and consequences that aren't of the positive type.

Now, that cyclist might not face those consequences. There may be no accident, no enraged driver chasing them down with their weapon on wheels, but there will be consequences down the road (figuratively). I hear from motorists day in and day out about how so many cyclists ride with complete disregard for the laws of the road. I hear about how we all blow through stop signs, and how we roll through red lights. Then I hear how we all take up the road and block traffic. Now, I tell these drivers that we have a right to the lane if there's no bike lane (and even if there is one that's obstructed) and that I'm sure they don't follow every single rule of the road perfectly every moment behind the wheel, and until they do that they really shouldn't be throwing stones. I also point out that not all cyclists are the same, and that for every cyclist someone berates for NOT following the rules there are 10 cyclists who are following the rules who they've most likely ignored... but I'm getting to the point where I'm blue in the face with this argument. I've said it so many times that I'm getting tied of saying it.

Now, as cyclists we know that we have an inherent right to the road, it's written into the vehicle code. The invisible, and dangerously pervasive consequence of cyclists disregarding laws is this: The more we break the law, the more we alienate ourselves from it. When we alienate ourselves from the law, others stop viewing us as legally valid. Officer Rodriguez from the Santa Monica Police is right, we're cutting our own throats. If you want to be respected on the road, you have to respect the rules of the road first. Every day I'm trying to throw stones to say "Hey, respect my peoples right to the road" but every time you run a stop sign, or roll through a heavily trafficked red light you take one of my stones away.
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