Monday, August 25, 2008

Do I make men feel less macho when I pass them on my bike?

I've noticed this before but haven't written about it, it's now happened so much that I need to include it in this blog. Whenever I'm on my bike and I ride past a male cyclist, most of the time, I notice that the dude looks at me, sees how fast I am going and then speeds up to try to pass me. They don't say anthing to me, but they don't have to say anything to me, their actions speak louder than their words.

About me, I'm not really a fast rider, my regular speeds can go from 9 to 14 miles an hour. I may be a die hard bicycle commuter now, but I rather enjoy riding slow, lolly-gagging if you will. Sure, my main goal is to get from point A to point B, but I will make my time on the bike count. It's a wonderful stress reliever and works me out (EcoVelo even blogged about this "slower ride + heavier bike = better workout").

But no matter how slow or fast I go, I always run into a pleasure rider who tries to outrun me. As if they feel less macho, because I passed them on my bike. Me? With my heavy body and heavy bicycle? puh-lease! LMAO, it even happens when I'm biking in a dress and heals.

It feels kind of nice just flying past these dudes and see them startled when they realize that they've been passed by a girl, then see them pick up their pace suddenly and try to pass me by as if they were trying to make themselves feel more manly and bad-ass. Jeeze.

I'm onto you guys...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yeah, so I got a flat last night...

I got off the bike and and found a thorn in my front tire. Took the thorn out and immediately heard the unmistakable sound of air escaping.

I would have stopped and just patched up the hole right then and there but remembered it was nighttime (hard to see the hole) and I was in a bad neighborhood. So I just decided to walk the two miles home. It wasn't bad.

I got home, felt up my tire, found nothing out of the ordinary. This was the second time fixing a flat and it was much easier this time 'round. I remember getting my tire off and on the rim the last time and how I messed up my cuticles and I was stoked that I had tire jacks (for serious, I'm such a n00b). Replacing my tube was a breeze. Finally got to use my new tire pump, now my tire is nearly rock hard full of air.

I even adjusted my brakes, because one side was rubbing up against the rim. I am so happy for taking that bicycle repair class, the knowledge has already been put to great use.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

must be a slow weekend in the news

because this story is finally becoming national news, posted on the CNN website.



Pretty dissapointing seeing as how the incident happened nearly a month and a half ago.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bicycle Repair Class

I attended a free bicycle repair class last night. It was teh awesome. I learned so much. My suggestion is shop around. There are some mom and pop shops out there who will teach you all you need to know about your bike. And they are not in it to make a buck, but do it for the love of the bike.

Besides, I found out there were so many things wrong with my bike, seeing as how the guy I bought it from put it together wrong (tire was on backwards, breaks were mal-adjusted, etc.). There are so many things that I can list why I will not return to the shop where i bought my Raliegh from, but let's just say the guy charged me $10 to "fix" my seat post on my old junker bike. I found out after at the Bike Instead of Work Event I attended that I was ripped off. Chris from Hollywood Pro Bicycles, who was giving free bike tune ups at the event showed me how to adjust my own bike seat. It was so freaking easy I was embarrassed. Yeah, you live, you learn.

My instructor last night did a complete overhaul, taught me a lot and didn't charge me a dime. I am loyal to that bikeshop now. If you're in the area, visit Boulevard Cycles in Sherman Oaks and see Craig, he's an older man, tell him Paula sent you, the chick with the Red Raleigh who's tire was on backwards.

It was also a great way to take my mind of a break up that happened earlier in the day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I almost got hit tonight

Yeah sure, it happens.
But what upsets me so much about it this time was this was on the bike path. Not a bike lane, but a bike PATH, well away from the street. The very same bike path I ride every night. It was dark but I was wearing a bright blue t-shirt and my white head light and red tail lights were bright and blinking. I dp my best to be visible because most of the riding I do is at night.

The guy I guess thought he saw a driveway, when there was NONE, and pulled in real fast to make a U Turn without seeing me. Thank goodness my brakes are in good working order or else i would have been creamed. He saw me at the last minute and stopped IN THE BIKE PATH when I hit my brakes, then saw that I was breaking and started to go, then stop, then go, waiting for me to get out of his way. Like I had the audacity to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now I have been trying to cut back on my road rage as I don't want to flip off or scream at one driver then have that driver take out his/her anger on the next cyclist he/she sees. But I cussed a blue streak at this guy. Sure it was nighttime but dammit, you don't pull into a bike path to try to make a U Turn.

Note: the bike path is alongside a very wide street. The street itself is wide enough to allow a U Turn. Trust me, I used to drive an SUV and made many a U Turn in this area.

ugh...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The menacing skunk

On the bike path I take home, there is a skunk that lives in the bushes to the side. There are quite a few big trees, bushes and shrubbery to the side of the bike path in Van Nuys. Provides wonderful shade in midday and just the right conditions for many an animal to thrive.

I see her every now and then. I'm sure it's a "her" because she's vicious, like a mother protecting her young. The first time I saw her, she was 20 feet away from me. On her hind legs, shreiking (or whatever the hell they do) at me while I sped past on my bicycle. She scared the hell out of me! I was relieved by the time I got home and didn't have the smell of menacing skunk on me. My coworker/friend who rides the same bike path home has seen her as well.

The other night, on my way home. I pass by two older cyclists sitting off to the side on a cement bench, enjoying a pit stop. I smell the unmistakeable odor of mary jane. It's dark and the trees hide many things. The perfect conditions for someone to get their high on (weed is not my cup of tea, but I'm not one to judge).

Anyway, as I'm passing by the stoner cyclists and all of the sudden the shrubs behind them start shaking, like there's an animal there. The dudes are startled, stand up and clear the hell away from there. I can almost smell the skunk, but by this time, I've already passed them on my bike. LMAO Bet those cyclist dudes were really tripping out. :D

Monday, August 4, 2008

Road Rager Arraigned in Crash Involving Cyclists




(hey, that's that freakin' reporter who cornered me last Bike To Work Day before I had a chance to get coffee, LOL)

Friday, August 1, 2008

I'm in the Wall Street Journal

:D

I'm not just in the Wall Street Journal, but I made the FRONT PAGE!!!

Clicky here for the link
Just in case the page stops working, as I'm sure you have to sign up to see most of the WSJ, I'll cut and paste the article.
PAGE ONE

Risking Life and Limb,
Riding a Bike to Work in L.A.

Cyclists, Banned on Freeways and Reviled
By Drivers, Save a Buck and Make a Point
By RHONDA L. RUNDLE
August 1, 2008; Page A1

LOS ANGELES -- Paula Rodriguez, who lives in the San Fernando Valley, got so disgusted with soaring fuel prices last spring that she stopped driving, sold her SUV and bought a bike.

But pedaling the 15 miles home from her job, the 30-year-old Ms. Rodriquez has encountered something more frightening than $4.50-a-gallon gasoline: the mean streets of L.A., home of the nation's most entrenched car culture.

"Drivers scream at me to get off the road," says the medical-billing clerk. The main commuting route near her home is so terrifying, she says, that she usually takes an alternative route that adds four miles to her trip.

Even then, it's not an easy ride. On one stretch, splintered glass in the street could puncture her tires, she says. On Wednesdays, she has to dodge garbage cans blocking the bike lane. On Friday evenings, as the sun sets, she feels menaced by drunk drivers. Such threats compel her to sometimes swing onto the sidewalk, even though that could get her a ticket. "I go slow, ring my little bell and stop sometimes to say 'hi' to pedestrians," she says.

Commuters across the U.S. are responding to high gasoline prices by finding alternatives to driving. But in Los Angeles, it takes a special kind of road warrior to hop on a bike in the name of saving the planet and a little money.

The city is notoriously short on bike lanes, bike paths and bike racks. Bicycles are illegal on the freeways, and city streets are packed with motorists who seem increasingly cranky about the swelling ranks of cyclists. Every cyclist seems to know somebody who has been injured or who has survived a near-death experience. In 2006, 28 people in Los Angeles County were killed on bikes, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. Geography makes things difficult, too, as the distance from home to work in this sprawling metropolis can be immense and necessitate adding public transportation to the journey.

Tensions between cyclists and motorists here have become dangerously combative. Los Angeles police are investigating an apparent July 4 road-rage incident that sent two cyclists to the hospital with serious injuries. The cyclists crashed into a car after its driver allegedly slammed on his brakes in front of them on Mandeville Canyon Road, a winding street through a hilly neighborhood.

"Cyclists have equal rights, but in fact a lot of motorists think they should get off the road," says Lynne Goldsmith, manager of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority's bike program. Nearly everyone has a bike sitting in the garage, but people are starting to actually use their bicycles for transportation, ranging from short hops to the market to long-distance commuting, she says. "When we're used to seeing more cyclists, we will treat them better."

An Exercise in Frustration

For now, commuting by bike here is most often an exercise in frustration. Michelle Weinstein's 75-minute commute to work begins at 6:50 a.m., when she dodges rush-hour traffic on a busy boulevard in the city's Silver Lake neighborhood on her way to a subway station. She hauls the bike onto the train, then takes it off in North Hollywood, about seven miles to the north.

The next leg is an express-bus ride. But when the bus pulls up with a full bike rack, she must wait for the next bus. When she finally arrives in Van Nuys, she gets off the bus and back on the bike for a game of chicken with motorists.

"It's nerve-rackingly crowded, and people give me dirty looks," says Ms. Weinstein, a 33-year-old personal assistant at a music-production company. "Everyone I know who has biked has met with some kind of injury," Ms. Weinstein says.

Ms. Goldsmith says the city has 1,200 miles of bikeways, but many of those are along busy thoroughfares on which cars and bikes compete for space. In West Hollywood, an enclave of 40,000 residents, debate is raging over the proper role of sidewalks. The issue has divided elderly pedestrians; environmentalists who ride bikes to work; and parents who worry about the safety of their children, whether in baby carriages or on bicycles.

Defensive Biking


Biking advocates are offering classes to teach novices how to be defensive riders. "Our classes are starting to sell out quickly," says Liz Elliott, a founder of the grass-roots organization Cyclists Inciting Change Thru Live Exchange. She says the group has so far instructed about 100 people. Many bike lanes are "too narrow and you don't want to be hugging the door zone," she advises -- referring to the space in which a parked car can swing its door open suddenly. Unfortunately, much of the local bike infrastructure was designed by engineers who don't ride bikes, she says.

Veteran riders say that obnoxious motorists are the biggest problem. Michael Marckx, a 44-year-old vice president of Globe International Ltd., a skateboard company in El Segundo, recently started commuting three or four days a week by bike, encountering what he calls "caffeine-infused psychotics" in their cars who yell at him to get off the road. "There's something about being in the car that is kind of anonymous. It's a veil to hide behind, and people seem to like to get their aggression out on cyclists," says the former professional bike racer.

Some cyclists are striking back. Stephen Box, a cycling activist who claims to have broken the Mandeville Canyon story on his blog, carries a camera and snaps pictures of bike-tripping potholes and confusing traffic signs. He sends the snapshots to the city. The community organizer says he and about a dozen bloggers drafted a Cyclists Bill of Rights in January that he is presenting for a vote at neighborhood council meetings around the region. But Lenore Solis, a council member in Atwater Village, says she voted against it because the assertion of a right to "full access" on "all mass transit with no limitations" is too broad, and could be interpreted as a legal right to bike lanes on freeways.

Indeed, the freeways have been invaded repeatedly by renegade cyclists calling themselves Crimanimal Mass, an offshoot of Critical Mass, a national cycling enthusiasts' group. About 30 cyclists performed the illegal stunt in rush-hour traffic on a recent Friday to demonstrate how much faster commuters can zip through gridlock on a bicycle than in a car stuck in traffic.

Despite the problems, L.A. cyclists keep trying. Kim Jensen Marren broke her ankle when she collided with a truck that pulled in front of her bicycle five years ago. But now the 30-year-old graphic designer is newly married and wants to save money to open her own wedding-productions business. So she recently got back on her bike and started riding to work again, figuring that she is saving about $220 a month.

Write to Rhonda L. Rundle at rhonda.rundle@wsj.com
_______________________

Special Thanks to Stephen Box of SoapboxLa (link to the left) for getting me in touch with the reporter.

d'oh!

damn double post...

The best bicycling TV spot I've ever seen...



Special thanks to Alan at EcoVelo

out riding

out riding
riding my flying pigeon