Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Hell Of A Weekend

Ok, so I figured I would take my bike to the shop. Get my rear tire looked at and then spend the rest of my weekend doing some much needed cleaning before my big date on Sunday. Ok, the date wasn't all that big, but I am crazy about this guy, so even if it's just a dinner out, I'm uber excited. :D

I sleep in on Saturday, watch a bit of telly and don't get out of bed until noon, when I am hungry enough to attempt breakfast (pumpkin pie, FTW). I find that my rear tire is totally flat. :( So I get my stuff together, put some air in my tire, moisturizer on my face, grab my tea cup and leave. I had to stop once to pump more air into my tire on the way to the Red Line station in NoHo, but I get there in one piece. Two trains later, I drop the bike off at FPLA and walk around Figueroa while Josef gets to work. I come back and while I let my jasmine green tea steep, Josef explains that there was a tiny staple like sliver of metal that was embedded in my tire. He said that I patched the tube well. He trued my wheel, I rode the bike around the back of the building and when nothing seemed out of the ordinary, I was on my merry way home.

(goodbye FPLA!)

When I got off my last train in NoHo, I rode a couple of blocks (Colfax and Chandler) and my tire was nearly flat again. I stop and put more air in tire, as I'm trying my hardest to twist off my skull cap off my tube, two little boys (10 yrs old?) stop with their bikes and ask if I have a patch kit. They both have flats. They help me twist off the cap and I help one fix his flat but the other kid's tube is frakked beyond repair, it will not even take air at all. I do what I can for them and give them my extra patch kit. I always carry 2 patch kits, which reminds me, I need to get another one next time I'm at the shop, just in case I give this one away. They only live a block or two from where we were so I'm not worried for them.

I start riding again, but my tire is totally flat after another block. This time I cannot get the cap off my tube at all. So I walk home. From North Hollywood to Van Nuys. It's only 5.5 miles but I am not a walker. I always do my best to look on the bright side, I tell myself "At least the weather is really nice" "At least it's not raining" "At least you have your Converse on and not wearing heals like you usually do" (Sorry Enci, I read your twitter, that freaking sucks!) "At least you can listen to that kick ass Charles De Lint audiobook" I do my best to count all my blessings but at some point I just crack and say "Dude, this freaking SUCKS!!" I get home, watch a little TV, speak to my awesome boyfriend and fall asleep knowing that I will wake up and go back to FPLA first thing in the morning. This time, I will get my rear tire and tube replaced!

I get up and walk to the Orange Line, which is about a mile away, my legs are hurting bad at this point, I am so not a walker. As I'm waiting for the bus, I see this:

I am uber paranoid about someone stealing my bike, or parts of my bike. This person was using a U-Lock, which, in my opinion, is one of the best types of locks you can get. But this person locked only their spokes. Their SPOKES! The only thing left is a rim! OMG!! I mean, carrying a U-Lock can be a pain because they are heavy but every bicyclist should look at this picture to remind them WHY they carry their U-Lock. My goodness, I would be beside myself if I came out of work, or the store and found that all I had was a tire rim and spokes left. :(

So as I get off the train platform behind FPLA, I see that Josef and the rest of the bicyclists are already leaving on their normal Sunday Dim Sum bike ride (no Dim Sum today, I think I remember Josef saying they were going to Rueben's in LA). So I tell Adam all about my last couple of days and how much trouble I had last night after leaving FPLA. He fixes up my bike in no time. I got a new tire, a new tube and all is right in the world. :D

waiting for the train

on the train, yay

I did have one near death experience outside the train station in NoHo. We were all waiting for our green light and when the signal finally told us it was safe to go we went, and then this white SUV came speeding in front of us, running the red light and nearly killing us. The SUV missed my front tire by inches. INCHES! I freaking hope that the camera got him and they make him freakin' pay. The asshole. Yeah, running that red light was so important, you had to nearly hit at least 3 people to get to where you needed to go 5 seconds early. Asshole, what goes around comes around but I am wary of wishing karma to come back on a person such as this because it would mean that somebody may get hurt. :( I'm glad that most of the major intersections such as this one (Laurel Canyon) have cameras that take pictures of red-light runners like this dude. I can understand running a yellow light, I've done it many a time (until I got a ticket at a camera intersection). But this asshole had no excuses for running, he had to have seen the 30+ pedestrians and cyclists trying to cross the street.

But all that worrying soon left my mind when I was riding so smoothly home. My rear tire had 60 pounds of air in it and my ride was wonderful. It felt so good. :)

I got home in time to take a long shower and buy a couple of grocery staples at the market. Mr Awesome (because he is) picked me up and we ate at Jerry's Diner and he gave me this comfortable scarf. It's long, warm and soft. Shades of Grey and black and it's perfect.

And now he's calling, yay! Laters loyal blog readers, Mr. Awesome calls.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Black Friday Ride

um, yeah, so I haven't been blogging lately. What can I say? I've been busy. But today, OMG, today was Black Friday. I vow to either stay home or get the hell out of town for the next Black Friday. I mean, I don't go out and shop, I've never been that type of manic shopper, I value my life too much. But I did go to work. So, I'll tell you a little about my day. I got wine, I got pumpkin pie and some music is playing so I'm set. :)

So, seeing as how it's the day after Thanksgiving, nearly everyone at work decides they want to come in early to leave early to continue their holiday weekend asap. So I leave at 6 AM. While I was getting ready, was listening to and warned by KPCC that the San Fernando Valley was enveloped in some wicked fog. So I bundle up good and leave.

(Gratuitous bike porn)

I figure a little fog wont hurt really, while it's quite freaky driving in it, I'm of the opinion that bicycling in it could be no worse. And it wasn't really, it was just a big colder and wet. Really WET. Like so wet that about a half hour into my ride my glasses were so soaked and foggy that visibility was better after taking my glasses off. (embarrasing fact, when I stop at a red light, my glasses fog up pretty bad, it's like my tear ducts exhale sometimes) And I rarely do anything without my glasses.

Visibility was about 30-40 feet at times.

Yeah, so next time I do this, I'm wearing wool. I still need to get a rain cape though. It's on my list. I'm dropping subtle hints with loved ones that all I want for Christmas is proper rain gear and wooly/warm mufflers and gloves.

(more gratuitous bike porn)

So, the morning was overall uneventful, if not very wet. Until I realize that it's taken me a lot longer than usual to get to work. It usually only takes me 90 minutes to ride the 15 miles to work (yeah, I'm slow). But I've noticed that it's been taking me an extra 15 minutes to ride the 15 miles lately. I've recently had to have Josef from Los Angeles Flying Pigeon work on my bike. Actually, the real story is my cardigan got caught in my rear wheel cog and fucked up my bike chain and Josef, being the Knight in Bike Grease that he is, came all the way to my apartment in Van Nuys to work on my bike, when he found that he forgot one vital tool, he took my bike to his shop and fixed it. Really saved my ass, I cannot thank Los Angeles Flying Pigeon enough.

But ever since I got my bike back, I've felt that it was just a bit more harder to ride. Maybe it's the weather? Maybe I'm lazy? I don't know. But today's trip was 24 minutes longer that it should have been. I couldn't even ride up the hill to work, it was pretty sick. My bike didn't feel different, my tires didn't look different, but something was different. I spoke to Josef in the afternoon and told him what I was sensing (maybe the chain was too tight, I don't freakin' know, that's why I called the experts). He gave me a number of reasons why I would be having this problem. I vowed to bring the bike in on the weekend.

I get out of work and get my bike ready to roll and I realize my rear tire is flat. I'm thankful that I have all my tools needed to fix the flat and I work on it. Thanking the gods that the sun hasn't set yet as I find the itty bitty hole in my tube and patch it right up. As easy as it was getting the tube out from under the tire, it's as hard to get the freakin' tire back into the frame. grrr

But someone believed in me <3

I got that sucker on and pumped and was ready to go.

I realized that there was so much traffic. Black Friday is no joke to these people and they will straight run your ass right out of the road if you dare try to take the lane. Which is what happened to me soon after making my normal Friday night stop at Trader Joes. I decided that tonight was not the night to battle it out with these people so I rode on the sidewalk and looked at all the pretty/tacky Christmas displays in peoples' yards. There are some homeowners who will persist in watering their yards even though it's been so wet lately that they would be just wasting their water and I made sure I yelled my thanks loud enough as I cycled past. I will never understand why these people feel the need to not only water their lawns after a rain but water their sidewalks as well.

Also saw a man in a wheelchair start crossing the street in oncoming traffic because they modified the street lights to work differently. I motioned for him to turn around so he didn't get hit by all the drivers making left turns (in our brand spanking new left turn signal light). He saw me and paid attention, in the knick of time. He ignored me when I caught up and tried to talk to him. (did I smell?)

There were so many people out that I had to be so very cautious, you'd be surprised how many drivers outside the malls don't give a damn about paying attention to the traffic cop directing the lines of traffic. That was the scariest part of the first 5 miles of my ride.

Then I got to the Orange Line Bike Path and it was smooth sailing until the next tangle of traffic. Which was about a mile from home. I ride the bike lane up Woodley (because I don't have the balls to ride on Sepulveda) and there was a three car accident on Woodley and Sherman Way. Now I usually take a little detour behind/between the 7/11 and Toys-R-Us but there was no way in hell I was going go near Toy-R-Us so I decided to cut through the drive way in front of 7/11. As I do this I see this huge freaking black SUV coming towards me, the driver is looking at the snarl of the 3 vehicle accident on the corner, she comes right at me, I make a sharp left to get out of the way and nearly fall off my bike, she makes a right and parks in front of 7/11. I'm freaking irate with drivers at this point and I go up to scream bloody murder at whomever it is and I discover it's my coworker Christina, the one I carpool with when I'm too achy (lazy) to bike to work (rarely). She gets out of the car and I explained what happened and she's just so shocked and scared because she knew she was too preoccupied with looking at the three car accident just feet from us. She's constantly apologizing as she's terrified of hitting cyclists (she's had bad experiences in her past). We talk for a bit, I rant about some of the other stuff I dealt with tonight and we vow to talk more about it at work on Monday.

I ride the last mile and arrive home a bit frazzled but in one piece. Watch some Family Guy and give The Gritty Kitty some lovin' (she knows when I need some extra attention).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

So, remember that WSJ article I was in?

You can read about it here

A few nights ago I get an email from the reporter who wrote the article.

Some one from the LAPD got in touch with her and asked her for my information. The Seargent has been tasked with attempting to find out more information regarding the streets mentioned in the article. The guy is in Charge of the Community Traffic Services Unit, Valley Traffic Division, LAPD. He asked for me by name specifically. I told her that of course she could forward my information to him as soon as possible. The Seargent called me the next afternoon. He went into great detail about ways that the LAPD want to improve conditions for cyclists. And I offered to answer his questions and help out whenever I could (if my schedule would allow it of course). They are hoping to get a lot more info and once they identify the problem areas, they have plans to set up some task forces like plain-clothes officers/cyclists and some sneaky media coverage to note problems and catch offending drivers. All this to make bicycling a bit safer and to educate the public in how to deal with us on the road and how to bike safely.

I'm very excited about this. It looks like there is hope for the valley...

out riding

out riding
riding my flying pigeon