'Okay, first the legal: I am not responsible for anything you do on the streets or anything that happens to you.
On the way home from the grocery store on Tuesday, with a bike weighed down with 30lbs of groceries, I kept it to an easy 12-15mph. I noticed that at this speed, drivers were safer when passing me, and I didn't have as many conflicts with them (ie, right hooks).
My experiment: I would like a few people to join me in an experiment. We will alternate days when we actively stay at a slower pace of 12-15mph and when we ride at the speed we desire. For me, that's normally between 17-20mph. It might be slower for you. I want to do a quasi-experimental evaluation of how cycling speed might affect your ride and interaction with motorists. I invite you to make your own speculation on why certain speeds incur certain results. This is definitely a subjective test, but I want to see if anyone else experiences the things I do.
So how bout it? Any volunteers? Email me at email@example.com for details on information. (And it's totally okay if you don't live in LA.)
I rode a century on Sunday, from my apartment in Korea town, straight down the LA River, to Oceanside. (Okay, it's actually about 5 miles short of a full 100, but I made up for it by riding my bike home from Union Station.) When I got home, after my bike bit me and left a huge, painful contusion on my right lateral malleolus, I began contemplating what it is I really love about riding--not just commuting, but hard riding. This philosophical pondering began on Thursday as I climbed a 13% grade for about 6 miles trying to get out of Avalon then tore across Middle Ranch Road on Santa Catalina Island, trying to make it across the island to Little Harbor on a mountain bike.
Going up the mountain on Thursday was awful. I was on a heavy mountain bike, it was scalding hot out, and it was a steep, steep climb. It was painful, but I was happy. I didn't question anything, I didn't think about anything, my only goal was to get to the top. Then I coasted down, and I had to concentrate on the hairpin turns and not hitting potholes. Then, Middle Ranch Road, which cuts across the island, is mostly downhill, so you just pedal fast, fast, fast, and go fast, fast, fast...but for some reason, it wasn't doing it for me.
Then on Sunday, whilst riding south to Oceanside, I realized my favorite part of the whole ride was the rolling hills and climbs through Laguna, Dana Point, and to a smaller extent, Camp Pendleton. As I sit here typing, it's perfectly clear to me: I like climbing. I love climbing. It's my favorite part of riding. And it's not because I get to fly down the other side. In fact, I could do without the flying down at plus 30 miles per hour.
Why? Why, you ask? Why would I love torturing my legs to climb up huge grades and not do it for the reward of the coast down? Because I'm KING OF THE HILL. I am Napoleon. I am the MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE.
Or, at least I am when I get to the top of that mountain. Yes, at that moment when I reach the peak, the summit, the top of the climb, I have all the answers, I know the meaning of life, I can cross the space-time continuum, and I am the Master of the Universe. I am a God. I control the fate of all beings.
So I ask, readers, dig deep, philosophize a bit, and tell me: what's your favorite aspect of riding and why? And don't give me that, "oh, it's good for my health," bullshit. Tell me the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth, so help you Amanda. Tell me the real, dirty little secret of what gets you off about cycling. I really do want to know.
Him: (rolls down window, pulls large red van up next to me, says confrontationally) Why are you shaking your head, what did I do!
Me: (calmly) You're talking on your phone, and it's illegal.
Him: (defensively as he puts cell phone down) Well...I lost my girlfriend, so...(as if this is an excuse for breaking the law)
Me: That's fine, sir. If you need to make a phone call, just pull over off the road. That's all.
Him: (grasping for straws) Well, well, what are you? The political police?
Me: (patiently and restraining from telling him that he knows he's wrong and should just shut up) No, it's not about politics, it's the law and unsafe.
Him: Well, it's not like I hit you (then honk horn and speed off as light turns green)
Me: (talking to air) So the law doesn't apply to you because????
Here's the deal: regardless of how good a driver you think you are, the law in the State of California says that you can't hold your phone and talk on it. You must have a hands free device. You also can't text and drive. Period. It doesn't matter who you are or what you're calling for, you are breaking the law. These laws were enacted for a reason: to improve safety for all road users. I don't care how safe you think you are or how good a driver you think you are, turn the fucking phone off. You don't get to decide which stop lights to stop at, do you? No! You have to stop at all stop lights. And you have to turn the damn phone off (or use a hands-free device).
Studies have shown that talking on the phone while driving is so distracting it is basically the same as being intoxicated while driving. Could you please respect the lives of the people around you and turn the phone off? You don't have to like me or like anyone else on the road, but you can certainly respect my right to live, can't you? So turn the G&#*!!!!$%#@! phone off.
I'm on vacation, which is really a staycation because I was going to blow my brains out if I had to go into work without some extended time off...Since I have no plans, I'm going to try and log 100 miles a day or 500 between now and Saturday. Anyone wanna take bets I can accomplish this?
I started on my beloved Blue Huffy with her functional baskets.
Bike with sewing maching on top
Then, after she was stolen, upgraded to my first ever road bike, which changed my life.
After a little over six months on the Death Machine (pictured above), it was time to invest in a bike that fit me and had a few more gears. So I again upgraded to my dearly adored GoFast.
And I saved and scraped together cash to buy my first (used) race bike (picture to come later) on which I plan to go really REALLY fast.
This blog has clearly leaned heavily on cycling. And I must say, "Guilty as charged."
Cycling is addictive. And if you're a nerd like me, not only do you become engrossed in the activity but everything involved in that activity. So, yes, this blog greatly focuses on the life of an urban cyclist. And while I've still got a LOT to learn (and always will) about bikes, people, community, and life in general, I thought I'd reflect on my experiences over the past eight months, and some specific lessons I've learned.