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.
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.
- Buy coldwater laundry detergent.
Sometimes even if you put the washing machine at Lucy's on HOT WATER, it still comes out cold.
- Lock your bike up with a freaking u-lock!!!
Unless you WANT to lose your bike. In fact, use at least two different kinds of locks. It's unlikely a bike thief would have that much equipment on them.
- Don't try to roll your first century in the cold of fall/winter.
Wait until it's lighter longer, ESPECIALLY if it's your first time. It's no fun being stuck in Camp Pendleton and freezing cold at dark.
- Don't be shy.
Easier said than done, right? When you ride a group ride (aside from leaderless rides like Los Angeles Critical Mass) the first time, take someone with you and/or make sure you introduce yourself around to as many people as poosible. When I think about what I could've done to prevent the disaster that as my first Wolfpack Hustle ride, I see very clearly that I let one person monopolize my attention before the ride. He meant well, but I missed out on the vital heads up on how the group negotiates lights, etc., that I got on my second Wolfpack ride. (By the way, my second ride with the Wolfpack totally kicked ass. I'll be the first to say I was wrong about these guys. They aren't elistist at all. If you're a newbie, it might seem a little intimidating or exclusive, but that's why I'm telling you all this, so you can navigate better than I did.) Which leads me to...
- DON'T BLOG ANGRY!
- Enlist your friends for support after that big ride.
Make sure you have a friend waiting for you with a granola bar at the other end of your first century or double century or whatever your long ride is. It's really helpful to know, whether you're riding supported or not, that you have someone waiting at the finish line for you (even if the finish line is imaginary).
- Building your own bike is completely POSSIBLE.
Get yourself a frame and start rummaging for parts. They might not all work together, and you might make a few errors, but friend-up with some knowledgeable bike people, use the power of the internet, and follow some tweeting cyclists, and you'll be rolling on your own custom build soon enough. (Painting your own frame is also completely possible. Hopefully Stevo will contribute a story soon about her painting project.)
- Always bring a camera, and don't be afraid to use it.
- Thank the people who help you (even when it's their job).
Thanks to the LAPD for an awesome Los Angeles Critical Mass on June 25th. Thanks to the Bikerowave volunteers for helping me put the finishing touches on GoFast. Thanks to John Huan Vu for all your bicycle repair advice and reference to eSnipe so I could win my race bike on eBay. Thanks to Stevo for meeting me at the end of my double century. Thanks to Biking in LA for moral support and the long list of links you provide every day that helps me know what's going on elsewhere in the world of biking. Thank you to Midnight Ridazz for giving me lots of rides to meet amazing new people who like bikes. Thank you to Bikeside LA, LACBC, and C.I.C.L.E., for standing up for cyclist's rights and pushing for new and better bicycle infrastructure to make the streets safe for us all...and thank you, readers, for reading.