Life Without Wheels: Chronicle of a Car-Free Lifestyle
 
In October 2009, my bicycle got stolen shortly after I started this blog. Joe Linton, well-known bicycle advocate, offered to meet with me to look at a bike on Craigslist, and shortly thereafter, I owned my very first road bike. Things seemed to have snowballed after that: riding faster, long-distance rides, bike overnights, group rides, police chases, double centuries, learning all sorts of bicycle repairs, and making friends with cyclists from all walks of life, all ages, all attitudes, and a variety of bikes, all totally kicka$$. 

And now...I'm going to work in the nonprofit arm of the bicycle industry. How does that song go...one thing leads to another? 

I have been offered an amazing opportunity to join the team at Adventure Cycling Association, and I've decided to take it. So the sad news is that I'm leaving LA. But this blog will continue, as I will continue to pursue the car-free lifestyle in Missoula, MT (and wherever else the road takes me). The awesome news is that I will basically get to combine a profession I excel at with my personal passion. Seriously, my life now gets to revolve around bicycling. I know, YOU ARE ALL JEALOUS. But it's okay, I have stickaz for you all. 

I am very sad to leave my special bike family in Los Angeles, from my K-town bike crew to the guys in the Wolfpack and other late night fast-paced rides and, of course, the never dull Los Angeles Critical Mass. I've met so many of you over the past couple of years, and I'd like a chance to see you all, so here's a short list of rides I plan on making before I depart from the City of Angels.

Wednesday, April 27: The Ride Formerly Known as Silverlake (it's my birthday!!!)--RESCHEDULED probably 5/3 now.
Friday, April 30: Los Angeles Critical Mass
Monday, May 9: Wolfpack Hustle
Saturday, May 14: The Ride With No Name

Check out www.midnightridazz.com for times/locations and demeanor of rides. 
 
 
 
 
Dear big rig driver who was clearly turning onto a street that is not big enough for a big rig. Please do not intentionally accelerate towards me when you are stopped, and I am attempting to get your license plate number. You do not have the right to kill me. I am guessing you are an unlicensed big rig driver--since you seem to not know how to navigate such a large vehicle. Don't worry though, I notified LAPD of your driving and filed a report that will be filed as an Attempted Assault with a Vehicle. We may not catch you, but I've started a paper trail for you. Hopefully you'll shape up, but if you don't, you can share cell space with Dr. Christopher Thompson.

To my peeps: more details on my brush with great beyond later.

To LAPD: thank you for taking the report, being patient, and understanding the seriousness of what happened.     

Correction: On the original post I erroneously mentioned Dr. Alex Thompson rather than Dr. Christopher Thompson as serving time for using his vehicle as a deadly weapon. My apologies to Alex, who is a devoted bicycle advocate and would never intentionally using a vehicle as a weapon against another human being as the aforementioned Dr. Christopher Thompson or my bad big rig driver from this morning. Thank you, @bikinginla, for the correction!
 
 
You are talking to the first and ONLY person who has signed up to be a bike buddy for Bike to Work Week/Day LA in May 2011. As some of you know, I have been working hard to get a bicycle pit stop at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where I work and ride to almost every day. I really hope it happens as there are a lot of people who bike to work at LACMA and lots of cyclists who ride through the Miracle Mile area. 

Anyhow, when I was searching for info on the bike pit stops for Bike to Work Day, I came across the Bike Buddy program, which is very similar to an HR initiative I'm working on with one of my bike enthusiast HR managers. So I went ahead an signed up. I love the idea of helping less experienced cyclists become comfortable with riding in the road and in traffic, helping them find safe routes to work, and in just GETTING MORE CYCLISTS ON THE ROAD! If you read my blog, I'm guessing you feel the same way. More cyclists on the road is better for us all, so it behooves all of us to mentor noobie bike commuters so they can make cycling a regular transportation mode in their lives. 

Remember, most noobies perceive that cycling is dangerous, usually because they don't know where there are bike lanes or neighborhood bike routes and low-traffic neighborhood streets. If we can mentor them, I think we will have another big surge in bicycle commuting this summer. 

So sign up and be a bike buddy!
 
 
So, many of you know my pet peeve that you should pass on the left not on the right and that you shouldn't shoal another cyclist (pull up on their right and overtake them) at a stop sign or stop light. Today I had the opportunity to attempt to educate another cyclist (whom we shall call the IDIOT), on why passing on the right and in the door zone is dangerous. Here's our encounter:

Me: (over my shoulder as IDIOT approaches on the right): Hey, pass on the LEFT!
IDIOT: What? Hi, good morning (in a flirtatious way).
Me: (in no mood to be put in danger by an idiot who think he's flirting as he pulls up on my right and starts to match my pace in the door zone): Hey, pass on the left! You're putting me in danger! It's dangerous to pass on the right! If I have to swerve, we're going to crash.
IDIOT: (laughing in an exasperated tone that says "whatever you don't know anything): What? Oh, hah. Listen I've been riding for 30 years. Just don't swerve.
Me: (looking at him like the IDIOT he is): No, I'm not going to swerve because I can't hold my line. If a car sideswipes me or I have to go around a pothole, I can't see you on the right, don't expect you there, we will crash. You're pushing me further into traffic. You're putting me in danger. If a car door opens, you're going to swerve left into me and I'm could get run over by a car after we crash. (note: I'm riding on the sharrows, which are just outside the door zone, and IDIOT is in the door zone).
IDIOT: I've been riding for 30 years. Just don't swerve.
ME: (thinking: do you want an iPhone 4 too?) Don't pass on the right. Safe cycling tells us to pass on the left. In your 30 years, you never learned the principals of safe cycling? (Note: IDIOT does not look older than 35. I'm assuming that he is counting his days on training wheels and riding around his childhood neighborhood as "cycling" days.)

You should note that after every reason I gave him for not passing me on the right and putting me in danger, the IDIOT laughed a "oh whatever" laugh at me, completely dismissing very valid reasons to practice safe cycling. He FINALLY finished passing me on the right (although I spent a good 3 minutes asking him to stop riding beside me in the door zone like a fool--didn't call him a fool to his face). I watched him ride in the door zone for about 2 miles, then he pulled off.

Being a cyclist for 30 years or 50 years or 75 years, doesn't give you the right to put someone else in danger. I'm guessing that if he drives, he drives the way he cycles, with no attention to road safety. And paying attention to road safety means paying attention to your safety and not putting others at risk. I'll have put 10,000 miles on my 3 bikes by the end of this year, I've done brevets of 200 plus miles, I've built my own bike, and I'm an active advocate and activist of the cycling community. None of that gives me the right to endanger anyone else. Unfortunately our exchange was not too pleasant, but I hope he'll become curious about the rules of safe cycling and maybe look up one of the handbooks online.

I don't believe in policing other cyclists, but if you put me in danger, I will let you know it. This usually means yelling at other cyclists: pass on the right and ride on the right side of the road. If I yell this at you, please know it's not because I'm a bitch or because I dislike you for some reason. I'm sure you're a nice person, just uneducated about safe cycling. But I'm still going to give you a mouthfull of why it's unsafe. So either stop doing it, or live with my tirade.
 
 
Hello friends, fans, and everyone in between! 

Last Sunday I completed my second double century in 15 hours and 30 minutes. It felt great. I felt great pretty much the whole ride, except for the part where I twisted my knee when I came to a stop quickly and had to unclip quickly. I felt a little twist when it happened, but didn't think much of it. Around mile 160, it became clear that twisting my knee was reaping some unfortunate ramifications, including some knee pain. I managed to complete the ride, but couldn't walk for 2 days. The good news it that my doctor says although I have obviously caused some trauma to the joint, there is no instability and he does not believe there is any serious tearing of any ligaments or minisci. My knee was tender upon touching it, swollen, and had almost no range of motion. My doctor says 2 weeks off the bike with medication and it will be back to normal. He did okay me to swim and walk, with a brace, so I'll be relying on those two forms of exercise to keep up my fitness during these two non-cycling weeks. 

Can't wait for the next double century! Hoping to get the time down to 14 hours total time!
 
 
Thursday: Mac n Cheese from Marie Calendars for lunch; buffalo wings with bleu cheese dressing and 3 beers for dinner.
Friday: Tempura Tofu and Vegetables for lunch; buffalo wings with beer for dinner, plus The RIde with No Name and Kellog's Fruity Snacks.
Saturday: Ride over Cahuenga to Universal. Breakfast: Cinnabon and a beer. Lunch: hot dog and a beer. Dinner: Philly cheesesteak sandwich and fries. Ride out to Santa Monica and back to K-Town.
Sunday: sleep in until 330pm, order pizza and watch movies all day.
Monday: weigh in for friendly co-worker weightloss bet. Results: Lost 1/2 a pound.

Not kidding...eat junk food, ride bike, lose weight. I love my bike.
 
 
Wake up eat bike work bike eat bike BIKE FAST eat bike sleep wake up eat bike work bike eat bike BIKE FAST eat bike sleep wake up eat bike work bike eat bike BIKE FAST bike....I think you get the picture. Clearly there are some things missing from my life, but biking isn't one of them! 


I've been out riding fast at night lately, with lots of speedy guys. New posts coming up soon! In the meantime, feast your eyes on this! 
Picture
 
 
'Okay, first the legal: I am not responsible for anything you do on the streets or anything that happens to you. 

Second:

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 danceralamode@gmail.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.