Life Without Wheels: Chronicle of a Car-Free Lifestyle
 
Well it's official, folks. A work commute by car that used to take me 25 to 30 minutes now only takes me 20 minutes via bicycle without breaking a sweat. So all you naysayers out there who proclaim you can't traverse LA on a bicycle as fast as you can in a cage, oops, I mean car, are right. You can do it faster! Suck it!
 
 
I've decided I will post every day this week, come hell or high water. Hell will probably be first considering this is LA, and even though it rained last week, we are still in a drought.

So, very quickly, I thought I'd recount my commute this morning (even though I do have some stories from previous bike rides in November and December that I haven't gotten to yet--no time for that now though). The temperature is up to about 55 degrees in the mornings now, and we're supposed to hit at least 60F everyday this week. The ride was brisk and lovely, as I got out early enough to dodge a lot of traffic that comes out after 9am, so I was able to really "get the lead out" and book it. I actually made record time--20 minutes from pedal begin to pedal stop.

The nicest part (yes, and smuggest part) of my ride was on 4th street after I passed La Brea. The street is very narrow there, and cars don't have room to pass. There were about 4 cars stopped and waiting behind a  garbage truck, while the workers picked up the garbage cans lining the street. I pulled to the left to see if there was oncoming traffic, then whizzed past all of them thinking, "SUCKAZZ!" Regardless of any little motorist mistreatments on the way in, that moment totally made the morning's ride for me.
 

Festive Bike Pics

12/01/2009

 
Monday night Ohaijoe and I rode around a deserted downtown Los Angeles searching for festive decorations. We found some great gardens and environments at the Music Center complex. Below are pics of my bike in different places...

Isn't it weird that cyclists take pics of their bikes like pet owners take random shots of their pets? Sigh...I've gone round the bend for sure. 
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I told you I could put anything on my bike...case in point, Christmas tree!
 
 
I wish I had said this "Lady, a jerk-douche-face driver is a jerk-douche-face driver no matter what sort of vehicle they're piloting." Oh, to have a time machine to go back to that moment!

Wait, let me start from the beginning, and I'll try to keep it brief.

On my way to the Girls Only Ride, I turned South onto La Brea so I could then cut through Redondo to Venice and hit up the bike lane. Now keep in mind that there are businesses dotted along La Brea with parking lots that have driveways between street parking. Meaning...as a bicyclist I have to be extra-vigilant in making sure that I see cars coming out of these driveways (as it's possible for me to be hidden behind the parked cars on the street) and that those motorists see me as I continue down La Brea--WITH THE RIGHT OF WAY, mind you. 

Shortly after I pass 9th Street, I see a woman in a car (some trashed up Honda Civic or Toyota Camry--blue or silver, couldn't really tell) who is attempting to negotiate traffic and pull out of a parking lot driveway. She's inching out into the street, trying to view the oncoming traffic. As I begin to come up on the driveway (not passing it yet) she and I make eye contact. Instead of stopping, however, she looks beyond me and continues to let her wheels roll, creeping out of the driveway right as I'm in front of her vehicle.

Now, rolling wheels mean a car isn't stopped and, therefore, means you could be in danger. So I went into defense mode. I shot my hand out in front of her, making a stop signal with my hand (similar to a police officer) and shouted "STOP!" She slammed on her brakes, so I know she then saw me, and I kept going. I wasn't mad; I wasn't even phased. This kind of thing happens frequently, it comes with the territory. Most drivers are glad that I make a gesture, because they honestly don't see me, and they don't WANT to hit a cyclist. I was so not concerned with the incident, I forgot about it almost as quickly as it happened.

Which is why, when I came to the stoplight at Olympic, I was completely taken off-guard when she pulled up next to me with her window down and started screaming at me. She's yelling about how she could see me, and I didn't need to curse at her (which I did not, BTW). She yelled that she was a good driver, and she had stopped. I respond (big mistake) by saying that I did not swear at her, I merely made a stop gesture and yelled STOP, so I could ensure my safety. I tell her that her wheels were rolling, which to me suggests that I'm in danger. (Mind you, she's not listening to me, she just keeps yelling.) She tells me "well I ride a motorcycle, so I know that it's dangerous...I watch out for cyclists." I respond by saying, that I don't know that she's a motorcyclist and that I can't predict what she's going to do, all I know is that her wheels are rolling. She interrupts with "well, I know. You need to keep your temper! blah blah blah."

I need to keep my temper? Seriously? Which one of us intentionally stopped alongside a cyclist in traffic so she could scream her head off, and continue to put the cyclist at risk?

Here's the kicker folks, which I didn't think about until afterwards. She was holding her iPhone in her hand the whole time she was yelling at me, looking back and forth from it to me while she texted and played with it. Oh yeah, I feel very safe with her out there on my side.

I vented this story to Tweeters Wildbell and ActOut (Will and Enci, respectively), and reminded myself that even though I did nothing wrong, I should not have let her get to me. The lesson learned is: when confronted with an angry motorist, take a deep breath, think about your words, smile, and respond as politely as possible. If they continue to yell and harass you, pick up your phone and call the police. And take a picture of them.

Oh, and it gets even better. As I turn down Redondo, I'm stewing. I'm spitting mad. Still riding safe, but just wanting to hit someone as hard as possible. I'm really worked up. So it certainly seemed appropriate that as I'm on Venice Boulevard, approx 5 miles from the Ocean, I feel and hear a loud pop, followed by HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! Yup, nail tore through my back tire. I don't like to swear online but seriously F***in MotherF***er!
 
 
Below are some pics from the first Girls Only Ride, in which Rachel and I braved Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica up past Malibu and through Latigo Canyon Road. Aside from me starting the ride by being harassed by a motorist who proved her own entitled and unsafe attitude by pulling up next to me and yelling at me (will go into detail in next blog post) and blowing my rear tire out, it was a pretty great 82 miles. Can't wait for the 100+ on Saturday!

Just a few things to note: PCH was a breeze. I was very nervous to ride it after all the stories I've heard, but there was very light motorist traffic, and the motorists that did pass us were, for the most part, sharing the road. What I'll remember most about this ride is the trek back to Santa Monica. The sun set as we came down Latigo Canyon Road (we turned our lights on) and as we came down PCH, there would be stretches where no cars or trucks were passing us. In those moments, I could hear (and see) the waves crashing on the rocks of the beach. The view was breath-takingly beautiful too. It was enough to make me forget everything and be completely in the moment.
 
 
On Saturday I donned my homemade cord skirt, my Michael Kors corduroy jacket, and my new brown wedges, and made my way to Union Station for the Tweed Ride, hosted by C.I.C.L.E.  It was quite a bit of fun; here's my gallery of pics. Follow through the jump to a story about an obviously drunk guy who totaled his car after the ride ended, and the porn star who got mad at us for making too much noise. 
 
 
So I decided to attend the Tweed Ride this coming Saturday, which I meant I needed to get an outfit together. I recently ripped a pair of cordoroy pants, so I thought I could deconstruct and reconstruct those pants into a skirt suitable for the Tweed Ride. I learned this practice is called "Re-fashioning", and I love it as it fits in with a sustainable lifestyle.

However...I don't own a sewing machine. At first I was going to borrow through www.neighborgoods.net (you should check them out), but I didn't have time to set up the transaction, so I bought a $30, 3-stitch sewing machine at K-Mart. As I left the store, I realized I had no idea how I was going to get it home. Fortunately, I'm always prepared. My bike trunk has an attached bungee, so I used that to strap the box on top of the trunk. It didn't even wobble the whole 5 miles home. As I was riding home, thinking about how I just carried a freaking sewing machine on my bike, all I could think was: I LOVE MY BIKE!
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Schwinn with sewing machine on top. HAH!
 
 
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Me on Angeles Crest Highway courtesy of Ohaijoe, see how I'm almost as high as the mountains behind me?
Stuck on Mount Disappointment...that seems to be the story of my life. And alas, on Veteran's Day, the K-Town Bike Crew (myself, Joe, Rachel, and friend) departed Silverlake in search of mountain climbing elevations and Mount Wilson Observatory, which sits atop 5700 feet of elevation on Mount Wilson. Before you get to Mount Wilson, you must climb not only hills in La Canada-Flintridge, but Mount Disappointment. Unfortunately, as we crossed onto Angeles Crest Highway, starting the climb up Mount Disappointment, we discovered that ACH was closed. I'm sure you're asking "why didn't you check to make sure ACH was open?" Well, duh! Of course I checked the route with the LA Department of Transportation and other authorities. It was not listed as closed anywhere.

So we approached the "Road Closed" signs, and Rachel and I waited while the men rode up ahead to see if the road was truly closed. A cop was sleeping in his car, with his head on his shotgun, about half a mile up. He was supposed to be guarding the pass. When he awoke and confirmed that the road was closed, we decided to enjoy the coast down hill and head to Griffith Park Observatory. 

All that uphill cycling was worth it when I watched my speedometer hit 35 miles per hour as I coasted down first ACH and then Chevy Chase Drive. Below are some pics from the trip. We're going to try to go up to the top again after the first of the year, weather permitting (on a day when it's not snowing, preferably). 

FYI, the route is posted on the training blog at http://www.lifewithoutwheels.com/le-grand-tour-training-blog.html. Pictures after the jump!
 
 
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This past Monday I performed at the Electric Lodge in Venice. This meant I would have to go straight from work in Hancock Park to Venice and Abbot Kinney. I would need to pack my work clothes and costume as well as carry along my tripod for my camera, because of course I'm videoing my performance! So I packed everything into my trunk/pannier and strapped the tripod on top. It was all actually very secure, and I was pretty impressed with myself. On the ride to work I had zero problems with all the stuff on my bike, and by the time I got to work (20 minute ride) I was singing the "I love my bike" song. 

After work I hopped on my bike and down Fairfax to Venice Boulevard, where I proceeded down the bike lane to Venice. It took me about an hour. No huge problems with the  maniac drivers of LA, but I could see the fog already rolling in.

I did my tech then changed into costume. The show started at 7:45pm; I performed 3rd in the lineup. Afterwards, I had great feedback on my performance. Audience members consistently mentioned how moving and powerful the solo was. One person also called it frightening (in a good way). 

At about 10:15pm I started the trek back to Koreatown. It was a little scary because the visibility was down to yards because of the fog, but about 11:45pm I pulled into my garage, made my way inside, and collapsed on my bed. I love that I didn't have to wait on a bus or anything. As my friend Rachel says: BIKE=FREEDOM!


Below is the video of me at Max 10. The working title of the solo is "Suicide Cluster." The video is a little dark, but watch it through to the end. I promise you'll get some classic Amanda gestures.

 
 
Hey everyone, I'm performing at the Electric Lodge tonight in Max 10. The show starts at 730pm, it's $10 cash at the door. Ten performers, ten minutes, doing experimental and new work. Check it out!