Tuesday, December 13, 2011


The image left is of the rainstorm a couple weeks ago. This is a corner curb, and the rain is about 5-6" deep right there - it has jumped the curb. Where the water line is on the sidewalk there is now a crack in that same water arc.

It started raining last night about 3:00 AM. Yes, I was still up and don't ask why except that darn Words With Friends. Alec Baldwin thinks he's so addicted he can't put it down when an airline tells him to, and I can't seem to stop when my body is begging me for sleep. Actually, though, I did stop because the fellow I play against at that hour of the day doesn't play his turn immediately, because he's at work doing night rounds, so rather than wait I finally went to bed.

Today it pretty much rained in a steady downpour all day. I don't have any rain gear so there's not much point in biking unless I desire to be drenched, so I'm driving the new car more than I'd like. I actually filled it - or close to filled it today. I spent $40, and that put in about 12 gallons, but so I think it might hold 14 or so. I'd prefer not to drive it but I think I have a week of driving. 5:00 PM rolls around and it's just black out, and the longest day of the year, December 22, is just 9 days away... oh thank heavens, then we start the gradual longer days.

As I have next week off, albeit unpaid, I hope to take in some longer rides again during daylight hours.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You go, girl!

Today as I was commuting to work, I had to stop at the intersection of Gregory and La Cienega (I was heading West on Gregory), and a woman passed by me, took a look and said, "You go, girl!" To which all I could mutter was, "Thank you!" She just made my day! I wish I had told her that!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Feeling the need for distance

I just don't get enough time on the bike now. It's dark so early, and I miss the rides.

I daydream more and more about just leaving everything behind, getting on the bike and just going. Of course, I realize one can't just go like that without some means of self-support. Part of me just really wants to escape, to leave behind all these things that weigh me down emotionally and financially.

I find it incredible that although I have been in Los Angeles for nearly 22 years, and inflation has increased steadily in those 20 years, salaries have not. In fact, searching for a day job that will better handle the financial obligations I have has so far proven to be fruitless at best. In 1995 I was making $25 an hour. Today I'd be lucky to get $12.50 an hour - and that's what I was making as a temp in 1989 when I moved here. It was a livable salary then. Gas was lower, rent was less. With a 40-hr week at $12.50 an hour, I'd only be spinning my wheels after taxes, not making enough to meet any financial obligations except maybe a roof over my head and some bills, but heaven forbid I should put food on the table of gas in the car. And heaven forbid one of my animals gets sick, something goes wrong with the car, or something goes wrong with me requiring medical care. Oh yes, no health insurance can be afforded.

Do I want to escape from this ridiculous madness? Yes, I certainly do. Do I want to just get on a bike and not look back? Yes, I do. Maybe one day that will happen, but right now, I still have a dog and cat to care for. The cat is nearly 20, and the dog is maybe 13-14, and I have to wait until they both pass on before I do anything rash. However, I think I am going to start some serious purging of things in my apartment. I need to be unencumbered.

Maybe part of my cross country bike trip can be to find a new place to live and start over. Starting over doesn't scare me, even at age 52. Somewhere, something has got to give.

For right now, however, I am staying with my part-time job and barely making ends meet... sometimes to the penny. I need additional income, that's for sure. I just don't know where it's going to come from. Cookie sales are dismal and book sales are few and far between. So frustrating.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Hairy ordeal

Well, this might be TMI, but at age 52, there is rarely a need to shave the legs because well, they're just not hairy anymore like they were in my younger years. However, when I was drying off from my shower today, I noticed that the injured upper shin area of my right leg (injured from the Labor Day bike crash) has lovely thatch of hair that is out of character. I'm wondering how the injury induced this phenomenon, because that hair was not growing there before. It's just the weirdest thing!

Rushing home before dark

So, I'm not a daring enough cyclist to ride in the dark, so I had to move my part-time hours back a bit so that I can leave by 4:20 and get home before dark at 5:00. Oh, I do miss those longer days of summer when I could take a longer route home. Now I'm lucky if I get 6 miles in a day. I've got flashing lights in the front and the back. I saw a cyclist the other day who had a light beam on the front his bike, and I need to get one of those rather than just the little flasher. Perhaps then I'd feel slightly more inclined to ride at night, even though I don't really want to.

I did hear about a new product, might be of some interest to other cyclists:

Back Up Barz

Here's a Youtube video about them:

Back Up Barz video

One thing I think is interesting about the product is that my hybrid does not allow me to stand and get torque to the ride - I am always seated when trying to power up a hill. I don't know if Back Up Barz would help with that problem. Also a problem with the horizontal handlebars of a hybrid is that there is one and only one position for the hands.... and in long distances, the hands and wrists get really tired and sore. I'm wondering if I should just swap out the handlebars entirely, but I really like the gear shifters on my bike, and I don't want to lose them.

I'm starting to wonder if it is possible to ride the hybrid across the USA...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bicycling is the nearest approximation

Bicycling is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds. The airplane simply carries a man on its back like an obedient Pegasus; it gives him no wings of his own.

~Louis J. Helle, Jr.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What's done is done

So, today I made the initial payment on the car - about a 60% down payment. Yes, I decided it was the right car for me although I wrestled with it this time last week. In fact, I was ready to call my mechanic and ask him to please just come get it. But something inside me did not. I slept on it, and by last Saturday morning, I was not as anxious about it. When I handed over the initial payment today, I wasn't at all anxious. I was completely at peace that this was the right decision. My garage clicker is already inside, and I've been playing with all the little bells and whistles. Haven't figured out where cruise control is, but I know it's on there.

The thoughts that brought peace to my heart were that my mechanic picked out for me as a solid, reliable car that he wanted me to drive. It may, in fact, be the most reliable, solid car I've ever owned. So he came over this morning before I was even awake (he had a2nd set of the car keys), and took the car for the smog inspection and also to have the oil changed although it had only gone 800 miles on the most recent change. Still, he wanted it to be as perfect as possible for me. Then he came back and got me. First we went to the bank. I had been given an advance check on some commissions coming, but I had only gotten it the night before, and so I had to go the the bank the check was drawn on in order to cash it out. My mechanic and I have always worked in cash. Then we went down the street to the local AAA office and transferred the title. That saved tons of time by doing it through AAA instead of going to the DMV. So, the title is in my name and the official title will be coming in the mail in a few weeks. Woo hoo!

I'll be getting a trunk bike rack for the car as soon as I can so that I can take the bike places.

In the meantime, my bike riding has really slowed down due to daylight savings time. I barely get in 7 miles on my commute days. Guess I need to pick up the pace more on the weekends.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Out with the old, in with the... what?

So my car, a 1994 Geo Metro, has been having this issue where I drive it some place, go in for my errand, come out and it won't restart....for about 45 minutes. It had this issue back in May, and I called my mechanic, who has worked on my cars for 20 years, to come get it and figure out what was wrong. However, he couldn't get it to duplicate the problem, so he brought it back, but I knew the problem was still there. That's when I began to ride the bike as a commuter vehicle. I couldn't trust the car, and I'd used up all the AAA tows for the season. I could usually get one drive out of it per week, but three out of the last four times, it had had the restart issue. So a couple of weeks ago I called my mechanic again and said I thought it was the fuel injector or the fuel pump. Something just wasn't right. Again he took the car, drove it all over, and called to say he couldn't get it to duplicate the problem. Groan.

In the meantime, he has left me his 1993 Buick Regal Custom with 60,000 miles and suggested I drive it around for errands and see if I liked it because ultimately, my car had other problems too, like needing all the brakes replaced, a mob (sp?) sensor, engine/motor mounts. Then, the icing that cake - while the car was in his care, someone smashed in a back window. Okay, well, finally it wouldn't start for him and he said it was the fuel injector, but now I didn't care because no way could I afford to fix all that stuff, nor was the car even worth fixing. The broken window was the last nail in the coffin, and I considered it a sign from God to never drive that car again. Good bye car. I signed over my pink slip to him and asked him to dispose of it. I'm still waiting to hear when that is done, but that's only been a few days. It will likely go to a junkyard.

So he said he'd sell me the Buick for $3000. I looked up the Blue Book and it was only $2250 in it's condition. When I countered that, my mechanic said it also had aluminum wheels, so I redid it, and it still only came to $2315, so only a $65 increase for that. He wants the full blue book for it. Actually, he wants $2500, which would include an oil change and the smog test (all resold vehicles have to have a new smog test).

Now, I don't have $2500 PERIOD. I do have $1300 coming in commissions, and he's totally willing to work with me on the rest, pay what I can when I can, but that really scares me - not because I don't trust him but because I don't trust my income flow. And with my income being almost unreasonably tight, it scares me to tie up all extra cash in a car.

The car, btw, drives like a dream, and he said it should be good for another 200,000 miles. I totally trust him. He's been sooooo good to me over the years. The car is very good/excellent inside and out and under the hood.

Of course, as soon as January rolls around, the car will then be 19 years old. Maybe that's not such an issue with a Buick. Certainly I'd never get a Geo Metro that old. Still, part of me longs for a car that was made in this century. Then again, I have never picked out my cars except for maybe the last one, but really God was the one who put it in my path. I do not wrap my identity in any car, so whatever car God wants me to have is the one I will take.

I could get around on my bike for a while... except for my Monday cookie client whom I have delivered to for the last 5 years. I could just tell her I need pickups for a while. I can ride to the bank, there are three grocery stores within walking distance, and my only big shopping concern is when I have big items like 25-lb bags of flour or sugar for the cookie biz. The rest I can carry in smaller bundles on the bike.

Having a car would not mean riding my bike less. I would not change that at all. Having a car, however, would give me freedom to also explore other employment opportunities. It would give me the freedom to be more social. I have felt quite handicapped that way - not being able to travel far due to the car starting issue. I would also be able to take my bike places for other rides that right now are too far away to ride to and then begin that ride. Of course, I'd have to get a bike rack, but that can be done - but not if I'm paying for the car. No money for "smalls." This Buick could take me across the country and back with no problems and only act like it went out for a Sunday drive.

Is this the car God wants for me? I don't know. Do I just make the deal and trust God for massive cookie orders in December to help pay it off? Again, I don't know.

Please keep me in your prayers about this. I haven't made up my mind yet.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays or Fridays

Today I purposefully rode my bike in the rain. I've ridden in the rain a couple of times, but not on purpose. The two previous times I just happened to get caught in a downpour. Today, however, with my car in the shop and no other way to get to work, I had no choice but to ride in the rain. If it had been a torrential downpour, I would not have ridden, but it was a light rain.

I had to go to the post office on the way to work to mail off 4 parcels, so I had a bag hanging from each side of the handlebars, each with two of the boxed parcels. When the wind would pick up a little, these would knock into my knees and nearly throw my pedaling off. So that was interesting.

I was wearing a zippered sweat shirt over a t-shirt, and I noticed as I was riding in the rain that it seemed like a profuse amount of water was coming down my face, and it was, of course, dripping onto the sweatshirt - which I didn't think much of until I got to my final destination, removed the sweatshirt and discovered I could have wrung it out because it was so saturated in the front, and of course, my t-shirt was a little wet in spots.

So... even though I have prepared for summer riding on the bike, I have not prepared for fall/winter - such as it is in Los Angeles. Still, I need some waterproofing, and my ears got very cold. So I purchased a balaclava from Ebay, and I'll get some full-fingered riding gloves and also a rain slicker, and maybe some rain pants. All things needed for future events anyhow...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New roads, old roads

Today I once again took my bike to the bank and to the INSIDE of the bank. Once again the door was held open for me. Really, they don't mind, or at least they haven't fussed yet.

To go to the bank is to go about a half mile or more westward from my normal route, which means I have to double back to catch my regular route. Today I decided to take a different route home because I was getting slightly bored with my old route. Plus, part of the route would take me on the bike lane on Santa Monica Blvd. between Doheny and Kings Rd. That is actually the whole of the bike lane anyhow, but I'd never done it, and today I did it. It was not bad at all. I only encountered one car in the bike lane that was blocking traffic, and he was a bit of a pain about it, but I was eventually able to move around him. A large portion of the ride is actually pretty flat, but there's a slight hill going up to La Cienega, but I didn't have any issues at all with it.

I was also carrying two bottles of coffee creamer in a sack off one side of the handle bars and two tins of coffee off the other side, and that gave the front of the bike a bit more weight than normal.

Fun to do a new route. Will do it more often.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Los Angeles Tour de Fat - 10/8/11

Today saw several new things, one of which is relatively trivial - that of using the ATM at my bank to deposit a check with NO deposit slip. It was something I had been avoiding doing for a long time, and I don't know why, but today push came to shove because I needed to deposit the check during off-hours due to my biking plans for the day.

At about 8:45 a.m. I left the house on my bike, fully geared, to join up with the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition at Poinsettia Park for a ride downtown. I had a supply of my own food (partially to avoid buying expensive food from food trucks at the event), including some peanut M&Ms, my favorite tropical turkey salad sandwich from Pavillions, a banana, apple, fig newtons and about 75 ounces of water.

I knew for sure there would be a few of us, but 7 of us turned up, and so at 9:30 we left the park and began an approx. 10-mile trek to go downtown. We mostly rode the sharrows of 4th Street and later connected with the new bike lanes on 7th street that took us downtown - where the bike lane abruptly ended and dumped us into to true city traffic. I was glad I was in a group because with 7 of us, we took up a whole lane, which made riding safer.

There are a few firsts for me this day:

1. First time riding my bike downtown
2. First time riding with a group.
3. First time riding with a HUGE group.
4. First time taking the subway in Los Angeles
5. First time taking the bike on the subway in Los Angeles
6. First big ride since the bike crash on September 5.

I knew we would be meeting up with a lot of other riders for something called "Tour de Fat" - which is not about obesity, btw. However, I sort of got it confused with another event called CicLAvia - which is where some of the streets are closed off in downtown L.A. and opened up to riders, skateboarders, rollerbladers, etc.

The ride to downtown was a lot hillier than I'm used to on my daily commutes and even to get to the beach, which is a walk in the park by comparison. I huffed and puffed up a few of the hills, but never once did I have to get off and walk the bike, so that is a big YAHOO for me.

We met up with a much larger mob of cyclists in Los Angeles Historic State Park just north of downtown Los Angeles and a little S.E. of Dodger Stadium. Music was blaring, bicycle bells were chiming to the beat, and I began to understand that this was not the CicLAvia event but that Tour de Fat was something else entirely. It was sort of a costume party on bikes - a party that would take the mobs of cyclists on a route through downtown L.A. were the streets had NOT been closed off. Tour de Fats are held all over the country and are sponsored by New Belgium, a brand of beer. I'm not a drinker, so I didn't partake of that, but I did enjoy being with other cyclists, including meeting members of the Santa Monica Spoke, the bicycle chapter from Santa Monica.

We had only been at the park for a short time when the mob took off for the ride downtown. The route was relatively short but the ride became extremely congested in one area, and for about 3 blocks of 7th Street, no one was riding much - just sort of half on and half off their bikes and scooting along with one foot on the ground. It was extremely slow going. I know there was at least one accident with a car but I didn't see it. There was some police presence, but mostly because the current Batman movie was filming down there.

While most of the bikes were regular bikes, there were some tricked out, funky ones too. Unfortunately I didn't get any pics of the ones I saw during the ride through downtown because I was concentrating too much on not getting killed by other cyclists and the traffic.

Although I could have ridden my bike home, I really wanted the experience of riding the subway and taking the bike on the subway. One of the West Hollywood riders was ready to leave the event early as well and was going to take the subway, so he showed me the ropes on how to do it from Union Station. $1.50 and 11 subway stops later on the "red line", we got off at the station in Hollywood by the Kodak Theater (where the Academy Awards are held), then walked our bikes for about a block (we were in the very touristy and people/traffic congested part of Hollywood) to a quiet side street that helped to get both of us home.

So, 24 miles and about 50 oz of water later, I'm slightly sunburned and heat exhausted but feeling good that things got accomplished.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Same Song, 2nd Verse

Tonight I just happened to have a lot of quarters on me as the woman I work for gave me all her loose change quarters since she knows I always need them for laundry.

So there I was, less than two miles from home, at the south side of the San Vicente/Orlando intersection, and of course I was heading north. It was starting to rain a bit - those big, pelting drops that soak you very quickly, and I got to the little triangle area where I always push the button to trigger the crosswalk. Triggering the crosswalk allows more time to cross the intersection as it is actually quite wide. There was a man standing there in the rain, no coat on. He wasn't a homeless fellow, but he asked if I had change for $1 because he needed meter money. Well, of course I did have change, and it was in my pannier, which to access meant I had to dismount the bike. As soon as I started to dismount, I lost my footing and the bike and I went over, this time on my left side. Whomp! I muttered some "s-word" expletive as I went down. I seem to mutter that a lot when I nearly get doored or winged or any other near miss. My left hand braced my fall, and I now even more strongly suspect that I have a cracked bone in my wrist from the crash 4 weeks ago, because I just added insult to that injury which still was hurting before this latest fall.

The man helped me up, and I dusted myself off. No damage or anything. He gave me his $1 and I gave him four quarters, and he went his separate way after I assured him that I really was quite fine. In fact, I was apologizing to him for my lack of balance!

Honestly, I feel like my biking mojo is totally screwed up. Two falls in less than 4 weeks. What the heck is wrong with me?

Thankfully, the peanut M&Ms, fig newtons and Ritz cracker sandwiches that were crammed into the pannier survived unscathed - as did the 5 Wee Forest Folk that were in their boxes and tied to the handlebars in a grocery bag (see pic above).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Status quo update

The knee continues to mend and is very tender in certain spots. I need to be careful rolling over in bed because the shifting of the pressure of the fluid in the knee can be very painful, so I have to toss and turn with great tenderness and purpose, all the time protecting the knee.

That being said, I managed to do 42 miles on the bike last week, and I'm on the bike again this week. I'm not going particularly fast nor do I desire to. Well, fast on a hybrid - which isn't saying much. Still, I'd rather just ride easily and keep the knee moving and the fluid pumping out rather than building up more pressure.

One thing I've not mentioned about the crash is that my left hand also sustained bruising on the heel. This bruising never surfaced, but it continues to be sore two weeks later, and I'm wondering if I might have slightly fractured one of the wrist bones. It can get very achy just holding onto the handlebars even for short trips.

On Saturday I contemplated biking a 37 mile round-trip adventure that I've been planning for some time - to go from West Hollywood eastward to San Gabriel. It's all city traffic to get there, and I've studied my route for a long time. The problem is, I just couldn't get mentally geared up for it. Somehow my courage is still a little fragile after the crash. I'm also not great in traffic, which is why I tend to take the side streets. I know that one day I will make that trip, but Saturday was not that day. Then, on Sunday, I thought of riding to the beach, but somehow my courage continued to fail me despite having made the beach trek many times, and I opted to stay home. I may just need to be content with the daily 10-milers for a little while longer.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again...

After I got home from work, the bike seemed to be calling me. I have been walking without pain, but to touch the front of the knee or to bump it accidentally can make howl with pain. Even rolling over in bed becomes a huge ordeal because I can't do it - I have to lift my body up, set the bad knee down gently into position and then try to settle the rest of my body comfortably in whatever contorted pose I have. I thought last night that I'd try to roll over, and my knee gave me a searing, ripping pain that lasted for several moments, and I knew I better not do that again.

But the question was.... since there was no actual joint pain, could I ride? I suited up, discovering that my riding gloves are really getting to be in tatters and it's time for replacements, and I took the bike outside. So far, so good. Next question - could I swing my leg with the bad knee over the bike? Again, no problem. So, I got on the bike.

The original intent was just to test it by riding around in the neighborhood, see how my knee felt. Although there was no joint pain, the knee was stiff and tight and didn't want to make the rotations. Keep in mind, the knee and upper shin are still very swollen, and this no doubt accounts for a lot of the tightness. I thought I'd go a couple of miles to loosen it up, and then two miles turned into 4 miles, 4 into 6, and then 6 into 10. 10 miles. 10 slow miles. I didn't want to push my knee too hard.

It feel good to be on the bike again... and by the time I had finished, my knee didn't feel so tight. I did find myself feeling overly cautious and overly protective of my knee. Had I fallen again on that side during this critical time of healing, I would have ended up in the emergency room.

I'm hoping my ace bandages arrive on Wednesday because I'll start wrapping the knee then. Giving it support might even enable me to roll over at night without feeling like I'm ripping open something.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Aid Station

As I continue to heal from the crash a week ago, I am forced to re-evaluate some things. First of all, I had no first aid kit with me whatsoever. I had planned on getting one in the future, but that future has turned into now. Just got the one on the left for about $3 - including shipping - and it's coming from China. It's very basic, and that's fine for what I currently need. I also ordered some 6" wide ace bandages, and I'll keep one in my large pannier at all times... because you just never know. I will use one of the 6" acers to wrap my knee and stabilize it because the soft tissue damage in the front is actually pretty severe. I also think I have torn a tendon on the outside of the knee.

Walking without joint pain is still not a problem. There is no joint pain, in fact. The pain is in the soft tissue, and a wrong movement will make it feel like it is burning or tearing all over again. So the ace bandage should help with that to stabilize it. I should probably be on crutches so that I'm not really moving it much at all, but that's hardly practical for my life. I have to go to work, I have to drive my car, I have to walk the dog. Life goes on.

Who knows, though. Perhaps my having a first aid kit on hand will allow me to help someone else in need, should the occasion arise. In the meantime, I am still off the bike due to the continued severeness of the soft tissue injuries under the skin in the front of the knee.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Battle of Wounded Knee rages on

So, here I sit, four days after the little mishap and realize that it wasn't "little" after all but quite serious. Now, that being said, I do not believe that anything is broken. However, there is extensive soft tissue damage and probably some nerve damage. It is extremely sensitive to touch and although there is improvement in some ways, in other ways, I just am constantly made aware of how bad a fall it was. When I fell, it felt as if I had ripped all the skin off my knee area. The pain was searing and immense. On a scale of 1-10, it was about a 20. Of course, I looked at it, and there wasn't much external damage, certainly not enough for a pain area that broad, but it was what was under the skin that was causing the pain. Muscles may be be crushed and torn. Not sure. But on the left side of the injured knee (right side in the pic), wrong movements will reinvigorate that searing pain, like tearing, ripping, burning. I'm taking more Ambrotose. Hopefully that will help my body with the information it needs for faster healing. Also light touching of the really damaged area sends nerve shockwaves to the other side of my knee. Not painful waves... just a weird feeling. Discoloration from bruising is still rising to the surface.

So, I'm still off the bike. I could ride it, I'm sure, but I think the knee needs more internal healing time. I'm ready to go, but my knee is not. Walking is not painful unless I've just had a little tweak of retearing something. Then it's just burning/stinging, like a fresh scrape, only you can't see the scrape. Meniscus tear? I don't think so.

I'll rest it all weekend as much as possible and spend time studying.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Battle of Wounded Knee

There is a long bike lane on Venice Blvd. I don't know how far east it goes from La Cienega Blvd., but it goes about 8 miles west right up onto the beach bike path.

Often I play leap frog with the buses because quite frankly, they can be very slow with their frequent stops... and sometimes they stop for a long time with no activity. Now, this wouldn't be a problem if they weren't taking up the entire width of the bike lane, which was what happened today near Venice and Overland. The traffic was too heavy to pass the bus, so I thought I'd just pop up onto the sidewalk and go around it safely that way. There was a sidewalk driveway at the back end of the bus, and there was a car trying to exit, but I thought I could thread the needle between them and pop up onto the sidewalk via the driveway. However, my front tire did not hit the 2" curb at enough of an angle to make the jump and instead skidded and tossed me down onto the sidewalk. I went down hard on my right knee and my hands. My hands were protected with gloves and at least I was wearing long pants, but I was in immediate, extreme pain, so much so that I couldn't get up for a couple of minutes. A girl at the bus stop came to my aid and was willing to call 911 if I absolutely couldn't get up, but finally I struggled up, but now I didn't quite know what to do. I had been on a ride to the beach, but with about 5 more miles to get there and then 12 miles to get home, completing the ride was out of the question. I was questioning if I could even turn around and ride home... about 7 miles.

Since I was within a few blocks of a friend's house, I thought I'd ride over and see if she could take me home. She has a huge van that could easily hold the bike. So I painfully rode over, barely able to pedal with my right leg. However, no one was home. Now I'd ridden even further away from home, and I thought I would call my next door neighbor who has a SUV. Called her, and she had just sprained her ankle and was icing it... so she suggested another neighbor. Now by this time, the shock was setting in a bit, and I started to cry - because I really was hurt. Not hurt enough to need an ambulance, but perhaps too hurt to continue, and when I called my neighbor, she agreed to come and get me. But I had to get back to Venice Blvd, and by the time I rode a couple more blocks, I had calmed down and told her not to come, that I could get home if I just went slowly. I was still wanting to cry the entire way home, but I kept it mostly in check, and then when I was about 2.5 miles away, the neighbor with the sprained ankle called and asked where I was because she was driving around looking for me. We got my bike into her SUV and she drove me home.

I have been icing my knee for a while. As you can see from the pictures, there is a big gouge of wound that is mostly a big scrape, but all around it is bruising. Pretty much everything you see in the pic hurts. There's a lot of fluid in there now and it's much darker now than that picture. It's a bit like painful mush. I guess I'll be sleeping on my back tonight. Ugh.

Of course, I'm also waiting to see what other injuries, like pulled muscles, occurred because of the fall. I'll know tomorrow when they start hurting.

And if the knee feels okay tomorrow except for bruising and soreness, I may ride the bike. Why? To help pump that extra fluid around the knee out of there. I wouldn't do this, btw, if I had a smashed kneecap or torn meniscus. I've been icing, taking ibuprofen and also Ambrotose, and I expect a fast recovery. I knew I would have a fall one day. Just glad it wasn't any worse than this.

The bike suffered no damage, not even a scratch.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

15 milers

Last week I started to up my daily commute from 10 miles to 15 miles. The actual round trip is only 6 miles, but I add extra to it. There doesn't seem to be a problem with adding the extra 5 miles on a daily basis. My body is absorbing it just fine. In fact, today I may do a 20-miler.

Because the sun is setting so much earlier now, it will soon become impossible to do a beach run after work, as I need a minimum of 3 hours to get down and back before dark. In fact, once the daylight savings kicks in, it will be very difficult to do the 15-miler and get home before dark, so I may need to switch it up and start doing the majority of the biking in the morning and cut the commute ride to the short one. Once we hit the shortest days of the year in December, I have a feeling that I may be doing a little night riding, which is not my preferred method of cycling. Either that or I have to change up my work schedule to begin earlier.

I hope to psych up for a 100k this weekend. Now that I know the bike path below the marina is 11.75 miles long, I can accomplish it and will just do it to the end. I'm going to change the settings on my odometer to measure kilometers instead of miles so that I make sure I get in the required amount.

New things purchased for the bike from eBay: air pressure gauge, 3 more tire levers, a bottle cage with mount that attaches to the handlebars, a pair of cycling socks that are cow-themed, and a small double pannier for the top bar that will hold cell phone and snacks, making them a lot more accessible on the road.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Time of Death

Okay, I'm calling it. Time of death - unknown, but it's dead. Yes, I'm officially declaring my metabolism dead. Dead as a doornail. Dead as a rock. Just dead.

No amount of cycling will revive it which is freaking annoying. With nearly 40 hours spent on the bike this month and last month, you'd think SOMETHING would have kicked into gear in the metabolism, but no, it's dead. Doesn't mean I'm going to stop cycling because quite frankly, I like the adventure of it, but as a way to burn the excess fuel? Not really a great tool, and I'm not devoting more hours per month to it because quite frankly, I have a life too. Will a road bike help or just be more of the same? I don't know. Yes, my legs are stronger and leaner, but from the hips up, that part is along for the ride in a completely passive manner. Absolutely nothing is changing or happening. So, maybe it's not worth spending 40 hours or more a month riding. Maybe it's not worth doing endurance rides. You can't beat a dead horse. My metabolism is just dead. End of story. In a whole month nothing has changed. Nothing. And here's something else - 40 hrs might have only burned 3 lbs (according to Map My Ride).

I need an attitude adjustment.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


In October of 2008, I had a gigantic cookie order with Showtime Networks, and I produced about 8500 cookies for them within a month. With some of the earnings at the end, I decided to purchase a bike. I drove to Santa Monica to a bike shop somewhere on 4th Street, and I met my friend, who agreed to put the bike in his big SUV and drive it to my West Hollywood apartment.

I wasn't at all bike savvy. My only criteria was that I wanted thick tires and not those skinny little things that go flat all the time. At least, that had been my experience in the past.

The shop was having sales to get rid of their 2008 inventory and get ready for the 2009. I test rode two bikes - both by GT, but the first one, which was blue, was perhaps too large a frame for me and I didn't feel at ease or in control. To prove the point, I wobbled so badly that I lightly crashed into the side of a parked delivery truck. After pulling myself away from the vehicle, I wobbled back to the shop and chose the other model, which I immediately felt in control of. My criteria for the big tires was met. The bike, originally priced around $500, had been reduced to $350, and I paid it, along with a helmet, bottle cage, bottle and headlight.

It was a hybrid. A GT Timberline Fitness Series. I didn't know what a hybrid was, and even if I had, I'm not sure it would have mattered to me at the time.

I rode the bike somewhat regularly for the first few months, then less frequently, and then it just stayed parked in my living room.... waiting. Partly it waited because when a tire would lose air after sitting for several months, it was a hassle to walk it up to the gas station to fill it up. I also had issues with my hands going numb on the handle bars because there is only one position for the hands, and they never move.

In 2010 my mother came out to visit for my birthday and she asked what I wanted, and I immediately said "A bicycle pump." I equally wanted riding gloves, however. We took a little trip over to I. Martin Imports, which is about a mile away, and she bought me the pump, and I bought the gloves. Now I had no excuse not to ride, right?

Well, I did ride again on occasion, but it wasn't until push came to shove with my unreliable car that I'd finally had enough and decided it was time to ride the bike to and from work - 6 miles round trip. That was 4 months ago. Now my daily commute is a 15-miler and I've even done a 58.1 mile excursion.

In the last 4 months of riding, I have learned a lot about the hybrid. One of the things I've discovered is that no matter how many miles I work out each week or how furiously I pedal, I cannot ever keep pace with a road bike. Those nubby tires and front and seat shock absorbers do me in. It's a bit like slogging through mud all the time. It is also impossible to stand and pedal which means that I am sitting on the powerful gluts muscles when I am trying to power up a hill, and this pulls on my lower back and creates tension, discomfort and downright pain. The riding gloves help some with the numbness but not entirely.

I have once pushed the bike to 20 mph going on a slight downhill. Several times I have gotten to 18 mph, even on an uphill grade, but I have little hope of getting it much faster than that.

I don't regret my decision to buy the bike. It's a good starter bike, but now I have the cycling bug, and a hybrid can't get me to where I want to go or be. It will simply never keep up, and I have the itch to ride far.

A road bike is in my future, probably a Trek Madone, and I. Martin will be just the place to get it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Unplanned Rest

Although I rested on Saturday, I did not plan to rest on Sunday. However, I either had food poisoning or stomach flu, and I ended up sleeping most of the day. It did make me think, however, what I would do when on a marathon cycling event, like a ride across the USA, what would happen if I got some food poisoning. I guess it could happen, not that it's a real worry, and I guess I'd just have to hole up somewhere until I was strong enough again. I wished I had some Gatorade on me today for electrolyte replacement.

I am starting to look at getting a road bike although I don't have any funds for it. However, I can be researching and finding out what's best for me, what I need, etc. Any marathons for me will not be for a few years anyhow. As always, I have to wait for the elderly pets to pass on. Also, I want to be on the other side of menopause, which I am starting to work my way through.

I really don't know what I'm looking for in a road bike, but I know my local bike shop will be helpful to me. Then, of course, I have to look at accessories for the bike for endurance and marathon travel. How light or heavy I travel will depend on the time of year and what part of the country I am in. I'm thinking and planning...

Saturday, August 20, 2011


It has not been a good week for cycling as far as mileage goes, and this morning I did not get up and go for my endurance ride, mainly because I don't think my lower back can endure it right now. The muscles there are still sore from last Saturday's ride, and my lumbar feel stiff and unyielding. It's just that old injury.

Yesterday I rode the bike 9 miles, which is the longest distance I have ridden since last Saturday. I did not try to go fast or even bump up my cadence to 12-14 mph. I just chose a slow pace of 8-9 mph so as not to put too much strain on my lower back, but even that may have been too much.

Last night I went to the first meeting of the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition for a West Hollywood chapter. There were about 13 other cyclists there, and we all have an interest in raising awareness of cycling in West Hollywood, getting more bike lanes, getting the community involved in cycling, that sort of thing. The people who are trying to start the chapter are already members of the LACBC, and I'm thinking of joining. When we were all introducing ourselves, I mentioned that I was looking to network with other riders and possibly find people to ride with since I always ride alone. So a couple of people talked about some group rides of a few miles each. Well, that's fine, I guess. I'm thinking more of the 25+ mile rides. However, I think there are a couple of people that might be candidates. Then again, there's something nice about being alone on the bike and just doing it.

I do have to figure out this lower back thing. I never had an issue with it even on 43 mile rides. I know that the bike puts a lot of strain on my lower back because I'm sitting fairly upright, even when going up hills. Am I not powering properly and is this causing the strain? I simply cannot stand and power the bike without being on the seat. I had a 10-speed when I was younger that I could power that way but this hybrid doesn't seem to do it, so those muscles around my lumber take an enormous amount of stress, and powering in that unnatural position also puts extra stress on my knees.

Well, I guess I'll just scale back the riding, ride at a slower pace and not push my lower back.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More post half-century ride thoughts

Here it is, Thursday. Five days after the half-century ride and I still don't feel totally recovered. I wasn't expecting the difference between 43 miles and 58 miles to have such an effect on me (43 miles being my previous longest ride), but with this latest ride an old injury reared its painful head.

Back in the early 1980's when I was at the University of Colorado in Pueblo, I didn't have a car - just my younger sister's 10-speed bike. It got me to school, it got me to work. One day I had a piano lesson with a local jazz pianist, and he let me borrow a jazz record or two. I didn't really have a way to carry them except in one arm and try to control the bike with the other. His last words to me as I left his house on my bike were, "Don't fall off your bike." I got to the end of his driveway, lost my balance and flipped off the curb. The next thing I knew, I was looking up at the sky, flat on my back on the asphalt. The piano teacher didn't see it happen or I'm certain he would have come out to help me. No one, in fact, saw the incident. I didn't think too much of it, just scraped myself up, got back on the bike, and wobbled back to my apartment.

The bruising was about as black as I've ever seen bruises, but my lower back took a hit much harder than I realized. Not long after the incident I went to the emergency room with such severe back pain that I could hardly breathe. They sent me home with pain killers and muscle relaxants, which helped, but something worse began to go wrong. When I would sit in class, I was fine, but my hips would stiffen in that position making it very difficult for me to get up and walk to the next class. Usually I limped very painfully to the next class. This went on for the remainder of my university days.

That hip stiffening still happens if I sit on the hard concrete steps of the front of my building for too long. It will cause me to limp back to my apartment. I used to have a car that would also cause that problem with the way the seat was positioned.

The half-century ride reawakened that old injury and its aftermath, so my recovery has been a bit slower. If I have one of those hip stiffening episodes, it can take about 2 weeks to recover from it fully.

I will do at least a 35-miler this weekend, but probably no longer than that. I need more time to recover.

My advice to anyone who takes a tumble from a bike is not to assume you are okay just because you get back on your bike and ride off. Some injuries take a little time to develop. Some injuries you carry for life.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Post half-century ride thoughts

Now that I'm a little more recovered from the half century ride, I look back on what I could have done differently. The ride itself was fine and the nutrition for it also seemed fine. What I didn't think about doing was being prepared afterwards for the exhaustion.

The post-ride temptation to fuel up on carbs was heavy. My body was craving them like mad. The temptation wouldn't have been as strong had I pre-prepared some foods to eat that were waiting for me at home which required no extra energy. Have the big salad already made and chilling. Have the meat already cooked (if eating meat). I should have been ready, and I was not. I also should have had at least a gallon of water chilling, because I had an insatiable thirst for many hours afterwards, and not only was it insatiable, I only wanted something COLD. Again, I was not prepared for that, but I'm in a learning process, and the learning curve is high for me. Next time I'll know these things... because there will be a next time. Not sure when, but there will be one. This weekend?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bad, Bad Cyclists

I see it every time I am on my bike... bad cyclists doing one of the following things:

1. Running red lights. Hey, just because there's no opposing traffic doesn't mean you get to go.
2. Cycling into oncoming traffic. Some cyclists still believe that's how it's done. Uh, no.
3. Running stop signs... and not just running them but blazing through them as if they aren't there.
4. Cycling and talking on a cell phone. Totally illegal.
5. Cycling while listening to an ipod or any other mp3 device - also illegal.

I yelled at one cyclist a few days ago. Called him an "idiot" for running a red light and making a left hand turn. He turned and looked at me but didn't respond. Okay, I was in a meltdown day, I admit. I wanted to yell at the pedestrians on the bike path too - a path that's clearly marked "bikes ONLY," but I didn't. I would have only worn my voice out.

And this I've seen a couple of times: cycling and smoking. I mean, what is the point????

As for riding on the sidewalks, it's supposed to be illegal for anyone over 12. However, although I don't make a practice of it, sometimes I do pull up onto the corner to take a break out of traffic and get a drink. Or, if traffic is very backed up at a light, I can lose the light waiting way in the back, so I'll temporarily pop onto the sidewalk to go around them and get to the front of the line. I will also pop up onto it sometimes after crossing an intersection if the traffic is tight and not giving me room to get into traffic (I've been squeezed out of the flow and to the side more than once). When it clears safely, then I am back onto the road. However, I'm probably a 95% roadie.

Still Obsessing

I knew I wanted a bigger ride today - one that would push me over 50 and get me my first half century ride. I studied the bike paths, measured things out...tried to go to bed early. Then the obsessing about it began and no sleep. Honestly, sometimes I think I should just get up and go at 3:30 a.m. rather than toss and turn and obsess about it.

I set the alarm for 5:40 a.m. and after a brief dog walk and feeding the animals, I made myself some scrambled eggs, then was out of the door at 6:06. I was about 1 mile from home when I realized I'd left my water bottles in the refrigerator (note to self: put a checklist on the back of the door and make sure everything is accounted for before leaving!!). So that wasted some time coming back to fetch it, although it gave me 2 bonus miles. I'll take them!

The part of the ride I think I was obsessing about was taking the bike path south of Marina Del Rey, and by the time I arrived to do that leg of the journey, I had already put 30 miles on the bike. Since the bike path was supposed to be about 8 miles long (per mapmyride.com), I thought that would give me an additional 16, plus there would still be another 14 to get back home once I returned to the marina. Then I looked down at the bike path... and it said 11.50 miles to the end. I wasn't sure if I had 23 miles in me plus the return 14, but I decided to go for at least several miles and see how I felt.

First of all, the bike path from Venice Beach north to Temescal Canyon (6+ miles) is pretty much a flat path. The 11.5 mile bike path south of the marina from Bonsall Bridge to Redondo Beach is not. While I know I need to work on my hills, I found them aggravating. Then too there was the issue my bike is having with the clicking noise whenever I have to accelerate. I kept trying to convince myself to do all 11.5 miles down and back, but by the time I got to the Manhattan Beach pier, I knew I would already get enough miles to push me over 50 for the ride, and that was the goal, so I turned around and headed back - and those darn little inclines were even more aggravating on the way back. I was so glad to get back to the Bonsall Bridge, go around the marina, and then head back home in city traffic. I actually had a much better cadence on the city bike lanes going home than on that bike path.

One special note about either El Segundo beach or Dockweiler beach - lots of people were having cookouts on the beach, and the smell of stuff grilling was practically enough to make me want to stop and beg for food.

I took frequent breaks to refuel on liquid or get a bite of the snacks I brought. I think I went through about 75oz of liquid, 32 of which was Gatorade. I really think having the eggs before I left helped, although two were probably not enough. Four would have been nicer. I even took two bathroom breaks - using the handicapped stalls because they are big enough for me to pull the bike in.

I finished the ride at 12:55pm. I didn't try to be in a race with myself and beat the clock. I chose a cadence that would get me through the ride without sapping my energy. It was only about accomplishing the 50, which I did. It was actually 58.1 miles. The only real soreness I had was in my wrists and hands.

Oh, and those 5 regained lbs? Lost them between Thursday and today.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hard Learning Curve

Yesterday I was antsy to get out and ride. It had felt like my riding for the week had been pretty dismal, so when things slowed at work, I took off an hour early so that I could make sure I could get to the beach and back before dark.

The interesting thing about riding to the beach is that the majority of the ride is spent in city traffic just to get there and back. Once I arrive, I'm on a mission on the bike path and don't really stop to enjoy the experience of just being there. I am always in a time crunch to get the job done and get back, because traffic is slow and the sun is setting earlier every day now. Soon a ride after work won't even be possible and I'll be doing long rides in the morning or on the weekends only. Until then, I can still get to the beach and back without darkness if I leave at 4:00. If it's not too hot, a 24-oz water bottle will generally suffice for the trip, and if it doesn't suffice and I don't have more water with me, I'll stop at Essential Chocolate Desserts in Culver City for a water refill (and maybe a pistachio macaroon if I have cash on me).

I hadn't really planned on making a trip to the beach, but it seemed a logical thing to do at 4:00 rather than just finish my 10-mile route. It also had the benefit of giving me extra miles which I really wanted. I had actually planned to get up and leave for Temescal Canyon at 6:00 a.m. (the 35-mile route), but I really struggle with those early mornings because I obsess about having to get up early and then can't sleep. More than one early attempt at a long ride has been sabotaged this way, and I've made two longer runs on little to no sleep, so that's a pain (although riding down La Cienega Blvd. at 6:00 a.m. is a joy because there is no traffic!).

I also needed to deal with the meltdown I was having and felt a bike ride would help to release some of that energy. It did. I ended up doing 27 miles, and it felt good. For the first time, I even got the bike up to 20 mph, although it was brief.

And one more thing.... this morning 2 of those 5 regained lbs were gone

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gotta Ride

So, I'm cycling. Been cycling for the past three months very steadily with increasing amounts of mileage. I had been thinking about using it to commute since I only work 3 miles from home (but I make it into a 10-mile route), but push came to shove when the car became unreliable and I'd used up all my AAA call for the year. I couldn't afford to pay for a tow if I got some place and my car wouldn't start again, so I've been nursing the car along with very infrequent trips and mostly biking.

I don't have a lock for the bike, so I don't use the bike to go to the store or anything like that. It's strictly for commute and for exercise.

Now the exercise thing is baffling because quite frankly, it isn't a great way to lose any weight unless you are burning it up on a racing bike or doing marathon endurance types of rides constantly. A little commuting? Doesn't really do much for you, and I've always maintained that from the hips up, the rest of you is just along for the ride.

At first it was only commuting that I was doing, but I had a goal to be able to make it to the beach (10+ miles each way depending on route) and back, so I kept pushing myself to try a little more, and one day I just went for it. No problem. It was lovely. So I've been doing rides a little further. Now I'm doing a 35-miler once a week on top of the commuting. My longest ride has been 43 miles. I want to do longer rides during the week and also on the weekends.

I had lost 20 lbs so far... but now I've gained back 5 and want to cry. Meltdown would be more like it. I haven't figured the balance of nutrition yet. I don't really have to change anything for the daily commutes, but for the longer endurance rides, I don't know the proper nutrition yet. I don't know how to feed my body on a longer ride to keep my energy sustained without overloading on carbs because I really only need them that one day.

I do think I will cut the sports drinks out on the commute days. No need for that, but I'm not sure I will cut them out for the endurance rides.

Vicious cycle, that's for sure.