Monday, December 31, 2012

Mileage for the year.

Snoozer loser!

Remember that post a few days ago about the Snoozer pet carrier for the bike?  Well, do NOT buy it.  Don't even think about it!  Big waste of money.

First of all, you can't really secure it to the bike underneath.  The strapping is terrible and inefficient, so the thing could fly up and out of place on a good bump which would also dislodge the dog.

Second, the three point harness system?  Yeah, it's anchored in 3 places to the Snoozer but only one to your dog, and that's not good enough for a dog that's riding out in the open like that. 

I put my dog in the Snoozer and slowly walked her around the block in it.  She fussed and whined the whole time, and if I dared to take my hand off her, she was ready to jump out.  She was anchored in two places (one to her harness, and I fashioned another anchor in front to her collar), but that's NOT enough for a dog who wants out!!!  I managed to keep her in it the whole loooooong walk, and when we got to the front steps of my building, then I had issues keeping her in and getting the bike up the few steps. One step to go, and that's when she tried to escape, squealing and screaming as she hung from her neck for a few seconds until I scooped her up and back into the Snoozer.  Yeah, that was fun.  Not.  So the Snoozer will go into the car as a car booster seat for her, although she might not even like it for that. 

I guess if she's going to go on bike rides with me, she'll have to go in a trailer.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My  latest adventure has been to purchase a Snoozer pet carrier for the back of my bike.  This is not a pic of me, my dog or my bike.  This is from their website.  It's raining and dark today, and I can't get a good photograph of it from inside.

Snoozer Pet Products

One of the reasons I purchased this was to be able to take my dog on some rides with me when I want to be gone for longer times.  You see, I have a neighbor who calls me regularly to report that my dog is barking or whining when I am gone for more than a few hours, and well, I'm finding those calls to be quite annoying at this point, especially when I've had to listen to her high-pitched yappy pedigreed mutt for years.

I found the Snoozer on eBay, and I ordered it.  When it arrived, I immediately had to pull it out of the box and attach it to the bike to see how it functioned.  As mentioned in a previous post, my bike's rear pannier rack sits about 4" higher than a normal rack because of the way it is mounted - and this puts it too far forward beneath my seat, making that 4" of it difficult to use.

The base of the seat has a long groove to fit over the rack, and the inside is very sturdy, cushy and yet solid.  There is a strap around the front that straps it to the seat post, so it is secure there, but the straps beneath, which buckle rather than a more secure velcro, have very long dangling straps.   I haven't even quite figured out their configuration yet.  I did put my dog up into it just to see how she would like it, and she seemed okay with it.  Next is walk the bike a little with her in it, then take her for a short spin (once I figure that underneath strapping).

Because I felt it had some design flaws (a car seat sort of barely modified for a bike), I felt compelled to write to the manufacturer and offer my suggestions.

I'm writing about your Pet Rider Bicycle Seat Lookout which I just purchased online from an ebay seller.

As an avid urban cyclist, I am always interested in bicycle accessory items and their functionality.  In the case of your Snoozer seat, there are are some good things but also some things that need to be addressed for safety.

1.  Although the reflective strip in the back is great, it does not take the place of flashing lights which can been seen long before a reflective strip.  However, because the Snoozer is so large, it covers up where the lights are normally attached to the rack.  Therefore, there needs to be at least two places on the back of the Snoozer to attach lights.  Lights need to clip onto something.  This can be easily achieved by having some gaps top and bottom in the stitching of the strip so that a light can be clipped into the gaps.  As it is, I may have to remove some stitching to force it to take the lights.

2.  The straps beneath the Snoozer have too much dangling strap after it's tightened down, and the tightening down is cumbersome and slow.  A better, safer, faster and stronger solution is wide velcro strapping. It leaves absolutely no dangling parts.  Two wide velcro straps are best, spaced a few inches apart.

3.  The strap that goes under the cyclist's seat should also be velcro.  Again, no dangling parts.  However, this strap is less of an issue than the straps beneath the Snoozer.

I hope these suggestions help.  Cyclists need accessories to be fast, safe and secure.

Thank you.

Jenny Arata
Los Angeles

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bicycle locking and pannier rack troubles

I've been meaning to blog for days, but between heavy cookie orders for Christmas and  having to put my boss in the hospital on Dec. 4 and running back and forth to UCLA hospital, I just have been fairly tired and spent.

Since my last post I have purchased 2 more bike cables.  I now have 3 cables and 1 U-lock.  So last weekend I did some errands on the bike and worked on my locking skills.  The first place I went to was Aaron Bros. to pick up a new glue gun, and there was nothing to lock it to except for a skinny tree.  I locked down both wheels and the seat, using only two cables and the U-lock.  Three cables might be one too many.

My next stop was the pet store, and although I normally take the bike in and park it just inside, the store was a little busier so I decided to lock it up outside... but no place except a stairwell landing, and that was sort of like stringing the bike up, but it worked although it wasn't as well locked down.

I also received in the mail from China four more bike lights, the frog kind. They require 3 AAA batteries, and that rubbery/silicone outside was a pain to remove, but I sort of got the hang of it after four times (I bought four of them).  I mounted one on each side of the front fork but angled the lights to shine to the side, not forward, and I mounted the other two on the ends of the handle bar.  The handlebar mounting is not a good idea.  They are too big and put my hands in an uncomfortable position, making my hand muscles feel fatigue within a half mile.  I like the idea of them being there, but there's not enough room for me to grip well.

The bike now has 11 lights for night riding.  I've ordered 3 more rear lights just for back ups as I already broke one...

Then... late last week I was on my way out of the house with the bike, and when I walked it down the front steps, the rack came partially undone and flopped backwards.  I couldn't fix it on the spot and ended up having to take my car to work, but I decided against taking it back to I. Martin for a fix - not because they couldn't fix it, but because they would only be able to fix it back to the problem it had anyhow - in that it couldn't be mounted properly with the top of the rack level with the ground using the the Bontrager pieces it came with.  However, now that it was pivoting freely on the braces on the rear fork, I was able to position it so that the top of the rack was level with the ground.  Securing it into that position, however, was my challenge.  Also, because the rack is mounted higher than normal, it meant less room for my top pannier.  I went to Koontz Hardware to get some zip ties.  The longest ones they had were 15", so I got a packet of those.  First I secured it twice to the seatpost.  Then, looping two ties together on each side, I secured it to the back fork.  So, it's very secure and not going anywhere at all, and I even put about 40 lbs of weight in the side panniers over the weekend.

I have noticed with the rack now being level, however, that I get heel strike on the side panniers if they are not mounted as far to the rear as possible.  So, I definitely have to keep an eye on that.  The top pannier still gets squished on the end by the seat post, and that's a pain, so I guess I'll be on the hunt for another one.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bike locking

Well, I'm a bit concerned about my bike locking abilities.  I have a Kryptonite U-Lock and a Kryptonite cable.  Usually I just lock the frame to something.  Like  yesterday at Smart & Final, I just locked the frame to a railing.  I felt safe because it's not really an area anyone ever parks a bike in, so it's not a place a thief would look - but even so, only locking the frame is crap as everything else can be nicked off the bike in seconds - wheels, seat, handlebars.  Even so, I just watched some Youtube videos that made it look like NO lock was theft-proof.

I want it to be secure, but then too there's how much time it takes to lock it up, and how vulnerable does that make you during that time?  And, how much weight does carrying even more locks around add to my bike - which already seems over-stocked and burdened with something to deal with every contingency. 

So do I get another set of locks?  I definitely know I want another cable lock., but maybe I need a few more cables...I need to figure this out.  I guess it's time to talk to the guys at I Martin again.  Oh well.  I need to bring them in some Christmas cookies.  Tis the season.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Full panniers again!

Today I made my first trip to Smart & Final with the two rear Bontrager  panniers that I bought from I. Martin Imports.  I had to carefully figure what I could actually haul in each pannier, and I wasn't sure how much weight each could hold.  However, I now know that each can hold at least 20 lbs, because in one of the panniers I put two 10-lb bags of flour.  I really couldn't have put much more than what is pictured in the panniers... they were full and heavy - about 40 lbs total!  But they definitely got the job done!!

Once again, I wasn't really too aware of the extra weight on the bike, except that there is a lot more forward moment on the downhill which means braking needs to start earlier.  When I got home, however, there was going to be no way I could force the bike up the front steps of the building, so I had to remove the panniers first.  Just too heavy. It makes me think that maybe I should get a cargo trailer for the back, but for right now, I'm good...little trips like this one can do the trick.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Full panniers and 2200

So today I passed 2200 miles for the year - exactly on schedule.  Good thing because now the rains will come, and depending on their severity, I may not bike for a few days.

Later I did a little grocery shopping, having prepared the bike with both panniers, and I filled them with the  following:

1 75-oz bottle of laundry detergent
2 qts coffee creamer
1 can coffee
1 tall container of disinfectant wipes
1 box 100-ct sandwich bags
4 cans creamed corn
1 6-pk double roll toilet paper
3 single servings chocolate cake slices (on clearance for .39 each!!!)

So when all that was in the Bontrager side panniers and I got onto the bike, I could definitely feel the extra weight, but once I gained some momentum, the extra weight didn't seem an issue.  It wasn't an issue, that is, until I got home and faced the five steps that lead up to the front door of my building.  The big hurdle was really the first step, and once I got that momentum started, the heavy back end sluggishly followed.  In truth I could have removed the side panniers like shopping bags and carried them in separately, but why go to that trouble???  It was definitely odd getting it in through the doorway of my apartment, but all in all, everything handled beautifully.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Night riding like a boss

It has never been my intent as an urban cyclist to become a night rider.  Last year I avoided it by shifting my work hours earlier.  This year that's not entirely possible... so I find myself leaving work pretty much in the dark.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I actually worked from 6-10pm, and since I didn't want to move my car from a coveted street parking spot right out the back door of my apartment building, I decided to brave the night on the bike and ride to and from work.  This decision was greatly bolstered by the timely arrival of my Cree 400 lumen head lamp which came from China for about $13 total (free shipping).  It was time to put it to the test.  It also came with a flashing red light, and one can never have enough of those, even though I already have two Bontrager tail lights mounted onto the pannier rack.,  The new light mounted on to the bike very simply and security and uses 3 AAA batteries, and the tail light uses 2 AAA batteries.

The ride went off without a hitch, but some things I noticed were this:  It doesn't matter how well your bike is lit - headlights of the oncoming cars are blinding.  Also, when riding down the suburban streets where the street lamps created dappled light between the trees, the shadowed areas at night a pitch black, and you can't really see clearly into them, even with a headlight, until you are nearly in them (and it helps if there isn't an oncoming car).  400 lumens is quite powerful, and in the non-flashing mode I kept it angled slightly down so as not to seem like a high beam to oncoming traffic.  If there was a lot of traffic, I turned it into the flashing mode just to make me annoyingly visible, and believe me, the flashing mode is extremely annoying - like a strobe light from hell.  Fortunately, I rode on my well-traveled route, so I knew where all the problem spots were in the road, but coming home at 10:00pm, there was hardly any traffic to speak of anyhow.  I wore my new merino wool arm warmers, and they kept my arms from chilling, but I have to find something for under my helmet to keep my ears warm.  I have a balaclava, but it's overkill for California weather - even at it's coldest.  That thing has been purchased for a cross country trip.  Maybe I can find a light-weight one.

Then, these came in the mail today:  MORE little lights.  The black one is a front light and the read a tail light.  I've put the red one on the back of my helmet.  So now, I'll have 4 red lights in the back, plus the lights on the tires, plus my reflective safety vest, plus the Cree light in front, and now a little extra light in the front.  I got these from somewhere in New Jersey - $3.70 for the pair and free shipping.  Yeah, I got two pairs, and now I'm going to order tons more to give away to friends with bikes.

I guess the bottom line is that I'm not really afraid to ride in the dark anymore.  I'm as visible as I can be.  My bike is as well equipped as it can be.  You can't treat night riding like day riding due to lesser visibility, but properly equipped, I think it can be done in relative safety.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shopping with the panniers

Well, today I am working 6-10pm to prepare for Thanksgiving, and i needed I few things from the grocery store, so I stripped down the bike of non-essentials, put on the side panniers, and I rode down the street to Pavillions. 

When I arrived at Pavillions, I locked up the bike and took the panniers inside.  Now, I should have gotten a small cart, but I only chose a handbasket, and that was a mistake because the panniers took up too much room in the basket.  Nevertheless, I did my short list of shopping on one of the busiest food shopping days of the year. 

Note to self - make sure the panniers are totally ready to be loaded up before getting to checkout because uncinching everything to fully open them takes too long.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Beach ride

As my boss's nephew came to town and her housekeeper worked a day earlier than normal, I was given the day off.  I decided to use it for a long bike ride.  I was thinking about the ride to Temescal Canyon, then to the Ballona Creek bridge, then home, and that is exactly what I did, taking a detour on the way down to stop at the bank and a detour on the way back to visit Gloria's cake and candy supply and pick up some blue food coloring.  42 miles for the ride.  It was good!  More important, I got my monthly cycling goals back on track and even slightly ahead, so I know I can meet my goals for the month.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The long way to church

Since I like to try to make the 12:30 service at church, I decided to do the bulk of my bike trip before church. 

I left home about 9:40 a.m. and headed for the beach.  It was an absolutely stunning, beautiful day, especially since it had rained yesterday.  It was a perfect ride down, a perfect ride up to Temescal Canyon, and a perfect ride back.

When I had  just arrived at the beach, I happened across a young man (20s) who had his bike upsidedown.  I asked if he needed any help.  He did.  He was riding a single speed and the chain had come off, and he couldn't get it back on.  I got out one of my tools to try to help it back on, but it wasn't working.  Finally I said to take the chain off the small cog and get the large cog reset first.  Then we partially got it on the small cog, but couldn't get it on all the way.  However, when he flipped the bike over and took a few pedal strokes, the chain righted itself onto the cogs again.  Magic.

I made it to church in plenty of time for the service, but one thing I noticed, which I was thinking might happen, was that I got quite chilled when I started to cool down.  I had brought a sweatshirt with me, but I felt it was cumbersome, so I didn't mess with it, but it made me really wish I had a shawl or something.  I have ordered some merino wool arm warmers, and that would have maybe helped.  However, I have been watching these wool emergency blankets on ebay for a long time, and when I got home after church, one of the first things I did was to order one.  Hopefully it won't be too thick and I can just roll it up and tuck it into the top pannier bungie cords.  Even when I got home, however, I was still quite chilled through, and finally I crawled between my covers for a nap.  When I woke up with a sweat, I knew I was warmed again.  It wasn't that it was a cold day.  On the contrary, it was pleasant. 

As I left the beach, I hit the 2100 mile milestone.  34 miles total for the day.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Panniers galore!

Yesterday I got an order for some cookies that need to be delivered to the Farmer's Market on Friday, and as I didn't really want to drive on Friday, I decided that I would deliver them on the bike.  Problem is, the two panniers that are pink that I ordered are still in Scotland.  The accidental blue one that I ordered was somewhere in the postal system between the U.K. and here, and I was still stuck for need panniers.  So yesterday I stopped by I. Martin Imports and immediately picked up two Bontrager panniers that are black and red.  I also picked up a package of motion sensor lights that go on the valve stem to give yet another bit of light to the bike when it gets dark.

So I got home with the two panniers and lo and behold, the blue pannier had arrived in the mail.  Now, I don't like blue that much.  Not really at all.  The ebay ad had made it look like it would be pink.  So I will give that one away eventually.  Need to put it some place and get it out of my sight for right now!

I immediately tested the Bontrager panniers to see if they would hold the standard bakery box that I use, and they do!!!

So today I put the motion activated valve stem caps on the bike.  I had been thinking I would just change them out every day for night riding, but then I got to thinking that even if I have them stored on the bike, the motion of the bike will turn them on constantly, so they might as well get installed.  I will, however, swap them out for the regular valve stem caps for long daytime rides.  I also put one side pannier on the bike because I had to take something to the post office, but first I stopped at the pet shop.  I took the bike in and parked it, then got my cans of dog and cat food and checked out, putting the items directly into the pannier.  No shopping bag needed!

I left work just after 4:00, and I knew that if I cam straight home, I wouldn't get to see the effect of the valve stem caps in action in the dark, so I actually took a longer route to get home, forcing myself to ride some in the dark or near darkness.  Well, I guess the camera catches the effect differently, and it's hard to see it properly when you're on the bike, but at least that light was there.  Now if only the headlight would get here... should be here in one more week.

I then made my merry way to the post office, again taking the bike in.  I parked it just outside the main business area so that I could keep an eye on it. I did my business and left.

I didn't notice any difference in the way the bike handled with the extra weight on one side.

Friday, November 9, 2012

New rack

Well, who knew when I bought my GT Timberline Fitness Series bike back in 2008 that one day I would want a pannier rack for the back... but that the bike was not designed to take one normally!  So the pannier rack I got for my birthday could not be installed in the normal way.  In fact, none of the pannier racks sold at I. Martin Imports could be installed normally on my bike.  My bike is sort of elongated and weird.  But Ryan once again stepped up to the plate and worked some mechanical magic, creating brackets and getting it mounted on the bike.  The seat-post mounted Delta Magtrack had to be removed, so I guess now I'll be donating that and the matching pannier to a friend.  I have to wire my Bontrager tail lights into place.  I know those things will pop off the new rack at the first bump

Of course, while I waited for the rack to be installed, I perused every pannier and do-dad for the bike they carried, because all that stuff is terribly interesting to me.  My bike isn't about speed but functionality, so I'm always looking to see what accessory can make it more functional for my needs.  A side view mirror may be one of my next purchases.

Interesting to see last night's Grey's Anatomy... and a cyclist gets hit by a car in the first scene and Meredith spends the rest of the episode trying to save her life.  Interesting because Patrick Dempsey is an avid cyclist, so I'm sure that cycling may feature in other episodes.

The new top rack pannier seems to hold a little more than the old pannier, and it definitely holds my Bible better, so easier to get things in and out on Sunday for church.

Hoping to do a big ride tomorrow weather permitting.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New bike gear

Today I got my first pair of arm warmers, and I also today ordered a 400 lumen head light (from China, of course!) because these night rides without proper headlighting are for the birds.  I had been researching how many luens would be best for me, and I've seen headlights with lumens up to 5000, but those things are like bright spotlights, like the kind used for search lights, and that's overkill.  I don't want to blind oncoming motorists!  I will see if 400 is plenty to light up the road a little.

I also recently got a new red pannier which will go on the new rack when I get that installed (maybe tomorrow?)

Also finally got the business cards to take on the bike so I can hand them out to cyclists I meet who may be doing something extraordinary.

I also got a small front pannier that attaches to the handlebars, but I got that for Nessie.  When we went on our big beach ride, she draped her fannypack over the bars and this will eliminate her need for even taking a fannypack.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

More night riding

Came home from work in the light but discovered a check in the mail from a client, and by the time I had walked the dog, it was dark.  But off I went again down Santa Monica Blvd., only this time I stripped the bike of anything unnecessary except for the rear pannier, because I decided I would go to Pavilions afterwards for some groceries. 

I locked the bike up at the bike rack just opposite Pavilions, and carrying my pannier like a purse, I went inside to shop.  I didn't get much because I didn't have much to carry stuff home in - just two small shopping bags to hang off the handlebars, but just going shopping with the bike was something that I need to start doing more of - not being afraid to lock it up.  Of course, the local shopping runs will be best when I am able to strip the bike first.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Night riding

 It's not my intention to ride at night, but today, the first work day after daylight savings time kicked in, I was sort of forced to, especially getting off work at 5:00 which meant there was no way I could get home before darkness.  Not only that, but I had to rush to the bank to deposit my paycheck.  Although there is a branch of my bank about a mile from where I work, it is not a way I have done in the dark, so I opted to go home and go to the one down Santa Monica Blvd.

I don't have a flashing white light for the front, just a small blue Firefly from Road ID.  So with the blue in the front and the red in the back, I must look a bit like a police bike, but the blue is better than nothing!  Did the bank errand and came home, no problems, but that was a total of 5 miles in the dark.

Freakishly hot today.  95 degrees.  Ugh.  So ready for real fall weather.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Beach ride with Nessie

My friend from Belgium who lives in Hollywood, Nessie, recently purchased a bike.  We did one ride together in West Hollyood, and then she went on vacation.

Today Nessie and I went for our 2nd bike ride together.  She drove her bike to my apartment, and we left about 11:30 for a ride to the beach.  The ride to the beach went very smoothly for me, at least.  I didn't understand her trouble with her bike.  She couldn't figure out the gearing and even on downhills was struggling.  She said it was as if the bike was pulling her backwards.  Still, we trudged on and got to the beach where we began a slow, meandering trek up the bike path.  We stopped at a Perry's for a rest and refreshments.

I asked her how far she wanted to go up the bike path, and she said as long as we went slow, she could handle the bike issue, so we continued on at about 6 mph, going under the Santa Monica Pier and around and up towards the end of the bike path.  When we got to the two huge parking lots at Will Rogers State Beach, Nessie called it quits for riding.  I let her walk my bike and I walked hers for a bit, feeling it drag as I tried to walk it.  The wheels weren't rotating freely.  I spun the front wheel and could feel the brakes rubbing and started to examine the back wheel.  That's when a cyclist angel came up.

His wife patiently waited while he checked the problem.  He loosened the back brakes a little and adjusted them, but he didn't seem concerned about the front wheel.  He was so friendly and helpful.  We didn't get his name.  Note to self:  get those dang business cards made for cycling.

After the adjustment, he and his wife continued down the bike path towards Santa Monica, and I asked Nessie if she wanted to continue to the end of the bike path, but she didn't.  When she got back on her bike, she found the pedalling was much easier, a world of difference, but the trek down and the fight with the bike's resistance had worn her down, and so we came back slowly.

We stopped at Smart & Final by Carrington/Venice, and she watched the bikes while I went in and got us Cokes plus a flat of eggs for me.   She was very surprised that I was carrying a flat of eggs in a bag off of the handlebars, but I said the would be riding in comfort, and they were!

We returned to my neighborhood about 5:30, and I helped her get the bike into her car.  All in all a good day, and her longest ride - 33 miles!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cookies for the bike folks!

Got up and made 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the folks at I. Martin and delivered them on the bike on the way to work.  I'd been meaning to do that for a while but just had been putting it off, but after Ryan's help with the tire yesterday, my procrastination had reached its end and I took the cookies in!  I think they like me over there at I. Martin Imports!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Flat #2

So today I was doing my usual route before work, trying to get in 5 miles when about 4 miles in, at the corner of Sherborne and Cadillac, I heard the sound PHSSSSST, and I was immediately unable to pedal.  Darn it, the back tire went flat again.  I walked the bike a block up Cadillac and turned onto Bedford and found a flat sidewalk area where I could flip the bike over and get the tire off.  Well, it was the replacement thick tube from when Gregor was here a couple months ago.  It's been bothering me that the valve stem wasn't sticking up straight anymore but was at an angle, and I kept thinking it was going to tear again, and sure enough that was what happened.  So I installed the spare, but the tire is so big that it was hard for me to keep control of the valve stem and keep it straight while I was trying to pump it up.

I got it pumped up enough to get to work, but afterwards decided to check out Bikeology up on Pico, about 7 blocks north of where I work.  When I got inside the store with my bike, there was just the owner, and a worker, and the owner was fairly uninviting.  I tried to explain my problem to them, hoping for an answer, and they said it was due to lack of air pressure, but I was thinking my tires are pumped up and hard, why would it be that?  They didn't seem welcoming and helpful at all, so I finally asked if I could just get a little squirt of air to make sure I had enough pressure in the tire to get back to I. Martin Imports which was over 2 miles away.  They gave me the squirt and I was on my way, taking the sidewalks back down the 7 blocks.

on the S.W. corner of Beverly Blvd/Sweetzer.
When I got to I. Martin Imports, my favorite mechanic, Ryan, came right out to meet me.  He is so nice and friendly.  I told him my problem and showed him the 2nd ruined thick tube.  He took the bike into the work area and fixed the valve stem angles.  He said it was indeed a pressure issue and that I needed to keep the bigger tires at a higher psi of 60-80, and that I needed to pump them every couple of days to top off the pressure.  He said the tubes can lose 10-20% of air pressure in just 2 days.  He gave me a replacement Bontrager tube, which I was happy to pay for, but he declined to receive payment.

I asked him the question of "is it possible to come here and apprentice for a while on bike maintenance," and he said that over the years many people had asked that but that the company was declining those requests due to workplace liability, but that he would maybe be able to find some time to work with me on specific issues and questions.  We talked also about cycling shoes and he said that when I did finally get them that I should be prepared to fall over several times while getting my brain in gear to unclip.  He also mentioned that there were some instore trainers that I could ride to help me get used to clipping in and unclipping.  This is why I go to this store.... everyone is so helpful.  It's not just Ryan.  They're all like this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

post trauma loss of courage

Shenandoah St. /Guthrie looking north.
I meant to write this yesterday but will record it today.

I think my accident on Labor Day 2011 may have left me more damaged than I originally thought.  I don't mean physical damage.  It is damage to my courage.  While most of the time I can simply ride my bike around without any problem, I find myself being very timid with rough spots in the road.   Lately it seems to be worse for some reason.  Well, I have nearly lost my balance a couple of times and aggravated an old injury in my foot, so I know I am being cautious because of that.  Any little extra bumpiness in the pavement seems to make me slow down to a crawl, tho.  I don't have the confidence I used to.  My confidence is particularly bad going west on Venice Blvd. between National and the 405.  Going east is not so bad there, but west is fraught with obstacles.  I cannot just comfortably swing out into traffic to move around things in the bike lane despite seeing others do it, and so I am slow in the bike lane.  But it isn't just the bike lane.

Yesterday National just seemed overwhelming to me, so I thought I'd take a back alley to hook up with Regent.  But the moment I hit the back alley, I sort of froze... the road was terribly rough and uneven, and I suddenly lost confidence in my ability to balance... and I froze... unable to move forward for several seconds.  Finally I simply dismounted the bike and walked it to a smoother area.  As it turned out, the alley was a dead end and I had to backtrack to National, but I froze again when I came to that rough part...then I froze again when it was time to move onto National.  I don't know what's wrong with me lately.  Of course I'm terrified of being injured again like I was a year ago.  That pain was so horrific.  I was so happy to get back onto Regent and smoother streets.  I watch those ruts in the street - anything that could catch my tire and flip me off the bike.  And every time I narrowly miss one of those ruts, I feel a surge of adrenelin from fear. 

When I had the crash, I could not get up for several minutes.  I wasn't sure if my kneecap was shattered.  I wasn't sure if my knee would hold my weight.  I didn't know how to get up on one leg, and it wasn't like anyone was helping me up.  When I finally did get up, I had to get back on my bike no matter how severe the injury... I had to pedal, and that was almost impossible.  I gave my left leg all the work and my right leg just was there for the ride, but I was seeing stars as I was riding... so slowly.

I want to ride the PCH, but I keep hearing about cyclists being killed on it, even though cyclists ride it all the time.  But I have a panic when a big city bus goes by me, so how will I ever fair with traffic at 55+ mph?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

new things

So a week ago today I had my 53rd birthday, and my mother, who was visiting and is 82, took me to the local bike shop and for my present got me a rack for the back that will nicely carry the panniers I will need in the future for a trip across the USA.  I got a silver colored one as it matches the bike, and it's a Bontrager.  Now I just need to get it installed, which I hope to make time for in the next few weeks.

I'd really like to get off of my dependence on the car for my Monday cookie deliveries, so I'm looking at buying a set of panniers that I can pad inside to comfortably transport my cookies on a stick over a three-mile ride.  Then of course I have to be able to pick up the panniers by their handles (they need to have handles on the top) so that I can carry them up the flight of stairs to the client.

I will not yet remove my current pannier rack that attaches only to the seatpost, but neither will I carry the other panniers at all times.  The set of panniers I will buy for cookie deliveries will not be the panniers I pack for a trip across the USA.  I may have a few different sets of panniers.

Today I rode about 16 miles.  I am so far behind in my riding this month that I might leave early for work tomorrow just to try to get in 20 miles...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Petersen Automotive Museum and Beverly Hills

On Friday night I picked up a friend, Gregor Gillespie (Gregor Gee) from LAX as he had just flown in from Scotland.  I drove him to his hotel in Hollwood, The Hollywood Hotel, and then we got a late night bite to eat at an IHOP on Sunset Blvd.

Today I picked him up and brought him to my apartment where I had bikes for both of us to ride, and he said he wanted to see the Peterson Automotive Museum on Fairfax/Wilshire, so off we went.

There is a Johnny Rockets attached to the museum.  I'll get back to them in a moment.  Anyhow, we chained the bikes to the ramp railing that lead to the front door and walked in and started to look around.  We had gotten most of the way through the first floor exhibits when the staff discovered we did not have identifying wrist bands, and we were promptly shown back to the front.  When we got back to the front, I discovered there was an admission fee... uh... yeah, great security there!!!!  Anyhow, we decided to go into Johnny Rockets and get something cool to drink as well as a snack.  It was when Gregor got the receipt that the stub said that eating at JR got you a 2/1 price for Petersen.  So then we went back to the front and got properly wrist banded.  The first floor of cars was nice, but the second floor, particularly the famous movie cars...well, Gregor fell down to his knees and practically worshipped when he saw the Greased Lightning vehicle from "Grease."  My delight was seeing the Hannibal B from "The Great Race."

Then too there was the Batmobile, or one of it's incarnations:

Gregor just happens to own the only street legal Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, GEN22, in Europe.  His car is a MGM authorized replica, and it is an exact twin to the original movie car, GEN11.  So part of his mission there was to see if he might peak their interest in purchasing the car should he decide to sell it in a few years.  He got some paperwork to take home.

After our time in Petersen, we decided to head west on Wilshire into Beverly Hills where Gregor wanted to visit Julian's Auctions, a place he had purchased some celebrity memorabilia from.  They were closed, but we sat in the courtyard and had some liquid refreshment.

The view from Julian's Auctions courtyard.

The big red sculpture in the courtyard.

The flower beds on that border the courtyard of Julian's Auctions.

When we started to leave I discovered... groan...that I had my first flat tire on the bike... and not because I ran over glass or anything. I have Bontrager hardcase tires plus extra thick tubes - all only 10 days on my bike. NEVER had a flat with the ordinary tires and tubes in 4 years. The issue was that the tube hadn't been installed properly at the shop (they changed out everything for me. I had been hearing a little squeaking noise that i couldn't pinpoint, and it hadn't been there before the tire/tube change out. Of course, I had all the tools and a spare and air pump with me, so changed the tube and discovered the problem - the extra thick tube's valve stem had torn away from the tube due to improper installation. So... on the way back to my apartment we stopped at the bike shop, and my fav mechanic immediately changed out my spare tube and put in a brand new thick tube. Woot woot! BTW, no more tweaky squeaky noise!

We rode about 9 miles total.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

How to Wash Your Bike

This great article courtesy of Palm Springs Cyclery Palm Desert

They have a lot of other great articles on their site about bike care and maintenance.  I really need to be more diligent that  way.  Would love to visit their bike shop time.

Approaching the 10 freeway on Venice Blvd. heading west.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Took the bike to I Martin Imports to have the tires and tubes changed.  I really wanted to get slicks on the bike to help me with a little speed.  Also, the other tires were original to the bike as were the tubes, and both were now four years old.  The tires were not showing any cracks but the nubs were quite worn down - and there's a big difference between bald tires and slicks!  (I will keep the old ones as a backup because you just never know, or I may donate them to the Bicycle Kitchen.) The slicks had actually been transferred from one of the Helen's Cycles stores to I Martin Imports for me since I Martin didn't have them in stock.  I just left it in their capable hands to do what needed to be done, and they did it.

When I picked up the bike at the end of the day, I noticed that the tires seemed slightly bigger.  Not that they don't fit the bike, just they seemed bigger.  Turns out they are Bontrager H2 plus, which I think is the hardcase tires, and their tread is exactly like this (image taken from Google):

So with these tires, my chances of getting a flat are very slim.  These will last the bike a loooooong time.  I asked for thicker tubes as well because although I've never had a flat, I don't want one either.  When I got the bike home, I rode it around the block to test the feel.  Although I can't say they made me faster, I can say that the ride is smoother.  It is similar to riding with the other tires on the sidewalk.  These tires just glide over the surface of the road whereas the others were like velcro to the road.  Total cost for the tires/tubes/labor was $88.82.  I really need to make some chocolate chip cookies for the crew there.  They have just been so good to me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pet Smart Errand

On the way home from work today I ran an errand on the bike to Pet Smart on La Cienega/4th Street.  The only place to lock the bike to was the rack where you return your shopping cart to in the middle of the parking lot.  It seemed fairly quiet, and I felt like maybe I could lock the bike to the rack for just a few minutes and run the errand, so I did, just using the U-lock on the top bar.  I pulled off all the important stuff and did my shopping, and when I returned, lo and behold, the bike was still there.

I need to be able to take the bike on more errands and just get to feeling more safe about locking it up, but I also have such a fear of having it stolen.  I must get over it.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Heating Up!

We're not having a TERRIBLE heat wave yet, but certainly it's a lot warmer than normal.  I carry about 2 liters of water with me at all times, so I'm all right that way, but the sun can still zap you even on a short ride.

I've been buying/watching tons of cycling films lately.  With that recent big cookie order, I have been treating myself to a few cycling things.  First up were the two cycling films by Stephen Auerbach - Bicycle Dreams and Race Across America.  I have wanted to see them for so long, and they'd been on my Ebay wishlist forever, it seems.  You can buy them directly from the the filmmaker on Ebay :

Bicycle Dreams/Race Across America 2-pk

Auerbach even friended me on Facebook.  So, very cool!

I have also purchased The Flying Scotsman, American Flyers, Breaking Away and Ride the Divide.  I'm still waiting on the latter two to arrive.

I also purchased 3 books on cycling which I am working my way through:

1.  Bicycling Magazine's Complete Book of Road Cycling Skills
2.  Bicycling Magazine's Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling
3.  The Cyclist's Food Guide - Fueling For the Distance

I'm going to make a special place on my bookshelf just for cycling books and films.  Yes, the films should go in my DVD library, but I think I'll keep them separate.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Last month was a dismal month for adding mileage to the bike.  From the time that Lisa left until yesterday, I only managed to add another 100 miles.

I added about 38 of those miles over the weekend.  I just had to get out, and I had a little break between some cookie orders and shipments, so I decided I would do an errand on the bike and take a trip down to Gloria's Cake and Candy Supply on Washington Blvd./Colonial (1 blk west of Centinella).  It is the first bona fide errand I've done where I locked up the bike and went shopping.  I had to lock the bike to a street lamp, and I was keenly aware of how long it took me to do it and how vulnerable that made me as a prospective target.  Not that I was in a bad neighborhood, but thievery can come from anywhere.  Just something to be aware of and try to get better at.  Good reason to carry the pepper spray I just purchased.

While I was shopping I received a phone call from the national touring company of "The Book of Mormon" - and they wanted 60 photo cookies, so I've managed to squeeze those into my cookie schedule also.

It was just shy of 18 miles RT to Glorias, a good ride, and then on Sunday I rode to church and aded a few extra miles so that I could break the 1400 barrier.  Another good ride.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The lives of a blue bike

I've had so many cookies to make in the last couple of weeks, and I've had to use the car so much that my cycling has taken a back seat - only 20 miles in 2 weeks, and 12 of them were today.  It definitely felt good to get on the bike today and do a little extra.  I have to make cookie dough tomorrow and then make cookies, but I hope I can get in some riding too.  Then I hope to ride to church on Sunday.  That would be nice.

I delivered the blue bike I purchased for Lisa's visit to its new home in San Gabriel. Here is the happy new owner! Before I delivered it, I took it over to the guys at I. Martin Imports because the brakes had been squeaking terribly during Lisa's visit, and I also thought perhaps the crankshaft needed lubrication.   One of the mechanics took it and said to come back in a half hour, so I wandered the store and dreamed about a nice road bike, and when I returned to the service area, the bike was ready and they didn't charge me a thing!!!  Maybe he just lubricated some things, but that was a true blessing from the Lord!

Also, I had given Lisa the blue double pannier when she left and I immediately ordered a replacement from China and it arrived in one week - in time for the bike delivery.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

La Brea Tar Pits and LACMA with Lisa

Today Lisa and I rode our bikes from West Hollywood over to the La Brea Tar Pits because it was an easy ride (4 miles each way) and because it would present some good picture opportunities for her.

She was fairly recovered from our 40-mile ride on Friday, and I was ready to go anyhow as I was long recovered.  We walked our bikes through the park, then visited LACMA next door to do some more picture taking.  On the way home took 6th to Hauser/Martel, then north to Willoughby, then west to Croft.  On the way home, I passed 1300 miles for the year on the bike.  Perhaps I can get it up to 2500 for the year....

Friday, July 6, 2012

40 miles with Lisa

Lisa and I left the house about 10:30 to begin our journey down to Venice Beach.  Because I wanted to avoid any part of Robertson, I routed us primarily on Shenandoah all the way to Cattaragaus, then under the 10 freeway to Regent, then Curtis, then Venice Blvd.  I led the way down to the beach, and when we hit the bike path, we decided to go down to the Venice Pier first. 

She went out onto the pier to take a bunch of pictures and I waiting with the bikes, and when she returned we headed towards Venice Beach.  I told her to stop and take pictures of anything she found interesting, so we did stop a lot.  We were thinking of possibly going up onto the Santa Monica Pier, but when we got there decided we would make a decision on the way back down.  We were feeling hungry and had our stomachs set on corn dogs from the Watch By the Bay eatery at the bike path end on Temescal Canyon.  So we trudged on, glad to finally make it.

When we got to the path end, we met a man who was probably in his 60's and not in the best of shape, but he had his bike fully loaded and was headed either up to Sacramento or San Francisco.  I wish I had taken his picture and interviewed him a little.  He said he wanted to go across the USA next year. Good for him.  He did realize, however, that even for this short journey he had over-packed and was looking to off-load some of his stuff when he got to his sister's house on the first night.

Lisa and I each ordered a corn dog plus shared some chili cheese fries, and we took a rest, being 18 miles into our journey.

Lisa taking pictures at Will Rogers State Beach at the the north end of the bike path by Temescal Canyon.

After a good rest we swapped bikes for a little while to give her sit bones a break, and we headed back down to Venice Beach.  We decided not to venture onto the Santa Monica Pier, but I did talk her into a little detour to Marina Del Rey and the marina.

At the marina 
We didn't ride the bike path through the whole marina, just the first part where there were some boats to see.  Then we turned around and headed home.

We stopped at Essential Chocolate Desserts on the way back for some French macarons and drinks.  She got a Sprite and I got a vanilla malt.  Her macarons were pistachio, lemon, and chocolate.  I got a blueberry lavender and a pistachio.  Pistachio is still my favorite.

One pistachio macaron left.  No, it's not macaroon like those coconut things. 

We made one other stop on the way home because it was only a 1-block detour - to Surfas Restaurant Supply on Washington/National, where she waited outside for a few minutes while I went in and got some purple food coloring gel.  After Surfas we made our way back to my apartment, a total ride today of 40 miles.  I was not very tired but she was quite exhausted.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Back to back longer rides

Last Friday, June 22, I ride my 25-mile route to the beach and back.  Then on Saturday I went back and rode the 36-mile trip to Temescal Canyon and back.  I was planning to do the Temescal Canyon ride again on Sunday, but that's another story.  What I wanted to know was how my body would feel after two days of longer riding, since this is something I need to know when I'm on the road long haul. As it turns out, I felt perfectly fine, and in fact, my legs felt really strong afterwards.

Anyhow, after I had had my little break at Temescal Canyon, where I discovered that the name of the little eatery is Watch By The Bay and it only takes cash... I was approached by a young man and his friend asking me how much further it was to Malibu. They were were cycling from Huntington Beach to Sacramento. They'd already done 70 miles. Quite frankly, I thought it was about 17, which is what I told them (was more like 11-12).  When I told them, they were very excited... perhaps they thought it was further than it was. 

I told them I wanted their picture for my blog and for everyone here. Nice young men, Michael Troyer and Ryan Snider of Huntington Beach.  

Michael Troyer and Ryan Snider at Temescal Canyon/Will Rogers State Beach.  Good luck, guys!
They think it will take them 2 more days to reach Sacramento from Malibu. I think they're dreaming, but who knows what youth can do???  I think Michael is the one on the left. BTW, they will never make it in two days. A week, maybe.  So, I'm assuming that by the time I post this that they will have made it and discovered a great adventure along the way.

Strange that my encounter with them was so brief and yet somehow they just made my day!  I think these two ought to try a bike trip across America some day.  Michael and Ryan, if you read this some day, please comment below!

Road ID gone AWOL

So yesterday after suiting up to ride my bike to work, I realized about half way there that I hadn't put on my Road ID. I would say that it's extremely rare for me to forget it. Like maybe only twice ever. When I was starting to suit up to leave work, there was my Road ID, the velcro snagged to the edge of my safety vest. I guess it had been flapping in the breeze like a yellow tail during my earlier ride. Just glad it didn't fall off!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Brentwood to Hermosa Beach trip

On Saturday, June 16, I met up with a friend at 7:00 a.m. in Brentwood.  I motored the bike over, which worked just fine although the bike was strapped down quite heavily to keep it from moving around too much seeing as the trunk rack was broken when I purchased it.  Ugh.  What an idiot I can be.

The ride basically started from about Bundy/San Vicente, and I had a sinking feeling right from the start that the gal I was riding with was going to seriously kick my butt.  Riding down San Vicente was exhilarating - got the bike up to 22 mph, which is the fastest it has ever gone... but it made me nervous that going back up San Vicente would be a real bear if I could get to that speed going down. Plus, San Vicente going up would be at the end of the long ride.  Yes, she was going to kick my butt.

Our goal was to reach Redondo Beach, and I'm sure that if she didn't have me tagging along, she would have made it, but she was on a time constraint - when it got to be 9:15, she wanted to turn back.  We stayed together pretty well through Santa Monica and Venicedo until we got to the Marina, and the she pulled ahead and waited for me at the Ballona Creek bike path entrance.  I followed her through some back streets to an access road, (was grateful not to be on the bike path)  but eventually we were forced onto the bike path.

When we got to Hermosa Beach pier, which is the farthest south I've been, she snapped this picture of me before we turned around and headed back. I was feeling the need to eat something as we'd gone 20 miles and I could feel my energy waning.

What I have learned is that I need to eat even just one bite of a fig newton every 10 miles, plus have plenty of water.  I had plenty of water with me, but we never stopped!!!

We turned around and headed back.  We stopped at Urth Cafe on Pico/Main and I got a vanilla milkshake and an almond croissant, and she got something, and we sat for a few minutes and talked while I gave my body some fuel, but I could feel that the damage had been done.  I was already exhausted, and the sun wasn't out, and the ride hadn't been particularly difficult, but the fuel issue had been fixed too late.  I just need to put my foot down in the future and say "I have to stop ever 10 miles for fuel.  Period. And if I have to stop more for water and it slows us down, so be it."

Well, the climb up San Vicente, which didn't seem like it was steep or anything, was a real drag on me.  I was wasted for energy.  Sometimes my speed was only 7 or 8 mph. 

So, 40 miles round trip and I was exhausted.  So exhausted that I couldn't hardly do anything for the rest of the day.

I'm not sure if I will change out my tires to slicks.  Certainly I won't do it before my friend comes on July 5. The bike I got for her doesn't have slicks either but the tires are probably a little slicker than mine, but regardless, I will be leading her down to the beach but will not let her get out of my sight.   She will be within a bike length or two max of me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Brake pads....after 4 years.

Well, I put the trunk rack on the car, secured it down tight and loaded on the bike, securing it down it the excess straps, and I drove it down to I. Martin Imports to have new brake pads put on.  Even though the brakes were adjusted recently, they were already very worn and I was told to bring the bike back in within a month to get them replaced.  Well, the rear brakes already had almost no tension left, and I figure that with a big ride tomorrow with a friend, I really wanted to have the brakes taken care of.  I also asked if they could put on a kickstand, and the mechanic said he would see if there was room.  I told him not to worry about it if there was no room.  After all, I've lived without a kickstand for 4 years.

So tomorrow I'm going to motor the bike over to Brentwood, and from there my friend and I will work our way through Santa Monica, down around the Marina and take the bike path down to Redondo.  Whew!  Hope I can make it.  That bike path down there is very hilly.  Just from the Ballona Creek Bridge to Redondo Beach is 23 miles round trip... and that's not counting the miles RT just to get there.  It will be a day of adventure for sure!

I also stopped by I. Martin earlier in the week to pick up some chain lube.  Got it in a little spray can.  I wouldn't take it on the road with me because it's a little too big... I'll get a little bottle for the trek across the USA. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Road ID

So today I did an errand to CVS and took my bike right in. A guy there said, "You must be an avid cyclist." I asked why he said that and he said, "You're wearing a Road ID." Yep, I admit, that's a giveaway. You see one of those, and you're dealing with someone who is not a casual cyclist. However, I only consider myself on the fringes of the cycling culture. Still view myself as an outsider.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Restless exhaustion

So it has happened with my last two big rides - I couldn't sleep the night afterwards.  I should have slept like a log but my body was restless.  After the first of the two, I was slightly achy.  Not muscle achy - more of just overall a little something indescribable.  Then yesterday I did a 47 miler, and I didn't have that overall ache, just hot and couldn't cool down.  I should have slept soundly but did not.

The Ballona Creek bike path - looking east
So now I am wondering, what will happen when I'm going across the USA after long days in the saddle?  Will I sleep or will I toss and turn restlessly? That has me a little concerned.  After yesterday's ride, I noticed I had dropped 5 lbs, which I'm sure was all sweat!  I drank a ton of water out there and only used the public restroom at Temescal Canyon.  Even after I got home and guzzled water for a bit, it took at least an hour before I had to go.

The June 2 route.  Very good ride.

I was wondering how I'd feel today, if I wanted to hop back onto the bike and go to church.  I definitely didn't feel the exhaustion I felt last week, but I was a little chaffed, and I'm realizing just how much I wish I had a pair of chamois-crotch biking shorts.  However, I don't feel I've earned them or a real cycling jersey.  I need to still drop a lot more weight before I can even find one in a reasonable size.  Also I need to drop the weight before I get a road bike because they aren't built for someone of my weight.

I also wanted to force my body to get back onto the bike, because that will be totally necessary when doing sequential heavy riding days.  So, I did go to church and came back, and the ride was fine except for the chafing.

I need to get more fig newtons.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Too tired to sleep

Last night I wanted so desperately to sleep.  I was exhausted from the bike ride and had a splitting migraine (which has carried over to today - a dehydration result I suspect!).  But sleep did not find me until about 6:30a.m.  By the time I got up at 10:00, I was terribly groggy and foggy.  I had the strangest dreams about getting a job with a utility company, and the work environment was so odd.  Full of perks that I would call more indulgences than anything else.  I wasn't even sure what my job was, but I sure felt like things weren't terribly organized and were inefficient.  Anyhow, as to the perks, there was a LOT of food including a whole walk-in freezer the size of a living room that was nothing but ice cream and deserts, and everyone knew they could take one container if they wanted it, and each container was 4-5 quarts, but you weren't to be greedy and take more than one (per day?).  There was another room of food too but I can't remember exactly what it was.  They had a regular kitchen but most people ordered their food in, which I thought was inefficient.  There were also a couple of vending machines, and I didn't understand why some food was so freely given and other food had to be paid for.  I also didn't know if we had time cards or time sheets to fill out, and I never quite got that answer.  Eventually I sat down with someone in human resources who handed me a folder with all kinds of information for me.  One of the weird things was that no matter your credit rating, they would always make sure you were at least at 750 - she said that's where they "started" you.  Yeah, ok. Some information was hand-written on tiny strips of paper (part of the inefficiency).  I did find out that they didn't mind you walking around in socks but barefoot wasn't acceptable.  There was also some kind of car allowance, but I shrugged it off because it was within reasonable biking distance.  I wasn't sure who the receptionist was as again it was all disorganized, and whatever my job was, I had purchase orders on my desk that needed to be processed, and I had no idea who had the authority to sign off on them.  I really had no idea for anything there.  So glad to wake up from that!  Ugh.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ballona Creek Bike Path

I can now say that I have ridden the Ballona Creek Bike Path from one end to the other.  In the past, however, I have always just gone west once I got onto the path and went a short distance to cross the bridge and then down onto the other side.  However, today I decided to take on the adventure of doing the bulk of the bike path which heads east, almost to La Cienega, but you can't access La Cienega from it.  I mapped this out on MapMyRide to be about 25-26 miles.

I headed west on Santa Monica Blvd. so that I could access the bank, and yes, once again I took my bike in.  It's never a problem.

Then I headed south on Doheney until I came to Cashio, which 2 blocks below Pico.  Turned left on Pico and went down to Shenandoah and turned right, staying on Shenandoah until Cadillac where I turned right.  Two blocks to Robertson, left on Robertson and down to National.  Right on National and up a few blocks to Bagley, left on Bagley and down to Venice Blvd. where I made a right and headed towards the beach.

I made one other stop on the way, dropping off 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies, which was part of the reason for the trip anyhow.  The cookie drop off was west of the 405 freeway, so when you're that far down, you might as well just keep going.  One very interesting/dangerous stunt I saw was a cyclist going up the incline just west of the 405, and he grabbed onto the back corner of a pickup and hitched a free ride up the hill.  Very dangerous.  The truck may not have even known he was there, and how lazy was that, btw?

After the cookie delivery I continued west on Venice to Abbot Kinney, then took a left to Washington.  I turned right on Washington and went about a long block down to where the Martin Braude Bike path picks up on the south side of the street.  From there it was an easy ride down and around the marina.  I always find it fascinating that the bike path goes right through the parking areas of the marina.

The Braude bike path dumps you onto Fiji Way where you continue around until you join up with it again.  From there it's only a few feet to the Ballona Creek Bike path.  Go right and you head towards the bridge and the continuation of the Martin Braude Bike path on the beaches south of that, but go left and you head east almost back to La Cienega.  I had studied the bike path very carefully and knew that it dead-ended into a park.  In fact, the map showed a hairpin turn to get back into the park, so I sort of knew what to expect.  Or so I thought.

Beginning the journey east. 6 miles to go.
I was told today that there were "hills" on the bike path, but I kept thinking, what hills?  It's flat and runs along the creek.  Well, it was wonderfully flat for the first couple of miles.  So lovely that I got the bike up to a sustained 16-18 mph, and I got the sensation for a few wonderful moments of what it could possibly be like to be on an open stretch of road.  Just sailing along.  Then the first overpass appeared, and the bike path took a steep down under it and a steep up on the other side.  The first one wasn't so bad, and I tackled it with ease.  The second was a little harder, but the one under Sawtelle nearly forced me off the bike it was so steep.  There were at least a half dozen of these along the bike path.  I lost count as I just began to grit through them, my enthusiasm and speed starting to wane.

I wanted to take more pictures but I encountered a problem.  I was on my menstrual cycle, and although i was prepared, the flow became increasingly heavy and there was no place to stop, nothing.  I just kept hoping a praying that maybe there was a public restroom at the park.  When I finally reached that hairpin turn at the end, I was met with another surprise:  after the turn, you had to dismount because there was a very steep ramp to get up to the park.  Now this compounded my problem because now I felt like I was hemorrhaging uncontrollably, so every step reinforced that feeling.  I kept thinking, well, if I have to get back on the bike and I'm flooding, oh well.  I'll clean up the mess when I get home, but that would have been a miserable several miles.  I couldn't stop for water.  Nothing.  Well, there really was no place to stop anyhow.

Thankfully, there was a large community building for the park with accessible bathrooms.  I went in the handicapped stall and pulled the bike in with me, and I discovered the problem wasn't as severe as I thought.  Praise the Lord!  So then it was back onto the bike and an uneventful ride home.

I stopped a couple of times on the way home to take in as much water as possible, but the damage was done.  I got home exhausted and dehydrated, but I was also elated to have done a new adventure.  One thing for sure, I can't wait to be done with menopause!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

10 milers

I'm feeling beat up.  I'm doing 70 miles per week right now, and I'm feeling it.  I shouldn't be, but I am.  Every night after work when I get home, I just drop, it seems.  However, I know it's just an adjustment period, and it will get better.  I am also well on the way to meeting my goal of being at 850 miles on the bike by the end of May, and I think I might get closer to 900.

It makes me think that a trip across the USA, which I still really want to do, will be even more taxing, and how will I get up day after day for another 60-80 miles.  The interesting thing is that once you get back on the bike, you're in the groove within a few miles.

My biggest intersection on my daily route.  If the crosswalk button doesn't get pushed, the light is very short.
I haven't bought anything new for the bike for a while.  I need to get it into the shop for maintenance.  Needs new brakes.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A trunk load

So I've got this goal to do at least 2000 miles on the bike this year, but at the beginning of May was only up to 600, so at that pace it was going to be 1800 for the year.  However, Since May 1 I have put 90+ miles on the bike and am trying to do a minimum of 10 miles per day with some longer rides on the weekend.  I hope to be at 1100-1200 by the end of June.  I'm experiencing a bit of chafing at the moment and need to bring out the Desitin.  I think the chafing is due largely to having too much salt in my diet the last few days.  Well, with little funds for groceries, I'm scrapping at the moment... which means the boxes of over-salted Stove Top Stuffing to make some meals.  Tonight it's broccoli and rice.

My zeal to purchase a trunk rack over the weekend led me to a purchasing mistake, as I didn't examine it carefully enough and it turns out it was broken.... I mean, it still straps to the trunk fine, but the straps for holding the bike are pretty much gone.   It still holds a bike, and I actually strapped it to my car and put the bike on it for a trip around the block, but I'm going to need to invest in some industrial velcro, I think.  So now I'll be looking for another trunk rack, and I need to get it by July.

I've been really having a desire to do a century ride, but I would only do it if there were other hybrids doing it because in no way can I keep up with a road bike and I'm not even going to pretend.  A hybrid is like a Ford truck (perfectly good and reliable and built for endurance) and  road bike is like a Porsche - it's all about speed.  I know I could go the distance on the hybrid, but it isn't like the New York Marathon where people of all abilities do it... and stay with it until the last runner is in.  No, they expect you to get your ride done and get out. Even the Amtrak century ride is one where you'd better be quick to hit the stops and get to San Diego in time to catch the train back.  I don't think the hybrid could make it unless I had minimum sustained speeds of 15-16 mph, and I've only done that for short distances (what else is there in city traffic besides short distances between stop signs and traffic lights?).  But... then I also think I'd really like to have the cycling shorts with the chamois crotch to prevent chafing and also a bona fide cycling jersey.  I want to feel like I belong....or at least look like I belong.

I do have a cycling jersey, but it's a little snug.  Here' a tip for buying cycling clothing - buy 2-3 sizes larger than you normally wear because they're made 2-3 sizes smaller than what you think you wear.  If you're a plus-sized woman like me, don't think a 2X will fit you in cycling clothing because it won't, which is sort of depressing.  Go with a 4X or a 5X.  After all, who really cares what the X is???  Just get some gear and look the part.  Well, I can't get the gear right now, but maybe I can get some shorts at some point during the summer.

I also want to get some different shoes for cycling - ones with velcro straps.  Why?  My shoe laces have come untied more than once and gotten wound on the the pedals.  I don't know if I'm ready to get genuine cycling shoes that clip into the pedals (I'd have to change out the pedals), but velcro shoes would be a nice start.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

600 miles

Today I passed the 600 mile mark for the year.... which I had wanted to do yesterday but somehow I just didn't.  However, I have a new resolve to stick to a minimum of 10+ miles per day or 250 miles this month.  I'd like to be over 1100 miles by July 1.  Can I do it?  I think so.  I'd like to be at 2000 miles at the end of the year.

Well, because I had this new determination for making sure I was doing 10 per day, I thought I'd just trudge through my old route.  However, while out doing errands in a car for my boss, I passed the Bentley dealership by Olympic/Robertson and saw a purple Bentley, which made me think it was a photo opportunity for a friend who likes all things purple.  So after work, instead of doing my regular route home, I trekked towards Beverly Hills to get this shot:

Then, because I've joined a Yahoo group for a cycling group that meets up in Beverly Hills, I thought I'd just ride my bike west on Charleville to the intersection where the Starbucks is that they meet at.  It's on Charleville and Beverly Drive. 

I hadn't ridden my bike into Beverly Hills proper before.  When I say "proper," I mean more of the "downtown" area.  I'd always just skirted the edges of the city (maybe I should ride down Rodeo Drive for some photo opps). Charleville into Beverly Hills is a gradual slope uphill, so going back east to Doheney was an easy gentle downhill.

By the time I got home, I had logged 11 miles for the day, and I was content with that.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A slightly new route

On Saturday I mapped out a new route... well, some old and some new.  I'd ridden Martel/Hauser down to 6th Street, but since Hauser went all the way to Venice where I could catch the bike path, I decided to go all the way down.  I'd never ridden Venice on the east side of La Cienega, so it was a great new little bit.  From about mile 3.5 to 5.5 was all new to me.

I took some pics of the Park La Brea complex (might now just be called Park Brea).

And here's a nice little shot of Schumacher, one of the streets I sometimes travel (though not on this trip).

All in all it was a great ride, although Hauser is not terribly bike friendly and the street is awfully narrow down towards Venice Blvd.