Sunday, September 15, 2013

Still planning

I'm still planning on leaving Los Angeles mid-February 2015, but there are so many things to do.  It's weird how disconnected I already feel from material possessions - well, to a point.  I've been wondering what to do with my semi-vast collection of DVDs.  Now, I know logically that they just sit there collecting dust and that I rarely take them out to watch.  I can't figure out how to load them permanently onto my computer like I do with my CDs through iTunes, and even if I could do that, they would take up so much space that I likely don't even have room for but a few.  My laptop's hard drive doesn't have terabytes. I'm still in the world of gigabytes measured in the low hundreds.

So I really need to look at what DVDs I have that I really don't have a strong preference to keep forever, and those that I don't want to part with.  Then comes the question of what to do with that bulk that remains.  Solution:  get rid of the clamshell cases and put them in one of these:

This little beauty came off of eBay and sells for $3.99 with   free shipping - and it holds 40 CD/DVDs in the space of less than 3 clam shell cases.  That means parting with the cases and the artwork and just having the DVDs.  But that's all that's needed anyhow, right?  Sure the clam shells are nice and the artwork is great, but what space wasters.  I certainly don't have space for them on the bike, nor do I care to put them into storage.  However, I do have space on the bike for a few of these cases!  I'm sure I can find someone on Freecycle to take all the clam shell cases.  Now I just have to go through my collection and see what is really worth saving.  For sure all the Star Wars, Matrix and Lord of the Rings movies - plus all the bonus CDs.  However, I will not be taking any of my ST:TNG since every episode is available on Netflix, as are all the episodes of ST:Voyager.  All those will be sold off.  I could never, however, leave my cycling movies behind - Bicycle Dreams, Race Across America, Ride the Divide, The Flying Scotsman, and the like.  I'll take the best to me and the rest I will give away  I don't think I will need more than 2-3 of these.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Every day is prep for 2015 bike journey

So it seems like every time I go to the grocery store, a good portion of what I spend is going towards my 2015 trip, and every large cookie order I make, I wonder what large ticket item I can tick off my list of things to buy.

Yesterday on Ebay I bought a couple of small ticket items, including a camp mess kit and also a rain cover that goes over the rear and top panniers.  Then when I went to the grocery store I picked up Chapstick (2) that's SPF 30.  I saw these in the store and almost picked them up until I noticed the expiration date was too soon.   However, I may pick them up closer to the time.  I like them because of the pouch design which means less weight than a can.  I really don't want to take canned things.  Talk about weight on the bike!!!  Uncle Bens also makes some ready rice packages, and anything that will help with saving time on cooking after a long day on the open road will be greatly appreciated. 

I've heard the recommendation of making tortilla rolls filled with peanut butter and honey.  I don't have the honey (yet but will get raw organic) but I have picked up some of the Jif-to-go individual servings (come 8 to a pack for about $3), and I found one called Chocolate Silk - a blend of peanut butter and chocolate flavoring.  So I spread that on a tortilla, and it was tasty for sure, more like a dessert.  Definitely will be using those Jif-to-go/tortillas on the road for snacks and quick fuel.

I will also be making my own granola-type bars.  Thankfully working in a Christian camp kitchen for two years led me to collaborate with the head cook on a camp book that included all the recipes (this book is not available for purchase - only a few copies were ever made).  I am very happy to share these recipes and maybe even make a video or two on them.  There is absolutely no reason to ever purchase any type of energy bar or granola bar thingie.  Very easy to make even for the person who is certain they can't cook.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Feasibility of taking bike and dog overseas

So I'm trying to figure out the feasibility issue of taking the bike and the dog overseas.  I am thinking of flying from the east coast, possibly Raleigh, to Paris with the bike.  If the dog is alive, that means I take her trailer as well so that means packing that up, packing up the bike PLUS all the panniers and their contents.  Well, I could ship an empty suitcase ahead for the panniers and stuff.  Then I have to have something for the dog as well, and she's small enough that she could probably ride in the plane with me, if I give her something to make her sleep the whole time.  It's all very complicated.  I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's complicated.  Even without the dog, however, I would still have a trailer of some sort.  Although I don't see a need for the trailer in Europe, I have to take it because if everything goes according to the dream wish trip, I won't be returning to Raleigh but to Halifax, and I'll need it as I'm touring down.

Everything would be a little bit easier if the dog weren't still living, but she's 14-16 years old and still thriving with no physical signs of slowing down except her blindness.

When I was looking at the maps today, I was thinking maybe I could take a few days while in France to cycle up to Belgium and the Netherlands.  I mean, heck, they're right there and within easy reach!!!  Since I am hoping to get to the east coast around May 1, I could easily spend 2 weeks in France before crossing the Channel and heading to Scotland and the big bike adventure there.

I'll need to go to my bike shop and talk to them about disassembling and reassembling the bike for transport.  I'll need training to feel VERY confident in that.  I can remove the wheels but that's about it.  It's the derailleur that has me the most concerned.  I also need to make sure I have the correct tools for disassembling the bike.  I know I don't have the right tool for removing the pedals.  Plus the bike will have racks in the front and back that will have to be removed.  I will have to send the bike shipping case ahead too, and it will have to stay with someone in London, as will the suitcase once I have traveled there.  Once I reach Halifax, I guess I will just ship the suitcase and the bike case to someone in my family since carrying them with me on my bike will not be possible.  It's a lot to think about for sure.

Just thinking out loud.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The dream just gets bigger....

So here's my crazy thinking on my bike tour in 2015.  Keep in mind, I may choose not to come back to Los Angeles ever.  So, Los Angeles to North Carolina via a southern route.  Should take 2-3 months.  Then fly with bike to Paris, France to visit friend.  I don't have a desire specifically to bike France although I would do a little there, but my time there will be short.  I'll visit with my friend, then go by train to the south of France near Saint Tropez to visit a little place, and then back to Paris.  From there I'll either fly to Scotland or take a train.  I'll take the ferries to the Shetlands and the Orkneys, bike them, then head south from the northern coast of Scotland and bike to the southern coast of England, weaving through Wales a little too.  I hope to connect with some of my Youtube friends there as well as do some Breeze rides on the weekends, meeting up with other women cyclists.  From London I'll fly back to the USA maybe - or perhaps I'll fly to Nova Scotia, bike that, then head south.  By the time I get done with Britain it should be mid-summer, so if I go to Nova Scotia and start working my way south, I should have time to get far enough south that I miss any early winter weather.  I will be heading to the Florida Keys where I will probably be wintering.  Yes, I know it'll be hurricane season much of the way down Florida, but quite frankly, that's something I've always wanted to experience too.  I would like to cycle Cuba.  Perhaps that would be a possibility for the winter months.  I'd have to fly there from Miami as there is an embargo against sea travel to Cuba.

I don't know how my bike will pack.  I have to talk to my guys at I Martin Imports about it, and I'll have to figure out what that expense will be.

The biggest wildcard will be my dog.  If she is still living, I will take her with me across the USA but then European stuff is out of the question for me. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thinking the impossible

How strange it is for me to be so consumed with the thought of getting on my bike and not looking back.  I almost can't sleep at night.  Even last night at about 3:00 a.m. I did research on my iphone on how to approach corporate sponsors.  I've stayed up late looking at maps, getting down to the street level to see what exactly the situation is for a bike.  Sometimes I don't like what I find, but most of the time everything seems fine.  I study the towns.  How far can I go when towing a trailer?  Can I do an 87+ mile day with a trailer over some stretches of desert?  Can I then get up the next day, especially if I have been camping, and do it again?  I'm hoping not to camp too often, but when I do, how difficult will it be for my body to get back on the bike?

Stupid little thoughts nag me - like what do I do when I need to pee and I'm in the middle of nowhere?  The only thing I can sort of think of is to have a tarp somewhat handy to give me a little privacy.  When I rode to the beach with a friend recently on a 30-mile outing, she didn't pee the whole time.  She wouldn't use a public restroom.  My bladder doesn't give me that option.  I have to pee every few hours period, and I can't afford to be too choosy.

I was reading over Steve Garufi's log of his 2011 cross country trip, and I'll probably follow part of it, but the Alamagordo to Cloudcroft section has me nervous.  It's 22 miles up uphill only and an altitude gain of 5000 feet.  I guess if worse came to worse I'd just stop as often as I needed to in order to catch my breath.  After all, I'll be towing a trailer which will be constantly wanting me to go backwards!  I think I'll be all right.  That may for sure be one night when I opt for a hotel room to give myself some recovery time.  Because I am not very good with hills even without a trailer.  My lungs just give out pretty quick.  Maybe it's just that L.A. has such steep hills if you want to do hills at all.  So I'll just do it as best as I can because I'll have to get over the ridge somehow.  From there I'll follow his trail to Snyder, TX, but after that I will head a different direction since I'll stop to visit my sister in Granbury.  Then I'll head down to San Antonio and New Braunfels before turning north and then to the east.

Today on the way home from work I came to a 4-way stop and was signalling that I would turn left.  I didn't feel good about signalling because for some reason I didn't feel balanced, and when I let go to signal, I indeed lost my balance.  I was coming to a stop anyhow, and I try to step out of the fall, but my pants were catching on the pedal, and I was tangled, so down I went.  It was a soft fall.  I didn't even lose skin although I think both knees have some bruising.  Try as I might I couldn't get up for being tangled, and that's when I felt helping hands.  The woman in the van behind me got out and was helping me up, and by the time I did get up another man had pulled his car over and had come to offer help.  I was only slightly shaken by it.  That's my 2nd fall at a stop, but I have had a couple of close calls. Nothing like getting your heart pumping!

My new bike pump came today.  It will be so much better that the skinny little hand pumps and the large floor pump I currently have.  It weighs no more than 2 lbs, and I know that every pound counts, but I'd rather have a really good pump that will get me going faster than to have a dinky hand pump that won't help me.  Either that or I just had the worst hand pump ever. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gathering info

Thursday on the way home from work I stopped by I. Martin Imports to speak with my favorite bike mechanic, Ryan, about what modifications can be made to my bike.  First off I wanted to know if I could have a front pannier rack put on the bike.  He said that because I have a front suspension fork, it isn't likely but that he was going to check around and see what was out there.  He said if I had a stiff fork it wouldn't be a problem.  I'm not sure I want to change out forks, and having a front pannier rack isn't critical to me anyhow because I don't like extra weight on the front tire.  For example, when I have hung groceries off the handlebars, I never liked how heavy that made the front of the bike.  So, it isn't a deal breaker for me one way or the other.

I'm sort of wondering if I bought the right sized tent or if it's too small.  It hasn't even arrived yet and I'm having doubts.  Why?  Because even though I bought a 2-person tent, and it's 5x7, that may be fine for sleeping but not for living, and I may want more living space, a little a home, since it may be a home.  Yes, extra weight on the bike or in the trailer is an issue, but so is comfortable living space. Yes, I'll be touring a lot and staying some with other folks, at least whenever I can, but for those times when I might just want to hunker down in a tent for a few days and rest or camp, I don't want to feel like I am in a coffin.  I suppose that if i decide it's too small, I'll just resell on on Ebay and order another one.

Here's the new pump I got  It will do up to 100 psi, and since I only need 80, it's more than plenty.  It will also fit nicely in my top pannier - and I'll feel so much better on the road with it than one of those cheesy hand pumps.  Seriously, I don't know if I bought my hand pump from a store or it came off of Ebay, but it's completely worthless.  That's why I had to find something more sturdy and reliable.  Plus this is a foot pump, so the upper body won't get exhausted trying to get the pressure right - and it will be faster!  Leg muscles are so much stronger than arm muscles.

This is another thing I bought for my trip.  It might seem ridiculous, but I do like having eggs, and if I'm going to be camping, I need to have a way to keep them from getting smashed.  I actually hope to find some fresh fresh fresh eggs along the way, maybe some farmers markets or roadside stands, but I guess I'm not expecting to find many of those in the desert.  Perhaps once I get more into farm country.  However, I hope to get fresh veggies and fruits as often as I can.  4-6 eggs in the morning, however, can really start my stomach off right - fills me up and I don't get hungry for a long, long time.  I don't plan to keep it filled, but I do plan to have it.

I've got so many things marked on Ebay to watch right now, things that will be useful on the journey.  I still haven't decided on a proper camp stove.  I don't want something totally flimsy but I also don't want something that requires pressurized fuel.  So I've been thinking more of a sterno stove.  Easy fuel source that isn't highly combustible.  Can be easily replaced, and from my experience with sterno, the little cans last quite a long time.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I'm thinking of starting the trip in mid-February but certainly no later than March 1, so that's now less than two years away.  My mind is on it every moment... studying my routes already, working it out, looking at Google street views, looking at terrain and altitudes and how much climbing I have to do.

Another cyclist has suggested that I make my own MREs for the road.  It's different what I need to carry because I am camping vs. someone who stays in hotels each night.  That will not be in my budget at all.  Steve Garufi traveled light.  I don't want to travel heavy, but I do have all my camping gear to take plus some food.  I will try to get some fresh fruit down me every day.

Today while I was grocery shopping I looked with a keener eye towards some products that I could use to make MREs, so I picked up my first 4 packets of Starkist tuna.  Tuna combined with rice at night could be a good meal.  If I see a farmer's market or any little farm roadside stand, I will pick up a few things.  How cool it would be to get truly fresh eggs now and then.

I also picked up some pot scrubbers, and I have one set aside for eventual use.  I'll just get a small travel bottle and fill it with dish detergent.

I've been thinking that I might make some MREs and send them ahead to my sister in TX when the time comes.  That way i don't have to carry too much.  I'll make sure I have breakfast and dinner in the MREs and then fresher foods during the day for constant energy.

I plan on purchasing a Camelbak 100oz but don't plan on wearing it all the time.  Definitely will wear it on the very long days and long stretches of desert.  Otherwise not.  I will also carry a gallon of water besides what is in my water bottles, and it will be a priority to make sure that they are topped off at every opportunity.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Date has been set - sort of

Well, I've decided that in two years it is time for me to leave all this behind and go on the bike trip.  It is still dependent on when my dog passes away, and if she hasn't passed away, I will toss her in the doggy trailer and take her with me. 

So now I begin in earnest to look at gear that I need.  I have some big ticket items to get since i will definitely have to camp some nights between Warm Showers hosts or friends.  Buying that first big ticket item, however, is a mark of  BIG commitment to the dream because, for example, what else would I use a tent for?  It's not like I go camping as a regular thing.

When 2X cross country cyclist Steve Garufi started his 2nd tour, he started from Huntington Beach, but that's quite a distance south of me.  He made it to Riverside the first day, but it will take me 2 days to get to Riverside because I'm coming from much further west.  Lots of Warm Showers people in Riverside.  From there it's a big jaunt over to Palm Springs, and I'm not sure exactly how Garufi did it after getting off of the Jack Rabbit Trail.

A little while later....

Okay, so I purchased the Coleman Sundome 2-man tent  Plenty of room to sleep in and still have extra space for the other stuff.  I would have like to get an orange one, but only green were available on Ebay.  I know the Sundome 3-person weighed 8.5 lbs, so this will weigh less.  I guess the next major purchase will be a sleeping bag, but that will be in a few months.  I'll pick up some smaller things in the meantime.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cycling as a lifestyle

I think people get onto cycling for many different reasons, obviously, but the transition can be a work in progress for quite a while. Some people jump into it and never look back, but I suspect the lifestyle change takes time for most.

For me the change is still evolving.  Last year it was about getting the bike outfitted with lights for night riding and also getting rear panniers so that I could deliver my cookies by bike instead of by car. I am still a little pannier crazy. If I see an interesting one on eBay, I will likely bid on it because I don't think a bike can have enough little panniers.  The rear panniers I have purchased, however, aren't really suitable for touring since they cannot be fully closed. Therefore, they are not waterproof.  The next set I get will be for touring.  

This year my focus will be on getting equipped for touring, especially the camping aspect.  Since I am starting from scratch with nothing in that regard, I suspect my first purchase might be a tent. I may just go with Coleman equipment down the line as much as possible.

I have the dog trailer that I can use as a regular trailer as long as I don't overload it. It can do just over 40 lbs, and I sure would rather have a trailer hauling the larger items than try to overload the bike. 

One of the things I've been thinking the trip will be good for is stoking my creative writing as I want to use the trip to do some writing.  I mean writing other than blogging. That would mean bring along at least a netbook and possible a full sized laptop since my preferred writing medium is MS Word.  

I just wish the time to tour was closer.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bikes and Hikes and other things

Yesterday I volunteered to help with the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition booth on Santa Monica Blvd from 9-11 a.m. The event promoted bike awareness, and  I got a little swag from it as we'll as spending time chatting with Tess Lotta.

The event was held in front of Bikes and Hikes, an Eco friendly tourism business, and I thought I'd go in and meet them, see what was going on employment wise.  There were three men in there, and one of them said that they had just hired six people for the summer.  But they said I could leave my resume or card, so I promptly gave them one of my bicycle blog cards.  Maybe they think I can't keep up, but I can keep up plus I know the city. Plus I am a good leader and am good with people.  They'll probably never call me, and I'd only be available on weekends anyhow, but it would be interesting!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

To camp or not to camp

So I've been thinking about the possibility of camping my way across the USA.  Of course, there will be many nights I can stay with friends or churches.  In fact, the trip is already set up largely that way, but there are gaps where I will have no one.  I will do my best, however, to fill my gaps with Calvary Chapel churches across the country or other Christian churches. 

Coleman's SunDome 7x7' 3-man tent.  I like it.
I feel like I want to have a tent big enough to bring the bike into, if I have a tent.  Coleman has a series of tents that can be easily set up by myself and just as easily taken down.  The thought of camping means ramping up the supplies I need, because i don't have the basics like tent, sleeping bag, matress pad, whatever.  I have nothing.  There is no way I can afford to stay in motels every night although certainly that would be convenient during the gaps. 

I haven't been camping since I was a kid.  My family, all 8 of us, used to go camping a lot.  We had a tent trailer and a big six-person tent.  That tent was set up with two sets of bunkbed cots, and we used to go up to 11-Mile Canyon in Colorado or to Lake Teryall and sometimes to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, but mostly it was 11-Mile.  My dad went off to fish and the rest of us played in the woods, hiked and explored.  I would like to have been fishing with my dad, but that was something he really wanted to do alone.  Still, it would have been nice to have a fishing pole.  Sometimes he caught trout and sometimes he didn't, but my mother always prepared a nice camp supper for us regardless.  The tent trailer was sold in the summer of '73, and I don't remember camping after that.  I went to stay with my aunt in Iowa for a little while to help her with her two small boys when she and her husband first moved there, and when I came home, the tent trailer was gone.  I was sad to see it go.

But camping now brings up a ton of other issues.  I don't want to be carrying pots and pans and cooking stuff.  Just for the following items I would need to set aside $272 (approx): Coleman twin inflatable bed, Coleman SunDome Tent, sleeping bag, fleece liner, Camelbak 100oz.  I do have the pet trailer which can carry 40 lbs, so it can double as a cargo trailer with limited cargo.  I will have the full panniers also, although I don't know if I will put panniers on the front wheel.  I am quite certain I am completely over-planning this.

I will say that I have been looking at a new route - that instead of getting on the 10 freeway outside of Palm Springs to head eastward, I'd like to take a detour south to see the Salton Sea, a place I've never been to.  They have public campgrounds there.  So I might go south after that and catch the 8 freeway across.  Eventually I'll go up to Phoenix and stay with friends there.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day blog

Today won't be about cycling nor any gushy platitudes towards my mother because I have something different to say about Mother's Day.

Today, being a Sunday, the pastor at my church is doing a Mother's Day sermon - which is a great thing if you are a mother, grandmother, expectant mother, a woman who hopes to be a mother... but I am not in any of those categories.  I am going to be 54 this year, and that biological clock doesn't tick for me.  It ticked loudly about 15 years ago, but now it is silent.  I will say that I am grateful at this stage of my life not to have children, and quite frankly, although parts of me think i would have made a good mom, I could have just as easily been the mother who drowned her five children in the bathtub.  I think motherhood would have put me into an early grave.  That's not to say that I don't enjoy children, but they need to go home at night!  So I just feel like I don't fit in when these sermon days come.

I appreciate the the church's stance on family, but having a husband and children never happened for me and I've moved beyond that wanting.  It is part of the reason why attending a women's Bible study has never been appealing to me.  I did try it for a while, but I felt so out of place, and it got to the point where wild horses couldn't drag me there.  I really was in hysterical tears one day about it when one of the leaders called me to see if I would be there.  No, I wouldn't.  Now if it were men and women, no problem, but something about the women's group just made me feel like an outsider looking in.  I didn't fit the mold of the woman's role.  I really don't understand the need for women to have their own Bible study anyhow or for the men to have their own.  Everyone should be together.

When I was much younger, I was a little jealous of girlfriends who were getting married and I wasn't.  It got to the point where I wouldn't go to weddings.  Unless it was a family member, I didn't go, and people seemed to know not to ask me.  Even so, I could count on both hands the number of weddings I have attended, and half of those were for my siblings.  I'm not anti-marriage at all and part of me still has a candle of hope lit that someday I might find a man who is my best friend and soul-mate and who wants to spend the rest of our lives together (and he needs to enjoy riding a bike and going for adventures on the bike).

So here I sit, purposefully ignoring the Mother's Day sermon that is happening.  I will listen to some older Greg Laurie sermons from Harvest Church instead.  And then later I will take a little bike ride and explore a Beverly Hills street that is an alternative bike route.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The bike I forgot

When I first moved to California in 1989, I moved into a condo that I shared with two other gals, Janelle and Christie.  Christie had a 10-speed bike that she either gave to me or sold to me for next to nothing. I say next to nothing because I was poor, poor, poor. I was living off of student loans and occasional temp work while doing my MFA at The American Film Institute.

I had a car but I did ride that bike around the neighborhood.  I didn't have a helmet or any special gear. I don't even remember if it had a bell. I don't remember ever pumping up the tires, but at some point it did go into a bike shop   somewhere up Sunland Ave. near Tujunga because I had a brilliant ride back. 

Alas, the garage door was left open too long one day and someone stole the bike.  Stupid mistake on my part as it may have been me. However, I didn't have garage parking privileges so maybe it wasn't me. 

It was 16 years before I got another bike, the bike I have now. 

This is my first post from the Blogger app.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Staying warm in church after a ride

Today it's very overcast, the kind of cloud cover that looks like it could release a deluge at any time.  Because we have had unusually high temperatures the last few days and now the temp has dropped, this has also created a blustery, gusty wind... or at least, that's the way it was around 11:30.

I left the house at 11:30 to head to church where the service started at 12:30.  It was quite blustery, with little whirlpools of wind whipping up fallen magnolia leaves into circles that swirled across the asphalt.  When I arrived at the Wilshire Blvd.  intersection, I was nearly blown sideways as the wind channeled down between the tall buildings.

This ride was my second time on the new route portion, and it was smooth and perfect.  I've only just discovered that all the construction blockages at National/Robertson/Venice are because of the overhead Metrolink rail system being built there, so I guess I'll be using my detour for a while.

With today's high being 64 and the wind making it colder, I wore a t-shirt with my merino arm warmers.  Sometimes when I get to church and I cool down from the ride, I can get chilled, so I decided to keep the arm warmers on, and I stayed comfortable.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April's "30 Days of Biking"

In April I took a challenge to do "30 Days of Biking" - something I found on Twitter.  So I did it.  I did it every day.  Some days it was 30 miles, some days 2 miles, but because I had made the commitment, I got out the bike every day.  The car has been driven less than 10 miles in the last 6 weeks because all the miles went onto the bike.  The biking was mostly to and from work, so it was no big deal really.

I put a "wanted" in the Los Angeles Freecycle (a Yahoo group) saying that I was looking for a bicycle trailer for my dog, and someone has offered their child carrier made by Instep.  The details haven't been worked out yet, but it's over in the Pasadena area, so I'd have to drive over and pick it up.  It gives me hope that I can think about doing the L.A. River Ride if I can take the dog with me and be gone all day.  So, if I can get her used to it a little, perhaps it will work.

Oh, and there's one more thing I want to say about CicLAvia - that I had wanted a ride on free flowing, open streets, but the bicycle congestion was terrible, worse than rush hour traffic on the freeways.  So the city needs to truly recognize the greater need for open streets, and the organizers of the event may want to have more than one route on that day so that a single route doesn't get over-whelmed.  If I want to sit in traffic, I'll drive a car, and that's sort of not the point of being on a bike.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

CicLAvia - Downtown to the Beach via Venice Blvd

It started out simply enough - meet up at I. Martin Cycles at 9:15 for a feeder ride from West Hollywood to downtown for CicLAvia.  For some reason I thought we would take other streets to get downtown than those already designated for CicLAvia, but a group of about 15 of us headed mostly down Crescent Heights to Guthrie, then Guthrie to Venice Blvd.

CicLAvia was supposed to start at 10:00 but we got to Venice Blvd at about the half way mark before 10:00 and it was all set up and bikes were already on the move.  The group split with half opting to head to the beach and the other half heading downtown.  Since I have taken Venice to the beach countless times, I decided to go downtown - my second bike trip down.  The crowd heading west was much bigger than the crowd heading east, and it was a mostly smooth ride down except for one hill where I had to stop half way up to catch my breath.  I had already lost the group anyhow as we all just sort of split up.  After I caught my breath, I finished crawling up the hill with my bike.  It should be noted that this hill was so steep that on the way back everyone had to dismount their bikes and walk down the hill for crowd safety reasons.

Upon arriving at the end of the line somewhere downtown, I promptly turned around and started back, and that's when the enormous traffic jamming of cyclists began.  It was a painfully slow slog to get out of downtown, trying not to bump into other cyclists including small children or people towing children in trailers.  I had finished my 20-oz bottle of water in the heat of a cloudless day, and I was working on my 25 oz bottle when I realized that there was no way I could make it to the beach and back with the water I had left and with the time it was taking to move - it was very slow going.
I couldn't even say how many bikes there were, but at one point they were packed in as far as I could see ahead and behind me.  So I decided to stop the madness when I got back to Guthrie and I exited the CicLAvia event.  Honestly, at the crawl it was moving, I don't know how long it would have taken me to get to the beach and I didn't really care anymore.  I had hoped for a 40-mile ride, and one gal in the group from I Martin did manage it, but after 26 miles and nearly out of water,  I just had had enough.
So I don't know if I will ever do another CicLAvia, or at least not in the same way.  It would be nice to socialize with other cyclists but perhaps next time I'll not take the designated route but another route and just hang out, then take a non-CicLAvia route out, because the mob scene is definitely not my thing.

One thing I will say is that I need a Camelbak and will look into getting one this year when the cookie orders are more abundant.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Crazy tire issues and biking Fountain Blvd.

A scooter bike thing, but this guy kept up with the pace!
On Sunday I decided not to go to church but instead to take a group ride that was sponsored by the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition #WehoBike.  We met up at the West Hollywood City Hall parking lot which is only 3 blocks from where I live, and I think about 25 people on bikes showed up.

We went up Sweetzer to Fountain Blvd and then took Fountain to the Ralphs parking lot on Fountain/La Brea - which was not quite 2 miles, and then we turned around and came back.  It was a ride to experience the hard-fought sharrows that have now been laid down on Fountain, which is a major cycling street and helps connect West Hollywood to other sharrow streets.  I heard Willoughby also had some sharrows laid down as well. 

The ride was on the new tube I installed, and everything seemed fine.  I went to work afterwards, adding another 6 miles on the bike, and still the tube seemed okay.

The bike after the cookie delivery but before the flat.
Yesterday I loaded up the bike with cookies to deliver to my Monday client and rode down there, no problem, then went to work.  When I came out of work, the tire was almost flat, certainly not ride-able.  So I walked the 2 miles from Shenandoah/Pico to Beverly/Sweetzer to I. Martin Cycles.  I had bought two new tubes on Sunday, and I told them I had just changed it out, and it was already flat but that I couldn't find the problem.  The guy took it apart and carefully inspected the inside of the tire.  Just like me, he could not find the problem.  No thorns, glass, nothing poking through, but the tube definitely had a pinhole in it.  How did it get that hole?  I have no idea.  They suggested perhaps getting a new tire, but in the meantime put in a liner for me and a new tube and pumped it up, and I rode it home.  I am not feeling 100% confident in riding it at the moment since I don't want to get too far from home and get stuck with a flat - because pumping it back up will not solve anything.  There is a bigger problem.  Three tube changes in less than a month is not normal, but we cannot find the integrity issue.   I don't want to hear about how much weight is on the back of the bike.  Before I even got the Bontrager hard case tires, I hadn't experienced a single flat since owning the bike.  The original tires, which had carried me for the first 4 years, are in my closet.  That was before I had the rack and side panniers, but I used to have a different rack that attached to the seat stem, and it carried a pannier that was no heavier than the one I have now. 

So, I'm going to hope the liner gets me through a few days at least.  The walk wasn't terrible yesterday, but afterwards, the 1 mile ride home was horrendous with very blustery head-on Santa Ana winds.  Sometimes I could hardly get over 8 mph.  It's times like those where I wish I had on some fully enclosed goggles so that no debris can get into my eyes.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A slogging Saturday ride

I wanted to ride a good distance today, but I wasn't really mentally into the idea.  Where the mind doesn't go, the body will not follow.  However, I had to deliver some cookies, which I decided to do on the bike, and that was about 8 miles away, and even before the trip I kept thinking, "Oh, maybe I'll just take the car instead," and also, "Well, I'll just get to the destination and turn around and come home." which would have meant only 16 miles.  Part of my brain was saying to do the big ride that automatically puts 42 miles on the odometer.  So I finally decided that I would just see how I felt after the cookie delivery, see if I wanted to complete the journey to the beach and then how far I wanted to go on the bike path.

The bike journey took a partially new route to get to Venice Boulevard's bike lane today.  I have a route picked out the dumps me on Venice Blvd one block east of where National crosses, but between National and Robertson, especially by Robertson, there is road construction - something that not only blocks the bike lane but also even the sidewalks (I don't do well in swift traffic).  So I went to Google Maps to check out a new possible route that would bypass that nonsense, and I found one that dumps me out onto Venice Blvd. from Bagley - a route that crosses Robertson but also keeps me off of Robertson, which I hate riding.  This new detour took me from Shenandoah Blvd to Cattaraugus, then Cattaraugus west to Bagley, and Bagley to Venice Blvd.  It worked beautifully.

My cookie delivery was in a subdivision of L.A. called Mar Vista, and I Google mapped that as well, using McLaughlin, which turned out to be an established bike route (though no bike lanes or sharrows).  It was a relatively flat ride into the lovely, quiet neighborhood that somehow reminded me of the quietness of my grandfather's neighborhood in Goldsboro, NC.  I suddenly felt as if I weren't even in Los Angeles anymore.  It was just so peaceful and calm.  I think if I ever purchased a house, that would be the type of neighborhood I'd want to live in.

After the cookies were dropped off and I retraced my route back to Venice Blvd, I decided to head for the beach.  Now, I was already feeling tired at this point, a weird tiredness - not just because I've spent so many late nights going through all the episodes of Grey's Anatomy.  No, it was a tiredness where I just wasn't interested in speed and didn't seem to be able to get any speed anyhow.

A bike with a surfboard attachment.
I got to the beach, did my usual run down the bike path to the Venice Pier first, then turned to potentially head up the 6 miles to Temescal Canyon.  However, when I got about 3 miles into it by the Santa Monica Pier, I pulled over for a little rest and to take some water.  That's when I discovered my back tire was not holding air and was under-inflated.  Now, I had just inflated it yesterday to 80 psi, and the tube had only been changed a couple weeks ago. So, I was a little shocked, although it explained why I wasn't getting any speed and why I was feeling extraordinarily tired.  Have a low tire makes riding feel like you are slogging through tar.  I got out my manual air pump and tried to put some air into the tire.  That little thing is a piece of crap.  I'm going to have to get a new, better one. 

I fugured if the leak was slow enough, I could maybe get it pumped up at one of the bike rental places and maybe make it home, so I did stop at a rental place and got it pumped up, but at that point I was still over 11 miles out, and I just prayed to make it home.

I had to stop at work for about an hour, and that was 8 miles from the beach, and the tire was pretty low at that point, and I thought if somehow I could just make it 2 more miles to I. Martin Bicycles, I would have them give me a shot of air so that I could make the last mile home.  Well, those two miles were horrific on that tire.  I felt like I could hardly move the bike, and my speed was only about 8 mph.  Awful.  However, I did make it to I. Martin, and the nice folks there gave the back tire a full supply of air, and I made it home.  Within two hours, however, the tire went completely flat.  Now, these are Bontrager hard case tires.  They're supposed to be built tough.  I took the whole thing apart and once again completely examined the tire inside and out looking for thorns or other things  that could be causing injury to the tube, and for the 2nd time could find no issues at all.  One friend suggested that sometimes a spoke can poke it.  I pulled out the new tube I purchased only two weeks ago and replaced it and pumped up the tire again.  So, here we go again.  This is the fourth tube replacement in the back since I got these darned slicks.  No problems in the front.  The front has an extra thick tube, but I've had two of those in the back and had valve stem tears, so thick or thin in the back, I seem to be screwed.  All I know is that I have a group bike ride tomorrow plus I have to go to work for an hour or so, and I need this bike to be working.

My knees feel completely shot from such a hard slog.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Restless Soul Syndrome

I've been on a Grey's Anatomy marathon for a little while, and I'm almost through season 3, and I've come to realise that being a doctor or nurse would have been a great career for me.  Now, saying that doesn't mean I would have had the grades to get into medical school or a nursing school.  However, the fact that working in a hospital is different every day and you never know what is going to come through the door or happen with a patient, well, that's the kind of thing that keeps me engaged in life.  When I have a job where I'm bored out of my mind and watching the minutes tick by, just living to get a paycheck, I feel like screaming.  I feel trapped.  I have had those jobs where I feel trapped.  Sometimes I feel trapped in the job I have now.  When the feeling of being trapped sets in, depression is nipping at my heels.  That depression leads me to come home after work and shut down, and I shut down on the weekends too because I need to conserve and recharge to face another Monday and the start of the grind again.

I have restless soul syndrome. I really do.  I need to be challenged.  I need to be moving, I need to have variety.  I need to not look at the clock because I am totally in the moment.  I have a need to be fully engaged in the moment, in life.  Too often I am shut down.

I don't think I'm better than anyone else, but I can't ever go back to a 9-5 job where I'm pushing pencils and papers.  I've been there and done that, and it's time for someone else to do it.  I've worked for $2 an hour and for $45 an hour and all sorts of salaries in between.  I've bussed tables, been a maid, worked fast food, fetched coffee, designed Flash animation during the bubble, built websites, booked talent, sang for my supper, and I've largely been bored out of my mind.  So thanks but no thanks, I don't want that anymore. 

I'm 54 years old this year.  Some people start planning for their retirement.  I have no intention of ever retiring.  I'm staying engaged in life.  I plan to keep moving, to keep learning, to keep seeing what's out there, and I plan to do it on the bike.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Not looking back

Right now I am living vicariously through other cyclists who are on cross-country adventures.  I am cheering them on, wanting all to make it no matter how long it takes, and I want to hear about every adventure all the way.

I will go when it is my time, which is not now.  I have two animals that need to pass away first, and although one will probably get put down within the month, the other is not as close to that place, and except for her blindness, she still has the enthusiasm and energy of a puppy at 14+ years.  She has a few years to go.

But as I look forward to going, I am wondering if I will ever look back.  Will I sublet my apartment or just sell everything I own and leave Los Angeles for good.  Will I effectively make myself homeless for a greater adventure than sitting still in a mundane job?  Is it even possible to survive off the bike?  I wonder if I will be looking for a new place to start over.  The reality is that I think I would at least have to put some things in storage.  I haven't checked into that.  If I didn't sublet, however, and if I did put things in storage, there would be no turning back once I got onto the bike.

Unlike most cyclists who do their journey and return home, I don't really feel I have anything holding me in California anymore.  What I came out here for (screenwriting) isn't really part of my life now, and although I love the state, there is definitely an emptiness here, a void that I can't fill.  So I know I need to go.  I need to start over, start a new life, a life of adventure.  

In the grand scheme of things, I really don't know how I would live for an extended period on the bike, and I'd like to have an extended period.  I get tiny amounts of residual money through ebook sales, but can also go for weeks without a single sale.  I know that whatever computer I take, I can connect to the internet via various free wireless places, including a library or most Starbucks, and a multi-year prepaid subscription to skype would enable me to make all the long distance calls I need whenever I have wireless.  Still, I think I would want to have a mobile phone... but how would I pay for it with an extended period on the road?  All these things need to be carefully planned out.

I'm looking into buying a tent and a sleeping bag and other basic camping gear.  I have plenty of time to save up for it and to have it all ready to go for when I do get on the bike and begin the trek eastward.  I'm toying more with the idea of towing a small trailer. rather than panniers.  That will also enable me to take my standing bike pump.

I want to spend some time at the Bicycle Kitchen to learn more about bike maintenance and becoming my own mechanic for more than just changing tires or adjusting screws. I'll need to know as much as I can if I'm going out on the road for an extended length of time for which there is no set return date.

I'm just musing. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

biking to Cuba

Wow, for some reason, my brain is on fire with new bicycling ideas, including biking in Cuba.  I just did a little online research about the possibility of taking a ferry from southern Florida to Cuba, and can't be done because of embargos if you're just a common American citizen.  I need to check with Michael Moore to see how he managed it for his film SICKO. 

Then I got to thinking, what about taking a ferry from Miami to the Bahamas and cycling there?  Okay, suddenly my mind is on fire... so why not island hop on ferries and go all over, to Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, etc., and even island hop from Cuba to Cancun, Mexico?  In fact, you can travel up the Gulf Coast of Mexico right back into lower TX... and I got to thinking, why not cycle the Gulf of Mexico?  What a fantastic biking trip that would be. 

Rode to church today for a Good Friday service.  Now my brain is on cycling fire.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

West Hollywood cycling adventures

It seems to me that if there are multiple lanes in each direction, the far right lane should at very minimum be marked with sharrows if there is no bike lane. And if there is only one lane in each direction, automatic sharrows. Period. That being said, bikes have the right to the full lane. We don't have to ride so far to the right that we are in the gutter or in peril of being doored by some fool who doesn't look. And that right side usually has some of the worst potholes and road debris anyhow - which is no problem for a car but for a cyclist can be deadly. I take the full lane when I go down the length of Orlando/Gale in WeHo to Gregory Way. The street is narrow with parking on both sides but cars can have a lane in each direction. So if the cars have to wait behind me, too bad. There's a stop sign at every block anyhow so that can't get up much speed to begin with.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Shifting cycling plans

I saw this on my ride yesterday.
I am a part-time caretaker for a disabled woman and have been for the last 3-1/2 years.  She has been in and out of hospital five times since I've been working for her, mostly due to intestinal issues (mostly due to diet issues, but I won't go down that story at the moment).  She is also a Life Master at the game of Bridge, and when she's feeling up to it, I take her to play at the local Bridge clubs 2-4 times per week.  Recently she had scheduled herself to play in a Bridge Regional down in San Diego at the end of March.  Now, this meant that I would be out of work for a couple days (unpaid days), so I thought that with a 4-day weekend that I would make the most of it by trying to push myself with four 50-mile days in a row - because if I wasn't going to be working, I would try to make good use of the time and try to push myself.  It would be a small taste of what it would be like to be on the road for a long trip averaging 50 miles a day, and it totaled 200 miles, which is approximately the mileage needed to get from the Santa Monica beaches to the border of California.  However, due to her latest hospitalization, the San Diego plans were scrapped.  The means I'm working, which is good, but my 4-day plans are also scrapped.

I'm currently far behind on my cycling goals for the year, but I know things will catch up in the upcoming months.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I. Martin Cycles and bike maintenance

I visited my favorite bicycle shop, I. Martin Cycles, on Friday to pick up a new spare tube.  On Thursday I did a routine air pump on the tires and discovered that that back tire was really low.  Like, unusually low.  So I pumped it up, went to work, and I noticed after work that the pressure was already going down significantly again.  In fact, I was concerned I might not make it home without a flat.  However, I did make it home and decided that I would change out the tube and check the tire for debris.

One of the first things they teach you about changing a tube is that you don't need to remove the tire from the wheel, but in this case I removed everything so that I could feel around the inside of the tire and inspect it for anything sharp.  It turned out to be perfectly fine.  I couldn't find the problem with the tube either.  I was thinking maybe the valve stem was tearing, but I couldn't find that problem, although I am now suspecting maybe the valve had a slow leak.  Regardless of the true problem, I had no choice but to change it out, which I did, and then I went to get a new spare.  The new tube was $5.99.

While I was in there, one of the bosses came up to me and thanked me for the nice tweet I'd made about their store, and I took a moment to talk about my desire to go cross-country, the need for a new bike because my handlebars had one position only.  he show me some new grips that had an extension on them that allowed for a 2nd hand position.  That's definitely a possibility I'll consider for this bike.

I also asked about mirrors, and he said there were two options: helmet mirror or left grip mirror.  I didn't purchase either, since I'm on a tight budget at the moment, but the helmet mirror sounds great although I'd wait on that until I get a new helmet this year.  I still might get a grip mirror.

The tube is now staying inflated, but I still have no idea what was wrong with the other one.  The point is, if there is anything wrong, just replace it.  They're cheap enough, and it's not worth the misery of having to fix it on the road.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Techinically it's uphill all the way...

I live in West Hollywood but work just south of Beverly Hills near Pico/Robertson.  My work is about 3 miles each way.  On the way, it's downhill, but it's pretty flat regardless, and on the way home it is entirely uphill, but also pretty flat.  It is not a challenging ride whatsoever.

Today I did not go directly home because I had to make a detour east to the Laurel Pet Hospital and pick up some Lactated Ringers fluid for my cat.  It's an electrolite solution that get's injected sub-q daily and helps flush out his very elderly kidneys (he's nearing 21).  So I took Willoughby to Edinburgh and then went north the two blocks to the vet hospital.  From Willoughby to Santa Monica Blvd, the incline got a little steeper, and by the time I got to the vet, my heart was pounding.  I could literally feel my chest pounding.

I don't stand and pedal.  I can't seem to do it on my bike without feeling totally out of balance, so I sit all the time - up hills, on the flats, down hills.... I sit.  The glutes work while being sat on no matter how hard the work.  I wish I could stand, but I've tried it and it's just not natural.  I lose all torque, and part of me is nervous a pedal will snap off and send me into a terrible crash.  Ugh.  Stupid, I know.  Perhaps if I had a trainer at home I could practice that in safety.  One of these days i'll get a trainer.  I really want one anyhow for those days when I just don't want to go out, and now that I've shipped out all the movie costumes that had been in boxes on my living room floor, I can actually see the floor and have room for a trainer!  When the old cat passes on, I'll also be getting rid of the sofa he calls home, and them wowsa... tons of floor space!

So... backtracking a bit, I got to work where I take care of a disabled woman M-F in the afternoons.  Sometimes her husband is there, sometimes not as he is a professional Bridge teacher, probably the best in Los Angeles.  Anyhow, I noticed his car in the garage and I thought to myself  sort of ... ugh.  He'll be underfoot all day.  Well, turns out he either had food poisoning or that stomach virus because he had been vomiting all night, and the proof was in the towels on the bathroom floor, in the sink and splattered around the sink.  So, I cleaned all that up.  The wife was still asleep.  I cleaned up what there was to clean and was twiddling my thumbs within an hour because the wife still wasn't up, so I took an hour and rode my bike down a few blocks to Jack in the Box for something to eat, then came back.  The wife was just starting to get up, and I made her breakfast about 3:30-4:00 pm.  I had to change the bedsheets because she didn't want his stomach flu or whatever anywhere near her, even though he didn't vomit in bed, so I had to rip all that up.

I left about 4:30 and that's when I went to the vet.  Got home at 5:30ish.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bontrager panniers pushed to the limits

Well, I don't exactly know what the limits of the panniers are, but I put a 21-lb jug of cat litter in one, and it held but I think that's the max weight I would put in it.  In the other pannier I had a bottle of laundry detergent and assorted other things.  Certainly I had 35-40 lbs of stuff in the panniers.   One thing for sure, it is hard to balance the bike while packing it, especially when something heavy goes in, because then it just wants to fall to that side.  Sometimes I take the panniers into the store with me if I've ridden my bike to the store, but today I rode the bike to work and took the boss's car to the store.  In this particular case, I kept my panniers attached to the bike because wrangling a pannier onto the rack when it is packed with 21-lbs is a bear.  So far I don't see any wear or stress on the panniers, but I don't carry heavy loads for long distances.  3 miles is max.

Still nice to know that I can cycle just fine with all that weight back there.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

In Laguna Beach without bike

Today I drove my boss down to Laguna Beach to visit her relatives who are staying at The Montage.  She's down by the pool and I'm up in the hotel room connecting to the internet and catching up on things.  She told me to bring my bike, that I could ride it down here but my bike rack would have scratched her car for certain as that's what it did with mine.   I don't care about my car so much getting scratched because it's 20 years old hand has dents and scratches already, but she has a 2003 Acura that rarely sees the light of day.

Anyhow, I would love to ride my bike up and down Laguna Canyon sometime as there are bike lanes the whole way.  I don't quite know how I would handle the PCH at the bottom, however, since it is so packed with cars.  Yes, I know that I have the full right to a full lane, but I'm a slow cyclist (okay, that wouldn't have mattered so much today because the traffic was slow and bumper to bumper, but still, I would definitely hold things up).  Maybe the clue is to do it very early in the morning, at least the PCH part. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

TMI too bad, fact of life

So I'm going to be 54 this year.  For the last eight months I've had no menstrual cycle but have had abundant hot flashes, sleepless nights... and then 2 months ago the hot flashes just stopped.  I mean, not one since right before Christmas.  I was thinking it was celebration time - that I was officially done!!!  Then 2 days ago, the floodgates opened and here comes the old menstrual cycle with a vengeance.  Saving up from the last 8 months, it seems.  I keep wondering, has my diet changed in a way to restart the hormones or is this just a stray last gasp of menopause?  I preferred it when it was in PAUSE.  Well, riding a bike when in such a gushing state is no picnic.  You cannot get off the seat.  No tampon or pad can contain it.  So you just start to cramp from it and stay on the seat for the ride home because what else can you do???  And then you get home and you know you have to get off the bike, but the moment that pressure is released, catastrophe.  Oh yeah.  I had to actually go out and buy feminine supplies today for the first time since last May or April.  Not even sure.  This is why I simply cannot go on a cross-country trip until I know for sure that it has stopped... and now I have to start counting again, because supposedly I have to have 12 dry months before I'm officially on the other side.  Ugh.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Boxing your bike at Los Angeles Union Station

Okay, first of all, for local travel on the commuter trains/subway within greater Los Angeles, you don't need to box your bike.  For longer travel, however, Amtrak offers this option of helping you to box your bike:


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Two bike errand runs today

Okay, so I'd been putting off going to Smart & Final because... well, I don't want to drive the car (not that there's anything wrong with it except that it guzzles fuel - and I'm only putting $25 in it this month and that needs to last the whole month.  So... NO driving except for emergencies and loads too large to carry on the bike.) and sometimes I just get nervous about locking the bike in places.  So, I thought I'd be a real smartie and make a video on how to properly lock the bike... HA HA!  Well, it wasn't until I got home and looked at the footage that I realized my own big FAIL - didn't get the frame inside the U-lock.  Duh!!!  Here's the proof!  Otherwise it would have been perfectly locked. Proof below!!!  However, both wheels and the seat we locked down with heavy cables all tied into the U-lock which was locked only to the metal railing.  So, I will make a proper video and post it eventually.

The Bontrager panniers in the pic are full of groceries and each weighs about 20 lbs.  I always tell them at Smart & Final that I have my own bags and will pack them myself.  Here's what I hauled:

3 - 4-lb bags of powdered sugar
1 pint lemon extract
3 lbs tangerines
4 beefsteak tomatoes
1 ginormous container of spring lettuce
1 containter of mild fresh Rojo's  salsa (the best!!!)
8 oz of Mexican shredded cheese

The panniers were pretty full but I could have squeezed in a few smaller items too.  Then when I got home, there was a check in the mail, so after I unloaded I quickly biked down the opposite direction to the bank where as always I take the bike in with me and right up to the teller window.  They know me well in there!

So, about 6 miles of biking.  Not much, but I faced the bike locking demons yet again.  Gosh, if someone ever stole my bike, I would be so distraught.  I would be less distraught if my car were stolen!  And I don't even have an expensive bike!  I may have paid about $350 for it on sale (think it was originally about $500).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Still too slow...

Hit the 200 milestone... still behind in goals.  But what are the goals anyhow?  They're not doing anything for my weight.  My goals are about distance and endurance - but  within a 5-hr time limit.  That's how long I have before my mostly blind dog begins to bark for me.  Two neighbors have complained.  Arrgh.

This pic was taken on Bedford going south, about 1/2 block below Gregory. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ballona Creek with a friend

My friend Nessie from Hollywood and I decided to do a bike ride, but I wanted to take her on a new route, so I told her I would take her on the bike path that goes through Marina Del Rey and that we would go down to the Ballona Creek Bridge.

I ended up driving into Hollywood to pick her and her bike up and then back to my place where we pumped up her tires and then left about 10:30 A.M.  I'm not sure what time we got down there, but we each took lots of pics with our cameras and also some videos.

People on the bike path through the marina parking lots.

Ballona Creek Bridge.  Stopping grounds for lots of cyclists.
 She noticed how low the planes were flying, and I said that LAX was very close and that we could go down to the part of the bike path that is directly in front of the runways, and she wanted to do that, so off we went.  When we got down there, we look more photos and videos.  Part of the bike path was closed off, and that was the part in front of the runway.  There was another cyclist there, and he was sitting on a bench with his back turned to us as we talked and snapped pics for about 10 minutes.  Finally he got up and left and I asked him, "Were we disturbing you?"  "Yes," he responded matter-of-fact.  Oh well.  He doesn't own that spot.  Lots more private areas for contemplation.

We rode down to where the 105 Imperial Hwy dead ends/connects to the bike path, then turned around and went back.

We decided to take the entire Ballona Creek Bike Trail to it's eastern end since she hadn't gone that way before, and she got unnerved by a lot of the graffitti past Overland, but I didn't think anything of it (still don't).  We then wove through the neighborhoods, go back onto National, over to Regent, to Cattaragus, to Reynier, and then wiggling back through suburbia for 4.5 miles back to West Hollywood.  We rode about 32 miles total.

I motored her bike back into Hollywood.  And we were done.  It was late in the day.  Rewarded myself with a hamburger happy meal from McDs.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wolfpack Hustle

It has not been the greatest month for cycling - only 140 miles.  I am becoming more and more aware of the Wolfpack Hustle.  On the one hand I hate the complete disregard for traffic and safety, but on the other hand I admire the speed and agility in traffic and often wish I could get up to a decent speed.  Now when I'm sprinting across an intersection, I tell myself, "wolfpack hustle, wolfpack hustle" to encourage myself, but still don't generally break 18 mph, and if I do, it's only long enough to get across the intersection.  So, I'm 110 miles short of my monthly goal, and that's not an easy target to make up, because now I start February and getting it up to speed.  I have all three rear panniers on the bike now, and I plan on traveling with all three as much as possible, although two are not loaded with anything.

More pannier experiences!

On Wednesdays I go grocery shopping for the lady I work for, and usually I do a tiny bit for myself afterwards.  Now when I say tiny, that means it has to fit in the two Bontrager side panniers... and today i was going to push it a little because I needed cat litter.  I knew I couldn't get the 21-lb containers because I had other stuff to get also plus I'd done some pet food shopping on the way to work, and those foods were still in the panniers.  So I got two 14-lb containers and put one on each side.  I know I had at least 40 lbs on the back on the bike.  I could feel it getting started, but once the momentum was up, I was good to go.  When I got home, it was as always a struggle to get the bike up the stairs, but that happened too, so I was good to go.  I still need to ride over to Smart & Final and get some lemon extract.  Maybe tomorrow morning if I am organized.

Might go riding this weekend with a friend, and if so, I'll take her down to the Ballona Creek Bridge.  Maybe we'll stop on the bridge for some pictures and a bit of a picnic.

Monday, January 21, 2013

100 milles

Taken on Whitworth, 1 block E of Robertson.
Okay, I admit, this is pretty dismal for the first 21 days of the year.  I'm thinking of doing a half century on both Saturday and Sunday to try to boost my miles for the month and stay on my goal of 250 per month.  Ugh.  I need to get prepped for the weekend.  Good thing is the weather has turned warmer.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

bike buying tips from youtube video

I found this great video tonight with lots of great tips on buying a road bike, which will be my next bike.

Varied day of cycling

Not much to blog about - only 12 miles on the bike today.  First two miles were to the pet store, bank and back.  Then a ten mile trip to work, taking the long road and even stopping at Jack In the Box. Yes, I brought the bike into the little restaurant.  Well, it was about 3:00pm and quite empty.  It was safer with me this way.  Oh, and their Jr. Jack is pretty good.  The chicken nuggets are like McD's - processed chicken something, but the honey mustard sauce is great and that covers a lot of food sins.  I'm addicted to the curly fries.  Must stop.  Must stop!  The JITB I stopped at was on Holt/Pico.  Yeah, I am guilty of visiting them quite often.  Maybe that's why I never lose any weight from cycling (I don't gain weight either). Nah, I think it's that my metabolism is just dead.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ernest Hemingway quote on cycling

"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them" - wise words from Ernest Hemingway.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


It was supposed to rain today according to Yahoo weather, but not a raindrop appeared.  In fact, the sky was largely clear today with high, gusty winds.

I wasn't sure if I was going to ride to work or drive due to the winds, but the winds had calmed some  by midday, so I put on my arm warmers, packed a warm hoodie in the pannier, and off I went.  When I got to the intersection of Wilshire/Gale, the wind that was channeling down Wilshire Blvd nearly knocked me off my bike. 

I knew the temp was supposed to drop tonight as we're in a cold snap (cold for Los Angeles), and the windchill factor plus riding the bike made it absolutely icy, it seemed.  I started out with just the arm warmers but within a couple of blocks pulled over and pulled out the hoodie.  It was much much MUCH too cold for only arm warmers.... well, they might have been okay if my short sleeves had been longer, but they are short short sleeves.  I didn't put on my head band that covers my ears and that was a mistake because by the time I got home, my hears were practically frozen, as were my cheeks.  Plus the headwind was withering, and when I got back to the Wilshire/Gale intersection, I was nearly blown over from the east and then the west.  I had to slow to 8 mph just to keep the bike steady because I was really fighting for balance.

Tomorrow night for sure I am putting on the headband and suiting up properly before I step out the door.

I am wondering what Lance Armstrong revealed to Oprah tonight.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Yesterday on my ride I got honked at - not the annoying honk but more of a scolding honk, and when the lady drove by me, she yelled something that I couldn't understand.  I'm sure, however, that she didn't like me controlling the lane on the suburban street.  There was plenty of room to pass me, but I was NOT going to move into the door zone of the cars parked on the street.  So, whatever.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Crazy riding today

Today on the bike I went back and forth to work twice, which was about 12 miles total, but then when I got home in the evening I decided I needed a little bit of food, specifically bananas.  I'm eating two bananas per day now in efforts to overall boost my potassium intake.

I'm getting pretty good at locking the bike.  I wish it went a little faster.  Even though I'm locking it to a bike rack in a well lit area of the parking lot by Pavillions, I am constantly looking over my shoulder.  I solidly locked the wheels to the frame with cables and the seat was locked down with a cable that was threaded through the U-lock.  All the cable ends were threaded through the U-Lock, and then the U-Lock and the frame were locked to the bike rack.  It all went very smoothly.  If I'd wanted to lock down the handlebars, I would have needed my third cable, but honestly, if someone were to steal the handlebars, they'd have to cut the brakes and the damage would be substantial.  The good thing is that I have enough bananas now to last me for five days, so I don't have to shop for more until Saturday. I also indulged and got my favorite cheese bagels and some cream cheese. They are definitely NOT on the high potassium diet, but I have to ease myself into a more vegetarian lifestyle and ultimately a vegan lifestyle (although both possibilities were hammered over the weekend when I made fried chicken nuggets.  Oh well!).

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It's okay to lie - if you fess up.... what????

So here's the think about Lance Armstrong and doping.  I wanted so hard to believe he didn't do it, but I suspect the evidence that he was part of a huge cover-up is too over-whelming.  So his titles got stripped from him and he was banned.  Now there are rumors that he wants to confess so that he can be allowed in the sport again.  Well, how many parents of a punished child who confesses to a crime will say, "Okay, thanks for confessing, punishment is over."  No.  Good parents don't do that.  Confession or not, the ban needs to be in place, perhaps one year per Tour de France win, so at least seven years.  And during those seven years, pro cycling needs to do some major house cleaning and set new standards that it religiously inforces.  Otherwise it's all just a joke.

Friday, January 4, 2013

No bike today... too many cookies to carry

Today I had to drive to work because a cookie client was meeting me there to pick up his order.  It was all in a box far too big to put onto the bike.  Perhaps tomorrow I'll take an 18 mile ride to go visit Gloria's cake and Candy supply.  I don't need to go that far to go get some of my supplies, but it's a good ride, and I certainly don't care to take the car which is nearly empty anyhow.  That reminds me, though, that I need to wash out my water bottles.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Issues with my dog being lonely

Why am I writing about my sweet little dog when this is a cycling blog?  Well, because my neighbors have been complaining some about her barking for hours.  So I've been having to ride to and from home twice a day to give her a few minutes of attention, let her out to do some business, and general nonsense, then pedal back to work - a totally frenetic way to work.  Double mileage on the bike isn't all bad, but this isn't exactly how I want to rack up miles

Tomorrow I am taking her for a super long walk before I go to work to see if I can't just get her so exhausted that she'll sleep all afternoon.  Otherwise I will speak to my vet about some doggie valium.  Poor little poppet misses me something fiece.  Truly attached at the hip.

First bike ride of 2013

I'm on the bike for the first riding of 2013.  I put a new battery in my Cateye odometer, and it's reset to ZERO, which feels rather deflating after 2300 miles last year.  This year I'd like to go for 3000 miles.

The only thing about the reset is that there's something about the tire size, and it's defaulted to 210.  I don't know what it's supposed to be, but when I did a normal route this morning, it came up about 1/10 of a mile shorter than normal... which adds up in the long run.  So I will talk to my guys at I. Martin asap and see what it is supposed to be.