Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mar Vista Turkey Ride.

My boyfriend and I enjoyed our first group ride on Thanksgiving morning.  The Mar Vista Turkey Ride includes eight impressive hills.  After conquering them, we felt better about filling our bellies with turkey.

Preparing for the ride.

Topping off the tubes.  My boyfriend's ride: a Masi Speciale Fixed (2009)

The cyclists begin to gather.

Pre-ride chit chat.

Ready to take off!

Here we go.

The finish line.  I got back before my boyfriend (center), but I think may have skipped a hill!

Feeling good after the ride!

We did it!

The reward!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thanks, Los Angeles!

Back in the late summer time I requested some more bike racks outside my office.  Beneath my office is a bustling Venice restaurant and often the two existing bike racks were simply not sufficient.  I filled out an online request form for the racks, and received a message that the city was out of funds for bike racks and my request would go into a queue.  With the current economic situation being what it is, I figured the new racks would never see the light of day.  But a few weeks ago the racks arrived!

We now have four bike racks outside.

Most of the time they are all full like this.

Bonus shot of cute Electra Amsterdam!  Haven't spotted the rider yet.

It's very gratifying to see the city respond to your needs when you make a request - no matter how small it may seem.  Thanks, LA Department of Transportation!

Monday, January 25, 2010

It Came to Me in a Flash.

I’ve had my Bianchi Milano Alfine for about 6 months now and I really like it but…I’ve been dreaming of other bikes.  Something about it is a bit sluggish and heavy.  Part of me wants something zippier, lighter, more efficient.  I stare longingly whenever I see a cool girl coasting by on a single speed or fixie with not a care in the world, nothing but a messenger bag on her back.  I myself am eternally carrying two panniers on my rear rack.  So here’s what came to me:  I need a fast, simple, single speed bike (and a messenger bag) and a slow, comfortable, plush bike that’s good at hauling stuff.  My current bike is somewhere in between and doesn’t really satisfy either need quite well enough.  So what kind of bikes would suit these needs?  Perhaps a Surly Steamroller and a Pashley Princess Sovereign?  I think to have 2 such different bikes would be divine!  The single speed for when I just want a light bike I can jump on and go – a bike that can easily be brought up the stairs at my office or my boyfriend’s house.  And the Pashley for shopping trips, leisure rides, tweed rides, or whenever I just really need gears.  

The dream pair?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Belated Book Review: Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

Since this blog got off the ground later than I had intended, I have a back log of bike related things I want to blog about.  So with apologies for the delay, here is my review of Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne.

The cycling community was very excited about David Byrne’s book. The fact that Byrne (former lead singer of The Talking Heads, Artist, All-Around-Cool-New-York-Guy) has been a long time cycling advocate, along with the title of the book may lead one to believe that the book would be all about the bikes. That’s not so. It is, in fact, more of a travelogue – the world seen atop a folding bike. Byrne brings one with him everywhere he travels. The author has a unique and intelligent worldview that he brings to bear on the cities he visits. Much of the book involves his interactions with the artistic communities of the cities he visits. His observations keep the reader interested and engaged from beginning to end. Perhaps the only place he lost me a bit was in his chapter on Manila, Philippines. Byrne is currently working on a musical piece that somehow invokes the life of former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos. This being his pet project, he seems to lavish an unreasonable amount of time and attention to the kitschy culture of the country.

The first (and most interesting) chapter is devoted to American cities and includes his thoughts on Niagara Falls; Rochester, New York; Valencia, California; Baltimore (the author’s home town); Detroit; Sweetwater, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; New Orleans, and Pittsburgh. New York gets its own chapter later – this is the city the author now calls home. Los Angeles, my city, does not get a chapter. Other chapters include Berlin, Buenos Aires, Sydney, London and San Francisco. Interestingly, cycling meccas Amsterdam and Copenhagen are not mentioned. Rather the cities Byrne writes about are the strange, the unexpected, the dying. Byrne’s sharply edited volume is a true pleasure to read. Despite Byrne’s firm foothold in the world of experimental art and music – a world that can produce a lot of uninteresting navel gazing, he shows here that he is not a idiosyncratic New York art world snob, but rather a man of the world – a man who enjoys the hunt for a good taco. And we can all relate to man like that.

Byrne, posing beside one of a series of artsy bike racks he designed for New York City.

Footnote – On October 2, 2009 I was lucky to attend a talk in Los Angeles that was part of Byrne’s book tour. Speakers included Byrne (also the moderator), Jimmy Lizama (co-founder of the Bicycle Kitchen), Michelle Mowery (Senior Bicycle Coordinator, Los Angeles Department of Transportation) and Dr. Donald Shoup (Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA). Unfortunately, when my friend was on her way to pick me up, she rear-ended someone (as if to hammer home the point that driving sucks) so we missed Byrne’s talk and introduction but we saw the other speakers – it was still a great night. And I got a signed copy of the book.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One Day Last Summer...

I know it's not nice to brag...but it hasn't really felt like winter at all here in Los Angeles.  Despite a little rain this week, it's been an unseasonably warm winter with average temperatures in the sixties and seventies.  Much of the country, however, is under ice.  This one's for you.

These pictures are from one day last summer when my boyfriend and I took a nice, long bike ride.  In fact it was my first nice, long bike ride - eleven miles each way along the coastal bike path.  We went from Venice to Manhattan Beach on the day of the Manhattan Beach Six Man Volleyball Tournament.  I had no idea what was in store.  

The beach was mobbed with people as far as the eye could see.

There were bikes as far as the eye could see too!  People just shoved them wherever they could!

It was a great day!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Almost Cycle Chic.

Despite the optimistic subtitle of this blog, I'm not all that stylish most of the time when I ride my bike.  Here's one night I got pretty close though.

My ride: A Bianchi Milano Alfine

A Lovely Evening in L.A.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hello, Blogosphere.

The other subtitle for this blog could have been “One City Girl’s Adventures in Becoming a Cyclist.”  That’s right.  I am a TOTAL newbie to the world of cycling (and an even bigger newbie to the world of blogging).  When I started researching bicycles I didn’t know a shifter from Shinola.  I started from scratch.  All I knew is I wanted to ride a bike.  I really wanted to ride a bike.  It started when I went to Santa Barbara for a long weekend last May with my boyfriend and we rented bikes for a day to get around town – it changed everything.  I’ve been bike obsessed ever since. I’ve scoured the web for all things bike.  I’ve learned all about different kinds of bikes and bicycling styles.  Bike shopping (i.e. learning about bikes) has become my new hobby. 

The goals of this blog are to share my experiences while I learn about cycling and cycle in Los Angeles and to learn as much as I can about cycling and bikes from interacting with you! 

Me with the beach cruiser I rented in Santa Barbara – the very moment I was bitten by the bicycling bug!

As a final note for this first post, I'd like to thank my dear friend and amazing artist Lissette Schettini for the beautiful artwork in the header of this blog.  And congratulations to her on her new bike, a Fuji Palisade 2.0 (2009).  Enjoy it!