Archive for February, 2009

You think Monday night was crazy? Wait ’til I lay on you what happened yesterday and Tuesday during the 60-some miles I’ve biked since.

Absolutely nothing. That’s correct, despite being the easy and easily enraged target on two wheels that I am, with the exception of the occasional double-parker or encroacher I somehow managed to avoid all the asshole motorists that line the routes I take to and from work. Amazing.

Not at all. Statistically speaking for every 100 miles I ride, only a few feet are ultra nasty.

But that’s still too much. My new goal is zero. And it’s going to require a lot of tolerance that I lack and a lot of fool-suffering that I don’t do well. But seriously, if I can be proactive in avoiding such episodes ever again, then it’s win/win.

It’s something of an understatement to say I’ve spent the last couple days reflecting over the Monday night debacle on 4th Street — obsessing is more apt — and it hasn’t been pretty. In true “wit of the staircase” fashion I’ve found myself grousing in any variety of places public and private and mentally barking out things I should’ve said to the big bad guy. OK, the occasional physical vocalization has escaped and I’m sure there are several people who were within earshot of me who wondered with whom I might have been raging against.

But beyond dwelling on the past, I’ve looked forward from the incident in terms of reinforcing how I could’ve better handled myself. Certainly I drop primary responsibility on the tall boy because the simple fact is if instead of deciding to be a raging harassing unversed doucheball he had just utilized the wide swath of open and empty road and gone around me with plenty of room to spare, none of what happened afterward would have happened.

But as I said in my previous post, I blame its escalation to a face-to-face (or face-to-neck) confrontation and threats of death on me. My failure to dismiss my personal safeguards leads me to take full responsibility for all that evolved after he honked and yelled at me to get out of the fucking road.

As this guy demonstrated clearly, ignorant assholes thrive in their on myopia by default and rarely figure out how to broaden their perspective. I on the other hand am well-versed in self-examination. I can put sit my inner ignorant asshole down and peer around corners and look at other sides of things. I can take responsibility when I’ve done something wrong. Sometimes I envy those who won’t, but ultimately I consider it a bonus.

And in so doing, the solution is simple. Ridiculously difficult, but totally basic. And entirely necessary if my adventures in urban cycling are to continue.

I’m going nonviolent. I’m going nonreactionary. I’m going to become the coolest cycling cat ever. It is not going to be easy, but whether I encounter inconsiderate behavior and attitudes that are the result of blatant intention or simple inattention, I’m going to do my best turn the other cheek.

From here on out, it’s Ghandi time.

I suppose when it all comes down to it, the incident last night on 4th Street can be rationalized as nothing more than two blowhards blowing. But it was more than that. It was me doing everything wrong. It was me not practicing what I’d been preaching. And that hurts. That defeats. I’m better than that. Smarter, or so I’d thought and hoped.

I’d crossed La Brea heading east on 4th and had the quiet residential stretch of the street to myself. I’ve written before of the bad condition of the roadway from the gutter on out about four feet and so I was riding in the middle of the lane. There was still plenty of room for cars approaching from the back to go around, but not enough apparently for the vehicle approaching me from behind in a hurry. He started laying on the horn almost a full block back and before I know it there I am standing before this very scary ridiculously tall dude who’s just unfolded out of the white subcompact in the middle of 4th Street between La Brea and Highland  offering me “one hit” before he rips me apart.


I had only one official resolution for the new year and that was to BIKE EVERY DAY. Didn’t matter if it was up the block or an 80-mile loop: just do it.

Yesterday I didn’t.  I didn’t get on my bike and do the obligatory and semantic “Ride Around The Block” that I’ve already done several times in January to fulfill the daily goal, because it’s just silly. Because it doesn’t accomplish anything other than to say yes, I planted my ass in a bike saddle and pedaled.

Big meaningless whup. I do more than enough of the street stuff — and with back-to-back weekend mountainbike rides I’ve already up’d my percentage of offroading by  a billion compared to last year’s zero rides.

So I didn’t yesterday.

I planned to. Given our Disneyland visit and the Super Bowl, my idea was to log 6/10ths of a mile yesterday morning, but I got distracted with ongoing attempts to bring wireless connectivity to an old Powerbook and before I knew it it was time to get to Anaheim — where we did two Neverbefores: rode Disney’s Monorail and had lunch at the Blue Bayou.

Then after we got home and my mom arrived and we got comfortable in front of the game with a beer or two and the biggest pyramid of my mom’s nachos ever and chicken fingers and other snacks, it became pretty apparent that there would be no bicycling on this day. The resolution would be broken, the streak would end at 31.

And I’m fine with that, because yesterday it may have been for a lack of trying, but overall it’s not for a lack of doing.

Forty years ago this summer my Aunt Frieda, Uncle Jack and cousins Margaret, Laura and Allan came out to visit my mom and me from Chattanooga, Tennessee. We were living in a two-bedroom apartment in a building on the corner of Hamilton Drive and Gregory Way in Beverly Hills, and being 5 years old I could not tell you how we housed everybody — but that’s not important.

What’s important is that the high point of their visit included my very first trip to Disneyland. Being that there was no internet and my social network was a couple neighborhood kids, plus I couldn’t do that whole reading thing with any consistency yet, I can only guess that I learned of the park’s newest attraction — The Haunted Mansion — via TV commercials, but however it branded itself on my brain it quickly became my entire reason for being on this planet as a human being.

On the big day I could barely contain myself, and we drove down to Anaheim in style with mom renting a 1969 black Impala convertible to tranport all seven of us.

I won’t beat around the bush with all the other rides we went on first and all the wonder and happiness I experienced, because honestly I don’t remember anything accept maybe a bit of Autopia and the submarine ride. Anything else fun that happened got cloaked because when we arrived at the awesome house to finally fulfill my dream of going on the ride I’d been dying to do there was a sign on the entrance: CLOSED. For what? I don’t know. Probably to work some kinks out as it had only been open a short while.

I can’t quantify the devastation I felt there at what’s purported to be the Happiest Place On Earth. I literally thought this had been my One Shot and I was never ever ever going to get another chance to go to Disneyland or ride The Haunted Mansion. Ever again.

When you’re 5 there’s no tomorrow, only Tomorrowland. And  it would be three more years of tomorrows before I returned and finally got a chance to fulfill my long-denied amusement park destiny.

Fast forward to this morning and I’m up at this insane hour because Susan and I are going to do our second-annual Super Bowl-Day Disneyland run. Last year was my first time back in 22 years and I fell in love with the place all over again. The only bummer for me was the Jungle Cruise was closed for long-term refurbishment (It’s A Small World was also shuttered, but that was more Susan’s disappointment than mine). Wondering what might be down for this visit, Susan and I looked online but we couldn’t find any info. Then this morning after I Twittered prior to bedtime about today’s excursion my friend David Markland tweeted back about the status of The Haunted Mansion, and it wasn’t good.

Indeed, I found the right webpage and confirmed that on the 40th anniversary year of its arrival and the 40th anniversary year of me learning about disappointment because of it, The Haunted Mansion won’t be looking for its 1000th resident today. Kinda bummed, but it’s kinda appropriate.