Archive for the ‘biking’ Category

Short Story Long #7845: Scenes From A Different Kind Of (Post) Mid-Life Crisis…

Friday, April 12th, 2019

So I did it: I ordered a new toy. No, not a Harley-Davidson. Not a fully restored 1965 Mustang. Not a sky-dive or a 130-pound Hungarian Komondor (google it for some awesome).

Nah. I went and bought me an E-bike (actually us; one for me, one for Susan), though it can’t be considered an impulse purchase so much as a convergence of events: the right product finally coming along at the right price from what appears to be the right company.

See I’ve been eyeing E-bikes going back more than 12 years, but I always found reasons to run away from such a commitment, including but not limited to:

1) Financial: They cost too damn much
2) Ego: Up until a few years ago I was in my riding prime logging 6,000 miles per year on a single-speed bike and didn’t need any type of energized assistance thankyouverymuch.

Then a few weeks ago, a Facebook friend and really cool biking dude named Joe Anthony posted a link to a Seattle-based company called Rad Power Bikes and I clicked on over and really liked what I saw. I mean REEEALLY liked. The company seemed innovative and proactive and straight-forward and it reflected in their product line, which for all intents and purposes was comparatively affordable and well-designed.

Let me introduce you to the truly rad badass and beefalicious RadRover.

In addition there were sa-weeet incentives taking affordability to the next level such as a multi-bike discount and free shipping.

I was almost all set, but first I had to have a sit down with my ego, which was all “To hell with E-bikes! You’ve got plenty of miles left in them legs!”

That was not a lie, but more correctly is my present physiological reality, borne from getting past the police academy as I did at my already advanced age to get my present job. The cumulative result of countlessly hauling myself over over six-foot walls and fences, trips up and down the infamous Nike Hill, hours of defensive tactics, and miles and miles of laps around the track have left me with some ongiong lower back/sciatic issues. And on those few times since that I’ve mounted my trusty two-wheelers — even for relatively short rides — more than not there’d be some nagging and lingering aches, pains, leg numbness, et cetera.

With those things making it tough to get motivated, I ultimately told my ego to shut the funk up and that if it was time to bring in a battery back-up to get me away from the frustration of not being able to get back in the saddle, so be it. My ego was all “Whatevs loser.” And I was all “Fine.” And my ego was all “Fine!” Which is fine.

Next up, of course I had to pitch it to my better half. When you’re the type of austere person who happily motors around in an almost 22-year-old truck, and spends time trying to fix $15 box fans that crap out after 10 years of use, it can come as a bit of a shock when suddenly I start wanting to throw thousands of dollars at the internet.

So at her burfdae dinner last weekend, I broached the subject of us getting not one E-bike, but his-and-hers type burfdae giftsesses, and she A) didn’t laugh me out the restaurant, or B) slam her foot down on the floor in total rejection.

Her eyes did go wide at the estimate cost-outlay, but I think the idea appealed to her because while she’s enjoyed biking in the past, she’s no fan of hills or of trying to keep up with me (though I would argue that’s probably easier to do now that AARP and Forest Lawn are contacting me on a regular basis). Being able to bike together on a more level playing field would instantly increase opportunities to get outdoors and go roll around town exploring together, which is something both of us miss.

This morning, I had her look over the models and she decided the RadCity Step-Thru (also pictured) was the one for her so I ordered them up from the website (www.radpowerbikes.com) and barely hesitated in clicking the submit button. Delivery is estimated at 5-7 business days. So we might be out on the road on or around Easter Sunday!

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to Joe who I mentioned up top. In the ordering process the company obligatorily asked how I’d come to hear of them. I started to select Facebook from the drop-down menu options, but no offense Mr. Zuckerborg, I really don’t like giving your company credit for anything accept the further decline of civilization, so instead I chose “Referred by a friend.” That of course prompted a request for the friend’s name,” which I readily entered. I hope it benefits him in some way, and by that same token should this lengthy diatribe ultimately find you ordering up your own Rad Power bike, maybe you could do the same for me.

In the end, the bikes are going to be all the reward I need. I’m totes excited to find myself thinking something I haven’t in a long time: “I can’t wait to get on a bike and ride!”

Hyperlapse: CicLAvia To The Searchers

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Yestardae I rhode ma byke. For the furst tyme inna looooong time. And I did so on The Beast, more specifically known as La Bestia con los Gigantes Zapatos, a 50-pound-plus ultra fat-tired bike that’s really only good for beachcruising and going downhill — certainly NOT at all ideal for 20-miles’ worth of  city tripping in 90-plus degree temperatures… as I only all too well learned upon getting my semi-heatstroked self home.

Anyway, I rolled the CicLAvia route and then over to a Laemmle Theater in Beverly Hills to catch a 60th-anniversary showing of “The Searchers,” which I’d not ever seen on a screen bigger than our 42-inch TV. It was glooooorious. There should be a drinking game every time John Wayne’s Ethan says “That’ll be the day,” and/or Hank Worden’s Mose says “Thankee kindly!”

Bonusesses: At the beginning of the clip, you’ll find I finally got to check out an art alley in Historic Filipinotown that I had been told me about not too long ago, but didn’t realize its magnificent scope, and on the way along 4th Street toward Beverly Hills had the pleasure of coincidentally finding and riding the last few miles there with Greg Laemmle, who just so happens to run the entire Laemmle Theaters chain, and was kind enough to let me park La Bestia safely inside during the movie, which was glorious (and yes I did get choked up sitting there in the dark as the music swelled and the opening credits rolled).

Not so bonus: About a third of the way through the clip you might catch me flagging down a patrol officer to report an assault I had just witnessed across from me on 6th Street involving a cyclist and what I learned later was a disgruntled bus passenger who got impatient when the cyclist stopped the bus to discuss the driver allegedly passing him unsafely. The joys of big city livin’.

Hyperlapse: Pushmi-pullyu Style

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

With a little Quicktime trial & error I figured out how to include the footage of two perspectives in one file, so now for something completely different… For the first time I documented a bike ride (involving the CicLAvia of October 18, 2015, that sequed into Mr. Rollers’ Chinatown meetup and birthday ride) with cameras simultaneously mounted to the handlebars and the seatpost, resulting in this 5-minute hyperlapsed perspective on the 105 minutes recorded of the trip that’s probably guaranteed to induce vomiting or seizures or both.

Hyperlapsed! Labor Day Bike Ride

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

Here’s a 5-minute hyperlapsed version of the roughly 18-mile, 105-minute casual bike ride I did Labor Day morning that went from Silver Lake and back via Atwater Village, the Los Angeles River Bikeway, Boyle Heights, the Sixth Street Bridge, the Scrap Metal District  and back up Central Avenue across downtown and through Echo Park:

In LA, A Landmark Means Always Having To Say Goodbye

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

farewellWith so many of my Los Angeles touchstones lost to progress and reinvention, in this city a landmark means almost always having to say goodbye — and that’s proven to be the case for the cherished Sixth Street Viaduct.

Only it’s not being demolished for some over-development. Instead it’s shortly scheduled to be brought down and be replaced by a modernized version because the bridge has long been ravaged internally by a concrete “cancer” that has slowly eaten away at it and compromised its structural integrity beyond saving. There’s something like a 70% chance it will fall in the event of a major seismic event.

It’s rather ironic that in a city that so often destroys itself, the bridge was a bit of a victim of its location. The on-site plant supplying the concrete during the bridge’s construction in 1932 produced a product with a high alkali content that reacted adversely with the area aggregate introduced to it. In a way it was doomed from the start.

And now the end is nigh. Work has already begun at various locations at and around ground level, but it’s been a bit of an unknown when the bridge itself is to be closed and dismantled. As such, on yesterday morning’s bike ride I specifically paid the beloved bridge a visit — perhaps for the last time — and paid my respects.

Looks Like It’s Time To End An Unintentional Life-Long Boycott

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

titoHaving never been to Tito’s via automobile (nor ever planning to), should I find myself attending tomorrow’s CicLAvia and pedaling past it with anything resembling an appetite + a desire for their style/version/class of tacos, I’m of a mind not to continue my unintentional life-long boycott of the place and instead ignore its owner’s stupidity and order up something just to make the ironic point that despite having motored past it scores of times throughout my loooong life, it took a CAR-FREE event they hate to get me to patronize the place.

I’ve Got Some Nerve

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Given my (increasingly distant) past of pedaling 6,000 miles-plus a year, I  had a totally doable resolution for 2015 last January: bike 2,015 miles. As of today I’ve logged… 38.39 miles. To put that in perspective, the last time I placed ass to saddle was January 6.

That few number of miles and that amount of time between rides is essentially criminal to me. To call it embarrassing is an understatement, but it’s not without a reason.

Fast-backward with me to December 2012. I was hip deep in my academy training Rio Hondo College. Lean and mean. Under 200 pounds. Going on four mile runs like they were walks around the block. At the same time the Glendale Trail Patrol for which I’d volunteered was about to have its official debut so I added in mountain biking to the physical activity equation via a series of practice rides in the Verdugos. I was thrilling myself making it all the way up the Brand Motorway from Brand Park without stopping.

SciaticaIt was at some point then that I tweaked my sciatic nerve, and I’m guessing it was from the sudden uptick of hard trail riding I was doing on a bike I hadn’t been on in awhile and whose geometry was far different from my street bike — and maybe aided by all the running, too. At least that’s the best explanation I could come up with.

Here’s the thing though, I didn’t notice the tweak until returning to the academy after a holiday break and getting back into physical training. There wasn’t actual pain so much as a deadness to my left leg. Running around the track it was like the foot was asleep and it took a concerted effort to minimize the amount of flopping around the foot would do as I’d run.

Quite disconcerting, to say the least.

I remember breaking off from a run and reporting the weird sensation to my training officer and he very gruffly thought I was using it as an excuse. “You either get it examined by a doctor and bring a medical diagnosis or you get your ass back on the track,” was the gist of his response.

Sir, yes sir. I got my ass back on the track.

Long story short, it got worse before it got better, leaving me fearing for a brief spell that I might have to withdraw from the academy. Not that such a thing was going to happen even if my leg fell off, but thankfully the numbness plateaued and was manageable going forward (and yes, that’s my excuse as to why I’ve never sought actual treatment for it from on o’ them medical perfeshunalz).

But a side effect was that I reeeeeeally minimized the mountain biking — and the road riding, too, to the point of quitting by attrition the Glendale Trail Patrol. I did jumpstart things by embarking on a “50 rides in 50 Days” crusade in the summer of 2014, but roughly six rides in that horrid dead-foot/leg sensation returned and I jumped off the bikes as quickly as I jumped on them. It didn’t help that I was no longer sub-200 pounds and/or not in the best condition of my life.

Then at the close of 2014, itching to ride and my leg feeling better I decided I could no longer stay away from my favorite way of commuting and exploring the city, and made that resolution.

Two commutes in, 38.39 total miles, it came back. Ultimately manageable as ever, but also as maddening as hell.

This past weekend I decided that maybe my 15-year-old 24-speed road bike might be the solution. Perhaps it was time to quit single-speed biking all over town as I’d proudly done these last nine years and instead retire to enjoy the luxury of being able to downshift on uphills rather than just grrrrrrrind it out and thus potentially anger the nerve. So Sunday I pulled my dust-covered  Giant OCR-3 roadster off the garage rack where it’s hung untouched for at least three years thinking I’d dust her off, tune her up and ride her to work Monday… only to find the front derailleur hanger that attaches to the seat tube had inexplicably cracked in half leaving the derailleur dangling and the bike unrideable.

Fortunately I found a bike website that sells replacement hangers and it’s been ordered, hopefully to arrive this weekend wherein I can install it and go for a test run around the neighborhood making sure everything is in working order — both bike and nerve. Fingers crossed.