Ride to the Ride

Ride to the Ride!

The Great Eddy Merckx was asked what three things
someone could do to be a better cyclist and he said
“Ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike”

Riding to the ride not only increases your mileage, fitness and experience, but each time you replace a car trip with a bike trip you:

Increase the visibility of cyclists: making the roads safer for everyone
Decrease pollution and smog: improving our air quality

Join us in improving the air and roads for cyclists by leaving your motor vehicle at home.

For more information on traveling by bike, see bikenow.org or the LA Bike Coalition’s Solution Revolution page.
This is a project brought to you by Swarm!

We need more bicycles in the streets. Who better to target than people already riding their bikes? The bicycle is far more than a recreational toy and I want to share that with others. Above is the text for a small flyer I am making to put on cars at the start of rides (or in Griffith Park, etc). I appreciate any feedback.

Read Read Read

I got a couple of rides in during the holiday week, so on the weekend I had some extra time to waste on the interweb. I was looking for some cycling blogs, particularly ultra-cycling and touring stuff. I also was perusing for some new Southern California routes and groups to ride with. Assuming some people who read this blog have similar interests I’ll share them.

In the world of randonneuring only certain people are qualified to put on rides. This is why we had to travel to San Diego or SLO to qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris. For 2008 there is finally a local group. The Pacific Coast Randos. Their rides seems to cost a little more than the others, but they do have a SAG vehicle running sweep, which some other rides do not have. They have some routes listed, but I think you have to pay for them. The San Diego Randonneurs have some Permanent routes on their site with direct links to the routes. Awesome.

Down in Orange County, where I ride occasionally there is a group called the OC Rebel Riders who have multiple route slips online. There are actually some nice, quiet sections of Sprawl County. The Ultra Rob blog has a recent post about web pages to map your own rides to share with others. I am also considering submitting my blog to Great Cycling blogs, but I am unsure if mine qualifies as great.

This is just amazing: 1001 lists to read before you die. This list references Ghandi: Top Ten Things to Think About if You Want to Change the World. Lastly, if you are vegan or interested in political prisoners, the Green Scare, etc, you probably know about Eric McDavid who is in prison on suspected Earth Liberation Front activity. The article Conspiracy of Dunces explains the role of the FBI in his case.

LA Auto Show

The talk (or more accurately Green Wash) at the LA Auto show makes me cringe. I ignore the entire show the best I can, but others who are more ambitious infiltrate and spread their green message. Green LA Girl posted some of her thoughts on her LA Times blog. Are you skeptical of Chevy’s ‘From gas-friendly to gas-free’ ad campaign? You should be. It is only an ad campaign.
Lastly, some good people at Rain Forest Action Network approached Toyota’s General Manager about the hypocrisy of selling themselves as green while suing the state of California for setting fuel standards higher than Federal regulations. He responds by knocking the camera out of his hand.


Six Middle Six !

When I was 15, BMX was my life. More so than I could ever describe. Fortunately I grew up around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which was, arguably, the BMX capitol of the country. It was the early 90’s (pre X-games) and dirt jumping was breaking away from racing and merging with ‘freestyle’. Suddenly everyone was riding everything; trails, street, skateparks. The best riders could do it all. I was best at trails. Posh trails and the locals (what’s up Mach-6, Markie, Sal, Lonergan, Keith, Joe, Griffin) being harsh, but good teachers for a young kid like myself. I was still traveling to BMX races, but soon it was more to ride the local trails then to race some boring NBL track. My style of riding was progressing as I was riding more and more.

In Pennsylvania there is a long, cold winter with no trail riding so we would ride street. This includes 180ing down staircases, grinding ledges and jumping gaps. The bike companies (we’d only support rider owned ones like S&M bikes) were just catching up with making components (called parts) and bikes that could hold up to the abuse we’d put them through. We were often left to improvise. My favorite being a yellow mag I found in Tucker’s backyard. I threw that ugly thing on my bike and felt so ‘street’. Riding street that winter would end up improving my trail riding. I was transitioning from a racing-style to a more all around rider with plenty of trail rider flow.

Our own local trails got plowed the next summer cause some whiny fun-hater called the police on us for loitering (can you call it loitering when you are either digging or riding?). It was a sad day and my mag wheel, after almost a year of use, was ready to be put down. I buried it where the trails used to be. It did not take long for surburban sprawl to take over and now there is a new neighborhood on top of my wheel.

Anyway, I put a mag on my track bike and I am stoked. Am hoping that this story will stop my friends from referring to it as a hipster wheel.

Our Inner Swarm(!)

From today’s New York Times. Pretty amazing. Follow the link for the article in its entirety.

From Ants to People, an Instinct to Swarm

By studying army ants — as well as birds, fish, locusts and other swarming animals — Dr. Couzin and his colleagues are starting to discover simple rules that allow swarms to work so well. Those rules allow thousands of relatively simple animals to form a collective brain able to make decisions and move like a single organism…

…“One of the really fun things that we’re doing now is understanding how the type of feedbacks in these groups is like the ones in the brain that allows humans to make decisions,” Dr. Couzin said. Those decisions are not just about what to order for lunch, but about basic perception — making sense, for example, of the flood of signals coming from the eyes. “How does your brain take this information and come to a collective decision about what you’re seeing?” Dr. Couzin said. The answer, he suspects, may lie in our inner swarm.

Fixed Gear Paris-Brest-Paris

Fixed Gear bike parked at the finish of the 760-mile, 92-hour Paris-Brest-Paris

This weekend I went on two social rides, Friday night the Midnight Ridazz Dia de Los Muertos ride (500+ people) and Saturday night the Spoke(n) Art ride for Gallery Night in North-East LA. It has been awhile since I’ve been around for these and it got me stoked again on what we would call local bike culture. Saw a lot of fixed gears and it reminded me that I should post some of these photos from France.

Are fixed gears the coolest thing ever or an annoying trend? Good for the city only or for long-distance rides as well? In skateboarding or BMX usually you get really excited about something new and then slightly annoyed by the people who find it after you. Is it the same for fixed gears? Like many cities these days Los Angeles has its ‘scene’ (does that word make you cringe?) that no doubt includes the core groups (I’ve been riding fixed for 5 years!), the hipsters (Is this NJS certified?), the converts (I have 10 bikes and I just converted an old Colnago to fixed), and those who just enjoy riding a simple bike. Many blogs and articles have dissected this further than I care to (Bike Snob NYC). I ride a track bike for commuting and in the city for two main reasons: It is different than my other bikes and requires different riding skills and it is low maintenance. No brakes rubbing, shifters needing adjusting, cables fraying. Just the most basic bicycle possible.
But what about for long distance? When we rode the Furnace Creek 508 on a fixed gear team someone said to us, ‘Sorry this race isn’t hard enough for you to do on road bikes.’ And maybe some of those who ride fixed are self-handicapping: Yeah, well I did it on fixed gear!! We rode it fixed cause we thought it would be fun to have a team and to use our everyday bikes. I have no interest in riding fixed over really long distances, but many people do. I give them the benefit of the doubt that they just love riding fixed for what the bike offers them, the same way others choose to ride certain bikes, components, races, etc.
At Paris-Brest-Paris I tried to speak with as many fixed gear riders as possible and also shoot photos when I could. Photos and story at my original post for this ride.

Emily from Boston

Seattle guy

Coffee? Bikes? I am definitely not alone

Please file this post under: How to waste time and ignore all of your A, B, and C priorities.
After 3 months earlier this year of caffeine abstinence, I slowly worked my way back to full-time coffee drinker. Luckily not to the levels of Budge and I last year. We were polishing off a 32-oz French Press of strong coffee every morning.
In denial of my coffee drinking habits I am yet to unearth my mug (read: I am throwing out a paper one every time I drink it). A quick internet search (which reminds me: Did you hear that Google is coming out with a cell phone? wtf?) I came across Kent’s bike blog. He then pointed me to, I am not kidding this is a real link, bicyclecoffeesystems.com. A serious site. Do I have the intellectual ability to sort through this and pick the best one? Maybe after a strong cup of coffee.