Like so many things in my life that I write about, DIY remains a constant struggle between who I am and who I want to be. I have plenty of reasons to reduce my consumption- mainly environmental and economical (personally and politically)- and like the great Charles Bukowski said, I hate being a buyer needing a seller. But I slack on the alternatives. I’m envious of both those who can purchase freely without hesitation and those who have a burning creativity inside that automatically translates into DIY. Me? I end up with piles of unsewn ripped jeans, socks years past their usefulness and anxiety over the few new things I actually have to go to the store and purchase for full price.

At our new house I finally got my room (somewhat) set up three weeks after moving in. I had searched for some furniture, but in not finding anything came up with this hanging system (my room doesn’t have a closet) and desk with stuff I found in the house.

The rack is straight bars slid into 1-inch forks and hung with hooks. The desk is a closet door balanced on a filing cabinet and crates. It’s somewhere between punk/DIY and ‘post-college’ chic. Most importantly it forced me to bridge the gap between what I want to see and what I do.

Bike night at the Hammer and Velocity

Last night my friend Lisa, as an artist in a current show, put on Bike Night at the Hammer, which included valet parking, free vegan food and a screening of Breaking Away (see trailer below). This sounds like a typical thing to do: bikes, food, watch a film about what we do. But this was in the freakin Hammer museum! I missed the group ride out (50+) and when I showed up there were over 100 bikes inside and hundreds of people chilling in the open courtyard.

I wasn’t going to stay for the film, but am glad I did. The layered stories of how ones defines oneself, the challenges one faces in times of change, friendship, family, etc, etc. And in a theatre with 200+ amped cyclists. Thank you Lisa!

The kids at Orange 20 covered it on their blog so check that out too.

And coming up this weekend are the Velocity races. The flyer below is for all of the North American events, Los Angeles specific info can be found on our struggling website The races are open to all cyclists, not just messengers. Ya dig?

Midnight Express ride

This past Saturday I did not ride the Mulholland Challenge as I had planned. Well, as I had hoped, but did not plan, therefore no ride. I can’t believe it is mid-April already!
I love that ride and the beautiful course. I rode it in 2007 and it remains firmly planted in my memory as the ride that showed me the potential I have on a road bike. In other words, I thought past riding events with only the goal of finishing them. Pushing myself for several hours (7 to be exact) was novel and surprisingly fun. This year I just didn’t have the miles in to make it worthwhile. Same with last year. Then I ran the checkpoint at the top of Decker Canyon where a SAG’ed rider took this sticker, literally.

Instead some friends and I rode the Midnight Express benefit ride for the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition. Meeting at midnight at Union Station, the ride travels along the Arroyo-Seco to the Angeles Crest highway. I love this route and have always wanted to ride it at night (someone even described this ride as ‘pretty much designed for you’, which I do not disagree with…). From Clear Creek we descended Angeles Forest highway for a shortwhile before beginning the climb up to Mill Creek summit (4910ft). This section has two distinct memories for me. One is when Morgan rode back from the Tour of Two Forests double (12 hrs) in Santa Clarita with Megan, Max and I behind as a practice run for the 508. The other is when I rode 60 miles along this route to a 32-mile road race where I then had my ass handed to me.

Sunday morning (~2am) as I descended toward the ‘bridge of awesomeness’ in the dark and cold (~35 degrees) with Michael, I was thinking about how smart Alex was for having tyvex envelopes for us to slip under our jerseys and how I was towing the line, albeit it knowlingly, of comfort and warmth in only a jersey, vest and arm warmers, when I flatted. Ever think, ‘Damn I’m so cold but as long as I keep moving I’ll stay warm?’ or ‘My hands are so cold I can barely shift gears’? So there we were trying to fix my flat with shaking arms and stubby fingers. Miserable? A little. But I’m glad I had the experience so I can draw on it when I am in worse situations. Because really, it wasn’t THAT bad.

A little while later we pedaled over the summit and had one final freezing descent to the Acton train station to wrap up the 50 miles. A few riders who had left early were huddled under some heat lamp-like lights (!?) and we all waited for breakfast. It was worth it. Thanks to the influence of Swarm! volunteers there were vegan pancakes, sausages and cinamon buns. Topped off with hot coffee. Yum. The plan was for the riders to get on the 7am metrolink train to Union Station. But on a beautiful morning, in the mountains, already dressed for cycling, why not ride back?

Michael and I took our time and cruised back up and over the two passes before each heading our respective ways. I got in a quick nap before we had people over at our new place for a chill Sunday potluck. Budge has some photos up here.

LA riding and other readings

Here’s some stuff I’ve been checking out in the internerd.

Gary, who rode Feel My Legs this year, writes about Priuses and psuedo-environmentalism. There’s a cool chart to calculate your MPG’s by bike. Remember, it’s high, but not infinite. And Joe Linton, who I ran into on the LA River trail on my way back from Echo Mountain the other day, recently wrote about the Not A Cornfield park and potential bikeway connections to the Arroyo-Seco. We are so close here in LA to having an awesome bike city. So close. This stuff gets me excited.

I was also doing some research on diet and climate impact and came across this amazing journal article (Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States) where the authors conclude that eating a local omnivorous diet has more impact on the environment than a vegetarian diet regardless of distance the food has traveled. It’s unfortunate that the majority of localvores still insist on eating meat. It’s a lot like driving a prius. Even the United Nations has come around: Livestock a Major Threat to the Environment. The pdf for the report, Livestock’s Long Shadow is here (pdf!).

BSNYC/RTMS sums it up succinctly in this post:

The people “going green” these days are the same people who did graffiti or experimented with homosexuality at their liberal arts college–they enjoy flirting with a lifestyle they don’t understand in an environment where it’s looked upon favorably, but as soon as it becomes difficult, unsafe or embarrassing they conveniently abandon it. Fortunately for them, you don’t have to give up your car to “go green.” Instead, you just need to buy a new one with marginally better gas mileage.

Echo Mountain

Knobbies back on the cross bike. Hit the San Gabriels out of the house
via Eagle Rock and the Rose bowl. Planned on just riding the fireroads
but the single track was calling me. “You’re going to come all the way
out here and not ride anything technical? Who are you? I thought you
were cool.”

Bottom half of Sunset ridge, Malliard canyon and El Prieto. All in
great condition. Photo from Echo mountain and a wall from the old hotel.

Hit Josef’s grand opening for the Flying Pigeon bike shop (next to
the Bike Oven) on the way home. Ate so much food a woman asked me if I
was okay.