Say what you will about ‘fixed gear culture’ and its obsession with filming itself. I agree. I read Bike Snob NYC too! But the kids behind this film are rather earnest and their intentions are good. I’ve seen parts of it and it’s definitely better than similar ones.
My bias may be that I won. I didn’t get most of the prizes (different kids put it on then made the film) because afterward was our annual Thanksgiving vegan potluck, Circle of Dead Pilgrims and I missed the drunken fixed gear freestyle fest where they were given out. Our dinner was Italian-themed, so it was probably worth it. Anyway, check out the screening if this sort of event interests you.
Looking for any excuse to head back to San Francisco after my super awesome October trip, I found the Supermarket Sweep Alleycat race. Basically you start near the Embarcadero, head to the first, predetermined grocery store and then to four others in any order you choose to pick up the required food on the manifest. It all ends at the SF Food Bank. Since riding a bike around a city and food shopping makes up the majority of my existence, I thought it ‘d be a great race to do.
My good friend Trystan, who built my track bike, now works for Chrome Bags, my Friday afternoon post-flight destination.
Over 200 people raced! First hill was brutal. I should have known, right? Since my SF geographical knowledge is pretty basic so I utilized a few skills to get around: asking people in line if they knew which store on the manifest was closest and how to get there, pulling up a map on my phone, and making friends with a local and jumping on. The last of these was the most effective. Till we bombed some seriously steep hills and I’m the only one on a brakeless track bike. Definitely slightly more danger than I’m usually into to, but hey, that’s part of the experience.
We ended up covering over twenty miles! And people say Los Angeles is spread out…I rode with a number of friendly (and fast!) folks. Ended up 11th or something in the fixed category. Ex-Angeleno Swarm! rider Paul Barclay got 5th in the geared division and current Angeleno (and sxe BMXer) Hern got 4th in fixed. The organizers were unbelievable and hooked up dozens of sponsors and a banging after-party. Thanks!
That night Trystan and his bike racing housemates decided that I was going to do the Cyclocross race the next day in Coyote Point on Dan’s ‘spare’ cross bike that is nicer than any bike I’ve ever owned.
The course had some sweet technical sections, long straights and tight turns on pavement. Seemed my road skills came in most handy as I railed them as fast as I could. Think I ended top third in a field of 60.
Also ate a ton of food, dranks lots of coffee and was often cold; the usual SF happenings. And hung out with this amazing guy:
Bikeswarm.org is down (as is the Bikerowave site) because the server was hacked, but I didn’t want to wait to get these dates out. I’ll have more specifics for each event up soon. Photos and details of previous years via links.
Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer hill race (5th year anniversary!) Sunday March 28th, 8am
Meet at Silver Lake Farmers Market at Sunset Blvd / Griffith Park Ave
Background (from 2009)
Previous year write-ups:
Crucial Vegan Friendship Picnic 2, Sunday March 28th, 1pm
Elysian Park. Exact location tbd.
Info from 2009
Anarchism is a very loaded word that conjures specific images in peoples’ minds. It’s difficult to overcome these stereotypes and honestly I don’t discuss it often. We can’t even get Universal Healthcare in this country, how can we expect communalism, mutual aid and consensus-based decision making? I’m a poor anarchist in that I’m not very active politically. I try to live and act in manners that reduce oppression and hierarchy as this is what anarchism means to me and, like veganism, I try to live my life as an example (easier said than done!). This past weekend was the Second Annual Anarchist Bookfair and it was one of the best events like this I’ve been to in a long time. The location could not of been better: Barnsdall Art Park. It’s near bus and train lines and easily accessible from Hollywood or downtown. Most importantly it’s freakin beautiful. Trees and open space on the top of a hill with beautiful views in every direction.
I gave a workshop on veganism that addressed concerns about veganism/animal rights being an issue for only white affluent folks and otherwise unattainable. My argument is simple: You have to separate the issue from who does it. Animals are caged and killed for human use and this is an issue of oppression. I care about living beings and want to reduce suffering therefore I don’t eat or wear animal products. Do you have to eat at Whole Foods to be vegan? No. In my household rice and beans (dry beans!) is a common meal, as is stir-fry with whatever veggies are in-season and low-cost at the farmers market or local grocer. There are barriers to veganism, but they are overcome with a few resources. This is the focus of my presentation. It was well-received and some good discussions developed.
I spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with friends and activists. Hung out with the people at Earth First! and Little Black Cart. Hundreds of people attended and the vibe was great. I credit the hard work of the organizers in reaching a diverse set of folks and not having any punk bands play. The space we occupy and communicate in influences how that communication happens and this space only improved it. Bike parking would have been nice, but you know, we can’t have everything.
The next event is the Anarchist Cafe on Sunday February 28th at 1pm in DTLA. I’m hosting a workshop specifically on vegan nutrition in the early afternoon. See you there.
Even though I live in Los Angeles and ‘cold’ days are only in the 40’s or 50’s, I still have the hibernation genes embedded in my east coast body, i.e., I spend the winter eating, riding less and putting on weight. Often I’m 20 pounds heavier, Jan Ulrich style. But has been important to take a mental break from always being on the go, traveling and being busy with projects. Sleeping more often really helps my mental and physical health!
This winter has been different. I’ve only put on five pounds. After my positive experience at the 508 I was MORE stoked on riding. I took a healthy break, but have gotten in a few long rides already, including a Christmas day century around the Rose Bowl. 25 laps plus to/from = 100 miles of holiday spirit. I hate riding in circles, but ridiculousness = more fun.
Century around the Rose Bowl. Photo from this dude.
Still I wasn’t so sure about racing the 12 hours of Temecula in January. Twelve hours of base miles? I haven’t been on my mountain bike much partly because of the damage from the fires in the San Gabriels and partly because I’ve been riding road so often. And since I broke a cleat I’ve been riding on old BMX platform pedals, which is awesome, but not the best ‘training’.
Jack, Jeff and I headed out together to Temecula the day-of, which means an absurd 430am alarm. Moi met us there and we set up our ‘pit’ which consisted of four piles of stuff, no tent, no chairs and no crew. Jack quickly made some friends with the folks next to us, a dude crewing and his 2009 solo champion wife. They were pro, but still impressed with our style of self-support. This guy Dean, who raced Feel My Legs in 2009, showed up in time for the parade lap, went out for five hard laps and then left, so I never saw him again. Jeff did 11 laps, which put him in the top five in the Expert class (the results page hasn’t been updated). Tinker won the Pro category easily with 12 laps in under 10 hours and stopped there!
Each lap was 9.3 miles and it only took a few before my whole body was sore! Just wasn’t feeling it, which happens. I did a lap with Jack, which was rad, until he crashed hard on the last downhill into the start/finish (he’s okay). Then Moi rolled up and we chilled. I txt messaged a bunch. Jeff rolled up, stared at the three of us not on our bikes, and then pedaled off in full race mode (starting his 8th lap and therefore lapping me). Moi and I went out for a lap together mostly spent playing around, bunny hopping obstacles and finding sections to jump. Then I felt tons better.
Checked the standings, saw I was only a lap behind the Single-Speed leaders and still in the top half, so I put on my lights and warm clothing and went out for a night lap. The conditions were faster and I felt the best I had. Came through the pit, grabbed food and went straight out again. My tactic was to do a fast second-to-last lap and start the last lap before 9pm and take my time. As I finished lap 9, my borrowed Nightrider handlebar light was dead and Jack informed me I had to finish my last lap by 9pm or it didn’t count. It was 750pm and my ‘fast’ night lap was sixty minutes. Shit. I headed to the Nightrider van and the dude gave me a light to borrow. Battery doesn’t work. Switched the battery and that one doesn’t work. Finally we switch the whole system and I’m rolling away at a few minutes before 8pm. The course is empty. I’m three miles in before I see another rider. I run the sections I can’t ride. I have no clock and no idea of my time. It’s so damn tricky to ride fast at night while fatigued and still be careful enough to not flat or crash! I pass a dude and encourage him. I go past the neutral support and they’re packed up and gone. I ride a section I had to walk on my previous laps and keep pushing.
I roll into the start/finish unceremoniously at 854pm. Lap ten and one of my fastest of the day. I don’t know how the hell I’ve ever done a 24hr race solo. I changed, ate some Moroccan carrot-raisin salad (I’ll post the recipe) and checked in with the others. Stoked. Moi top half in Sport, Jeff top five in Expert with 11 laps and Jack, well, stoked he wasn’t too hurt. I think I ended up 5th or 6th out of 15 in Single Speed. I would have won Sport! Haha.
So here’s to the start of 2010, the year I take myself seriously as an athlete?
1st race of the year!
Three Swarm! riders and a few friends, all solo. The entry fee cost
25% of my complete bike, but I'm trying not to complain about money as
much this year.
Follow us at www.twitter.com/bikeswarm
Our friend Chris from AdventureCORPS, besides putting on the Badwater Ultramarathon and the Furnace Creek 508 (which I’ve written about so often I made a 508 tab), puts on more accessible, less well-known events like the Death Valley CORPScamp and Hell’s Gate 100.
A new ride for 2010 is the Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic (100 miles and 10,000ft elevation gain) in East San Diego County and back in November he invited a few of us out to pre-ride the course. There are meticulous details on the route, elevation and area on the site. My concern was that I was going to feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere by riding up to the same ridge three times. But I had never been to this part of California and was amazed and stoked on how beautiful and varying the terrain is and never felt that way.
‘Not like a real road, more like a fire road that has been paved.’
but on two of three climbs it looks like this.
Can you see Jack waving?
Chris’ photos from the day cover a much wider range of the area. Jack, Brian and I were trying to think of accurate descriptors for the area. Alpine desert? When you finally get to the ridge, the far side is open and vast and slightly desert-y, but you are in pine trees. California never quits. The descent was super fast and smooth. Riding with those two guys the descents are always a race of who can go fastest and use their brakes the least..
The ride had roving support by Adobo Velo, a Filipino cycling club. They had been teasing us all day about not eating meat, then surprised us with some vegan adobo. I don’t think vegan balut exists yet, but maybe it won’t be too long since vegan veal is already a product. They were super fun. I want to try and jump on one of their club rides these days.
Some friends from the San Diego chapter of Organic Athlete were having a vegan potluck in Ocean Beach, so we made the drive over from Pine Valley (sort of) on our way back to Los Angeles. First we hit the co-op so as to not show up empty handed, then made our way to a vegan bakery for some sweet cinnamon rolls.
How fortunate are we to have been able to ride this and hang out with such great people? So fortunate that I’ve almost forgot about the 32 degree weather at the start and the flat I got in the first three miles. April will be warm and it’ll be great to push a little with 300 other riders out there.
Wanted to let everyone know that bikeswarm.org is being updated regularly by a handful of authors. Can’t wait for the photos from tandem cyclocross!
My friend Enci just wrote mini-dissertation called The Case Against Bike Paths. Wow. I use them regularly, but only when riding ‘road’ when I’m heading to the coast. For commuter purposes they are not very useful, at least here in Los Angeles. Incidentally I came across this post while on the Twitter page for the first time. I said I drew the line just before Twitter, but a more tech savy Swarm! member set up the Swarm! Twitter account. Follow us?
Next up the ubiquitous Stephen Box lays out what exactly a good bike plan should be: LA’s ‘Best’ Bike Plan Bringing Home the Bacon. Thank you both for making the city a better place for us all.