Walking in LA

I’ve been following this series at Good magazine, Walking in LA, by Ryan Bradley. It’s terrific. From there Sasha found a link to a story about our friend Dan Koeppel’s The Big Parade called Walking for Walking in Los Angeles. On the top photo our Swarm! socks make a center stage appearance. Anyway, in the most recent post he discusses parking and how it affects the ‘feel’ and layout of downtown:

If you took all of the parking spaces in Los Angeles’s central business district and spread them horizontally in a surface lot, they would cover 81 percent of downtown. I know this because of a paper called “People, Parking, and Cities” by Michael Manville and Donald Shoup at UCLA’s Department of Urban Planning [pdf here]. This “parking coverage rate,” they write, is “higher in downtown L.A. than in any other downtown on earth. In San Francisco, for instance, the coverage rate is 31 percent, and in New York it is only 18 percent.” Their paper goes on to show how this glut of parking keeps downtown from having a vibrant city center, because downtowns in general “thrive on high density … the prime advantage they offer over other parts of a metropolitan area is proximity—the immediate availability of a wide variety of activities…. So long as its zoning assumes that almost every new person will also bring a car—and requires parking for that car,” they conclude “[downtown Los Angeles] will never develop the sort of vital core we associate with older urban centers.”

I read it this like this: You can’t have both. Either give up your car and work toward compacting DTLA or keep your car and your parking and don’t complain! But it’s never quite that simple. As I say over and over, most people cannot or will not believe that their individual actions matter and can change the environment and culture we live in. Oh, but they do!

Avoiding Overexposure

Today was overcast and unseasonably not warm; a great day for a 2.5
hour run in Griffith Park. It's no secret that I live in LA primarily
for the sun, but I miss weather changes. Too much sun is monotonous!
I'm sure those of you in less awesome climates (anywhere not here I
imagine) have no pity for 'too much sun'. It's like photography,
everything gets washed out.
Anyway, this is a sketchy ladder that leads to a technical scrammble
on one of my favorite routes in the park. This still counts as
running, right?

Night Riding in the Verdugos

The Verdugo Mountains are so close to urban LA, I cannot believe how infrequently I’ve been. They are a decent sized range that sits just 10 miles from East Hollywood, behind Griffith Park. From a distance they look to be part of the San Gabriels, but they are a distinct range and a valley exists between the two, home to Tujunga and Sunland. I was up here a few months ago on my cross bike and wrote a short post about it. Here is a more detailed description of the area, with photos: www.mtbguru.com.

The other night four of us headed out, hitting the trailhead about 9pm. It’s good practice as we’ve been racing at night, but not really riding at night. Which is sort of the Swarm! way. Also true of my swimming…
Halfway through the single-track back down to La Tuna Canyon is a sketchy, hip-high seesaw with missing boards. I love to play on stuff when riding, so really there was no question about trying it. Can I point out that we live in the future? The lights on our bikes are bright enough for Max to film with his phone! Then uploaded to the internet…

Weekend nights in Los Angeles are so exciting!

Scott Jurek

In case you have not seen it, ‘the Times’ has an article up about vegan ultra-runner Scott Jurek called, Diet and Exercise to the Extremes.

I met Scott Jurek in 2006 when I was helping at the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon, which he won. A super nice guy, I chatted with him and his crew about his vegan diet and his training. I wanted to get an interview, but it just didn’t work out.

The article mentions the 24 hour championships in France and I’ve found the live feed showing results. Looks to finish up at 1am, California time. Running in circles sounds absolutely miserable to me, but I imagine it is meditative in its repetitiveness. And it’s not like he only does these races; quite the opposite. The Western States 100 and other 100 milers are trail runs, getting out in nature way more than most runners ever do.

In this terrific ESPN article he says, in regards to coming across a bear during a race,

“That was scary, but it’s also part of why I prefer trail running…nature reminds us that there’s a greater force out there, and you have to respect that. It makes you feel pretty small.”

Awesome. I agree.

there’s nothing like bike commuting

The other day I had to make a long commute to the South Bay and I didn’t have time to take the more pleasant coastal route, but I did take the road bike. From East Hollywood to the South Bay is through the urban sprawlish LA that I can avoid on 90% of my commutes. I took my road bike cause I can easily hold 20 MPH, take the lane and not worry too much about busy roads.

On the way back I was on a wide, fast road and had to make a turn that is always tough for cyclists: when the left lane (of four) splits off. I took the lane and made the light, but sure enough someone is on their horn behind me. Keep in mind I’m hauling ass. They drive by and yell indiscernible obscenities and I respond with some. As is often the case, I catch them at the next light. I calm down (a little) and roll up to the drivers side window and before I could say anything she says, ‘This isn’t a bike lane, get out of my way!!’ I tell her I know there’s no bike lane, maybe there should be and I had no where else to go. And I add, ‘but see, I didn’t even slow you down. We are at the light at the same time.’ We have the slightly heated exchange any urban cyclist is familiar with. I don’t need to give the back and forth. The passenger even jumps in.

Then she says, ‘Are you married?’ I answer no and keep ranting to her about cycling, safety, etc, not quite processing the question. Then I look at her and she smiles and winks. What? The passenger laughs and say, ‘No you just didn’t!’ The light changes and as they roll away the driver says, ‘See you around.’

WTF. It’s not often I get totally thrown off by someone! It made me smile that the interaction completely changed. Maybe she’ll be nicer to cyclists in the future?

Then back in my neighborhood a woman in a car throws a half-full plastic fast-food soda container out of her window. I catch her at the next stop sign (of course) and tell her not to litter in my neighborhood.
-Mind your own business!
-It is my business, don’t throw your trash in my neighborhood.
-Fuck you, honky!

You can’t win them all.