Friday, May 30, 2008

2 Days to AIDS LifeCycle

AIDS LifeCycle, soon to be my most epic journey ever, is now 2 days away. I'm near Berkley staying with family after coming up from L.A. by train. Most of my team is arriving in S.F. by van pool, and tonight we're going to participate in the ride that started a global movement, San Francisco Critical Mass. I'm going to be away from the computer for a while when I hit the road, but I'll have lots of pictures and things to write about when I return.

If you're interested in seeing the ride start in S.F. or our return home in L.A. details for the opening and closing cerimonies are here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

My first time being hit by a car.


(photo by Richard Masoner)

I guess it was inevitable that in all my multiple thousands of miles I've biked in L.A. in the past year, a run in with a car was bound to happen sometime with the way people drive here. Fortunately, in spite of flying over the handle bars at speed, I came out of it with only a sprained left thumb. Typing kind of sucks at the moment.

This was a classic case of the "right hook," one of the most common types of accidents involving a car and a cyclist. This is when a car turns into the path of a cyclist behind them without adequate time to slow, resulting in a forced evasive move by the cyclist.

I was moving at a speed almost as fast the car was traveling in the bike lane beside the car. The car turned it's signal on to make a right turn but only a moment before turning, and with the freak rainfall today, my breaks were not adequate to stop in time. I slammed into their side view mirror and flew off the bike and went into a roll across the ground.

I feel very fortunate it was not anymore serious then it was with only a week left until AIDS LifeCycle, which I've spent the better part of an entire year training for. I don't know what I'd do if I had to miss ALC. Although it's doubtful it will heal completely before the ride, a damaged left thumb is not going to keep me away.

The driver would not admit fault, however upon further research I also learned that besides the brief turn signal (which is hard to prove), the driver violated California Vehicle Code 21717, which specifies that a car is to enter the bike lane before making a turn, acknowledging it as another lane of traffic, rather then cutting across the lane from the left. It's too bad none of these safety concerns are actually in the drivers handbook or on the DMV's written test, but that is a whole other can of worms.

While we are on the topic of riders being hit, I would like to bring attention to my friend and teammate Randy Cruz, who was hit from behind and left bleeding in the street by the motorist recently. A friend was with her and made sure she was taken care of, and she is fine now. A few stitches, but no joints impacted and doctor said she will be good to ride. The driver was found by police hiding in a nearby parking lot. They however did not arrest the asslient for hit and run, which he clearly did according to vehicle code. More can be read in the recent LAist article on the incident, and contact info for officials who can be complained to for the lack of justice are provided in the comments.

Hopefully Randy and I will heal up quick, and I wish safe riding to everyone. Keep your eyes open and your helmet fastened.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Team Midnight Ridazz, The 11th Hour

Group Photo

Some of you who have been reading know I am captain of the team of cyclists from Midnight Ridazz participating in this years AIDS LifeCycle. It's been a long process with months of training for the 545 mile event, and working hard toward our fundraising goals. We are down to two weeks left and thinking of all that we have accomplished so far, it boggles my mind when I stop to think about it. To this date we have collectively biked god only knows how many thousands of miles of road and elevation gain, and we have raised nearly $40,000 in the fight against AIDS. I'm going to say that one more time because it is tripping me out, $40,000.

Although this is all freaking amazing, there is still some cold hard math we have to overcome if everyone on the team is going to ride. Every rider is responsible for raising at least $2,500 in order to participate. We still have some riders who need to make some significant last minute donation dollars with less then two weeks left. So if you would like to support the cause, and our team of riders, check out our ALC team page. The page features photos of our riders still in need and our complete roster of donation pages.

If you would like to read more about the team and our participation in AIDS LifeCycle check out our ibikeu article.

(photos from day on the ride training event)

Lunch BreakThe Last Rest StopOn The Road AgainThe Last Rest StopThe Last Rest StopThe Big HillThe Last Rest Stop

Monday, May 19, 2008

Photographing L.A. Bike Culture: Opening Night

Photographing L.A. Bike Culture

On May 10th was the opening night of the Photographing L.A. Bike Culture show that was hosted by my AIDS LifeCycle team. It featured work by members of the team including a set of my own work. This was my first time being heavily involved with putting on a real gallery show, and I was so happy it was a success.

At the peak the gallery was packed with wall to wall people, happily eating our bake sale treats, discussing the art, and just having a good time socializing. I was incredibly excited to have my own red stickers to mark pieces that sold.

Photographing L.A. Bike Culture

Photographing L.A. Bike Culture

A huge thanks to everyone who came out and made the event a success, to the members of the team who helped put this together, Stevo for helping organize things, and of course our wonderful host the Bike Oven. Additional thanks to Meghan for keeping me sane, Liz for getting those red stickers on such short notice, and Marcus for postponing the Wetside Ride so we could be the main event that Saturday Night.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

C.R.A.N.K. MOB 5.17.08

C.R.A.N.K. MOB

The coming of C.R.A.N.K. MOB is always an exciting time, but I was especially stoked that my birthday weekend coincided with the notorious Westside party ride.

Here are some highlights from the ride, which featured copious amounts of jump rope, beach ball F.U.N., a pick-up truck dance party, a parking garage, crashing a parade of stretch hummers at the Beverly Hills Hilton on prom night, water guns from the Wetside Ride the night before, staged police brutality for AIDS LifeCycle fundraising, an awesome playlist on the bike trailer sound system, party balloons, chalk drawing and bodies covered in chocolate.

Complete Photo Set.

C.R.A.N.K. MOB

C.R.A.N.K. MOB

C.R.A.N.K. MOB

C.R.A.N.K. MOB

C.R.A.N.K. MOB

C.R.A.N.K. MOB

C.R.A.N.K. MOB

C.R.A.N.K. MOB

C.R.A.N.K. MOB

What more could you possibly ask for on a Saturday night?

ibikeu Wiki


In the effort to catalog the massive and changing scope of bicycle culture in a more accessible way, bicycle activist Alex Thompson launched a bike wiki. The wiki, called ibikeu, is still in it's infancy stages, but has been opened to public editing and has been creating significant web traffic. Hot topics such as the freeway ride have been generating thousands of views.

At this time the wiki is heavily influenced by the Westside L.A. bike scene, as the founding editors all hail from the region. It mixes practical information, with the surreal silliness that can permeate in the party atmosphere of the bicycle culture. Editors from other cities are starting to come on board, and it will be interesting to see where this goes in a couple years. Right now some basic things to cycling are missing articles, while the use of the word Woah by cyclists is fairly detailed. In time this will likely balance out as more articles are filled in.

Since many topics of relative obscurity are being cataloged in the wiki at depth, I will likely link to the wiki in future blog posts as a resource for further reading of concepts and events that I reference requiring context. Bike culture has officially gone web 2.0.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bikes & Rollerblades On The Freeway. Faster Then Cars.

Downtown
(Photograph by Alex Thompson)

In the pursuit of bringing up issues of cycling and transit infrastructure in the city of Los Angeles, a group of cyclists from Santa Monica Critical Mass broke off to do separate, more extreme rides, with a more explicit undercurrent of protest. They call them selves Crimanimalz, and their ride the Crimanimal Mass.

They caused quite a stir within the cycling community with their first freeway traffic jam ride. Their mission was to board the congested freeways of the West Side at rush hour, and demonstrate that in those conditions a bike can be significantly faster then cars and without all the burning of fossil fuels.

Not content to let the issue be buried as a fluke occurrence, they gathered a larger group, consisting of nearly 30 cyclists, and 3 inline skaters and took to the freeways again. They entered the 10 freeway at Bundy, taking the on-ramp to the 405 from the 10, and finally exiting at Santa Monica Blvd.

It's contested within the cycling community whether such tactics are ultimately beneficial, however it cannot be denied that the stunt garnered attention. The story has been covered on television by Channel 4 News, on the radio on KFI, and the Wired blog post was featured on the front page of wired.com.

The complete video with footage taken during the ride has been posted to You Tube, where it has received at this time nearly 9,000 views after being posted for less than two days.

Bike to Work Day

epOxyGreen's Eco design Block Party

Don't forget, tomorrow May 15th (also my birthday) is national bike to work day. That one day a year when city officials support cyclists, so that they can go back to ignoring them the other 364 days of the year. Ride metro buses and trains for free with your bike, and get free food, drink, and schwag at pit stops conveniently located probably no where close to you, unless you live somewhere the city considers important.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, check out the metro page for more information and a list of pit stop locations. If you pledge to ride, you can be entered into a contest for "fabulous prizes" (what those are, is hard to discern from the website).

So if you haven't already drunk the bicycle Kool-Aid, try ditching the car for a day and getting to work with out the tank of gasoline.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Ventura to Ojai

On April 26th we loaded up our bikes on to Drew's car and in Danny's truck for
the last epic scale training ride of Team Midnight Ridazz before AIDS LifeCycle. It started in Ventura near sea level, and we made way up to 4000 ft. elevation in the mountains of Ojai. The temperature was grueling, reaching near 100 degrees in the height of the afternoon.

Stop For Supplies

Bike Trail

The landscape out there was a world apart from riding in L.A. and I stopped plenty of times not because I was tired, but to just take in the view of the surroundings.

Looking Back

The climbing seemed to never end, and once we were in the middle of it, we were too far to see the beginning anymore, with no end in sight. The thought of how incredibly awesome the coming downhill would be, kept my spirits up.

3000 FT. And Going
(my girlfriend passing the 3000 ft. marker)

After reaching the top around 4000 ft. up, we went down a side road to a camp site at the base of a hiking trail leading to one of the beautiful waterfalls we had heard so much about.

Hiking Trail

Hiking in cycling shoes was less then ideal, but once we reached the waterfall, basking in it's beauty and oasis of cool moist air, all the pain of the day was worth it. I actually can enjoy the hustle of cutting through car traffic riding in L.A., but there is nothing quite like being humbled by natural surroundings. I can't wait until June when we will get to experience the diversity of landscapes all across California.

Basking in Paradise
(photograph taken of me by Danny Gamboa)

The downhill was on the way back was glorious, flying around curves at 40+ mph for miles and miles. The well deserved reward for our substantial elevation gain that day.

The End

Sometimes at the end of the day you just need to lay down, and any old patch of asphalt will do.

Photo Set (78 Images)