Twenty years ago, someone started “Walk to School Day.” Not to get all grandpa here, but when I was a young’un, every day was walk to school day. These kids today with their fancy minivans and whatnot don’t know what it was like!
Then someone realized that there are other ways to self-propel yourself to school, and the name changed to “Walk/Bike to School Day.” I think using the word “and” would be clearer than using the slash, which makes reading it out loud sound like you want people to walk their bikes to school.
But today was the official day, so I rode with a few students and adults to school. It was about a half mile from the meeting place to the school; I actually rode about five times as far to get to the meeting spot. I decided to be Mister Safety, so I wore my nighttime reflective jacket. It’s like wearing a plastic bag. I transformed into Mister Sweaty.
But it felt good to ride, and the kids who went with us seemed to enjoy it. I’ll do it again next year. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even ride my bike to work sometimes when it’s just a regular day! Crazy!
Original plan for today: Ride up to Griffith Park Observatory. I always fight with hills, but I was pretty confident I could get up the hill. After all, that’s why bikes have granny gears.
Then I woke up this morning. I don’t know if it was a lack of sleep, or spending yesterday in the sun taking pictures, but I was TIRED. Not sleepy-tired; exhausted tired. I decided to try anyway. Google maps picked a funky route. I think it was trying to keep me off scary roads and level my ride out, but it was still reasonable.
I knew my success wasn’t likely from the first mile. Even the flats were a struggle. When I started up the actual hill, my legs said “You MIGHT be able to do this, but you won’t enjoy it.” I know: that’s what muscles always say to get out of work. But this time I knew they were right. I skipped the Observatory and instead went to the Hollywood Farmer’s market- just in time to watch it close. I thought “Well, at least I’ll get in the hill back to the San Fernando Valley, but my legs laughed and told me to take the subway.
The moral of the story: Always bring your TAP card when you ride.
Most of the time when I ride, I do some sort of a loop. I get my distance in, and I get new scenery for the whole ride (though, as Katherine’s mother once said when she was a kid, “When you’ve seen one scenery, you’ve seen ’em all”).
Sometimes I ride to a destination. The my ride is just a line; I go somewhere, then I go back. Not as interesting to ride, but it gets me where I’m going.
…and very rarely, my ride looks like this:
This happens when my goal is to just keep moving. The light is red? Time to turn! Left turns are more challenging, as you can tell by the way most of the lefts on this route are three rights. I just keep moving, trying to get as far away from my starting point in roughly half the time I want to be riding. Plus, I get to try and figure out what shape I’ve “drawn.” This one looks a bit like a snooty mouse.
I have learned that starting a blog about something you want to do is an excellent jinx against it. Every day brings a new unwelcome excuse to skip riding. Meetings, appointments, classes, whatever. I managed to squeak in a short ride two days ago, and now I won’t have time again until Saturday. I need a time turner.
On the plus side: today’s road block (ha! I am clever) was sticking around after school to see my students applying the skills they’re learning in my class to their other schoolwork. It’s like they’re learning something, or something.
A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that somewhere during my travels I hit the front fork of my bike against something hard enough to knock off a big chunk of paint. I knew I wouldn’t get a chance to fix it properly right away, so I did a quick temporary patch. Today, I redid it (mostly) right. Check out old & busted vs. new hotness:
I rode my river loop again. The Riverside/134 end of the path is under construction, and it’s been sort-of blocked off for a while. It used to be blocked with a six foot high plastic fence, which meant you had to lift your bike over the side rail and walk on the slanted cement sides of the river. That was torn down – by cyclists, I’m sure- pretty quickly. THey replaced it with this more durable concrete street barricade:
I like it. It’s a lot easier to lift my bike over.
When I got to the other end of the path, I chatted with a guy who told me the other side of the river was also open and you could ride all the way down the river. I said “Is it paved?” He said it was.
It was not.
But there is a pretty nice view of the river on that side.
I had just gone over the Baum Bicycle Bridge when I saw two bike cops going the other way. That’s not terribly common, but not particularly weird… until I realized that they were just the advance guard for two people slowly pedaling by on recumbent bikes, who were then followed by another FIVE bike cops.
That’s a total of seven cops protecting two people I did not recognize. That’s about five more cops than I’ve seen in three years of riding the river bike path. Probably not the most effective distribution of bike police, especially considering that a couple of people got shot on the bike path in Frogtown a few days ago.
You might think that people getting shot on the path would make me a little leery of using it, but it still feel safer than riding down most major streets.
This is Mister Bike. I got him in April. Mister Bike is a Fuji Touring Bike, and we went a lot of places for a few months, culminating with a 100 mile ride to Santa Barbara on my 50th birthday in June.
Then I sort of neglected him. First it was “I’m going to take a break for a few days.” Then it was “Man, it got hot.” Then “I’m sick.” Then hot again, and then laziness and inertia took over. And that’s sad, because I love Mister Bike. So it’s time to get re-acquainted.
Tonight I did my favorite local ride. It’s a roughly 25 mile loop that takes me past Warner Brothers and down the L.A. River bike path to Frogtown. Yeah, I know it’s officially “Elysian Valley,” but wouldn’t you rather live in Frogtown?
Plus, the end of the ride has a mural with frog people!