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Why Crashing Tomorrow’s Marathon On Your Bike Could Be The Least Awesome Thing You’ve Ever Done

March 8, 2014 in Biking in LA, Events, Law, Law Enforcement, News, Rants, Social issues, Sports

UPDATED (3/8 @ 12:16PM): Well would ya lookee here, this latest statement from Don Ward on the Wolfpack Hustle Facebook page indicates that while the race is off it looks like a scrambled-together permitted fun ride with the assistance of LAPD and the mayor’s office may be a go. I’m going to refrain from offering a wholesale “nevermind!” to my post below  and instead suggest “approach with caution” as the situation may still be in flux.

There is much anger over the cancellation by civic officials of tomorrow’s Marathon Crash Race bike ride. The event, which was hatched by my friend and tireless bike advocate Don “Roadblock” Ward the year after freshly minted L.A. Marathon owner Frank McCourt (‘memba him?) decided in his infinite dimwittedness in 2009 to kill the companion landmark bike event to the annual footrace held every year since 1995 apparently because he didn’t need the cash-cow like money generated by the entry fees paid by some 10,000 cyclists to freewheel at their leisure and pleasure along the race course at dawn each year.

I did it every year from its inception to its end. Here’s my timelapse of the final LA Bike Tour:

In its first couple/three years the Marathon Crash Race was a guerilla-style ride, steadily building its participation through word of mouth in the greater Southern California bike community and beyond. But its popularity fully kablammo’d! last year. Depending upon which story you read about it there was anywhere between 2,000 to 4,000 participants. Kray. Zay.

So for this year with the race threatening to be even bigger Don went to some pretty great pains to take the informal cooperation provided previously by LAPD, city and marathon officials, and make it formal. This past week, those officials collectively said “Oh HAIL nah!” leaving Ward dejected and many of those who planned to ride threatening to crash the the marathon and ride the route regardless.

If you’re one of those protesting threateners, here’s the thing to consider: The very public slaying of the Marathon Crash Race by the bureaucrats has been coupled to subsequent very real threats of prosecutorial action to be taken against any and all riders who take to the course in the aftermath of the cancellation. In addition those two elements are linked inseparably to the heightened security concerns brought to the fore by the Boston Marathon bombing last year.

Bottom line to any one in the wake of those facts who is still deciding so unwisely to ride the closed course, you should damn well budget and prepare for and accept the VERY REAL possibility of being stopped most impolitely WELL short of the finish line potentially to stand facing officers barking orders from behind guns/batons/tasers/pepper spray canisters prior to being separated roughly from your bikes and subsequently handcuffed and arrested, with pronation and dogpiling being part of the process. And quadruple the woe and injury that could befall those who ride wearing a damn backpack of any size. For that level of dumbo idiocy I am NOT even in the slightest kidding: it could be your funeral.

I am sad to have to posit such horrible possibilities and scenarios. In a way it means the terrorists have won. But heartbreak aside, from where I’ll be safely sitting, the time and energies that would be expended getting processed into jail, bailing oneself out, dealing with any injuries incurred and a lawyer and eventually facing a court proceeding and penalty would be better spent tapping those cancel-happy bureaucrats — and extraspecially Frank McCourt — on their collective noggins repeatedly until they either bruise or finally come up with the idea that resurrecting the LA Bike Tour might be a pretty decent compromise.

But maybe that’s just me.

A Far-From-Trivial Tale Of Two Bike Commute Fragments

January 4, 2014 in Biking in LA

This may seem meaningless to most of you who travel in fossil-fueled and four-wheeled conveyances, but for those of you who bike this city with any kind of regularity, I trust you can recognize how awesome it is when you discover a better route of travel no matter how long or how short it is — especially if it’s been there practically under your tires all along. The only thing better than discovering such trajectories is sharing them with the one or two cyclists out there, who, like me, didn’t already know the new route already. So here it is:

For years and years and years, to pedal the relative shorthop from Beverly Boulevard to Hoover Street I’ve traversed the route shown on the right (click it for the bigger picture) that mainly utilizes Commonwealth Avenue. It is problematic for four reasons:

1) The ridiculously deteriorated asphalt on the Bureau of Street Services-forsaken stretch of 2nd Street between Hoover and Commonwealth, which probably rivals the infamous rugged terrain that can be found on the famed Paris-Roubaix race.
2) That’s then matched by the crappy roadway extending from 6th Street to Wilshire.
3) Between 6th and Wilshire in the morning you also have to deal with an epidemic of craptastic double parking as people load and unload passengers, most of whom are bound for the nearby court building.
4) The reeeeeeaaaally long wait on Commonwealth at Wilshire for a green light.

So yesterday, now that I’m back in the fully employed saddle again, and getting off the a good start towards keeping my New Year’s resolution to bike more miles than I drive, I was riding south on Vendome approaching Beverly, but instead of going straight across as I’ve done for so long, I decided to go left and see what it would be like getting to Hoover from there via an alternate route.

As shown in the second image at left, I turned right from Beverly onto LaFayette Park Place and not only does it get me to where I want to be with less turns and twists, but it’s also less congested, wider, and the pavement is billiard-slate smooth. And while the green light to cross Wilshire is probably as long as the one mentioned in No. 4 above at Commonwealth, I can at least turn my less-stressed head to my right and say good morning to the statue of the Marquis de LaFayette standing in the corner of the park that’s named after the hero of the American Revolution.

Once across Wilshire, it’s a left turn onto Hoover and I’m on my way, left only to wonder how and why it took me so long to figure out this better way to go.

 

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by frazgo

Sharrow. APD gets it, LA Sheriff Doesn’t

July 24, 2013 in Biking in LA, Law, Transportation

Sharrow. Its turning up on streets where there isn’t enough room for a dedicated bike lane.  Its turning up all over L.A County.  Its something I need to know now that I’m back on a bike again.

Arcadia PD gets it and even shared on its blog post what a “sharrow” is all about.  Read their explanation of a Sharrow Here.

Gimme A Sign: “Every Lane Is A Bike Lane”

March 22, 2013 in Biking in LA, News, Transportation

Every time I see the lovely new “Every Lane Is A Bike Lane” signage from Metro, be it up on a billboard (such as the one atop Silver Lake Lounge seen between my handlebars across the street during a bike ride yesterday) or on the back of a bus, I appreciate it as a DIRECT SLAP IN THE FACE of every single sorry-ass entitled excuse for a motorist over the years who dared think they could bully me off the road with either:

A) Feckless words or reckless deeds

or

B) The lack of an IQ enough to know I have every right to be there.

Touché douchés.

Take A Hike To An Unsung POV

December 26, 2012 in Biking in LA, Sports, The Valley

I’m one of 17 hiking and mountainbiking members of the newly formed Trail Safety Patrol volunteer program implemented by Glendale whose mission beginning early next year is to serve as ambassadors for the city’s Community Services & Parks Department and work in conjunction with Glendale police and fire in providing for and promoting an enjoyable experience for all visitors to its open spaces.

Though I’ve been riding in the Verdugos for all 22-years of the mountaingbiking portion of my life, there are trails in the adjacent San Rafael Hills we’ve been tasked to patrol I’ve never put tire tread to and I’m familiarizing myself with them in advance of our start date. Two weekends ago I rolled the Ridge Motorway, and last Sunday found me on the Valle Vista Motorway located on the ridge between the 134 Freeway an Glenoaks Canyon. I want to highly recommend both if they were as previously unknown to you as they were to me. But of the two, the latter offers the most awesome visual award.

Here’s the flat version of a 360-degree panorama I took of the scenery and of my fellow mountainbiking patrolers from the trail’s western overlook above the 2/134 interchange (biggification enabled when clicked).

A rotating, interactive version of the pano image is viewable here.

The trail (route mapped here) is accessible from the upper end of Sleepy Hollow Drive off of Glenoaks Boulevard. At less than one-mile in length, the payoff found at the end far exceeds the output required to get to it, although there are some steeply graded sections of the fire road to scale as it rolls along.

 

Another CicLAvia, Another HandlebarCam Timelapse

October 7, 2012 in Biking in LA, Downtown, East Side, Events, South Side, Transportation

Not to take away from the awesomeness of today’s CicLAvia, but there will never be one as supremely magical as the first one, two years ago. Even if it can never be topped, I still get out with my trusty GoPro cam mounted to my handlebar and participate whenever the next edition rolls around, and today’s was no exception.

So without further adieu, here’s the timelapse vid of me riding in from Silver Lake and then casually roll every inch of the 9.5 mile route from MacArthur Park to Exposition Park, back to downtown, then to Boyle Heights, back downtown, then up  into Chinatown and through downtown and to MacArthur Park (about 21 miles total over three hours):

Urban Exploration: Inside The 7th Street Bridge

August 16, 2012 in Biking in LA, History, LA

One of the oldest spans across the Los Angeles River, the 7th Street Bridge dates back to 1910 when the at-grade version included two-sets of trolley tracks. It quickly became one of the most congested ways across the river and by the late 1920s it was decided that rather than demolish the entire structure, a second level would be built on top giving it a double-decker appearance and allowing traffic to move freely without being impeded by any freight trains traveling  through.

Ever since I first noticed that open but inaccessible lower level of the 7th Street Bridge about eight years ago, I’ve wondered what it’s like inside, and my curiosity only increased a couple years ago when LA River advocate Joe Linton found a way in and wrote about it on his blog LA Creek Freak. It again was piqued a few months ago when the news hit that there are plans in the very early stages to convert the space to an open-air market.

During a visit paid to the bridge last summer while on one of my riverbed rides, I couldn’t figure out how Linton got up there, and I had pretty much reconciled that the space was to remain off limits to me — until a couple weeks ago, when an acquaintance of Linton’s contacted me out of the blue and said she knew how he got in and would I be game to try. Of course I would, I said.

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LACBC’s “Beverly Thrills” Sunday Funday Ride Is July 1

June 26, 2012 in Biking in LA, Events, West Side

When Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Boardmember Ted Rogers (who operates the indispensable BikinginLA blog) asked me in May if I’d lead the next LACBC Sunday Funday ride scheduled for July 1, I said I’d love to. And since it was to take place so close to July 4th, I got busy with an Independence Day-theme for the event. But around that same time when the illustrious City of Beverly Hills had to go and veritably gut the number of proposed pilot program routes in its bike plan it was soon after decided that we chuck any patriotic pedaling, and instead load up our bikes and move to Beverly. Thus the Beverly Thrills ride idea was born.

Well, I’ve finally got the route mapped and now it’s just about hammering out the various stops (landmarks, celebs’ homes, etc) we’ll be making. All told the ride will be about 13 miles’ worth of rolling around the island of Beverly Hills — from the “slums” to the stars — with me offering probably WAY to much of my own personal perspective as a survivor of two separate youth incarcerations within its borders. So if you’re not doing anything that morning and wanna come explore/discover the hills and billies of Beverly, y’all come out now, y’hear?

WHAT: LACBC’s Beverly Thrills Sunday Funday Ride
WHEN: July 1; gather at 9 a.m., departs at 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Ride starts and ends in front of the John Wayne statue at 8484 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 90211
COST: Free
ROUTE: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5528056 (there will be some variations/deviations as stops get added in)
APPROXIMATE TIME: 3 Hours
MORE INFO: LACBC

My Memorial Day Ritual

May 24, 2012 in Biking in LA, Events

In response to KPCC soliciting input from its listeners as to what or who they will be thinking about this Memorial Day, I submitted an audio response via SoundCloud that pretty much sums up what’ll be going through my patriotic head (it’s here if you want to listen to me explain why I’ll be doing again whatever the heck I’m doing in the picture at right, taken at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood last year; click to enlarge).

The reason that I’m mentioning it here is that it’s become a tradition of me biking to the LA National Cemetery every Memorial Day in large part because it’s a pretty sweet crosstown bike ride. So, on the chance you might be staying  in town and interested in visiting the landmark hallowed ground via two wheeledness, I wanted to extend an invitation to join me… although in the interest of full fashion disclosure I just might be wearing my American flag bike jersey. It’s not a for-sure thing yet, just sayin': you’ve been warned.

Regardless of what I’ll have on, I’ll be leaving from Silver Lake this Monday morning at 9 a.m.  It’s about 13 miles from there to the cemetery (route), which means we should get to the gate in plenty of time for the ceremony, scheduled to start at 10:30. So if you want to come along, meet me beneath the Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign at the corner or Sunset Boulevard and Benton Way (pinpoint).

How Fast Did The Amgen Tour Of California Cyclists Come Blasting Through Silver Lake Yesterday?

May 21, 2012 in Biking in LA, LA, News, Sports

This fast and this close:

It Caught My Eye: Staff Of Life & Graff Of Life

April 25, 2012 in Art, Biking in LA, Food & Drink, ICME

I’m not always successful, but whenever I’m biking around Los Angeles, I try to return a way different from whatever way I came and/or devote a little bit of my rides to exploring someplace new and/or at least revisiting an area I hadn’t been through in a while. Such was the case yesterday coming back to Silver Lake from a trip out to SPCALA headquarters near the Jefferson Park community that I ventured up through the Pico-Union area from Hoover, and made two discoveries.

The first is the hole-in-the-wall bakery pictured at right, seen just as I crossed Washington Boulevard. Looking up I spied that yellow banner hanging outside a Panaderia for the Bicycle Bread Company (BBC). While it’s true I hadn’t been on Union in about six months, unless this place opened during that time than I was guilty of never seeing it before. Because if I had seen it I most certainly would’ve stopped and bought something, given much I like bikes. And bread.

Sure enough: guilty. According the the BBC website it’s been in business since 2009. Also according to the website they’re hours in that space are limited to 5-8pm on Thursdays, but I apparently got both lucky and over-charged in that the place was open and I was able to come away with a one-pound round loaf of BBC’s cinnamon raisin whole grain sold by the panaderia owner for $5 (apparently there’s a hidden 25% commission surcharge above the $4 per-loaf price listed on the BBC website). Thankfully that extra dollar dinged didn’t detract from the absolute homemade milled-on-site scrumptiousness of the bread.

A little bit more about the BBC as well as a great mural found up the street, plus a bonus Victorian that surprised me after the jump.

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Make Way For The Expo Line

March 21, 2012 in Biking in LA, Mass Transit, Transportation

Go ahead, call me a train geek, I won’t deny it. While biking toward downtown along Exposition Boulevard yesterday, I got my camera out just in time to catch a brand spankin’ new Expo Line train on the move eastbound (raced by a hearse of all things). The line is not yet open to the public and there is yet a firm date set as testing of it continues, but this was sure a purty sight to see.

UPDATE (3.23): Streetsblog Los Angeles reports that an April 28 opening date for the Expo Line has been announced!

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by frazgo

ICME: Better than Pee Wee’s bike

March 6, 2012 in Biking in LA, Crafts, ICME

pink fur

I spotted this PINK fur covered bike in Santa Monica yesterday afternoon near the Promenade.  I loved this bike, totally impractical but so expressive.  I stuck around a bit for the owner to find out the why’s and how’s but unfortunately I had to split for a meeting before they showed.

Pretty Terrific stuff there.

Timelapse: Watts Happening Ride

February 20, 2012 in Biking in LA, Crime, History, LA, People, Social issues, South Side, Transportation

The 2012 edition of my Watts Happening Ride took place this past picture-perfect Saturday, and it was my complete pleasure to share the following landmark people, places and events I’ve discovered there with the 28 cyclists who joined me:

  1. The last residence of jazz great Jelly Roll Morton
  2. The childhood home of Nobel Prize Winner Ralph Bunche
  3. The location of the 1969 Black Panthers shootout
  4. The Hotel Dunbar, centerpiece of the Historic Central Avenue Jazz Corridor
  5. The location of the 1974 SLA shootout
  6. The actual fictional location of the Sanford and Son Salvage Yard
  7. The Watts Towers of Simon Rodia
  8. The location of the incident setting off the 1965 Watts Riots
  9. The home of Eula Love, killed by police in 1979 as a result of a past-due gas bill dispute
  10. The motel where legendary singer Sam Cooke was killed
  11. The flashpoint of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots
  12. The location of Wrigley Field, demolished in 1966.

Unfortunately, the above annotated timelapse video abruptly ends at the third-to-last location we visited, leaving me to discover that I need to get a bigger memory card if I want to capture the entire 33-mile, six-hour tour on camera the next time — and there will be a next time. I hope you’ll join me.

 

The Watts Happening Ride Is What’s Happening February 18

February 4, 2012 in Biking in LA, Crime, History, LA, Politics, Social issues, South Side, Transportation

The first Watts Happening Ride I organized five years ago was a simple there-and-back to Watts Towers from the Cornfield downtown, spurred on by the lamentable fact that as a native angeleno I had spent my whole life to-date never having been to the true treasure that is the amazing, inspiring and enduring work of Simon Rodia.

In its various editions since (the last one taking place in 2010), the Watts Happening Ride’s destinations have grown well beyond the iconic towers to include a variety of landmarks involving people, places and events in and around South Los Angeles.

The 2012 incarnation of the Watts Happening Ride will be departing from Silver Lake on Saturday, February 18 at 9 a.m., and will include the addition of a couple locations I’ve recently found. So if you’re not heading out of town for the long weekend and have a hankering to get your bike-riding discovery on, I hope you’ll join me.

For the latest info and any updates, the ride’s Facebook page is here.

When: February 18, gathering at 8:30 for a 9 a.m. departure
Start/Finish: Silver Lake’s Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign (northwest corner of Sunset Boulevard & Benton Way)
Distance: 32.95 miles (route map)
Pace: Casual
Terrain: Flat
Weather: In the event of rain that morning, the ride will be canceled and rescheduled to a later date.
Approximate Time: 5-6 hours
Optional Partial Ride: If doing the full route isn’t feasible, consider joining the ride at approximately 9:30 a.m. downtown on Spring Street (anywhere between 2nd & 9th streets) for the roughly 9-mile portion to the Watts Towers. The 103rd Street Blue Line station is near to the towers and can be an alternative to get you back into downtown.
Things You’ll Need (in no particular order): A functioning bicycle; $7 for the half-hour optional tour of Watts Towers; snacks and water for along the way; money for a late lunch at King Taco.