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Tuesday, December 30th
Bikes, Health, and Public Perception
kpbikead (75k image)This ad for Kaiser-Permanente pleased me to no end when i saw it, and not just because I like Kaiser as an organization. (It's a non-profit HMO, owned and operated by its doctors and other staff.) Of course what I saw was bikes, promoted as an emblem of health, and showing not Spandex superheroes but ordinary-looking folks engaged in what appears to be transportational cycling: two with loaded front basket, one towing a clot of balloons, so probably heading to or from a party.

This is what we need: not cycling presented as a playtime-for-daredevils sort of activity, but as a part of daily life. Cyclists who are just folks going somewhere, using workaday bikes on regular roads. Maybe things like this only reflect what is already happening, maybe they encourage it to happen more; I'll take it either way.

More to Kaiser's credit, the ad links not to a come-on for more members, but to a page promoting a variety of healthful activities, including socially-healthy stuff--one link in it is titled "Create Healthy Communities," and includes sublinks to such topics as "Create a Greener World."

Well, since I've made you see the ad, you might as well check out the Kaiser Permanente Thrive site too.

We'll be back on Kaiser in January ourselves, thanks to changes at Gina's workplace, and we're glad. it's about as good as healthcare is allowed to get in the USA.

Off to South Pasadena now--38-mile round-trip, on a glorious warm winter day in Southern California, to have coffee with Velo-Retro's Chuck Schmidt at Buster's by the Gold Line station.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 30 Dec 2008 09:16:42 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, December 25th
Shopping in the Rain on Christmas Morning
 Click on the images to see them larger
At the Supermarket

Fourth Street
We celebrated the Solstice with a quiet dinner last Sunday, just Gina, me, and the kid, and then Gina took off for Portland to visit her brother and his wife, and their new baby. (Yes, they are snowbound, staying as they are in a townhome complex on a hill, a place predicated on automobile access in a town where no one owns tire chains....) This leaves me blissfully unobligated to participate in rote seasonal celebrations, be they religious, godless, or clueless, and attend to the wonder of our soft-warm rain and the subtle, dizzying gyre of the turning year, the leaning of the northern hemisphere back towards the sun, which is what all religions north of the Equator really celebrate at this time of year.

I still had my social duties: although my mother neither knows nor cares what day it is any longer, today was shopping day, when I resupply her larder and distract her from tormenting her caregivers for a little while. (She's nuts, but she's still tough!) And so I put on my rain cape and rode over to the supermarket by her house a few miles away.

It's only the sweet light of the rain that can make a supermarket parking lot look in any way charming, but it does, and so I snapped this picture of my Bottecchia waiting faithfully in the rain for me to come out of the store. Wearing her showercap too!

I delivered the food, including a couple of cakes for Mom and the caregiver, Alejandra, and played the fool a while to amuse the old bird.

When I left, the rain had stopped, though the streets were still wet; with fenders on the bike I could get away with just a wind shell to keep me warm.

I took the second photo since I complain a lot about the blandness of Los Angeles, and it is to show that many parts of town are really quite pretty...this is Fourth Street, on my way home, and a route that may become part of a "bicycle boulevard" soon.

Now I'm home, but I'm wondering...the rain ride was so nice...maybe I can find a pizza joint that's open today, and treat myself to a ride for lunch....

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 25 Dec 2008 11:02:31 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, December 21st
Round the Park
Griffith Park

Griffith Park

Griffith Park

Griffith Park

Near Riverside Drive
I took a little ride around Griffith Park today, and took some pictures while I was at it. (You can click on each image to see a larger version.)

Griffith Park is a great ride that, with my usual route, throws three climbs at me, which I call the Three Bears: the first--Cahuenga Pass--is Papa Bear, a longish and moderately steep climb that unfortunately parallels the Hollywood Freeway, but that fortunately offsets that by often presenting the rider with wild mustard, purple sage, lavender, and other desert plants. Just past the turnoff to Mulholland Drive, the road drops down quickly to Barham Boulevard, where you turn right for a short climb I call Baby Bear. From the top of Baby Bear you drop steeply down (and dizzylingly fast, if you're on a coasting bike, which I was not) to Forest Lawn Drive, which runs between the LA River (hemmed in by various studios at this point) and the famous cemetery, which gives way eventually to the chaparral hills of the park itself.

A right turn brings you to Travel Town, the steam engine museum where I spent many happy hours as a child. Another right turn brings you face to face with Mama Bear, a two-lane road winding among oaks and sycamores. It is deceptively steep, actually the hardest workout of the ride. At the top of this climb you pass by the road that goes over the park back to Hollywood (now open only to bikes!). I wasn't that ambitious today, and dropped into the little valley behind the zoo, where I took the first two pictures. (And yes, I've seen plenty of rattlers in Griffith Park, and signs of the big cats too. Even though the park is nearly smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles's 15 million or so denizens.)

More oaks, interspersed with picnic lawns, golf course, and side roads leading to camps and more golf courses. (There are fire roads too, but riding on them gets you a ticket.)

A mile or so farther on is the merry-go-round and a huge picnic area, where I photographed the old oak tree and Crystal Springs Drive. A couple more miles of rollers and I was back in heavy traffic at the intersection of Riverside and Los Feliz, where I resisted taking the ten millionth photo of the Mulholland Fountain. Instead, I went on to a stairway that I use as a shortcut to Glendale Boulevard, which would bring me back to Silverlake, then Hollywood, then home.

To make it a utility ride, I stopped at one of my local resellers and gave them a sales pitch.

But the real utility was the pleasure of the day, the park, and the hills.

A couple of hours, twenty-five or thirty miles, and a Sunday morning well-spent on the bike.

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 21 Dec 2008 16:56:20 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, December 18th
Bike Culture and the Future
Superb article on Alternet exploring bike punk culture and its stand for sustainability--not just environmental but social as well, and healthy relationships throughout all our society. A couple of good quotes:
I think bikes are a positive response to almost everything that is wrong with American mainstream society today. Bikes are cheap, simple, and democratic and sexy in a very different way than riding around in a car. Bike transportation is about individuality but not about excess. Bikes are congenial and social. Bikes force us to be in our bodies and help us to know and love our bodies as they are. (Ted White)

[In] this bike subculture there's no person who is the best, who is winning, or getting the most money. It's a pretty equal community in that everyone can excel, but not have to be the top dog. (Robin Havens)
To read the entire article, go to Bikes Point the Way to a Sustainable Future.

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 18 Dec 2008 07:20:16 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, December 17th
One of the Best Cycling Quotes Ever....
And it comes from BikeSnobNYC, of all people, the master of sarcastic irony, but it's quite serious and even beautiful:
One of my favorite things about cycling is that it can reward suffering with joy. Another thing I love about it is that it often rejects those who don't understand this. Cycling teaches you that there's such a thing as necessary suffering and such a thing as unnecessary suffering, and that sometimes a short cut is a dead end.
Well said, BSNYC!

To read the complete post, go to his December 17th entry.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 17 Dec 2008 13:35:57 -0800 [link]  

Monday, December 15th
Water, Water....
Well, we finally got some real rain! The last couple wet the streets for a few hours each, but totaled all of 0.02 inches--and we're six weeks into the "rainy" season. So it was refreshing to hear the rain clattering in the downspouts this morning.

It also meant I had to remember where all my rain gear was.

Fortunately, the half-garage where we keep most of the bikes has a Wald basket (one of the slip-on types, which Gina had rejected several bikes ago) hanging on one wall, and if I can't find what I'm looking for anywhere else, it's usually there. Out came the Carradice Pro Route, the ragg wool gloves, and the promo baseball cap that keeps the glasses dry. It's Mom Feeding Day (I do all her shopping as well as manage her bills and care), so I threw a couple of canvas shopping bags into the JANDDs, and off I went!

I took it easy--ain't racing, wet or dry--but still I was able to notice decidedly more surefootedness from the Schwalbe Marathons than I'd ever felt I'd gotten from Paselas. Besides plain wet streets, I had to deal with fallen sycamore leaves, pines needles drifted up in the shade, deep puddles, and the usual potholes and other signs of civic infrastructure deterioration. The Marathons were wonderful all around, even on the way from the market to Mom's, with the Bottecchia carrying a heavy rear load, which, being lower of trail, she doesn't care for.

When I left to come back home the storm had moderated to one of my favorite weathers, a light pattering rain that always makes me think of springtime. (Why, I don't know, as it rarely rains in spring out here, and I've lived here most of my life.) The notorious potholes of 4th Street (which I wrote up once) fazed them not at all.

And the cape worked its magic, keeping me almost entirely dry. I was wearing wool, of course: Wool City Knickers v.20 and knicker socks below, and an Italian navy sweater up top, plus the ragg wool gloves.

Nice day all around so far. Tonight will see a little more riding, just after dark.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 15 Dec 2008 13:05:16 -0800 [link]  

Friday, December 12th
Free as a Bird....
seagulls_small (91k image)
Click on the image for a larger view.
I photographed these gulls at the Bridge at Playa del Rey, where I rode this morning to hang out with Bill Mendell and his Cannondale. The Bridge, which I call my "church," crosses over Ballona Creek between the South Jetty of the marina and the spit of land between the lagoon and the Pacific. It's part of the South Bay Bike Path and closed to private motor vehicles, and is a wonderful place to spend an hour or two talking, laughing, and watching bikes and riders go by, as well as all kinds of boats most days.

The sun was bright, the air was crisp, the sky and ocean deep blue, and our bikes were waiting for us to get tired of blowing hot air and get back to riding.

Sometimes the highest utility is to go out and enjoy the universe. My kind of practical cycling!

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 12 Dec 2008 17:24:20 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, December 9th
City Knickers v2.0 Now in Stock!
They're here at last, the new City Knicker v2.0 in fine, tough 100% wool gabardine, a great and durable pair of casual yet stylish cycling knickers, good for hot or cold, wet or dry, weather!

Responding to your feedback, we've swapped out the waistband adjustment tabs for belt loops. and kept all the other great features, such as the articulated knee, the bit of elastic in the high-cut rear of the waist, and the hidden pocket.

Wear them everywhere, from office to bar to alleycat; you'll love them so much you'll ride even more, just to have an excuse to put them on!

Check them out now: the City Knicker v2.0.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 09 Dec 2008 08:45:14 -0800 [link]  

Monday, December 8th
Bicycle Fixation Urban Rider Clothing Update
Various updates on our products for December and the new year:

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 08 Dec 2008 07:05:23 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, December 6th
Back to Drops....
Well, I tried 'em--I didn't like 'em. Sweptback bars (see the November 28th entry) have never been comfortable for me, nor has an upright (or even semi-upright) riding posture. So I went back to drops on Trevor Wong, although I did spring for a shorter stem to fine-tune the cockpit.

I hope still to experiment a bit with different bars--that pop-top stem, ugly as it is, does make that easy: no more retaping when you swap! But I suspect I might not. Eventually ya just gotta stop fiddling and start riding, don't ya?

So that's what I did today, after swapping the old Nitto B115s back in. Much more comfortable than the Promenades had ever been for me!

Now I've got to get around to mounting the Tubus Fly rack on it and seeing how it handles panniers. Should do all right. Then there's that front basket to play with, if Gina doesn't take it for her town bike. I'd prefer a front rack, but that's out of budget for the nonce.

And eventually, I want to find a trailer for Trevor--a two-wheeled cargo trailer, for rag biz runs and general toting of stuff. Preferably one from Bikes at Work, but at this point anything that can haul rolls of wool and boxes of finished knickers will have to do.

Of course we'll let you know what we come up with.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 06 Dec 2008 17:31:20 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, December 4th
At Least They're Thinking of Us....
Back on November 13th, I wrote about my concern that, when LADOT removed the traditional parking meters from Larchmont Boulevard in favor of pay stations, we would lose the majority of the bicycle parking there.

Larchmont is a one-block, village-like shopping street that really is a neighborhood hangout, as close as you get to a town square in Los Angeles. And many, many visitors arrive by bike. Since my mother lives near there, I'm at Larchmont quite often, and I go, alone, or with Gina, or to meet friends, quite frequently.

I'd written to our council member, and had heard from his office that they were indeed hoping to compensate for the loss of bicycle parking. The "hoping" part had me worried, though.

But now I read in the Larchmont Chronicle that they are definitely going to install more bike racks for us!

Whether they're going to use the clever slip-on devices that convert former parking meter poles into bike racks such as Seattle is installing, I don't know, but "new racks will be installed," according to the paper's quote of Tom LaBonge.

Since this is hardly the time to be making bicycle transportation less convenient, this is good news. Small steps such as these will take us far, in time.

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 04 Dec 2008 16:17:07 -0800 [link]  

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