photo block

Monday, April 23, 2012

night light bright

In the past two weekends I’ve had two headlights stolen. Or taken, maybe I should say. I mean, it’s hardly stealing, really. It’s about as petty a theft as you can come by. These lights aren’t worth anything, really, maybe a couple bucks on the black market (ebay). Or maybe they’re just being used on bikes around town here. Hopefully they’re at least going to be used on a bike somewhere. Taking a light off someone’s bike is pretty petty, though. And both times it was at night. How can you take someone’s light at night? You must be a bicyclist, right? You must know why that light is there? It’s there so I can get home safely. And sure, it was an easy steal, I mean all you had to do was unclip it – 5 seconds, tops. And yes, I could unclip it and put it in my pocket every time I park my bike somewhere in the world – every day! But jeez, what a chore. Luckily, for me, I was able to find an easy replacement in the garage – being essentially free, having bought it years ago, that money forgotten. I think I ended up using that replacement light three times before it was taken. Then, luckily for me, again, there was one more super old light in the garage that magically still worked. So now it’s on there and will hopefully stay on there for at least a few months. In the process of riding home in the dark for a couple of nights a realized that I don’t have a front or rear reflector anymore, having just been relying on lights, it’s been fine. But while rummaging through the bicycle junk box in the garage to find old lights I came across a bunch of reflectors, too. It used to be, when we were kids, that it was really uncool to ride with reflectors on your bike. It somehow meant that you hadn’t bothered, yet, to customize your bike and it was all about custom. And, we never really rode around at night much back then anyway so it didn’t much matter. That mindset stuck with me for a while, and unintentionally persists on my bikes today. Now, decades later, I’m starting to think that maybe reflectors are pretty cool. Which, necessarily, proves that they’re still really uncool, but now that I can’t be bothered to keep up with and/or care about running with the cool kids, I’ve got options. And, more importantly, I’m pretty damn sure that no one is going to steal reflectors off my bike. So I loaded up the Mule with reflectors every-which way I could imagine.
Am I becoming that crazy old reflector man?

fix a bungee

Monday, April 16, 2012

downtown from above and below

With the world washed clean from the previous days' rains, and even a little snow at the top (at Orchard! in April!), views were blue and puffy and sharp and shiny, and running back down the mountain trail a three-dimension-alized downtown popped out in the distance from a backdrop of pacific ocean influence.

Then the CicLAvia came to downtown, maybe a hundred thousand strong, riders and skaters flooding the streets all day, with no cars to worry about, just to explore, and people watch and bike watch… and ride, ride, ride…

Thursday, April 12, 2012

two happy evening rides

Last night on the ride home, a little late, dark, around 8:30pm, on a colder than anticipated evening, I’d suited up in my ever-handy plastic rain cape and wool gloves/cap for the ride home, thinking I’d like to have the protection against the cold wind, when just as I set off, the sweetest little rain shower passed over, leaving heavy, yet fairly dispersed, raindrops pat-patting on my slicker for the briefest of moments, only enough to get that rain smell from the pavement. And yet, enough, too, to get umbrellas popping up from pedestrians and some sort of vibe from inside the cars, worried perhaps, for the poor cyclist caught in the storm. I, however, was suddenly joyful, riding in the lovely rain. I realized I’d been a little too good at avoiding it this season. Was this my first rain ride? In what will likely be one of our last rains for many months (except for tomorrow)? Well, I can hardly remember if it was the first, but it felt like it was, it felt great, and happy-smiley.

Then, this evening, having already gotten home a little early, I got a message from a friend asking about a bike part I’d offered to him for his new bike build. I didn’t really feel like heading back out again for I was already cozy at home but then I got to thinking how it feels to be so close on a bike project and waiting for something to arrive or wishing you could just finish it up right now and go ride! So, reinvigorated with this remembrance, I shot back out for a quick Pony Express time trial Uptown to handoff a pair of brake levers that have been sitting idle in the garage for a few years now, dreaming of a job, a ride. It was still just light out, no need yet for supplemental lighting and cool enough that I could really jam-on-it up the hill. It was a quick exchange, just a few offers of beers and talk of a future trail running date and then I was out the door again, still warmed from the ride up, and still light, for a cruising, cooling ride back down the fair hill, home, where the jazz was still on the radio, welcoming me back from another good ride.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

sticky locks and creaky pedals no more

My u-lock lock recently failed. Which is to say, became untrustable. Suddenly jamming on me. I tried adding oil and grease to the lock as this worked great about a year ago. But no luck this time. It still sorta works but I just don’t want to have to jimmy with it every time I lock which is a lot. And I certainly don’t want it to lock any of my bikes permanently to a post. Although, now I’m tempted to see just what it would take to cut through a u-lock. Destroying that old lock with a hacksaw might prove to be an extremely fun activity. It was a long life, though. I think this was the model that you could pick with a Bic. I agree that a u-lock is best but I decided to replace it with one of those sexy new Knog locks. We’ll see how it goes. The Knog fits pretty much the same as the u in my rack so that’s a nice carryover.

And while I was at it, and to hit the free shipping threshold, because as much as I’d like to use the LBS it just never works out for me, they’ve never got what I need and they treat me like a dirty child – I don’t get it, but that’s another story…. while I was at it, I put new pedals and toe clips in my basket. The toe clips have been duct taped together for I can’t remember how long – 3, 4, 5 years? And the pedals were coming apart at the seams and sagging outwards – creating what Ergon would call proper form, although I don’t buy that. I’m all for their grips but don’t agree with their line of thinking about pedal ergonomics. Their thinking is that when you sit on a high chair and let your feet dangle they naturally lean outwards, the outer part of the foot hanging lowest. This may be true, seems true, but for me that doesn’t translate into needing/wanting a pedal that sags outwise intentionally. And in fact, I have an amazing idea that will win the next Le Tour – pedals that lean inwise! You heard it here first.

There’s nothing special about these new pedals. They’re cheap and easy. But, being new, they feel real nice. Even though they might be set up a little tight in the bearings. Maybe that will loosen in a few thousand revolutions. And I’ve lost some mastery in flipping my feet into them just because they’re not identical-identical but very close and that new pedal swing geometry fit will be relearned quick-fast in no time.

Monday, April 9, 2012

margarita mountain

If only there were a Margarita Mountain with creeks and springs flowing yellow with Cadillacs. (Kinda reminds me of that Big Rock Candy Mountain hobo song.) There’s not but there’s a margarita mountain of the mind and I found it, ran it, over the weekend. As much as I’m a fan of getting out into the mountains just for the experience of soaking it all in and being present to the land of the moment, there are times, too, when a run up a mountain can become nothing but a struggle of training, overtraining. Still, a lot to be found, though, a lot of depth of mind to absorb up on the mountain even if you’re too tired to appreciate the rosy light of the late afternoon filtering through the trees or the unheard croaking of frogs down in the creek valley. And what I found in the depths of my mind while I forced myself up and up and on was the most serene of settings – dark and cool and filled with happy people enjoying the end of a long week. That’s where, I’m a bit embarrassed to say, I went in my time of need on the mountain, the only thing that was driving me onward, some personal version of Cheers in my head, where I knew, once this damn run was over, I’d be speeding directly towards for tall pitchers of margaritas with the rest of those running along with me. The best and/or most interesting part of it all is that once I finally got up and down the mountain and over to the dark cozy margarita bar, and once I’d gotten drink in hand and halfway sunk, well, all I could see then was the mountain. A replay of the run, running through my mind all evening. A nice little gift from the mountain, who, I think, understood my struggle that day and appreciated it and let me take a little morsel home to savor and to remind… you were on the mountain…

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I know you’ve heard them. It seems mostly to hover around the roadies. It’s as if they’re yelling at each other. Actually, that’s exactly what they’re doing. And I get it. I understand. You want to converse with the person you’re riding with. And when you’re going 10 or 20 or whatever miles an hour there’s a lot of wind in your ears and it seems natural to speak up.

I happen to live on a bit of a bike route. Not heavy bike traffic but enough that it’s pretty normal to see/hear a few mini-pelotons riding by daily. It’s kind of fun… for me anyway. I like to hear about your new Sram Red-Black Edition derailleur and how you managed to adjust it so it would be compatible with your older 9-speed cog (is that even possible? doubtful) – which by the way (don’t worry) you’ll be upgrading posthaste – the order has already been placed at Temple City Bike Shop…

But, what of the other people out there in the world. I know it seems like there must only be a few of them left at this point – I mean, who isn’t cycling!?

And then there’s the profanity. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well placed fucking swear word. But when you’re riding through a quiet residential neighborhood and you’re bitching to yer mate about that god damn car that blew through the intersection or the recent hike in your club fees, maybe little Janie and Jimmy playing in the yard don’t need to hear all about it.

I mean, honestly, how ostracized do you want cyclist to be?

So lately, when riding with others, I’ve been trying to speak a little more softly. And, don’t worry if there’s a lull in the conversation while you navigate a single-file section of roadway. I’m sure your cycling buddy can pick up where you left off a few moments ago. Or, at least fill in the blanks with gibberish before charging forth on his or her own monologue.

Monday, April 2, 2012

currently reading

The Backbone of the World: A Portrait of the Vanishing West Along the Continental Divide
by Frank Clifford, 2002