The big BikinginLA January blowout

As others have noted, this week has been ideal for riding. Temperatures in the low 80s, low humidity and — at least here on the Westside — no wind to speak of.

So even though this was scheduled as a rest day, following yesterday’s hard ride, I couldn’t resist grabbing my bike a for quick spin along the coast. After all, if I didn’t work too hard, it still qualifies as rest, right?

And for most of the day, today’s ride was just this side of perfect.

The views were spectacular and the weather conditions, and lack of tourists, meant I could keep up a good speed, even through Santa Monica and Venice. And what pedestrians and slower cyclists there were just served as slalom gates, giving me something to swerve around.

Of course, idyllic rides seldom last. And today was no exception.

It started on my way back home, when I decided to take Montana Avenue, rather than my usual route up San Vicente.

Like when a pedestrian suddenly changed direction and stepped out directly in front of me, without ever looking in my way, her long blonde hair blocking her peripheral vision, as well. The result was a fishtailing panic stop, screeching to a halt just inches away from her.

Two blocks later, I hit the brakes again when a car darted out of an alley and made a right turn right in front of me. But this time I was prepared, since I couldn’t make eye contact with the driver — usually a dead giveaway that they have no idea I’m there.

Then just up the road, a woman started to make a left turn after I’d already entered the intersection, on a direct collision course with yours truly. Fortunately, she heard me yell a warning and jammed on the brakes — avoiding me by just a few feet. And scaring the crap out of both us.

So after surviving the Montana gauntlet, though, you might think it would be smooth sailing the rest of the way home.

But you’d be wrong.

Maybe it was the stress of the repeated panic stops, or something in the road. Or it could have just been normal wear and tear. But about four miles from home, I heard a loud bang like a large balloon exploding. And suddenly found myself struggling to maintain control of bike, as heavy traffic whipped by just inches away.

Somehow, I managed to stay upright long enough to get to the curb, and found a gaping hole in the side of my rear tire — which meant that there wasn’t patch big enough to get me home. And that meant walking to the nearest bike shop for a repair.

And since I still hadn’t replaced the cleat covers I’d lost a few months back, when I forgot to zip up my seat bag after I stopped to fix a flat, I had to walk every inch of it on my bare cleats.

(Later — much later — it occurred to me that I could have taken a cab, or even caught a bus home. But did I think of that then? Of course not.)

So I set off rolling my bike down the mean sidewalks of Brentwood, watching enviously as the DB9s and carbon-fiber Conalgos continued to roll by without me.

I’d only gone a few blocks when a woman walking in the opposite direction paused in her cell phone conversation, leaned in towards me, and said “nice legs.” Then she calmly resumed her conversation, and kept walking.

Brentwood is very strange.

After hoofing it for a couple miles — okay, 2.09 miles to be exact, not that I was counting or anything — I arrived at the shop. Only to discover fellow L.A. biking blogger Anonymous Cyclist behind the counter.

Turns out he’s a great guy.

And surprisingly enough, we’d actually met before. He was the guy who helped my wife get my bike fixed when he worked at another shop, while I was laid up following the infamous beachfront bee encounter — and managed to get a near-custom, one-of-a-kind paint job for my bike.

So a few minutes later, I left the shop with a new tire, tube and a couple of these. Along with a new pair of cleats to replace the ones I ground down walking to the shop. (Note to self: cab rides are cheaper than cleats, and a lot less painful than walking in them.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go soak my aching feet.

 

Looks like L.A.’s Downtown may become more pedestrian — and bike — friendly. Streetsblog demonstrates how easy it would be to improve intersection sightlines. C.I.C.L.E. asks riders to complete a quick survey about their Urban Expeditions program. Now that we’re getting a roadie president — replacing our outgoing fat-tire pres — Republican leaders are opposed to spending for biking infrastructure. Finally, it turns out cyclists may actually have a friend in Congress.

3 comments

  1. [...] with all of the crazies out there, ride safe and ride well. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Are you serious? Gas is [...]

  2. disgruntled says:

    Low 80s, low humidity and no wind? Pah!

    Try temps around freezing, fog, and a Bi-directional Headwind. Cycling in Scotland: you know you want to :-)

  3. [...] In place of door zone lanes, the city explored sharrows and ways to make their bike lanes better — including reconfiguring the Montana Avenue bike lanes with a door zone buffer. Which has gone a long way towards taming what had long been one of the area’s riskiest bike lanes. [...]

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