Tag Archive for why we ride

Riding random thoughts on a semi-rainy day

This is me climbing the walls.

Between today’s semi-threatening weather and an unrelenting workload — not that I’m complaining about having work in this economy, mind you — I find myself riding a wave of seemingly random thoughts rather than the bike I’d like to be on.

Partly because the bike I’d like to be on is finally ready to ride.

For some reason, I’ve never had the love for the 6-year old LeMond at the top of this page that I had for my now 30-year old Trek.

Maybe because it feels every little bump, and never felt nailed to the road like my old bike did. Or maybe because I’ve had my old bike longer than I’ve had my wife, and haven’t built the memories on the new one that I made on the old one — my bike, that is, not my wife.

Before

Although I’m sure the infamous beachfront bee encounter would certainly stand out, if only I could remember what happened.

Then again, that was before a broken wheel kept me off my bike for the last three weeks. Although I was happy to have the loan of a surprisingly lithe, plush and easy to ride red Urbana bike in the meantime.

After

But over the weekend, the kind folks at Trek and Beverly Hills Bike Shop — which isn’t actually in Beverly Hills, even though the sidewalk in front of it is — replaced my wheel under warranty, for which I thank both. So now I find myself jonesing to get out for a long ride on my own bike, and realizing just how much I’d missed it.

Especially since I got a report today that the virtually unridable sidewalk bike path along Sepulveda Blvd that we discussed yesterday may have finally seen a little improvement, along with the badly cracked Class 1 path through the Marina.

And unfortunately, that time off my bike is starting to show in the snugness of my waistband. And evidently, there’s a reason for that.

According to a formula in a recent issue of Bicycling, I burn about 1,000 calories an hour. (Weight divided by 2.2, multiplied by 12 if you ride between 16 –19 mph; my normal cruising speed is 18 – 20. Or multiply by 16 if you ride 20 mph or higher, by 10 if you ride 14 – 16, 8 for 12 – 14, 6 for 10 – 12, or by 4 if you ride less than 10 mph.)

So that’s somewhere around 10,000 –12,000 calories a week I haven’t been burning. And 3,500 calories plus or minus equals 1 pound of weight gained or lost.

The fun, not-so-little Urbana I borrowed — love those big, bouncy glow-in-the-dark tires

It also explains, in least in part, why a recent study suggested that biking on a regular basis could add up 14 months to your life. Although as far as I’m concerned, extending the quality of life is every bit as important as extending the length of it.

Which is why I plan to keep riding as long as my body will let me. That and the fact that there’s almost nothing I’d rather do.

And that could help explain yesterday’s article in the Times, which said that sales are down for electric bikes. While an e-bike may provide efficient, sweat-free transportation, it can’t provide the same health benefits or the sheer satisfaction and physical joy of pedaling a bike.

E-bikes can also cost every bit as much as, and sometimes more than, a Vespa-style scooter — even an electric one — while being more difficult for a beginner to ride. And you can’t always ride them everywhere bikes are allowed.

So I think I’ll stick with my bike, thank you. The one with the new wheel, tire and cycling computer.

And I plan to pedal its skinny GatorSkins Downtown for Tour de Fat this Saturday — and burn a few thousand calories in the process, which should just about make up for the calories I expect to consume there.*

* Biking under the influence is illegal in California, so limit your alcohol consumption just like you would if you were driving.

.………

Word broke Monday that a SoCal golfer died after being struck in the head with a golf ball; there’s no truth to the rumor that Mayor Villaraigosa may propose a mandatory helmet law for everyone on the links. Contrast the massive media coverage his death received with the minimal coverage given most biking fatalities; then again, golfing deaths a pretty rare, while a death on the streets just isn’t that usual. Thanks to Rex Reese for the heads-up.

And in a story that defies rational explanation — or rather, in which the explanation doesn’t seem rational — Witch on a Bicycle points out that authorities in a Massachusetts town blame a bicycle rider for plowing down two parking meters before crashing into a car. Call me crazy, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cyclist who could knock over a solid steel parking meter post. Let alone two.

.………

Next year’s Tour de France looks like one of the more challenging routes in years, with six high mountain stages and four summit finishes. As expected, a Spanish cyclist ends the year ranked #1 in the world — but it’s Rodriguez, not TdF winner and tainted meat eater Contador; Tyler Farrar is the top American at #9. And Lance is well on his way to fathering his own team as he becomes a dad for the fifth time.

.………

Streetsblog asks where the next CicLAvia should be. The Claremont Cyclist discusses the 2nd Annual Mike Nosco Memorial Bicycle Ride; this year’s ride will benefit Andreas Knickman, the son of former pro racer Roy Knickman, in his fight against cancer. Bikeside’s Mihai Peteu reports on last Friday’s memorial ride for Daniel Marin. A Long Beach cyclist is threatened with tickets in retaliation for questioning an officer. Gary continues to shine a light on the Santa Monica City Council race, as two more candidates respond to his questionnaire on biking and land use issues. Will questions just how much a bike is really worth. Bicycle Fixation takes an in-depth look at bike parking, comparing a well-designed rack with a modern relic from the best-forgotten past. San Francisco aims for a 20% bike share by 2020, and a bold path forward for Bay Area cyclists. The Sonoma County GranFondo hit-and-run is now being investigated as an intentional assault. Advice on what to do if you’re stopped for riding in the lane, in response to a sheriff’s deputy who just didn’t get it. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske is interviewed by a Cleveland radio station. A reminder to check your auto insurance, because the uninsured motorist coverage can protect you on a bike. A Kansas City cyclist known locally as the Bike Man is gunned down and left to die in the street. New York Critical Mass riders win a nearly $1 million settlement; half will go for legal fees. An NYC cyclist shoots a cop when they try to stop him for riding illegally on the sidewalk; seems like a bit of an overreaction to me. NFL quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen ride bikes sans helmets. Why drivers should love Toronto’s new bike boxes. Eight months in jail for running down a cyclist and leaving the scene while driving with impaired vision. A 6-year old cyclist is clotheslined when he rides into an over-extended dog leash.

Finally, biking can do more than just get you from here to there, it can also lead you home to a family you’ve never known. Or it can provide the path to true love — or not, as the case may be — in one of the cutest short films I’ve seen in ages.

This is why we roll.

I hadn’t really planned on riding today, but I suddenly found my schedule booked for the next few days, or possibly, weeks. Fortunately, I had a brief window of opportunity this morning before going in for an MRI this afternoon for yet another follow-up to the infamous bee encounter.

So naturally, I grabbed my bike and hit the road.

The very first thing I saw was a dog peeing on an Obama sign; following the giddiness of yesterday’s election results, that seemed to sum up the current state of politics in this country.

As I rode, I found myself giving some thought to why we ride.

Of course, every bicyclist has his or her own reasons for climbing up on the saddle. But for me, it’s not a question of transportation, or concern for the environment, or even a reaction to high gas prices.

No, my riding is primarily of the recreational variety, though I suppose there’s also a social element to it, as I sometimes fall in with other rider and enjoy the company of a new-found friend, at least until our routes take us our separate ways.

It’s also my primary form of exercise — and a very effective one, at that. I started riding seriously again about three years ago, after a layoff of a few years. Since then, I’ve dropped 45 pounds, lowered my blood pressure, resting pulse rate and cholesterol levels. And I’m no longer embarrassed to get caught without a shirt on.

That’s what I was thinking as I rode today.

Then I looked up and saw a perfect azure sky coming to rest on a sea as smooth as glass, with only a few small breakers rolling gently into shore. As I rolled down the coast on a nearly deserted path, I watched pods of dolphins playing just off shore, while pelicans dive-bombed straight down into the surf like a squadron of feathered Japanese Zeros.

And it occurred to me that life seldom gets better than this.

In that moment, I realized that this is why I really ride. Because there are moments like this that only occur on a bike; I could have seen the same things walking along the beach, but it just wouldn’t be the same. Because so many of the best moments of my life have occurred as I rolled silently along mountains and plains, bayous and bays, and countless urban scenes of every description.

And because, as Timur pointed out in the second link above, it’s fun.

Really, really fun.

 

Connecticut now requires drivers to allow at least three feet of separation when passing a cyclist on state roads, something I called for here recently. An Indiana paper reminds you to take extra precautions when riding through the cold and dark. Finally, the Washington Post reports that vigorous exercise — such as bicycling on hills — can help a woman cut her risk of breast cancer 30%.

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