Tag Archive for Willis Veluz-Abraham

The winners of our Mojo Bar giveaway, updates on recent bike crashes, and UPS blocks the bike lane

Let’s catch up on what turned out to be a far too busy week.


First up are the winners of last weekend’s contest to give away some CLIF Mojo bars by revealing your own favorite means of performance enhancement for when you ride.

The winners were chosen in a totally biased and arbitrary manner by yours truly, based strictly on how much I liked the response.

And from my perspective, it looks like Brian was clear winner.

I ride with http://www.ride2recovery.com My enhancer is seeing a fellow Wounded Soldier Amputee passing me, or just not giving up!!

Seriously, how could I not reward a Wounded Warrior who just flat refuses to quit? Let alone one who uses his fellow riders for inspiration.

But we also had several runners-up who gave great responses as well.

Like Joe B, who struck a similar note.

I’ve found that the best way to enhance my performance is to have my slightly-faster buddy riding about fifteen or twenty feet in front of me.

I’ve got to admit, few things motivate me more than trying to catch and pass that rider just up the road.

Then there’s Lois Rubin, who deserves to win if she can ride a mountain bike without blowing chunks after eating this. Or maybe she didn’t mean at the same time.

For mountain biking – Pickles! and peanut butter, bananas and honey in a small whole wheat pita. For the road – hammer gel and mojo bars. Really.

Opus the Poet struck a similar note.

Peanut butter and honey sandwiches on whole wheat. I can run for miles on them. I did a century on a 24 oz. loaf and small jars of honey and peanut butter. And a few Gatorades.

Anyone who can go a hundred miles on a loaf of whole wheat bread has my respect.

Several people noted the value of a little — or a lot — of caffeine. But Mike Caputo threw in some music and a little lubrication.

My favorite performance enhancers (in no particular order) are a Starbucks Tall White Chocolate Mocha, a little ‘Beautiful Day’ by U2 (still works) and a quick squirt of bike lube on the chain (I know this is supposed to be done after but it feels so good)…of course the stretchy paints don’t hurt.

Finishing just out of the money, since CLIF’s agency limited me to five winners, was this response from Ben Calderwood.

Sherpa blood. No, I may have dreamed that. Plain ol’ Clif bars and gels, typically. The Mojo bars are too good; I tend to eat my stash long before I get on the bike.

I can think of more than a few riders who wouldn’t hesitate to ingest or inject Sherpa blood if they thought it would shave a few seconds off their time, or maybe win them a Tour de France title. But let’s think of Ben as first runner-up, and not just because he put in a plug for the product.

If for some reason we can’t ship a set of Mojo bars to one of the winners — like if someone doesn’t respond with a valid address — maybe we can slip him into the mix. At least now he knows how Taylor Phinney feels.

I’ve already emailed the winners, who have until this Monday to respond with a mailing address.

And thanks to everyone who entered. There were a lot of great responses, so don’t feel bad if you didn’t win.

It wasn’t an easy decision.


A representative of the LAPD has confirmed that Jerico Culata, the 18-year old cyclist killed on the UCLA campus during last week’s Critical Mass ride, was riding a brakeless fixed gear bike, as many have speculated.

It appears that Culata was unable to control his bike on the moderately steep downhill; he didn’t have the strength or skill to slow down without brakes, lost control and struck a concrete wall head on, suffering non-survivable brain injuries.

Go ahead.

Make every argument against helmet use you want to make.

But this is exactly the sort of injury bike helmets were designed to protect against. And while no one can say Culata would have survived if he’d been wearing one, his chances clearly would have been better if he’d had one.


A spokesman for the CHP reports that Willis Veluz-Abraham may not have died as a result of rumble strips on Stunt Road, after all.

According to the officer, Veluz-Abraham was riding with a group of other riders who were filming him with a bike cam; he reportedly looked back at them just before taking a corner too fast, losing control and going off the side of the road.

The CHP investigation places no blame on the rumble strips that had recently been installed.

I might question that, myself.

Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve disagreed with the CHP.

Even if they didn’t contribute directly to his crash, the rumble strips could — repeat, could — have destabilized his bike enough that it was impossible to regain control. And even if they didn’t play a role in this case, it should be obvious to everyone that rumble strips and bikes don’t mix.

But I freely admit I may have gotten it wrong this time.

And let’s hope that video, if it still exists, never sees the light of day.


Still no news on last Saturday’s Topanga Canyon hit-and-run in which a Land Rover-driving coward left a cyclist seriously injured on the side of the road.

The CHP reports that the investigation is still ongoing, and no further details are available at this time.

However, they may need volunteers to distribute posters this weekend; I’ll let you know if they reach out for help.


Maybe you’ll recall the prompt response I got from UPS a couple months back, promising not to block any more Santa Monica bike lanes.

So much for that.

This was taken Tuesday on northbound San Vicente Blvd, just around the corner and a few blocks from the previous incident.


Finally, California gets another dangerous driver off the streets. And enough with the damn earthquakes, Beverly Hills. It’s just a desperate plea for attention, and we’re not falling for it.

Fontana BOLO alert, memorial services for Veluz-Abraham, and yet another pro rider lets us down.

Just get out and ride. You’ll thank me later.

Sometimes, I don’t even know what to say.

It seems like the news has been nothing but bad for the last few weeks. Topped off by yet another of cycling’s most popular riders pulled from the Tour de France after failing a drug test — and yes, I’m looking at you, Frank Schleck.

It’s gotten to the point that I’m almost afraid to read the news for fear of what I’m going to find. And who’s going to disappoint us next.

Fortunately, there’s a solution.

Just get out and ride your bike.


No, seriously. If you can get away even for a few minutes, stop what you’re doing and get out on your bike. And just forget about everything for awhile.

And yes, I do mean everything.

Just take a few minutes, or a few dozen miles, to remember why you fell in love with riding in the first place.

If you can’t get out now, find time to get a ride in before the day is over.

Trust me, you’ll feel better when you’re done.

And the news will keep until you get back.


We’re still dealing with the aftermath of last week’s extreme rash of cycling deaths, as witnesses identify the suspect vehicle in the hit-and-run death of Fontana cyclist Alex Silva.

Authorities ask you to be on the lookout for dark red early 2000s model Chevy Corvette convertible with damage to a left front bumper and fender, as well as damage to the convertible top, windshield and driver’s side window.

And Kevin M reveals that services have been announced for popular cyclist Willis Veluz-Abraham, who was killed in a solo cycling fall in the hills above Calabasas on Saturday — possibly as a result of recently installed rumble strips.

VIEWING-Tuesday, July 24th, 5pm-9pm, Mission Hills Mortuary, 11160 Stranwood Avenue, Mission Hills, CA 91345

VIGIL/MEMORIAL-Wednesday, July 25th, 6:30pm-9pm, Our Lady of Peace Church, 15444 Nordoff Street, North Hills, CA 91343

FUNERAL MASS & BURIAL-Thursday, July 26th, 10am, Our Lady of Peace Church, 15444 Nordoff Street, North Hills, CA 91343 (the procession from the church back to Mission Hills mortuary/cemetery will be escorted by members of Willis’ Bicycle Club)


Just when you thought it was safe to go back to bike racing, Frank Schleck becomes the latest to fail a drug test, this time for a banned diuretic, and is pulled from the Tour de France by his team. He says if the B sample also tests positive, he’ll charge someone with poisoning him.

No, seriously.

Maybe he was force-fed some Spanish beef.

In light of Sunday’s tack attack in the TdF, Dave Moulton considers the Dick Head factor. A 49ers fan site looks at notable cheaters over the years — including the rider who briefly won the 1904 Tour.

And Lance takes his fight against doping charges to a higher forum.


Clif Bar is giving the LACBC a second chance to raise $10,000 by logging your rides for the rest of the month. A new LA startup connects people with shared interests, like bike riding, for instance. Santa Monica’s Bike Center proves successful as it moves into a busy summer season. SaMo’s new police chief wants to ensure traffic does not impede bicycle and pedestrian safety; I think I like her already. Matt LeBlanc and Ali Larter ride a tandem on camera. Examined Spoke says he wants a lane of his own just like pedestrians enjoy. More on the ghost bike installed for Larry Schellhase in Redondo Beach. Long Beach begins a series of monthly community meetings to discuss bike issues next Monday.

Locations have been selected for Anaheim’s new bike share program, operated by the same company that will run L.A.’s upcoming program. Riverside police are looking for volunteers, including a citizen bike patrol. A 16-year old Oxnard cyclist is found unconscious after an apparent solo fall, two days after another rider was critically injured in a collision with a suspected drunk driver. Sunnyvale becomes the third city to pass an L.A. style anti-harassment ordinance. How long do drivers park in San Francisco bike lanes? Nearly a dozen fixies bite the dust as a San Francisco driver plows through a bike coral.

Ten things to know about the new federal transportation bill. Rather than covering women’s sports, Outside magazine asks why the media doesn’t. An Oregon prison inmate makes a brief escape by bike. An Illinois cyclist charges racial discrimination after getting a ticket for riding his bike through a construction zone, bizarrely comparing his case to Trayvon Martin. New York’s bike share program is delayed another month. Virginia’s Cookie Lady, famous for providing fresh cookies or lodging for passing cyclists, has passed away at age 91. The Orlando Sentinel says keep bikes off freeways.

A UK cop is charged with writing at least 350 fake tickets for cycling offenses — including one to a man who hasn’t been able to ride a bike for 15 years. Seven people have been arrested for sabotaging the famed Paris Vélib’ bike share program. A noted Mossad spy and former head of their assassination unit is killed when he’s hit by a truck while riding his bike; anyone want to lay odds on whether that was an accident?

Finally, forget carbon or titanium, your next bike could be made almost entirely from cardboard. But with a manufacturing cost of less than $12, it might make a practical spare. Or provide practical transportation for impoverished regions.

And there’s nothing funny about that.

Are calculated risks taking the lives of L.A. area cyclists?

Just last week, 30-year old Venice resident Erin Galligan was killed by a hit-and-run driver on PCH in Santa Monica.

A collision that might not have occurred if lights had been installed on the Santa Monica beach bike path to make it a safer and more inviting alternative to remaining on PCH during the construction work for the coastal interceptor sewer project.

We’ll never know why she chose the high-speed traffic of PCH over the dark and secluded bike path, since the only person who could have told us is now tragically silent.

Now another cyclist may have died due to an ill-advised roadway modification touted by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

Speculation by cyclists as to the cause of the solo cycling accident that took the life of Willis Veluz-Abraham last Saturday has centered on the rumble strips that were recently installed on Stunt Road, where his collision occurred.

A comment left Monday says the strips have been installed on Piuma, Schuren and Stunt Roads, which, combined with Mulholland Highway and Cold Canyon, form the informal Mulholland Raceway popular with motorcyclists and performance drivers. According to the article on Yaroslavsky’s website, the high-speed motorists who frequent the area pose a risk to everyone on the roadway, while providing a near-constant aggravation to people who live in the area.

After considering other possibilities, the rumble strips were installed to calm these overly aggressive drivers and motorcyclists.

Whether they’ve had any real effect is yet to be determined.

But they may have cost Veluz-Abraham his life.

Yaroslovsky’s article hints at the danger.

The solution is not without its own possible downsides. Although centerline rumble strips have been used successfully in other areas—the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, for example, credited them last year with a 35%-50% reduction in crashes in areas on which they were installed—any change in the road surface can create hazards, especially for bicyclists and motorcyclists (emphasis mine).

In other words, they knew even before these strips were installed that they would pose a risk to bike riders. Yet evidently, made the conscious decision that it was worth risking our lives by deliberately making the roadway more dangerous in an attempt to slow down motorized traffic.

And it looks like that calculated risk came true on Saturday, just months after the first rumble strips were carved into the center dividers.

When the driver of a car, truck or SUV hits a rumble strip, it creates a loud, unpleasant noise and shaking sensation. But when motorcyclists hit them, they can result in shaking bad enough to adversely affect their ability to control their bikes.

And when a bicyclist hits a rumble strip, the effect can be devastating.

Especially since a bicycle rider is only likely to cross the center line when rounding a curve at high speed, and leaning hard into the curve in an attempt to control their bicycle. Combine the high speed and steep angle of the bike with an intentionally uneven road surface, and you have a recipe for disaster, making control of their bikes almost impossible for even the most skilled riders.

Like Willis Veluz-Abraham, for instance.

Something I know from first-hand experience in my more aggressive riding days.

I managed to survive my one and only encounter with center line rumble strips, if just barely, skidding across the road and ending up in the bushes on the opposite shoulder — while thanking God there had been no traffic coming in the opposite direction while I was sliding helpless on the highway.

It looks like Veluz-Abraham may not have been so lucky.

In another comment on Monday, Jeff says he was following him down Stunt Road when the incident occurred.

I was riding behind Willis when this happened and it was truly a tragedy. He was an experienced and cautious rider. He was a true family man and great guy to be around. He was really excited about being out riding that day. From what I saw it looked as though the rumble strip in the middle could have been part of the reason he went off.

…We were going downhill and making a right turn and he went wide and off to the left. There is a deep ravine and some metal beams sticking out of the ground that he struck.

Considering the location of the rumble strips, it’s virtually guaranteed that they played some role in causing Veluz-Abraham to go off the road; if they weren’t the direct cause, they undoubtedly contributed to his inability to regain control as he slid across the roughened pavement.

Depending on how recently he’d ridden that area, he may not have even known they were there, as I’m told that no warning signs were installed after the rumble strips carved into the pavement. And even if he did know they were there, he may not have been aware of the extreme danger they posed to riders such as himself.

Then again, he may have been fully aware of the danger, and simply couldn’t avoid them as he came around the corner too hot, unable to keep from drifting over the center line despite the danger.

Once again, we’ll never know.

But what we do know — what Yaroslavsky’s article makes abundantly clear — is that a conscious decision was make to slow motorized traffic by increasing the danger to everyone else on a popular riding route.

And it clearly illustrates that the safety of cyclists is too often ignored in making decisions that put us at risk.

Thanks to Eric Bruins and J for the link to the Yaroslavsky article.


Meanwhile, another comment points out that you can put your money where your heart is in the wake of this needless tragedy.

Willis’ co-workers and friends at Farmers Insurance have established a fund for his Family. Please forward this information to the Biking-Community in Los Angeles who would like to donate.

You can make donations to The Willis Veluz Abraham Fund
Wells Fargo Account #3268012758. You can also make a check out to either Willis Veluz Abraham Fund Or Melissa Abraham Fund


San Francisco family photographer Joseph Pascua provides portraits of Willis Veluz-Abraham and his family, while El Cerrito Patch remembers him as a former resident and graduate of the local high school.

The family and girlfriend of Fontana hit-and-run victim Alex Patrick Silva speak directly to the cycling community in calling for safety. A commenter says that police are looking for a black Chrysler sedan in the hit-and-run death of BMX rider Richard Paine in Fullerton.

And ghost bikes were installed Sunday night for Antonio Cortez, Erin Galligan and Willis Veluz-Abraham.


Over the years. I’ve seen a lot of comments online from auto-centric drivers who just don’t get it. And inexplicably — and heartlessly — express their misguided anger on stories about fallen riders.

Like this one, for instance.

I am so sorry for the family and friends left behind but It is to dangerous to ride PCH and Malibu canyon on a bicycle, we have minimum speed requirements for a reason, meaning you can get pulled over for going to slow in a car.!!!!! And until we support a bike lane bike’s cannot ride these roads, and think of the poor driver that smacks Capernikus in the malibu tunnel..!!! or on Kanan Road??? Plus some moron made it so the bicycle has the right away on these roads??? Ha? some and I do mean alot of idiots ride next to each other taking a big part of the lane…Hello!!! What part of 4000lbs going 55 do they think won’t hurt???? I think it really needs to be outlawed Sorry…Or we just wait till some big shot get’s killed and then we outlaw it, Let’s do it before or the people that keep us safe are dumber than I all ready think they are…Over and out..

Never mind that California doesn’t have a minimum speed law. Or her mistaken insistence that cyclists have the right of way — or right away, as she puts it — over automotive traffic, as much as we might all enjoy that.

What really takes the cake is the idea that bicycling should be outlawed, not because of any damage we might cause, but because we could be the victims of dangerous drivers like her.

Kind of like outlawing banks because someone might rob them.

Lastly, for her, and every other person who insists on making the same, tired and idiotic old statement, I have been hit by a car.

And I can assure them and everyone else that it hurts like hell.


You may recall a few months back that I included a few links to stories about a bike collision involving the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Author Steven Covey was seriously injured in a solo fall in Provo UT, yet seemed to be on the road to recovery when he was released from the hospital a few weeks later.

Now word comes that he died early Monday at a hospital in Idaho, apparently from the residual effects of his injuries.

Or maybe he was never bouncing back at all, as it’s not usual for the family and handlers of celebrities to issue false press releases to hide the severity of their injuries or illnesses from the press and public.

Thanks to Stanley Goldich and Matthew Gomez for the heads-up.


The nation’s first bicycling accident and liability policy is now available with a discount through Sustainable Streets. If you’re not already covered by an auto policy, you should quit reading and sign up right now.

It’s okay, I’ll wait.


In today’s racing update, Tour de France Riders are poised to make big moves in the final week, while André Greipel could turn out to be a surprise.

Sunday’s stage 14 of the Tour de France is sabotaged by thumbtacks in the roadway; non-cyclists may think it’s just a prank, while bike riders realize just how dangerous it really is; thanks to Cycleliscious for the Central Park link. Pierre Roland says he didn’t get the memo and is sorry he attacked on the tacks, while incidents like this show the downside of letting fans so close.

Team Sky’s Chris Froome is frustrated riding in support of fading 2011 champ Cadel Evans in a race he thinks he could win.

Meanwhile, the women of the Reve Tour, who are preceding the TdF on the same route, continue their tour despite contending with a car and a resulting broken tailbone.

And Thor Hushovd pulls out of the Olympics due to illness.


The LACBC introduces Eric Bruins as the coalition’s new Planning and Policy Director, replacing the popular and effective Alexis Lantz, who has moved on to a position with the L.A. County Department of Health. Santa Monica Spoke says a full length Expo Line bikeway is at risk; you can have your say in a meeting this Wednesday evening in Santa Monica. L.A.’s Planning Department will host a meeting Wednesday evening to discuss implementation of the first year of the city’s bike plan. The Caltech Bike Lab is hosting a ride to the Eagle Rock Brewery on Saturday. Two Azusa cyclists are seriously injured in separate crashes; not surprisingly, neither driver is either cited or arrested.

Concluding that the body count on California roadways isn’t high enough, our governor — only the second to veto a three foot passing law — legalizes texting with while driving with hands-free devices; clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks it’s a bad idea. Evidently, it wasn’t a good weekend for NorCal cyclists either, as rider dies on Donner Pass, and a renowned Israeli psychologist was killed while riding in Berkeley on Friday when he was hit by a dump truck. And the CHP blames a seriously injured Sonoma cyclist for crossing onto the wrong side of the road, resulting in a head-on collision.

A writer for the Alliance for Biking and Walking explains why every bicyclist, and the riding death of his friend, count. Are cyclists and drivers really locked together in an endless life-and-death struggle? Aspen’s planned bike share program gets delayed for a second year. A writer in my hometown suggests we all add our own biking PSAs in email messages. One of my favorite bike bloggers looks at Denver and Estes Park through a bike rider’s eye. Two Iowa men are arrested for stealing bikes minutes after they’re released from jail. A Tulsa duathlon honors a cyclist killed by a drunk driver. Turns out the New York Post doesn’t just hate biking infrastructure. A New York ad campaign shows how not to encourage women to ride bikes. Just what part of Bikes Can Use Full Lane is unclear to Virginians; link courtesy of Bob Mionske’s bicyclelaw.com.

London’s Mirror asks if bicycling has become the cool way to get around, while the Guardian wonders how Britain became a bicycling nation in just 10 years. Meanwhile, the Evening Standard relates how to remain stylish despite being forced to ride a bike during the upcoming Olympics. An Indian firm pays its employees 1,000 rupees a month to bike to work.

Finally, our streets are turning into a violent Peyton Place, as an off-duty Philadelphia police officer is apparently intentionally run down by his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. And a Santa Rosa woman does her best to run down a motorcyclist before plowing into another car and killing an innocent driver.

Update: Breaking news — CHP reports yet another SoCal cyclist killed in solo fall on Mulholland Highway

More bad news for Southern California cyclists.

A CHP transmission reports that yet another bike rider has died on our streets. According to the cryptic message, the coroner has been called to a solo bike wreck on Mulholland Highway at Stunt Road, just outside Stunt Ranch State Park and Red Rock Canyon Park above Malibu.

The first call came in at 9:33 this morning, with the coroner called just after 10 am. The transmission codes (1144, 1019 and 1039) indicate a probably fatality, with rescue personnel instructed to return to the station, followed by confirmation of the call to the coroner’s office.

The satellite image shows a three-way intersection with a stop on Stunt Road, and an uncontrolled intersection on Mulholland.

No other information is available at this time.

This marks the 39th cycling fatality in Southern California so far this year, and the 11th in Los Angeles County. This is also the ninth cyclist to die in a solo collision since the beginning of the year.

And it’s the 10th cycling death in just the last nine days, as the horrible, tragic string of recent cycling fatalities continues for yet another day.

My prayers and sympathy for the victim and all his or her family and loved ones.

Update: The L.A. Times reports that the victim, who has not yet been publicly identified, was a black male approximately 40 years old, who died at the scene. A comment to this story says he left behind a wife and children.

The Times puts the time of the collision at 9:20 am, while other sources put it just before 9 am. However, all reports agree that the rider somehow veered of the road and down a ravine.

As always, the question is why. He may have simply lost control or had a mechanical failure, or could have been forced off the road or over reacted to a passing car. 

There’s no indication whether he was riding alone or with a group, or if there were any witnesses to the wreck.

Update 2: The L.A. Daily News has identified the rider as 42-year old Willis Veluz-Abraham of Winnetka. The paper also places the location of the collision as near Stunt Road and Mulholland; a comment places the location on the mid to upper section of Stunt.

Update 3: Starting to get a little more information. In a comment below, Justin Murray identifies the location as a curve near Mile Marker 3 on Stunt Road, and points the finger at newly installed rumble strips in the center of the roadway. If anyone has photos of the location or the rumble strips, please let me know.

While they may seem harmless to motorists, rumble strips can be exceptionally dangerous to cyclists. Someone taking a corner a little to hot could easily drift over the center line and lose control after hitting them. It’s especially dangerous if the strips were newly installed, as Murray suggests, as riders may not have known they were there if the strips had been installed since the last time they’d ridden that road, especially if there were no warning signs pointing to their installation.

Update 4: One of the saddest things about any tragedy like this, to me at least, is that most of us never get to know the person that was taken away from us. Not just the name, or barest details of his or, but who they really were. 

That’s why I’m elevating a couple of the comments that came in this afternoon after Veluz-Abraham was identified as the victim. Maybe they’ll touch you as deeply as they did me — and remind us all just how much is lost when any one of us is taken away needlessly.

From Daniel:

Willis was a co-worker and a friend of mine. Since the first time I met him, he was always friendly and he always had a smile on his face. His wife and him recently had their second child.I had a conversation with him a few days ago and he was mentioning how important it was for him to have quality time with his wife and children. 

Willis was also very active in his Church. He was a graduate of UCLA and he was originally from Northern California. Willis love to eat and he enjoyed trying new foods. Willis and his wife enjoy salsa dancing. 

Everyone at work is crashed that he died this way. I take some comfort that he died while doing something he loved to do and that he live his life to the fullest.

From Fellow Bruin

I’ve known Willis since my college days.  Such a bright light he is/ was to anyone who knew him.  Such a shock and a terrible loss for our entire community.  He and his wife just welcomed their 2nd son into the world in February.  That’s the worst part– he’ll never remember just what a special dad he had.  Willis was no dare-devil.  I don’t know how this could happen- but ride carefully, folks!

Please, take that last part seriously. We may not know exactly how or why he died, but we do know how to avoid the next one.

Ride carefully, ride smart, ride defensively.

There are people who love you, and count on you to come home from your rides.

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