Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Bikemas (2014)!

Merry Christmas to one and all!  Nothing beats getting up on Christmas morning to find a bike by the tree, does it?

Here is what my long-suffering wife found:


Just begs to be ridden doesn't it?  Big thanks to Holland's Bicycles for customizing this 7 speed Electra Loft for me.  The brown tires, daisy saddle, daisy bell, multi-colored grips and accented basket make it look like a completely different bike than the one that shipped.

So, if I avoid any forced "death-marches" my long-suffering wife may just be back in the bike game for good.  Let's hope so . . .



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Say It Ain't So, Bono!

Did you hear the awful news?  Hard to believe it, but one of the biggest stars on the planet, who also happens to be the lead singer of the Bikeist's favorite rock band, managed to get into a bone-breaking bike crash while riding in Central Park.  No, it was not Chris Martin!  Who said that?!  That's the guy we wish had crashed!  It was Paul Hewson, aka, Bono, of U2 of course!



As reported in Rolling Stone, here is the statement from Bono's Doc detailing the full extent of his injuries:

Full Statement From Dean Lorich, MD on Bono's Condition:

On November 16th, Bono was involved in a high energy bicycle accident when he attempted to avoid another rider.  Presented as a Trauma Alert to New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell's Emergency Department, his Trauma Work-up at that time included multiple X-rays and CAT scans showed injuries that include:
1. Left facial fracture involving the orbit of his eye.
2. Left scapula (shoulder blade) fracture in three separate pieces.
3. Left compound distal humerus fracture where the bone of his humerus was driven though his skin and the bone was in six different pieces. He was taken emergently to the operating room for a five-hour surgery Sunday evening where the elbow was washed out and debrided, a nerve trapped in the break was moved and the bone was repaired with three metal plates and 18 screws.
4. One day later, he had surgery to his left hand to repair a fracture of his 5th metacarpal.
He will require intensive and progressive therapy, however a full recovery is expected.
Dean Lorich, MD
Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon
New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Hospital For Special Surgery

Ouch!  I'm left wondering what a low energy bicycle accident might be, though.  Is that the kind of accident you get into because you skipped breakfast, or, maybe, just have a case of the blahs?


Of course, our local daily, was all over this story, honing in on important "facts" with its typical journalistic prowess.  Yes, the U-T reported that Bono crashed because he was riding while disguised as a Hasidic Jew.  Really.  This was based upon a tongue-in-cheek response given by the Edge in a radio interview when he was asked why nobody was able to get a photo of Bono right after the crash:  "You know, when Bono goes cycling he likes to dress up as a Hasidic Jew."

The facetiousness of a response like that should speak for itself, but the U-T, and several other outlets, reported the joke as if it was serious.  At least the Jewish news website, haaretz.com, after first publishing the comment as if it was true, followed up with a clarifying article:  Bono's people confirm: U2 singer did not disguise himself as Hasidic Jew.  Thank God that his people came forward with the truth!  No amount of investigative journalism could have ever toppled such otherwise, credible, reportage.

Good grief, what a sorry state the world of journalism has sunk to.  At least you poor people still have me to give it to you straight.  Which leads me to the most disturbing aspect of Bono's unfortunate spill:  I caused it.  That's right, I'm to blame and I'm so, so, sorry.  Remember, a couple of months ago, when I celebrated the release of U2's new album in this post:  http://sdbikeist.blogspot.com/2014/09/like-fish-needs-bicycle.html and with this picture?


Clearly, just as athletes who appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated consistently have terrible performances immediately thereafter, and football players who are featured on the box of the Madden football video game almost always go on to have awful seasons (right Peyton Hillis?) Bono must have suffered from the Bikeist curse!  I'm guessing that Bono, probably as big a fan of the Bikeist as I am of him, read the now fateful post and became nostalgic for his care-free youth, deciding to take up biking again (sort of the point of the whole blog, right?)  I'm so sorry Bono!  How could I have not foreseen this?  Of course, it wasn't my idea for you to don a preposterous disguise -- oh yeah, almost forgot, that was just a joke -- almost forgot that your "people" clarified it.

How can I make it up to you?  Got it!  When your tour comes through So-Cal, free of charge, I'll take you out and provide some bike-safety pointers on a ride around my beloved San Diego.  You can even bring Larry, Adam and the Edge if you like -- the more the merrier!

Rule #1, though, always be yourself when riding!

Call me Bono!  I'm here for you!
 


Thursday, December 4, 2014

What Lay Ahead

If I didn't owe my faithful fan base the exciting conclusion to my three-part series on biking from San Luis Obispo (SLO) to Santa Barbara I'd probably be ranting about how everybody in SoCal loses their minds when wet stuff starts falling from the sky -- even joggers on the Strand bike path!  So, at least you'll be spared that . . .

So, where was I?  Oh yeah!  That's right, stuck in a coffee shop in Buellton waiting for the sun to get high enough so as not to render me invisible to cars overtaking me from behind.  It took a good 45 minutes before I felt comfortable, which was fine because I was getting an early start and only had 40 miles to go to Santa Barbara (after 80 the previous day), leaving plenty of time for me to catch the late afternoon Surfliner back to San Diego.   Once I cleared Buellton's "rush" hour, it was back to the rolling hills past scenic vineyards, much of which was lined by a canopy of trees overhanging Rte 246 most of the way to Solvang.  Pretty.

Already filled to the gills with coffee and just starting to digest my free lobby waffle, I decided to just plow through Solvang (which looked just as kitschy as I remembered it) and leave more time for one of my favorite towns on the planet - Santa Barbara.  The 246 got a little steeper after Solvang, but the pavement was pristine and the nice, wide shoulder was still there.  My first sign of impending doom, though, was a temporary sign directing trucks to use 154 to get to Santa Barbara -- yes, the same 154 that I needed to take over the San Marcos Pass.  "Gulp!"

No way to backtrack this far into the trip, and the shoulder was good, so I pressed on.  Before too long I intersected the turn-off to the 154:


The interchange looked brand new and opened up to a four lane highway with a good shoulder, so I still wasn't too worried.  However, the cars and trucks passing me were really moving -- 70 or more.

About two miles in, though, the shoulder pretty much disappeared as the road narrowed to two lanes, but the trucks and cars, with their fast running start were maintaining 70 as the road funneled.  Not fun.

Not possible to "take the lane" with a steady succession of vehicles overtaking me so quickly, and with a steady stream coming in the opposite direction as well, so all I could do was cling to the white line and my less-than-one-foot shoulder (where there was one).  Adding to the challenge was a succession of long rises with curves at the top, so there was no way for me to build any significant momentum, especially since I was consciously trying to not sway or rock as I climbed.

I got through two of the rises, after which there were slight respites in the form of ride-able shoulders on the short flats, but then there was this third climb:



Please notice the "Caution Truck Traffic" sign -- no kidding!  This was about half way up, where, thankfully, there was a rocky pull-off that I turned into right after two opposing trucks passed each other, and me, simultaneously, each going at least 65 mph.  The truck on my side came within inches, with no room to cross into the opposing lane.  As you look up, past the turnout, you can see the type of "shoulder" I was trying to navigate for a good 7 miles.  Here's a closer look:


This was getting way too hairy.  I only had a few inches of asphalt to work with and no margin of error with the steady stream of trucks flying by in both directions.

I looked back for a gap in the traffic and then sprinted hard for the top of the hill.  "Phew!"  Made it!

My reward for surviving this third, narrow, crucible, was a gorgeous overlook of Lake Cuyamaca:


Frankly, this is one of my favorite pictures that I've ever taken of my bike. Worth risking my life for?  Umm, no -- but cool nonetheless . . .

About a half mile further was the turnoff into Lake Cuyamaca State Park.  I decided to pull in, hit the General Store and re-group.  I used Google Maps to look at the satellite images of the rest of the trek up to the pass, and it didn't look like the road got any better.  The nice lady at the store backed up my visual observation, saying she thought it was crazy for anybody to bike this side of the pass.  That did it.  I was only 14 miles from Santa Barbara, and had biked 20 miles north of it along the coast on other visits, so had already crossed  the line, so-to-speak, when it comes to covering the whole Cali coast.  I was looking forward to the challenge of the 7 mile climb up San Marcos Pass and thrilling descent to follow, but with all the re-directed trucks, it just wasn't worth taking the risk.  Plus, I could always climb Old San Marcos Pass Road on the ocean side and get a better experience without the crazy traffic.

So, deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, I swallowed my pride and called Uber.  Not easy using the app to locate a vehicle big enough to accommodate me and my bike, but after a couple of dozen attempts, I managed to get, Mike, and his Toyota Sequoia.  He showed up in about half an hour and, a cyclist himself (who does Tour de France Fantasy with his club!), he reinforced my decision.  He said he and his club never went over the pass -- they'd climb the old road and cruise back down to Santa Barbara, but said the 154 to Solvang was avoided by even expert cyclists.  Nice to learn now.

Mike had me in downtown Santa Barbara in about 20 minutes where he dropped me at one of my favorite restaurants on the planet - The Palace - which may have the best Cajun cuisine west of Louisiana.  Their blackened filet-mignon with crawfish-laden pontchartrain sauce is heaven on earth -- especially for a somewhat defeated Bikeist.

With a little more time to kill before my train, it was off to Figueroa Mountain Brewing's Santa Barbara Tasting Room - practically across the street from the station.  More solace . . . 

Then it was the long eight hour journey back to San Diego wherein I had plenty of time to stew about the bum steer the Pacific Coast Biking "bible" had given me --





The authors had actually strongly recommended leaving the coast to bike through wine country to Santa Barbara, so I was a little bit peeved about following their advice so blindly.  With time to kill, and a convenient wi-fi connection on the train, I decided to try to contact the authors to register my complaint.  Within a few minutes, I had found a website for Tom Kirkendall's photo studio in Washington, which had an e-mail address.  So, I, politely e-mailed my story of the day's fiasco to Tom.

To my great surprise, he e-mailed me back within minutes!  Cool.  He apologized, saying that, if he did a new edition of the book, he intended to take out that recommendation.  Apparently, back in the day, he used to bike over the pass from Santa Barbara to get pastries and bike back - no problem.  Today, though, the traffic has gotten too constant for cars and bikes to share the route.

I shared the blog with Tom, and he actually, seriously, suggested that I consider taking on the writing of the next edition.  No kidding!  He even said he'd put in a good word with the publishers!  Not sure if I could swing it with the whole day job thing of making the planet safe for freedom-loving bikeists (and even non-bikeists) everywhere, but I have had so many friends encourage me to take up travel writing, that I might just give it a shot.  I plan on spending parts of the next two summers completing the route through Washington and Oregon anyway, so it might just be possible.

See Mr. Google!  I told you this blog would make me rich -- even if you don't want to share any of the massive profits my blog is surely bringing you.  I practically prop up the entire Google enterprise, and what do I get for it?  Well, I guess I do get the adoration of my loyal fan base, which, is, of course -- priceless.  I could still use a few extra bucks, though -- the $50 a pop from The Reader is nice, but it isn't exactly going to put my little bikeists through college.

Anyway, it looks like the Bikeist may actually be poised for the big-time.  May need to jazz up the title a bit, though.  How about, instead of "Bicycling the Pacific Coast," we call it "The Bikeist Devours the Pacific Coast (Except for 7 Harrowing Miles of the 154)."  Catchy, right?  Can't wait to pitch it to my new publisher!  Thanks, Tom!


Saturday, November 29, 2014

What A Turkey!

He seems to be thinking about it . . .


Wonder if he managed to make his escape!  Happy Thanksgiving to bikeists everywhere, even you turkeys.  The Bikeist will be back next week with the dramatic conclusion of the SLO to Santa Barbara ride . . .

Thursday, November 20, 2014

From SLO To Oblivion In 100 Miles

Welcome to Part II of my epic (they're all epic aren't they?) journey from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara - nearly completing my quest to bike every mile of  the California coast.  When I last left you, dear readers, I had just rescued an elderly damsel in distress from her precarious perch in a "Youth" Hostel bunkbed.  I was out the door and on my bike and zipping past the Amtrak station mere minutes later, soon reuniting with my old friends, the PCH and the Pacific Coast Bike Route (often, but not always, one in the same).  Of course, on this, particular, quest, my old friends are forever fresh and new since every pedal-stroke introduces me to an as-of-yet never before biked (by me) stretch of pavement.  SLO seemed to be just waking up as I biked through the morning twilight, cars (and bikes) becoming more numerous as the minutes and miles passed and teachers, students, and other locals headed off to classes and jobs.  Didn't they all just wish they could be as free as I was to just spend the day in the saddle?

Before I knew it, SLO was behind me and  I was back along the coast, coming into North Pismo Beach.  Couldn't resist just one more double-shot of espresso as I passed this great little coffee shop overlooking the ocean:


Then it was steady pedaling through the quaint, funky, town that is Pismo followed by a morning traversing farm fields that reminded me a lot of biking through Ventura County -- long flat stretches through coastal farmland.  These stretches had a couple of climbs built in, though -- one a short, but steep climb from the fields back to the coast and a stretch of massive sand dunes.  The 1 then headed back inland and eventually merged with the 135 near the tiny town of Orcutt with faster traffic, but a wide shoulder and an awesome tail-wind.  I was hitting 30 mph without having to kill myself!  Before long, though, it was the only real climb of the day -- two miles of switch-backs through a pass leading to a longer, fast descent to the crummy town of Lompoc -- a series of fast food restaurants seemingly filled with impatient drivers who acted as though they'd never seen a bicycle before.  Really didn't like the vibe here -- filled my water bottles at a McDonalds and pedaled on.

Luckily, the best part of the ride awaited -- 20 miles on Rte 246 through the rolling hills of Central California wine country.  With that great tail-wind still with me, I could imagine the peloton around me as we whizzed past the vineyards on the Tour of California.  Always nice to get to the 60 mile point of an 80 mile ride and feel a surge of power (even if it's the wind providing the power).

Before I knew it, I was at mile 80 and at my destination for the night, Buellton -- home to many of the areas wineries, but, of even more interest to me, two of the most prominent breweries.  Before getting to my hotel for the night, I pulled into Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, which is one of the few breweries north of Oceanside (besides Russian River, of course, and Lagunitas) making beer on a par with San Diego's best.  The Lizard's Mouth is tremendous -- and they also make an incredible saison.  On top of that, their head brewer IS The Dude!


That's right, not A Dude, but THE Dude!  He was moving around too much for me to get a live picture, but he looks just like he does in the above, posed, shot.  Too cool!  Unfortunately, the brewery was a week away from opening its long-awaited kitchen, but it was still a great place to end a long ride -- with a nice beer garden out front and lots of cool hop-heads inside and out.  Plus, it would have been a shame to ruin my appetite before hitting brewery #2 later on.  

Next, it was off to the Comfort Inn, chosen for its proximity to Brewery #2 and the fact it had washers and dryers (crucial to my mode of travel).  After a much needed and deserved shower, I popped the day's bike gear into the wash (to ensure dry clothes to change into at the end of the next day's ride) and headed across a bridge crossing the 101 to the Firestone Brewpub and Tasting Room - an enormous beer hall, with gourmet food and pub grub, reminiscent of the Stone Bistro (minus the gardens) in Escondido.  The carne asada nachos were definitely the thing to get and I had a great evening watching Monday Night Football and discussing the California beer scene (as a whole) with the regulars at the bar.  Heaven.  Must have been my reward for rescuing that little old lady!

Looks like I pretty much spent all my karma in one shot, though, as the next day turned out to be quite the disaster.  I rose before the sun again (as usual) and partook of the waffle-maker at the complimentary lobby breakfast (love those things!).  When light came, I headed back down to the 246 and started biking straight into this view:


Wow, I'm squinting again just looking into the picture -- as were all the drivers coming up behind me -- not good.  I've heard too many stories about cyclists getting nailed by cars during early morning commutes into rising suns that made them invisible.  So, I pulled off and hung in a coffee shop for about an hour, until the sun didn't seem to be directly ahead of those of us traveling east.  No big deal, but not a good sign for what lay ahead . . .

(End of Part II -- Next:  What lay ahead)


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Two Brazilians, A Bunk-Bed, And An Octogenarian

I love just about everything about biking.  I love that I ride every day.  I love riding to work (when I'm not getting hassled by driveists, that is).  I love my long Saturday morning rides.  I love the social rides I do with friends around the bay and the island.  What I absolutely love the most, though, are my multi-day bike adventures.  I never feel more alive than when its me and my bike and hundreds of miles to traverse by ourselves in some place I've never biked before.  Just thinking about the sheer freedom and escape of it gives me an instant sense of giddiness.

Thus, I must have been the happiest man in San Diego two Sundays ago, as I got up early, hopped on my pre-loaded bike, and pedaled off to catch the bus right outside the base to take me over the Coronado Bay Bridge to begin my train trek north to knock out one of the last two segments I need to complete in order to have biked the entire California coast, north to south.  I hopped off the bus and retrieved my bike from the front rack at 12th and Imperial (where the atmosphere seems to take on more and more of a "Mad Max" feel daily), and headed straight for Santa Fe Station where my "smart" phone said I could catch a the Surfliner all the way to San Luis Obispo (SLO).  To my dismay, though, I learned that all tracks between San Diego and Oceanside were down for maintenance.  Some smart phone.

Not too big a problem, though.  For a mere extra $16, Amtrak let me take their bus shuttle from the station to Oceanside, with my bike stowed below.  Crisis averted.  I even had some time to kill before the train, giving me time to check out Bagby Beer Co., the super-cool new place started by the legendary Pizza Port brewer.  With large open-air windows, a courtyard, roof-top seating, awesome food and a tremendous beer selection, it did not disappoint.  Finally, a place to wait for the train in Oceanside where I don't feel like I'm about to get a cue-stick smashed over my head, stabbed, or eaten alive by a pit-bull (or all three).


After a quick lunch, it was a mere 9 hour ride from Oceanside to SLO.  Thank God the train had wi-fi and I had my Kindle!

Got to SLO a little after 8:30 and headed straight to the Hostel that was, conveniently, just a couple of blocks from the Amtrak station.  Great Hostel!  Housed in a beautiful old Victorian. it was clean, well-run, and, best of all, cheap!  Just $16 a bunk, but I paid a little more to have the privacy of my own (extremely small room).


As I was checking in, two young women from Brazil came in right after me.  They had taken the same train up with me (starting in LA where they had just landed that morning).  We all must have been starving, because a mere couple of minutes later, the three of us had stowed our stuff and were heading out the door to go find Higuera and its long stretch of eateries.  We walked together (I sensed that they found some comfort in walking along in a strange country with the only familiar face to them - besides the dude who had checked us in), chatting along the way.  Before we knew it, we had reached my desired destination -- the Firestone Grill, home of a famously succulent tri-tip sandwich.  My new Brazilian friends weren't enticed by the prospect of eating beef sandwiches in a student hang-out, so we bid each other adieu as I hungrily scurried into Firestone to devour one of the most delicious sandwiches I've ever had.  Yum!


After dinner, I walked around downtown a bit (to get out the kinks and kick-start digestion) and loved everything I saw.  I've been through SLO a few times now, and have loved my brief encounters each time.  Next time I MUST stay for a bit and really get to know it.  Then, it was straight to bed, so I could be ready for an early start Monday morning as I set out south to Santa Barbara.

I slept like a rock, rising an hour before sunrise to make sure I could get properly caffeinated before heading out.  So, it was back over to Higuera where I hit Black Horse Espresso and Bakery for a "Keith Richards" (large coffee with two shots of espresso) and a delicious sausage and cheese croissant.  Awesome start to the day.  Twilight was just starting to emerge on my walk back, triggering the wonderful adrenaline triggered butterflies I get at the start of any big ride.  So exciting!  Soon after I got back to my room, though, and as I began to secure my saddle-bag I heard a soft knock on my door.  I answered it immediately, finding one of the Brazilian women I had met the night before outside in her long night-gown.  She had a look of mild concern on her face and asked if I could come upstairs to help a lady who was "stuck."  When I asked what she meant she just waved to me to follow, which I did.  We climbed the stairs to the women's bunk-room where her friend was waiting by the door.  I followed them both into the room where there was a little old lady in the top of one of the bunks with her lower legs dangling over the metal railing designed to keep sleepers from falling out.  Unfortunately, in her case, it prevented her from exiting the bed at all under her own power.  She was smiling, and promptly reported that she was 82 and had no strength left in her legs after two knee replacements.  When I asked how she managed to get up into the top bunk, she said she had climbed the ladder slowly and just fallen into the bed.  I asked how her arms and arm sockets were and she said they were fine.  So, I talked her through the game-plan:  I would lift her (like a baby) by her arm-pits over the railing, and she would then lean forward, put her arms around my neck and let me slowly lower her to the floor.  I then got into place, counted to three and, flat-footed, easily lifted her (wow, was she light) over the railing after which she clutched me as I carefully lowered her while we were chest-to-chest.  Once she was safely, two-feet-on-the-ground, she looked up, smiled, and proclaimed "ooh, that was actually pretty nice!"  The two Brazilians thought that was quite funny, and I began to suspect that this might not have been the first time this little old lady had needed "rescuing" from a bunk-bed.  I then excused myself (after accepting the thanks of all concerned), headed back down stairs, grabbed my bike and headed out the door thrilled that I was starting my trip with such a tremendous surplus of good karma.  Apparently, it was only enough for one, glorious day, though, but more about that in Part II!

(End of Part I of SLO to Santa Barbara . . .)


Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Single Best Thing That Has Ever Happened In The History Of Humankind

I fully intended to tell you all the details of my epic, heroic, journey from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara, but something so awesome, so momentous, so life-affirming happened yesterday that the story of the ride will have to wait.  As a teaser, though, I will reveal only that the first morning of the journey began with two Brazilian girls, a bunk-bed and an octogenarian.  Really.

But yesterday far surpassed that (really) and, perhaps, any experience I may ever again have on a bicycle.  To set the scene (and further enhance the grand irony and poetic justice of yesterday's ride), I recommend you revisit my recent classic post, appropriately entitled "Duh . . ."

Welcome back.  As you will now remember, in that post, I provided a graphic illustration of the correct way for a bikeist to traverse an intersection:



So, just as described in "Duh . . . ,"  I once again left my driveway on base here and headed down the narrow, two lane road to my office.  As usual, I got caught at the light just after "Flag Circle," so I got in line behind the waiting cars and proceeded straight through the intersection as depicted above.  I was last in line, so there were no issues getting through the intersection.  Right after the intersection, the road widens to accommodate two narrow lanes in each direction (which one might think would be good for bikes, since cars now have plenty of room to pass if they wish - even though I'm traveling pretty close to the 25 mph speed limit at this point).  About 50 yards after the intersection, I heard a car approaching from behind, so I glanced over my left shoulder to see that it was alone, with no other cars coming behind it in the left (passing) lane.  Having cleared the intersection, I had moved to the right and hadn't taken the lane, knowing that the car behind could safely pass me leaving plenty of room -- except he didn't.  Rather than change lanes (or at least partially cross the dotted line), the young driver of this rusty, late 80's Mustang, decided to keep all four wheels decidedly in the same lane we were both occupying.  With no particular haste, he passed me within inches of my left elbow and pedal, slowly drifting toward rather than away from me.  I, of course, screamed and gesticulated, but he lingered, without budging.  Once he was clear of me, he started to give a sarcastic wave, when all of a sudden we both heard the short, loud  "BWOOOO!!" of a police car siren right behind us.  I looked back to see two, smiling base police officers with their lights going.  I, happily, pulled aside as they accelerated to pull over my buddy in the Mustang.  I've got to tell you, that, along with my wedding day and the day I became a dad, this may have been the happiest moment I have had in my entire life.  Combined with the adrenaline of the altercation, I was in a state of complete ecstasy.

So, I started pedaling again, and, as I passed the police cruiser, I asked "Did you see all that?"  The DoD cop in the driver's seat nodded his head and said "We're about to have a little talk with your friend there."  Giddy, I pedaled on, seeing that the knucklehead's window was open.  As I passed, I simply said "That's what you get, bro" to the schlumpf at the wheel.  He muttered a defeated, disingenuous "sorry," to which I retorted "no, you're not - you're just sorry you got caught" as I pedaled on with a giant shit-eating grin (the same one I'm sure I'm still sporting a day later) on my face.

I know what you're thinking -- "and then you woke up from your wet dream, Bikeist."  Am I right?  I know this sounds too good to be true, but it is 100% accurate, true, valid, authentic, real, etc.!  Come on, if I was making this up, I would have, at least, come up with something more clever and witty to have shouted in the perpetrator's window as I triumphantly biked by.

Given all the similar situations I have endured over the years, with no such cathartic validation, I'm almost having a hard time believing it myself -- especially on the heels of my recent post complaining about exactly the same sort of stupid driveist behavior.  These sorts of things don't happen in real life, do they?  It reminds me of the scene in "Annie Hall," where Woody Allen's character is trapped on a line having to suffer through the pedantic rambling of a know-it-all who claims to understand the meaning of a film he's explicating.  When Woody's character disagrees with him, the blow-hard recites his academic credentials, after which Woody pulls out (from off-camera) the actual director of the film who sides with Woody and tells the other guy that he doesn't understand his work at all.  Woody then addresses the audience directly through the "fourth wall" and says "If life were only like this . . ."  Well, Woody, sometimes it is!

Epilogue:  When I got to work, I practically floated up the stairs carrying my bike, and anxiously told anybody and everybody within earshot my story.  Knowing me, and my bikeist ways, my co-workers were thrilled for me, but one asked a very good question raising my only regret about the entire incident:  "Did you get a picture?"  Ooh!  What an opportunity I had.  With my iPhone waiting trustily in my bento box on my top tube, I could have so easily stopped and caught a picture of the flashing lights and the stupid look on my tormenters face if I had thought of it.  Despite my glee, though, my instincts had told me to disengage while I was ahead and not do anything to turn the cops against me.  So, perhaps it was better to simply just not mess with perfection.  And perfection it was . . .


Friday, October 31, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Squinting . . .

Amazing ride from SLO to Buellton yesterday.  Tried to set out early this morning, but this is the view heading out of town, due East on Rte. 246.  Think I'll wait for the sun to get a bit higher --


Monday, October 27, 2014

Here We Go . . .

This is where the 10+ hour journey to SLO by bus to bus (thanks to a closed rail line) to train began yesterday.  


Now, I'm sitting at Black Horse Espresso in SLO, waiting for the sun to rise so I can start pedaling south.  More to come . . .

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Coast Beckons!

Any of you who have already read my complete (awe-inspiring) "bikeography" are already familiar with my quest to bike every mile of the U.S. Pacific Coast sometime before I'm too old and decrepit to pedal anymore.  I knocked out one of the largest chunks last summer when I biked from the CA/Oregon border to San Fran - majestically finishing six days on the bike by crossing the Golden Gate.  Next summer I hope to do the entire Oregon Coast, but I still have two stretches of California that need to be tackled -- both of which I should easily be able to get done in separate weekends.

First is San Fran to Monterey:


This one was worth saving -- one of the prettiest stretches of coast anywhere, but not nearly as challenging as Big Sur or NorCal.  I might just save this one for very last, depending upon how things play out in the coming weeks/months.

Next is San Luis Obispo (SLO), where I ended my Big Sur adventure, to Santa Barbara:


This will take me through some of the best road-biking terrain in the U.S. -- where pros train and the Tour of California always traverses.  Following the coast here would mean long stretches on the 101, so I'm more likely to take the advice of the Pacific Coast biking "bible" and take the inland route (still paralleling the coast, so it still counts!)

For those of you who have forgotten what the "bible" looks like, here it is:





Get it -- you won't regret it!


While I love biking in and around San Diego, there is just something about getting out of your element that enhances the adventure factor in biking.  After focusing upon changing houses and jobs this summer, I am antsy to get back out on the road.  With my birthday coming up, I think I'm going to make one of these rides my present to myself.  The other can be my Christmas present.  Either way, the Bikeist vows here to have completed the California Coast by January 1st -- a late in the old year resolution!

And you, my lucky readers, get to tag along for the ride as I share all the details.  You must be so excited!  Stay tuned as I get tuned up in the next couple of weeks . . .

Monday, October 6, 2014

Duh . . .

As the more loyal pockets of my fan-base  are already well aware, I traded in my "26 Miles Around the Bay Every Day" commute for a much less strenuous 1.5 miles each way from my new house on base to my office, which happens to be on the same street.  Guess which commute I consider to be more dangerous?

Go ahead.  Think about it for a little while.  Mull it over.  Weigh the probabilities and endless permutations.  

Give up?

Ok, I'll tell, I'll tell-- it's the shorter one!

I know!  Mind-blowing, right?  

Who'd've guessed?

You'd think that the 26 miles each and every day would expose one to far less danger, but my old commute followed the Bayshore Bikeway, which has good shoulders, designated lanes, and separated paths almost the entire way around the bay.

Meanwhile, my current commute takes me on a narrow, two-laned road with no shoulder or bike-lane that turns into a four lane road with even narrower lanes and, again, no shoulder or lane.  Generally, though, it seems pretty safe.  It starts in my residential neighborhood, has a 25 mph speed-limit throughout, and plenty of traffic lights.  By and large, the Sailors and government employees who traverse it in the morning are attentive and courteous.  However, there are always a few knuckleheads in every group who ruin it for everybody -- particularly us bikeists.

The narrow lanes make it impossible for a car and bike to travel next to each other within the lane while maintaining three feet of separation (or one foot, really).  So, attentive drivers with a little common sense wait for a gap in on-coming traffic to pass me on the two-lane portion and carefully change to the left lane in the four-lane portion.  No big deal.

But, then there are the knuckleheads -- the ones who are always driving like they have a delivering mother in the back seat who try to pinch me by passing within the narrow lane despite on-coming traffic or a second car occupying the passing lane.  Hate those guys!

The obvious solution to this problem is for me to "take the lane" as the law allows in areas where cars and bikes can't travel abreast with three feet of separation.  The problem, though, is that doing so makes knuckleheads extremely angry.  Like their medieval and cro-magnon forebearers, they get angry at that which they simply can't understand due to their profound ignorance.

This phenomenon played it out twice in as many days for your beloved Bikeist this week -- two different intersections, two different knuckleheads, same, exact, ignorance.  It went exactly like this (except I may have missed a few "duhs"):

(1) Bikeist innocently pulls up to a red light, stopping in the middle of the lane (especially important at intersections to allow driveists to go right on red, and, more importantly, to ensure that right-turning traffic doesn't "t-bone" you as you proceed straight through the intersection when the light turns green.

(2) Light turns green.  As Bikeist promptly begins his first pedal-stroke, knucklehead in red Mitsubishi (of course) lays on horn.

(3) Bikeist simply stops in his tracks.  Turns around and throws hands in air, making a "what could possibly be the problem" gesture.

(4) Knucklehead guns it, passing Bikeist in opposing lane, yelling "Uh, duh, get to the right!" As he blows by.

(5) Bikeist catches him at stop sign as he's waiting in line to make a left turn -- asks knucklehead if he'd like to discuss the rules of the road.

(6) Knucklehead:  "Duh, the law says you have to keep right all the time, duh!"

(7) Bikeist:  "That's not true."

(8) Knucklehead: "Duh, it is -- want me to call Security right now, duh?!"

(9) Bikeist: "No need to go and do that, I'm a lawyer and well familiar with the law -- there are places where a rider has to move to the middle of the road."

(10) Knucklehead:  (even more flustered) "Umm, duh, umm -- NO!  You ALWAYS have to stay all the way to the right, duh! I'm calling Security."

(11) Bikeist:  pedals off, shaking his head wondering if there is any hope, at all, for humanity.

(12) Fast-forward one day, substitute "Get right asshole" for the horn -- pretty much the same dialogue and outcome with knucklehead #2.

These incidents are fine examples of how useless the "three foot law" (or any bike law for that matter ) is without education of the people in the multi-ton vehicles.  Where was my magical, protected, three foot bubble of safety?  Wish I had printed copies of this graphic to hand to those knuckleheads:


Maybe I can have it printed onto the back of a t-shirt!  No means no driveists!  Staying to the right as I enter an intersection puts me in the path (and blind spot) of right-turning cars.  The "safe" area is in the center of the lane, where I'm easily seen and can move through the intersection with the flow of traffic.   

Do I, typically, move to the right when I get through the intersection to let cars pass.  Yes.  But, neither of the knuckleheads I encountered this week gave me a chance to do so before freaking out.

Key takeaways:

(1) Let's try to be civil out there people -- no need to scare the crap out of a poor innocent Bikeist by laying on your horn when we're all starting from a dead stop. Relax and don't let your ignorance and/or in-breeding get the best of you.

(2) "Duh is as duh does."  Watch your six out there bikeists -- despite laws passed to supposedly protect us, some driveists are simply uneducable -- always anticipate the knucklehead --

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tour de Fat Diego

Were you there this Saturday oh bikeist denizens?  The multi-various bike tribes of San Diego converged upon Golden Hill Park for this year's iteration of New Belgium Brewing Company's touring carnival, the "Tour de Fat," celebrating two of our favorite things:  bikes and beer.  And what a scene it was!


It all kicked off at 11 am as thousands of bikeists set off on a two mile, costumed, slow-motion, bike parade through Golden Hill and North Park.  Every imaginable type of bike and rider was represented:  cyclists (mostly incognito on their back-up beater bikes, but their spandex gave them away), hipsters (on fixies, of course), low-riders (complete with bike-gang style jackets), collectors (spotted at least 2 bikes dating from the 1930's), once-a-year-riders (especially the rider who managed to crash within the first 200 yards), exhibitionists, and drinkers (perhaps the largest group represented).  Bikeists all, though, for embracing the pure bike joy of the event.

Once the arduous course was completed, the kegs were tapped and the party got rolling.  Inexpensive New Belgium beer flowed, with proceeds going to support bike organizations in San Diego.  On display were various forms of bike sculptures:



-- and -- best of all -- there was the "bike corral" filled with various bike creations that anybody could take for a spin.  This one was my very favorite:


How cool is that?  It actually worked!

Loved this one as well:


I actually saw three brave (braver than me, that's for sure) souls get it going.

Add in several stages with live music, a super-competitive "slow-bike" race, and a line almost the length of the park for new release beers (this is San Diego, right?) and you have bike and beer nirvana.

Best of all, though, were the high-quality people drawn to this huge bike and beer attractive nuisance.  No surprise there, of course when you blend my favorite things:  bikes, beer, and San Diego -- all things that are associated with laid-back, cool people.  

The event was as close to perfect as can be -- my only criticism is that we have to rely upon a Colorado brewer to bring us all this bike and craft beer goodness.  You hear me Stone?  Ballast Point?  Blind Lady, isn't that a bikeist on your house brew?

Come on, San Diego brewers, this guy shouldn't have to wait a whole year to pull out this get-up again!


Kind of took the whole "fat" thing a little bit too literally, don't you think?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Three Feet Revisited

Back by popular demand (yes, several loyal members of the fan base did, actually, demand this) -- it's the Bikeist's highly polarizing, extremely controversial post on California's notorious "Three Foot Law."  






It finally became effective this month, so I'm republishing my February post in its entirety for your edification and reading pleasure.  Any complaints should be directed at the Governor's office and not this poor, defenseless, blog.  Enjoy --

-----------------------------------------------

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Gimme Three Feet, Gimme Three Feet 

Mister . . .


 Have you heard the big news California bikeists?  Governor Brown signed a controversial bill into law that requires driveists to maintain a three foot buffer when passing those on bikes (effective this September).  Hurray!  Now we are 100% safe on the roads and will never get hit by a reckless, inattentive, texting, drunk, nearsighted, angry, psychotic, sleepy, or just plain lousy driver ever again!  Right?

  

And, I'm sure this law will pack plenty of deterrent punch to make drivers think twice about breaking that magic three foot bubble, right?  Well, um, not exactly.  The fine for coming within three feet is actually a "whopping" $35.  Really?  The fine for "jaywalking" in San Diego is $100 (and I'm still fuming over the $77 ticket I got on Broadway back in 2002).  Let me get this straight -- the person who poses no threat to anyone but themselves gets nailed for $100, but the one who comes within inches of taking out an innocent fellow human being who happens to be on a bike gets a fine that is about 1/3 that?  I'm starting to feel like the law considers us bikeists to be somewhat less than human.

And, wow -- has this new law ever  brought the hating hateists (more fully described in my "Hateists" post) out of the woodwork.  The LA Times devoted an entire column to the vitriol on display when they reported on the new law:  "Is 3 Feet Asking Too Much?".

They were also on great display in reaction to this piece broadcast on KPBS just yesterday:  "Will It Make Roads Safe Enough?"

My favorite is "Commus" who seems to think that people who ride bikes don't pay taxes, so have no right to use roadways, and offered this gem:

"The moderator is even prejudiced dragging out his sob story of being hit but no mention of his position in traffic"

This seems to imply that he deserved to get hit.  Does it get any more hateful than that folks?  No empathy for someone who actually got schwacked by a car, and an attitude that seems to say that bikes which mix with traffic are fair game.  I, generally, see more compassion displayed toward stray dogs and cats that run out randomly into traffic . . .

Anyway, while the law is not going to create a magic bubble that will make bike riders immune to the drivers around them, and lacks any real financial deterrent value -- I still, of course, support it.  Get it into the learner's permit manuals and onto driver's license tests, and, maybe, we can change a few attitudes and train drivers to be mindful of bikeists.  Not everyone has had the benefit of someone like my dad teaching them to drive - who emphasized giving bikes as much leeway as possible since you never know when they might have to swerve to avoid a danger invisible from a car.  You'd think that trying as hard as possible to not kill others who share the road would be a matter of pure common sense, but for those lacking such sense, I guess the only hope is education.

Be careful out there bikeists - keep your eyes and ears open, watch your six, and give hell to every driver who doesn't respect your statutory, God-given, thirty-six inches!



Monday, September 15, 2014

I Want My Climate Back!

Seriously, people, what's with this stinking heat?  Did a brisk, sweaty, 12 miles after work today (pausing for 30 burpees at Glorietta Bay Park), but this heat has just taken the life out of me.  Just don't feel the creative juices flowing when it gets all sultry -- makes me wonder how on earth Faulkner, Clemens, O'Connor, Marquez, etc. got it done.

Then again, I am, finally, posting on a Monday, which must count for something.  Maybe it's an acclimatization thing.  Give me a few more weeks of heat and humidity and I might just finally pop out the novel I know I have in me.  "The Bike And The Fury" perhaps?

Thanks to a forward from my loyal fan base, though, I won't leave you empty handed:

If Cars Were Treated Like Cyclists
What if city infrastructure treated cars like cyclists? This is interesting to think about.


Yeah, what if it did?  I can't tell you how many times I have been spit out into the flow of motorized traffic by suddenly disappearing bike lanes (especially in L.A.).  Bike lanes are great and all, but what's the point if they don't transport you to a logical, meaningful, destination?

Of course, many of these lanes to nowhere were laid down during the brain-dead 1970's, when everyone (especially the architects who designed toilet bowl- shaped multi-purpose stadiums and various other utilitarian concrete monstrosities) was perpetually high on something or other in order to deal with having to wear polyester leisure suits and Watergate.  At least that's how I remember it.

Finally, speaking of brain-dead and infrastructure, check out this news report attempting to display the supposed chaos created by Seattle's first protected bike lane.  


More amazing to me than the supposed confusion is that bike-progressive Seattle somehow allowed NYC and DC to beat it to installing protected bike lanes.  Wake up Seattle -- less micro-brew and more espresso people!  Seems to me that you might be starting to suffer from a little 70's style malaise . .  .

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Like A Fish Needs A Bicycle . . ."

What is it with Mondays?  Just can't seem to get my posts in on time for my legions of fans to kick their weeks off right.  Seems that social obligations keep cropping up on Sunday nights.  At least, I was doing something useful this past Sunday evening when I should have been blogging.  Biking through downtown to meet a friend I made during my Arizona adventure, I came across this:


Not, exactly, sure why, but this windshield art really threw me for a loop.  Didn't quite know what to make of it -- equal parts amused and appalled.  It was as if my Northeast sensibilities were internally battling with my late acquired So-Cal "whatever"-ness for control of my immortal soul:

Northeast self:  "What kind of knuckle-head shells out good money to adorn their windshield with mindless profanity?"

So-Cal self:  "But, isn't this what California is all about?  Informality combined with a rejection of east coast mores and classist social constraints --

Northeast self:  "There is a line, though, between good-natured informality and pure vulgarity.  Do we really want little kids to see this coming down the street?

So-Cal:  "But, look closer!  This dude (must be a dude) has not one, but two sets of rosaries hanging above the dash along with Cartman!  Brilliant!  The self-contradictions, piety, irreverence, and exhibitionism are pure Cali, dude!  F*ck yeah!"

And so it goes on and on in my brain (and probably will forever as this reformed New Yorker settles deeper and deeper into California culture) . . .

So, there was that.

Then, yesterday, completely out of the blue, U2 (the best band to ever grace God's green earth) went and changed the world as we know it.  Unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere, you should surely know that, unannounced, Bono, the Edge, Larry, and Adam suddenly decided to make their new album (the first in five years) available to the entire world for free.  No kidding -- the biggest band in the world and one of the greatest commercial successes ever, decided to forego the millions they could make (even with pirating) from selling their music by just giving it away instead.  If you have an iTunes account, the album is waiting there, in your "purchased" items for you to download.  Best of all, the album is awesome!  (Don't just take my word for it, check out this glowing review from the New York Times).  With a direct homage to The Ramones, hints of The Clash, and perfectionistic studio engineering reminiscent of the Beatles at the height of their powers, this FREE album provides an incredible shot in the arm to 21st Century Rock & Roll.   Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Why'd they do it?  Not sure, but my #1 guess would simply be because they can.  They don't need the revenue from music sales, and are sure to make a ton anyway when they tour.  The timing also seems very interesting to me amidst the on-going debates about whether file-sharing/piracy is killing Rock & Roll and song-writing in general.  My two cents is that free music is actually improving the music scene.  As with so many other industries, computers and the internet have torn down the economic barriers that used to keep start-ups from entering markets previously dominated by ginormous corporate entities.  Through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, etc., (not to mention professional editing/producing capabilities available on laptops and PC's), bands no longer need a label in order to get discovered and/or develop a following.  Will they get the same benefit of previous generations of getting to live off of the royalties of songs/albums recorded decades ago for their entire lives?  Probably not.  But, like U2, they can get by as working musicians (okay, U2 is doing a little better than just "getting by") -- giving the recorded music away, but making money off of their shows and commercial endorsements.  I have no problem with this.  Why should becoming a recording artists guarantee one a life of unbridled wealth and excess anyway?  If you love making music, just do it.  Maybe you can make a living off of it, maybe not.  I almost got to the point of making a living off baseball, but the fact that I didn't is no tragedy because I simply loved playing -- just as I love riding my bike!  Money or no money, I don't see the incentive to create great music ever going away, especially since the #1 reason most males join a band is to meet girls . . .

Oh, yeah, bikes, that's right, got a little diverted there.  It's U2, though, folks and they transcend all genres and categories.  I, at least, started with a biking theme, and, that is also how I will end:


Oh, and --  ". . . this is 40!"


Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Bikeist Vortex?

Why no Bikeist this past Monday?  Labor Day people!  Would have posted a place-holder to let you all know, but that would constitute "work" which I'm pretty sure is illegal on Labor Day --

Anyway, not easy to post when you're stuck in the world's longest traffic jam (or what seemed like it) all the way from Flagstaff to Phoenix along I-17.  I know, I have cited about a thousand reasons why I have only transported myself to work via bikes for 19 years, but #1 (by a long-shot) is my complete loathing of getting stuck in traffic.  My personal hell.  Oh, what I would have given for a bike!  Of course, the bike wouldn't have been quite so pleasant once I got back down to the Valley of the Sun and its toasty 112 degrees of pure fun.  Note to self:  every holiday weekend, every living soul in Phoenix (who can't afford to fly to San Diego) gets in an endless line of SUV's to crawl up the mountains to Flagstaff/Sedona on Friday night and then turns right around and starts heading back to Phoenix when they finally get there on Monday morning. 

Lucky for me, despite this torture, I still managed to fit in some amazing biking during this trip to watch my buddy Mark (yes, the same cyclist hating guy from Kansas featured in my very first post!) get promoted.  Us being in the Navy, promotions are always followed by "Wetting Down" parties -- and this one didn't disappoint -- went pretty much all weekend.  For those of you still trying to remember who Mark is, here's his unfathomably rusty cassette:


Oh, the horror!

Flying in the night before the festivities gave me ample opportunity to get up early the next morning to hit the amazing red rock trails in Sedona.  Doing a little research before-hand, I discovered the Bike & Bean, a coffee/bike shop in Oak Creek (right near Bell Rock) that rents top-shelf mountain bikes and also runs the Red Agave mountain bike "resort" across the street.  Some of the best trails in Arizona lead out from right behind the Red Agave's A-frame units.  Unfortunately for me, the Red Agave was sold out for a wedding, but the Wildflower Inn (a cheap, clean, motel with an incredible view of Bell Rock) actually shares a parking lot with the Bike & Bean.  Absolute best thing about the Inn, though, is their new basement tenant:  Famous Pizza & Beer.  As a born and certified New York pizza snob, I was dubious about the pizza (which wound up being delicious), but thought I had died and gone to heaven when I creaked in after my insufferable drive from Phoenix to discover a freshly hung chalkboard listing about 15 different craft beers on tap!  Score!  Bikes, trails, beer, pizza, gourmet coffee and a bed all co-located within walking distance of each other all for my personal enjoyment!  It must have been my own personal Sedona vortex that led me to this spot (or something like that) -- what an awesome micro-vacation within a mini-vacation!  I sat with the owner who is a huge hop-head and learned that he had just moved in that week.  The man knows his beer -- Stone, Green Flash, Dogfish Head, Ska, Great Divide, and even some Belgians were all on tap.

The next morning I woke up early to this view:

 
I jumped into my mountain bike shorts, dry-fit shirt, and bike shoes -- loaded my stuff in the trunk of the car, scarfed down a fresh waffle (love free hotel lobby breakfast buffets with waffle-makers -- why don't all hotels have them?), then made my way across the parking lot to the Bike & Bean just as they were opening to pick up the fully suspended Santa Cruz I had reserved the week before. 


 I was greeted by the owner (a fellow New Yorker!) who made me a perfect double espresso as I filled out the rental paperwork.  He had a map ready for me and patiently walked me through his recommended ride for the morning.  When I asked him what drew him out here from New York -- he just looked around the shop and said "this, man!"  So jealous . . .

Next, I was out the door and on the bike.  Always a little weird re-adjusting to the feel of a mountain bike -- used to be the only way I rode, but I'm predominantly a road rider these days.  After whizzing around the parking lot a few times, it was across the street and through the Red Agave's grounds to the trail head.  The trail was flat and smooth at first, but, before I knew it I was climbing some steep, rocky inclines.  The slim-shady trail was supposed to have a good pay-off, but the twists and sudden, rocky rises were a little too technical for me without a guide or more time to learn the route.  So, I redirected under the highway to the trails surrounding Bell Rock which were much more to my liking.  Mostly smooth, and fast, this is what I had come for.  The kind of trails you salivate over watching mountain biking videos. 

I almost immediately came upon a small group of Canadian dudes who had flown in to mountain bike Sedona for a full week.  A local was acting as their volunteer trail guide, and they generously invited me to join them (always nice when mountain biking in a new place).   I got off to an auspicious start, though, as we hit the first quick rise.  Last in line, I followed the line of the rider in front of me who hesitated on the up, and then swerved around a boulder too big to hop over right in the middle of the trail.  My momentum carried me right into the rock and straight over the handlebars -- woooh!!!  Oddly enough, it was a great feeling -- probably because of the reminiscence and because I executed a decent roll and was none the worse for the wear.  Getting the first (and only) tumble out of the way relaxed me, so I felt much more in control of my adrenaline from that point.  Also helpful to my confidence was that two of the Canadians (who had been riding these trails all week) both bought it on the next rise (ok, it's not just me - this terrain is actually pretty challenging).

With our local "guide" shouting out cues as we went along, we soon got into a good rhythm, especially when we reached the top of the first climb and started descending a bit.  I love my road bike, but there is nothing like descending on a mountain bike -- it requires so much concentration as you react to every twist and terrain change -- your entire body and mind are engaged as one.

We strung together several, assorted, climbs and descents before getting to a point where it seemed like we were coming to the end of the loop as we hit a dried up river bed we had previously crossed.  At this point our guide simply said "follow me, you're going to love this, it's how I always end" as he headed back up a steep trail we had skipped earlier.  When we got to the top, he encouraged us to space out our descents (sort of like you'd do on a water slide) because he wanted to "shred" the trail all the way down.  I went last so as not to risk getting in his way and enjoyed an amazing, fast, red rock descent with no sudden drops or hazards to slow me down -- it felt like a roller coaster ride, without any sense of losing control or momentum.  Perfect.  My vortex had led me to the perfect confluence of pizza, beer, coffee, and mountain biking, and had culminated in the perfect red rock descent back to the trail-head. 

We took some shade at the rest area adjacent to the trail-head, introduced ourselves and discussed some of the highlights of the ride.  I looked at my watch and couldn't believe that I had started out four hours earlier.  It felt like I had just started -- although it was much, much, hotter than when I had set out.  Our guide said he never biked past noon in the summer (wise man) and strongly recommended that we follow his lead.  I needed little convincing because the long pause suddenly reminded me that I had been at sea level less than 24 hours earlier.  Time to head back to the shop for another jolt of espresso before hitting the road to Flagstaff and Mark-a-Palooza --

Lucky for me, this was simply the jump-start to an amazing weekend.  I try to incorporate biking into each and every trip I take, and this was one of the best moves I've ever made (thanks, of course, to the Bikeist Vortex that exists on the edge of Sedona).  Fellow San Diegans, my airfare to and from Phoenix was less than $200 on Southwest.  If you are looking for an amazing biking adventure, book a flight now, and head to one of the coolest (only?) bike shop/coffee shop/bike resorts you will ever find.  You won't regret it --

It's so good to be The Bikeist . . .


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Oh Robin, We Hardly Knew Ye . . .

All right already people!  Some entire countries (and certain Congresses that shall remain nameless) take all of August off.  A poor bikeist takes a couple of measly posts off and you'd think the world was coming to an end.  Well, based upon the non-bike-related news out there, it seems like it might just be, but let's get a grip -- The Bikeist has been recharging his batteries a bit this month, but is not going anywhere.  That's right adoring public -- you're stuck with me.

That said, it was still a pretty productive month -- with two of my most popular posts ever ("Patches" and "Tour de Zeke") (figuratively) going to press, and with The San Diego Reader even literally publishing the former:  "No Patch For You" (on a real printing press even!).

As I have alluded, world-wise, it's been a pretty crazy August -- so much high-profile volatility on constant display.  And, to only make things much worse, in the middle of all the tumult, we lost someone who practically defined joy and kindness to millions.  I knew Robin Williams' passing was huge the second I saw an article announcing his death pop into my Twitter feed.  However, I'm not sure anybody could have predicted the overwhelming world-wide out-pouring that followed.  I have never seen anything (aside from 9/11 and the O.J. chase and trial) dominate the internet, all media, and the public's consciousness the way this story did.  Of course, I wasn't alive for the assassinations of JFK and MLK, though, but neither was the internet. There were, of course a (very) few trolls out there who questioned all the attention and grief over the loss of a "mere" actor.  But, that's what trolls do, right?  They're nothing if they are not being contrarians (well, they're nothing, anyway), and what could possibly be more contrary than spitting on the corpse of someone who was so universally revered?  How could anybody question the importance of a figure so well-known and who brought sheer joy to billions?  Presidents last, at most, eight years (even though Bubba just doesn't seem to ever go away, does he?).  Great Generals and Admirals serve, nobly, for decades, but really only enter the public consciousness for a short while at the very end of their careers, when they get those third and fourth stars.  Even the greatest athletes last about 10 to 15 years.  Robin Williams has been making us laugh out loud and kept us transfixed to screens large and small since the 1970's!  A true, working actor (and Julliard trained at that), he was a constant presence in films, on tv shows, and, especially on the late-night tv talk-show circuit.  He transcended categorization and appealed to all demographics.  His humor spanned the lowest of low-brow (fart and potty jokes), to rapid-fire, cerebral references to history, current events, and popular culture woven into manic, seemingly improvised, stream-of-consciousness soliloquies that took your (and even his) breath away.  He could be the zany, sit-com alien, Mork, who appealed to children and adults alike, while still possessing the discipline and acting genius to garner multiple Academy Award nominations and an Oscar for his role in Good Will Hunting.  He could (and did) connect with anybody, regardless of their background or sensibilities.  So, I guess it kind of makes sense that the world was rocked to a halt by the passing of this incredible man.  We all felt like we knew him -- his ubiquity and the profound way in which he moved us (particularly through uncontrollable laughter) forged unique sort of intimacy that goes beyond the ordinary connection we make with most (all?) other public figures.

Of course, as it turned out, we didn't really know him at all, did we?  The funniest man who ever lived was also the saddest.  There were hints, of course.  Anybody who has ever been around mania, knows that for all the up, up, up, there's an inevitable crash to balance it all out.  Those of us who followed Robin Williams' career more than casually were aware that he had battled substance abuse and periods of depression.  These folks are always at risk.  Even when they seem to have gotten a handle on their demons, they are always a drink, fix, or episode away from potential self-destruction.

Another thing that was not well-know to casual fans was that Robin absolutely loved bikes and biking (sound like anybody we know?), owning "more bikes than [he] could count" and riding at any and all opportunities.



Again, not a surprise to me as, from what I have seen and read, intense exercise regimens are one of the absolute best ways to fight addiction and/or depression.  Look at Robert Downey Jr. for a fine living example to support the research that has indicated that endurance exercise creates pleasurable dopamine-like reactions in the human brain (runner's high anyone?) akin to the affects of drug use.  Thus, when somebody says they are "addicted" to biking, they are being more literal than you might think.

As Williams himself put it: 

"My favorite thing to do is ride a bicycle. I ride road bikes. And for me, it's mobile meditation."
In other interviews he gave direct credit to biking helping him to kick cocaine.

 In one of my favorites, embedded below, from just a year ago, Jon Stewart absolutely gushes about how great Robin looks, with the actor giving full credit to biking.  Even better, he gives his own hilarious (of course) take on New York City's bikeshare program.  Imagine if he had started his own bike blog -- it might have been even bigger than this one!  (But, that's really not possible, though, is it?)

This is how I'd like to remember Robin Williams -- happy, healthy, free-spirited, and, of course, crazy about bikes --