Monday, June 11, 2007

7th Annual LA River Ride

I completed the 70 mile course of the LA River ride this sunday, however it was probably not the brightest idea to go and do that in spite of being sick. I sniffled and coughed my way to the finish though, still somewhere in the middle. I wasn't about to settle for being at the tail end of things even if I was sick and still at the disadvantage of riding a commuter bike rather then the more serious road bikes most of the 70 milers were on.

Actress Daryl Hannah, more recently known in her role as Elle Driver in the Kill Bill movies, was out at the ride to announce the send off and participate in the ride (though with a partially assisted electric bike). I have new found respect for her though as I found out she is a serious environmentalist. She is NOT one of those pose for the liberal cause on camera, "I own a Prius" therefore I am an environmentalist, gee whiz aren't I swell types.

Daryl has been driving a bio-diesel for years, has a solar powered home, is vegetarian, and regularly lends her time to various environmental and social causes. Probably most dramatically, she has been dragged against her will to jail by LAPD riot police, while trying to stand up for inner city organic farmers losing their property. Daryl Hannah also maintains a video blog, with much of the filming and editing done her self, on various environmental topics, including a short video on bicycle culture (Week 14). Here's the link, it's definitely worth a peek if you have any concern for the world we live in . dh love life.

Sunday was a beautiful day for the ride, and getting from Griffith Park to Long Beach is actually a pretty easy ride going along the LA River path. It's nice having such a long stretch with no cars, no stoplights, or any other usual city obstacles, and some decent scenery too. Nothing super amazing, it is the LA River after all, but pretty enough, and a haven for a number of species of birds (spotted a few bird watchers out there with cameras and binoculars).

The half-way rest stop in Long Beach was held outside the city's Bikestation, the first permanent valet bicycle parking facility in the US, and they also do cleaning and repair services. Safe parking for one's bicycle is always a concern when out on trips or commuting, and cities looking to reduce car traffic are catching on that providing safe bike parking increases willingness for people to ride their bike in place of a car. Santa Monica, which currently does bike valet for the farmers market and some special events, is apparently looking to also build a permanent bike parking facility to house 300 bikes at a time.

The ride back to the finish line was tough, the sickness could be felt more on the slight but steady upward incline back to Griffith Park and toward the end it was bordering on being just too much. I kept going as strong as I could, picking a group of riders a little ahead to help set my pace. One of the women in that group had a mini propeller sticking out of her helmet, a fun decoration but also an indicator of changing wind speed and direction. That cursed wind, well when it's pointed at me anyways, always welcome at the back however. I finally made it though, and settled in the grass while gorging on pasta and listening to some local music.

All in in all it was a fun day, and I'm glad I didn't sit this one out, but it was at the consequence of not getting proper time to recover from being sick, so I missed work today. Instead I've been cleaning up around the house, drinking tea, coughing up the last bits of unpleasantness from my lungs, and eating soup.

My bike, (a Bianchi Bergamo, commuter style bike, for any who inquire further) which is now 700+ going on 800 miles looked and felt like it needed a little love. I needed to clean the components, lube the chain, and make a few minor adjustments to the derailer. I was faced with the dilemma of how to prop up the bike in a stable fashion while allowing pedaling and gear shifting, without yet owning a proper bike repair stand. After a quick mental inventory of my possessions, I came to a perfect budget solution for an artist with a drafting table. Take the drafting chair and raise it to it's maximum height, which can be quite tall. Then slide the lip of the seat through the front triangle of the bike frame, and presto, ghetto art student bike stand.

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