The Many Attitudes About Cycling

This morning I rode down PCH (Pacific Coast Highway or Highway 1 if you’re not an Angeleno) with a friend. She recently moved down here from Marin too and she was raving about how much nicer people are in LA. She had just been back up in Marin a couple weeks ago and got sworn at, honked at, and yelled at while riding her bike. Her argument was that people in Marin are entitled and people in LA are much more laid back.

My argument would be that people in LA haven’t seen enough cyclists yet to hate them.

Yes, I have had some terrible, shitty, faith-in-people-crushing experiences while on my bike, and Steve has had more than me. And largely all that hatred and anger from those people isn’t because of me. It’s because of them and their issues. But it’s also because they’re doing the same kind of mass stereotyping thing that people who make racist or sexist judgments do. ‘I’ve met some asshole Asian people, therefore Asian people are assholes.’ Or: ‘I see a lot of cyclists and they clog up our roads and that one got in my way that time and I saw another one blow a stop sign and they’re annoying, therefore all cyclists don’t deserve to be on the road.’

It’s a hatred that comes from familiarity. Ideally, eventually, that familiarity will breed resigned acceptance. But, right now, I know that there are bike lanes and bike sharing and good bike routes and places you can get in a long ride in the Bay Area, but I also know that means there are people on those routes who don’t want to see one more fucking cyclist.

In LA, I don’t know that there are bike lanes and bike sharing and good bike routes and places for a long ride on the weekend. However, where you do ride, the people are still more befuddled and amused by you than annoyed. It may be how the first person who ran the Grand Canyon was treated. Now, there’s too many damn runners.

Yes, there are cycling group rides here. Safety in numbers! But, there isn’t the sheer quantity of weekend warriors and casual riders and commute bikers that you see in the Bay Area. That has meant that the main problem for me has been the problem you have with tourist drivers up in Marin: they just have no idea what to do with bikers on the road. While it’s not really their fault, it can actually be more dangerous for you sitting out there in the open on your bike with just some plastic on your head for protection. Biking around LA, which has mostly been commute biking for me and a little bit of training now, I’ve come across so many people who just aren’t sure why I’m in the road or what I’m doing or how they should react. Mostly, that’s fine and we can work it out. Tons of drivers have been weirdly thankful when I’ve moved over so they can make a right turn on a red light. But, every time someone gets mad because I need to get over to make a left turn or I have to come into the right lane so I don’t get doored by a parked car or they can’t get by for 30 seconds on the narrow street, every time I worry that this is just building up the resentment. And I don’t know how to avoid that.

What bothers me, though, isn’t the difficulty of finding places to ride or of getting around by bike. I’m not even really that bothered on a personal level by the angry hatred or the casual confusion. Those are problems, but they’re problems that will resolve themselves in the long arc of history. Hopefully.

No, what really bothers me so far about LA is the general attitude of dismissiveness in which that arc of history will never be able to plant roots and take hold. So many people keep raving to me about how great the culture is here and there’s so much to do and so many places to go and there’s something happening every week. True. Great. Fantastic. Then, the conversation usually has me next saying that yeah, but do they know any good places to ride, because so far it seems like biking is sort of rough here. You have to deal with a lot of cars — which isn’t just an annoyance thing, but a danger thing — and if you want to get away from the traffic and congestion then you have to drive really far to start a ride somewhere — which is fine for the weekend, but not a good use of time for weekday training. And, bike commuting can be really hit or miss — as in hope they miss and don’t hit you. And, every. single. time. I say this or ask about biking or mention open space or want to know how to get around, the local says ‘oh, yeah, well that’s just LA’ or ‘LA isn’t really a cycling place’ or ‘it’s a car culture, get used to it.’

That’s what really pisses me off. As if these are not even legitimate concerns worth having. As if they don’t even warrant a counter-argument. That’s an attitude towards cycling I’m not sure even allows a place for cycling to exist within it.

Buy: Orbea Ordu TT or Cervelo TT or Race Wheels

I’m actually finally selling my Orbea Time Trial bike, which has totally been sitting in my living room for years now. I was going to sell it last year. And, then, I decided to do triathlon again. I rode it like six or seven more times as part of my “comeback.” Then, I got a new bike. And, it’s simply sat there for months.

At least it had a friend: Steve’s Cervelo TT.

And, even though we need the money and we do NOT need the bikes (or the race wheels), both of us have been way too busy to do anything about that. (But, if you think about it on an economic level, it would have probably have been a better use of my time to work on selling the bikes, in terms of the money per hour, than to actually slave away at work.) Anyway, I finally, finally posted the bikes and wheels for sale today. So. Snatch that shit up.

IMAG0358

2011 Orbea Ordu XS

I bought this Ordu in March 2011 and raced it until September 2011. I then decided to quit triathlon, but couldn’t bring myself to get rid of my bike. It sat in my living room and rode it six or seven times in 2013. I’m finally selling it. It has just around 900 miles on it, no crashes. There are a few minor nicks of the paint around the back wheel drop, but no scratches or any damage to the bike. (It’d be hard to damage while it sits in the living room.)

I bought it for around $3,400. Asking $1,700 without the wheels – or best offer. I have two sets of race wheels I can also sell — either for $1,000 (details at bottom).

2011 Orbea Ordu
Black and Silver
Size: XS (I’m 5’2″)
Frame/Fork: Orbea Ordu
Crankset: Shimano Ultegra
Aerobars: Profile Design Ozero
Stem: 3T Max Pro
Derailleurs/Chain/Shifters: Shimano Ultegra
Seat: Selle SL t1
Pedals: N/A

IMAG0345

Dura Ace Cervelo P2 SL – 51cm

It’s a few years old at this point, but Cervelo was so far ahead on the TT bike tech front that it stacks up well against all but the newest models of many of competing companies. Plus the bike is about as adjustable as they come, so you can put yourself into a super aero position. $950, without wheels. Minor cosmetic scuffs on bar tape and front derailleur, otherwise the bike is in very good condition.

Gray Cervelo P2 SL Aluminum Frame – 51 cm
Fork: Carbon Wolf Time Trial, White Design
Crankset: Dura Ace 7800
Bar end shifter: Dura Ace 7800
Front Derailleur: Dura Ace 7800
Rear Derailleur: Dura Ace 7800
Seat post: Cervelo
Seat: Adamo ISM
Break Calipers: Cervelo
Bar extensions: Carbon vision
Bar clamps and pads: zipp

IMAG0354

Wheels:

$1,000 for either: Zipp 303 Tubular wheelset with wired powertap (used) and disc cover;
or, completely new, unridden Roval Rapide CL 40 clincher wheelset with new Turbo pro tires.
Cassette negotiable, tell me what you want.

The Day I Failed at Biking 29 Miles

Yesterday, I rode my bike to the ferry in the morning and then planned to ride all the way home from KQED in the evening. It should have been just under 29 miles. I should have no problem riding 29 miles.

I had some problems.

This is what it should have looked like. The red arrow is where I stopped, gave up, got a beer, and made Steve come and pick me up:

That's still like 75% or something. Totally a passing grade.
That’s still like 75% or something. Totally a passing grade.

I’m not exactly sure why I failed. I started out riding through SOMA, by AT&T Park. I only got sort of lost and ended up in a sketchy dead-end under the freeway once. It was a nice day and I thought, ‘Hey, this is sort of pleasant.’

Then, I hit Pier 39, which the tourists flock to for the seals (or sea lions, always unclear to me) and for the people who hide in bushes to scare them. It is, apparently, European tourist season right now. Sometimes, it is Asian tourist season. It seems to have something to do with country holidays and seasons and schedules and economics. European tourists are really into tourist-y biking. They also have a different attitude about biking. That attitude appears to involve hanging your helmet over your handlebars, riding four abreast, and taking pictures while you weave in and out of traffic.

Then, I rode over the Fort Mason hill into the Marina and came to a dead stop. The wind has been bad this week and that area is always windy, but I don’t know enough about the city to have remembered this. It took almost as long to bike across Marina Green and Chrissy Field as it usually takes to run it during Escape from Alcatraz.

By the time I finally got to the bridge, which was still stupid windy, I was realizing this was going to take significantly longer than I thought it was going to. But, hey, the bridge, the sun, the birds chirping in trees, etc.

Just like this.
Just like this.

I thought the other side of the bridge would be better. It wasn’t. It was wall-to-wall, stopped traffic. I wasn’t sure if it was always this bad, so I asked someone and they said, no, this was weird. Coming down into Sausalito, there is no shoulder and it’s all tour buses — one of which tried to pass me and then make a right turn before having completed the pass, nearly taking me out. By the time I got through Sausalito, I was ready to be home.

My emotional and physical collapse came pretty quickly. At the start of the Sausalito-Mill Valley bike path, I felt ok, but hungry. By the end of the bike path, I was starving and wanted to lay down.

In classic bonk fashion, I was day-dreaming about all the things I was going to eat when I got home, but then I realized we didn’t have hummus or chocolate-chip cookie making materials or fries. I also realized I had no food on me, since I’d eaten it all at the office. Super awesome plan: stop at Safeway.

I may have even taken a wrong turn on my way to Safeway — even though I’ve ridden this route probably hundreds of times. I was tired.

At Safeway, you probably think I got a bar or something. No. I ate a Kit-Kat and a donut. Then, I gathered up: two things of hummus, two avocados, a bag of chocolate-chips, vanilla extract, brown sugar, and regular sugar. Just as I was cramming all that in my backpack and starting to wonder if this was not my best idea ever, Steve called and said he’d be getting in about 25′ later if I wanted picked up.

No, I said, I’ll keep going. I can bike 29 miles.

Then, I made it a wobbly 10′ farther to the ferry, realized I still had at least 30′ to go, almost crashed into a couple trying to cross the bridge over the freeway, and gave up. I sat down at Brew Co, ordered a beer, and waited for Steve to get me.

Apparently, I can’t bike 29 miles. I’m not sure why. It’s just one of those days.

Awesome Marin Bike Route: Alpine Dam

In my whole “what should I do with my training and my foot and my life” crisis, I’m only doing things that sound fun. Whenever I need a ride that reinvigorates my desire to train and is cool and challenging, I ride the Alpine Dam Loop. (It also helps remind me that I have an awesome work schedule if I do it in the middle of the day.) Alpine Dam a classic in Marin. Though lots of people would argue that the riding in West Marin is better, no one gets through a visit to the county without riding Alpine Dam. Just fyi, in case you ever visit.

There’s lots of ways to start the loop, but it really starts in Fairfax, at the Roastery at the corner of Bolinas Road. You’ll recognize it by all the cyclists hanging around outside. Turn left and start heading up Bolinas. It’s a 23-25′ climb for me (though just assume I biked everything 5-10′ slower today), past the entrance to the water district, past the golf course. At the top, Steve thinks he saw a mountain lion once. It’s possible. It’s also possible it was a bobcat. I’m just saying.

The view as you hit the first climb. Golf course behind me.
The view on the first climb. Golf course behind me.

It’s a nice climb — long and not that steep. It levels a bit in the middle and winds back and forth (fun descent!). It’s also pretty warm in the summer and is filled with cyclists. You can see East Peak of Mt. Tam off in the distance in the picture below, with The Meadow Club golf course in the foreground. Riding (or running) up to East Peak is a good trip and one possible variation of this loop.

On this part of the climb, you’ll also pass The Center for Peace and Compassion, which has a sign saying “All suspicious activity will be reported to the police.” Evidently, they are not that compassionate.

Weird golf course, right?
Weird golf course, right?

Once you crest the first climb, it’s a 15-20′ descent down to the dam. It’s not all descending, though, and has some surprising rollers in the middle. In between the trees, you’ll see a lake on your left side and think you’re getting close to the dam. No, you’re not. There are a lot of lakes.

THE Alpine Dam for which the loop is named:

This picture is actually from someone else. Because I do not ride around with Zipp wheels and also I decided I needed to get a move on actually riding and not stopping to take photos.
This picture is actually from someone else. Because I do not ride around with Zipp wheels and also I decided I needed to get a move on actually riding and not stopping to take photos.

Though you can do lots of variations, you sort of have to go across the dam because 1. it’s the only road between Fairfax and Ridgecrest Boulevard at the top and 2. if you didn’t, it really wouldn’t be called the Alpine Dam Loop.

Once you go across the dam, you start climbing again through lots of trees and up into the fog, with water dripping from the redwoods. There aren’t many cars after the dam because there’s not really any reason to drive that way — everything can be gotten to easier from some other direction. One time, part of the road collapsed after really bad rains and it was closed, so there was really no reason to drive that way. Technically, it was closed to bikes too, but – since they took forever to fix it – you could just duck under the caution tape and ride up, knowing there wouldn’t be any cars at all. The morning I did that before work, as the fog lifted at the top, was one of the best rides ever.

It takes me about 18-20′ to get to the top, climbing through this:

Only bad when the cars decide to drive down the middle of the road, because they don't expect anyone to be there...
Only bad when the cars decide to drive down the middle of the road, because they don’t expect anyone to be there…
Just like Ferngully.
Just like Ferngully.

At the top, you’re technically in a state park, I think. It’s unclear. You can continue straight and descend down to the Bolinas Lagoon, but it’s not a fun descent. Instead, turn left onto Ridgecrest Boulevard. When it snows sometimes on Mt. Tam, there is a gate here that closes.

Shortly, you’ll come out of the wet and dark trees. Then, you’re riding along rolling hills with mountains to one side and the water to the other. In between trees, you can look down and see Stinson Beach. Ridgecrest has been in lots of ads for shoes and cars and stuff, because if it’s not foggy it’s gorgeous. Downside: it’s usually foggy.

Down there is Stinson Beach. Squint.
Down there is Stinson Beach. Squint.
Long, smooth, open roads through the underfunded California State Park.
Long, smooth, open roads through the underfunded California State Park.

Technically, there are “Seven Sisters” or something along Ridgecrest Boulevard, so you have to climb all them. But, I never keep track of those kinds of things because I always end up counting some little hill or bump that isn’t an “official” sister. After you crest the last one, after about 20-25′, you’ll be at the Mountain Theater parking lot. If you kept going straight you’d get to East Peak, seen in one of the above photos, but it’s a hard climb. Turn right at the parking lot and begin your real descent. Yay! (Also, start watching for cars.)

As you descend that little part, you can see San Francisco between the trees. But, the descent is steep and usually wet, so don’t look too hard. One time, in the rain, a cyclist skidded out and crashed in front of my car here. When I stopped to see if he was ok, another bike ran into the back of my car. Not good.

The city looked a lot clearer with my actual eyes than in this photo.
The city looked a lot clearer with my actual eyes than in this photo. You can see it just below the clouds.

That road dead-ends into Panoramic Highway at Pantoll Station. Turning right takes you down to Stinson Beach and left takes you back into populated Marin. Make the left, watch for cars, and you’re on your way home. This descent is actually really annoying — or, rather, it would be super awesome fun times if there weren’t cars. In the summer and on weekends, it’s pretty much a steady line of cars on Panoramic and most of them are rentals and don’t know how to drive mountain-y curvy roads or around bikes. If you know how to descend, you’ll bike the same speed or faster than the cars. If you don’t know how to descend, you will probably freak out. I find that it’s easier to just ride the middle of the lane as long as I’m going the same speed and then pull to the right on the flat or hilly sections when the cars can pass. It doesn’t always go well.

You’ll pass the Mountain Home Inn. There’s some climbing and then you’ll go up and down and see a sign saying that Highway 1 is straight ahead, Muir Woods is down to the right, and Mill Valley is down to the left. Turn left. (Really, you could take Highway 1 all the way back too, but it’s usually full of people driving out from the city. It’s an amazingly beautiful climb, though, on a weekday.)

Left on Sequoia Valley Road turns into Edgewood turns into Molino Road and you’re inside the Mill Valley town limit. The road gets really bad for a couple blocks right before it dead-ends at a stop sign. Turn left onto Montford and then left again. You’ll be at The 2 a.m. Club — get a drink. (Or, go across the street to Swirl and get a brownie sundae. That’s what I do.)

At this point, you’re back on Marin Bike Route 15. (Map in that link.) Right to Camino Alto and then left on Camino Alto and up and over the hill. (I don’t always feel up for another climb, so sometimes I take the shortcut next to the freeway, but it’s shittier.)  Descend Camino Alto, which turns into Corte Madera Avenue, which turns into Madera Avenue. Continue following it through towns until to you get to College of Marin. Veer left-ish at the gas station/Woodlands Market/College of Marin parking lot intersection onto Kent Avenue through Ross. Turn left at the dead-end at Ross Commons, quick right onto Shady Lane at the church. Shady Lane gets hella decked out for Halloween, fyi, and is definitely on the list of places I’d like to have one of the super fancy mansion houses. Right on Bolinas Ave (different Bolinas Ave) at the other church and quick left onto San Anselmo Avenue through downtown San Anselmo, turning left at the other end of downtown — like four blocks later — to stay on San Anselmo Ave. That turns into Lansdale Avenue and you’re back in Fairfax!

The whole loop takes around 2:30-2:45 for me, depending on how hard I ride. Most people also have to ride on and off the loop to get to their houses. Depending on the route I take to and from my house, it takes 3:00-3:30 and is about 37-45 miles — but, come on, it’s a crazy amount of climbing. The loop itself is only 32 miles, but worth it. Trust.

This is what it looks like, except cooler:

Totally follow the directions from this map.
Totally follow the directions from this map.

And, then, I was trashed and ate half a pizza and some bars and hummus and gaucamole and wine. And, I don’t feel so good.

Buy My Orbea Ordu TT Bike

I need to sell my Orbea Ordu TT bike. I mean really I should have sold it when I stopped riding it at the end of 2011, but I held onto it out of hope/sentimental value. What if somehow I really needed a high-end time trial bike? What if, like tomorrow, someone said, Kelly, you have to race Oceanside in two weeks and you have to do it fast or you won’t get that book contract/job/fame and fortune? Well, wouldn’t I feel stupid then if I didn’t have a TT bike. (Also, I really liked it, because it actually fit — unlike my last terrible TT bike that screwed up my leg — so I was scared if I got rid of it I’d never find another bike I liked.)

But, obviously, that never actually happened and instead I rode it three times from the end of September 2011 to now. Three times. It still has cork brake pads on it from the race I did last July.

Now, I need to sell it, because selling it is sort of my master plan for paying taxes.

So, I posted it on Slowtwitch and I guess I’ll post on Craiglist too, then maybe eBay. Asking for $1800. It was a $3400 bike or something around that when I got it two years ago.

So nice.
So nice.

Specs:

2011 Orbea Ordu
Black and Silver
Size: small (I’m 5’2″)
Frame/Fork: Orbea Ordu
Crankset: Shimano Ultegra
Aerobars: Profile Design Ozero
Stem: 3T Max Pro
Derailleurs/Chain/Shifters: Shimano Ultegra
Seat: Selle SL t1
Pedals: N/A
Wheels: Shown with Mavic Aksiom Race, but wasn’t going to sell it with wheels. Can. Ask.

 

Let me know if you want to buy it!