Wednesday, February 3, 2010

To Live and Train in L.A. #1

It ain’t no picnic. Let me say that from the start. In my best days of cycling, back in the day, back when I was a forty-year-old Category IV Heckawee superstar in rural southern Illinois, cycling was a matter of suiting up, saddling up, rolling down the street for a couple of minutes and then pedaling along essentially empty roads for hours on end. If two or three cars would pass in a thirty-minute period, we would often complain that the road had become a bit too ‘trafficky’ for our tastes, and we would seek, and easily find, quieter roads. We were happy cyclists indeed. What an inspiring time that was! Here in Los Angeles, however, a quiet road seems to be one where you can manage to pedal thirty seconds without narrowly escaping certain death from any one of the twenty-five million automobiles and trucks that cram the Los Angeles streets at all hours of the day. Sure, the city has provided bike lanes and erected numerous signs indicating the existence of bike lanes and bike routes. Sure, huge numbers of cyclists manage to ride on a daily basis here: commuters, racers, homeless people, hipster single-speeder douchebags with skinny jeans and no helmets, et cetera. But me? The great pumpkin on a cyclocross bike? I’m scared shitless every time I roll down the street.

Go ahead. Call me a pussy. I don’t care. The L.A. roads are busy and scary and while I’ve lived a rich life and am ready to meet my maker – my maker being The Pillsbury Company, of course – I don’t want to get killed while I’m riding my bicycle. Bicycles, you see, are for improving the quality of life, not for magnifying the violence attending one’s death.

Nevertheless, I have ambitions, misplaced, petty, foolish ambitions along the lines of “Gee, it would be fun to race my bike again and not have my ass completely handed to me.” Or “Gee, I would love to hang once again with a group of friends who like to ride bikes.” And so on. Some mornings, I read Velonews or Cyclingnews or CXMagazine on the internet and start sobbing because I want to get back into racing so badly. But don’t call me a pussy in this instance. Ain’t nothing wrong with a grown man sobbing about wanting to race his bicycle again.

So what can be done? Should a person risk death, on a daily basis, just to find inner satisfaction? The answer, obviously, is fuck yes!

If this were Facebook, you would have to click that you like the living fuck out of what I just wrote.

And you know what? I’m heading out for a near-death experience right now. Should be awesome. Maybe I'll see you out there and we can tell stories.


  1. I'm doing that facebook thing and clicking the goddam "like" button. Fuck, yes. Me, too! Sign me up for inner satisfaction. I think I'm headed around Palos Verdes today to see what kind of dangers I can find on the switchbacks.

  2. Hell yes, live (ride), the rest will take care of itself.


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