Monday, February 22, 2010

To Live and Train in L.A. #4

Blurred photo of Mag's current USA Cycling racing license.
He has, um, 'signed' with Team Heckawee for the 2010 Season.

This news comes as a shock to me: They’re not all assholes. And if they’re not all assholes, this must mean that I’m not an asshole all of the time.

You are thinking, “Mike Magnuson, you make about as much sense as the Women’s Studies Department at Duke ordering the WWE Wrestlemania XXVI pay-per-view package and reserving the Chemistry Department’s conference room for Sunday, March 28, to watch the matches live and in their entirety.”

You are correct: It doesn’t make sense.

I ride my bicycle in a state of fear here in Los Angeles. You know that. The insane traffic on the roads. The sketchy serial-killer types lurking in the woods of Elysian Park. Or the slobbering triathletes bombing toward me on the L.A. River bike path, hunched in their aerobars, wild-eyed, and unable to steer their bicycles and avoid a major crash in the event of a pothole. Not to mention, because I’m a pussy deep down, I’m always living in fear of getting dropped by superior human beings, racers whose idea of a light spinner involved jamming down the L.A. River Bike Path at 27 miles an hour. Much of this, I’ve said before, owes to riding alone and consequently to thinking too much when I ride alone. Cycling, it’s no secret, is a group activity, and without the group, cyclists tend to meander mentally into a sort of 21-miles-per-hour-in-the-flats derangement or, as in my case, a 15-mile-per-hour, cyclocross-bike-where-a-road-bike-is needed derangement.

So Saturday afternoon, I effected a couple of changes. First, I got my road bike up and running – you know, one of those bikes with skinny tires? (I don’t think my buddies at 420 Cycling approve) – and second: well, there really wasn’t a second thing. I took my road bike down the hill to the L.A. River Bike Path and pointed in the direction of Griffith Park. This stretch of path, incidentally, is 4.4 miles long and dead flat except for a bike bridge that passes over Los Feliz Boulevard; you can pedal the entire stretch of path without having to coast; and pedestrian and bicycle traffic is extremely minimal. In other words, it’s a great fucking place to ride bikes in the city, and the people you do see cycling out here tend to be on the more fanatical, knowledgeable side of the spectrum. When I accessed the path, I saw a fellow on a Cervelo turning around and heading back for another 4.4 mile stretch, but I wasn’t warmed up yet and I let him go. Five minutes later, a group of four cyclists pulled up on me – they were on a ride that had started in Pasadena and were working together in a very sensible paceline. I shadowed this paceline for a minute or two, till I finally asked, “Do you guys mind if I fall in?” Sure enough, they didn’t! And for the first time in at least six months there I was, pulling through, holding my line steady, et cetera. We went up and down the stretch of path three times each way, 26.4 miles of pacelining, then they rode back from whence they came, and so did I. We didn’t talk much during this period – we were concentrating on spinning and on maintaining an even formation – but the atmosphere, the vibe, the whatever you may call it, was really, really positive. The old saying is true: When the racers aren’t in a race, they’re the nicest people in the world you could ever ride with.

I think back to riding laps on the bike path in Encino this summer, in Balboa Park, where not one fucking person would say hello or work together trading pulls, and I wonder if maybe I was encountering rich assholes, with expensive bikes and no racing license? Or maybe, hell, this city-cycling shit’s just gonna take a long time to figure out.

Meantime, I’ve got nothing to do later this afternoon, so I guess I’ll be on the road bike, doing the math require to improve my understanding.

1 comment:

  1. oh, we approve of nearly all that is 2 wheeled. my soulcraft is getting picked up for painting today and my sorry ass will be racing a handful of crits to get those "race legs" before the cross season starts.


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