Thursday, April 1, 2010

To Live and Train in L.A. #12

I’m somewhere else, I guess, pedaling on the lone-dog circuit, training on the it-doesn’t-matter plan, exploring a landscape of potholed roads and renegade trails that end somewhere but not anywhere I yet know. Most cyclists I know are ramping into road season – racing or doing centuries or multi-day tours or what have you – or they’re ramping into a yet another kickass summer of mountain biking on trails so pristine and spectral that it’s difficult to ride them without pausing along the trailside to touch one’s self. Me, the only ramping-up I have in my future is months and months and months away, in the fall, cyclocross season, and aside from torturing myself (not touching myself) with two-hour dead-flat spinners on the L.A. River Path, what’s left to do but roll out the door and go on the urban version of the classic Heckawee ride. That means I ride to get lost and to find myself. I ride to say, “Where the Heckawee?” Even though we is just me and me is just a fellow who likes to lower the pressure on this cross-bike tires and enjoy all the mellowness that comes with it. I’ve got corks in my handlebars, too. Both from 2003.

You may recall me mentioning busy streets, insane drivers, and constant madness hereabouts? This street doesn’t qualify and my buddy the Champ would throw his hands heavenward and say, “See, Mag is making shit up again.” It’s true, though. In my neighborhood – Silver Lake, Echo Park – if you don’t mind 20+% grades and constant teeth-gritting even at ultra-slow speeds, the selection of traffic-free roads is almost limitless. Also, for the cyclocrosser, there are dozens of natural skill-building areas which, like all good skill-building areas, you don’t have to hammer up to enjoy their benefits. This road, for instance, after rising a long, long way up from the freeway overpass, peters out into a nice set of stairs. And what self-respecting cyclocrosser doesn’t like to dismount, shoulder the old bike, and bound up a few sets of stairs?

The reverse view after the first flight: You can get an idea of the grades you encounter while you’re pedaling your way up to this fun, amusing, very Heckawee staircase.

Each flight is 11 stairs and ideally you scale these stairs two steps at a time – you don’t have to run them, if you don’t want to, okay? because they are still going to hurt you – and the best method for the two-step-at-a-time method, in my humble and correct opinion, is to alternate your lead leg for each new flight. I have a great reason for this, too, and this is it: Why the fuck wouldn’t you?

Of course, the answer to why the fuck wouldn’t you lies in what lies ahead. Looks like there are more than a couple of 11-step flights up this sumbitch.

Reverse view for further emphasis: Just looking at these stairs puts a deep-tissue misery into my thighs.

At the top, looking back, you can see the Baxter Street in the foreground and Hollywood sign on the ridge in the distance. If you’re insane, which believe it or not I am not, you can try to ride your bike up and down Baxter Street. The inclines run between 25 and 30 percent – brutal going up and you’re almost certain to die on the way down (there are stop signs at the bottom).

Look the other way from the top of the stairs: Cesar Chavez Ravine in Elysian Park. This is the focus of all my Heckawee riding efforts, to learn the ins and outs of this park. Lots of scary people in here: gangbangers, et al. But maybe at 4:20 in the afternoon, I can ride through here without coming to grief. Wish me luck, hey.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, Mag, that is the shit right there, hey.


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