Biking for a living

October 5, 2018 § 8 Comments

I was set to meet a client in West L.A. today, which from the South Bay, or any bay, means only one thing: “Traffic.”

I guess it also means another thing: “Parking.”

The place we were supposed to meet was near Wilshire and Federal. I figured it would take at least an hour to make the 34.8-mile trip, and when I got there I could expect to pay $30+ to park.

So I put my bike in the trunk and drove to Brentwood. Yep, took an hour, but since I had my bike I could fish for free curbside parking. Who cares if it’s a mile away from the meeting? And I landed a spot, easy.

Pulling out the bike and zipping to my appointment was the best feeling of all until I got there and found out that the actual meeting was indeed on Wilshire, but in Beverly Hills.

Not too familiar with West L.A., I figured “How far can it be? I’ll just zip on over, ten minutes, max. Brentwood, Westwood, Beverly Hills, whatevs, it’s all the same conspicuous consumption zone.”

After zipping for a couple of minutes my zip faded to zup as I realized that the 8300 block of Wilshire was a long way off. There was no bike lane and traffic was dense, so I took the lane and pedaled hard. Every light was red, too.

The meeting went great, and there is something that is VERY SATISFYING about being a bike lawyer riding a bike in the crush of L.A. traffic to meet a bike riding client about a bike case. Having the entire right lane to myself was so awesome as cars patiently, yes you read that right, drove behind me.

On the way back I sniffed out the bike lane on Santa Monica Blvd., adding even another level of bike to what was already a very bikey day. It is crazy to think that Los Angeles and most American cities are designed for cars in such a way that getting around by car is inconvenient, expensive, stressful, inefficient, and not especially safe.

Funny how adding a bike to the equation changes that.

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Mainstream crazy

August 11, 2017 § 17 Comments

When the New York Times is giving out advice about how to commute to work, it’s time for me to find another niche hobby. Yep, that venerable institution whose motto is “All the news that’s fit to print” has taken to printing news about bicycle commuting. Click here to find out their recommendations for how a beginner can successfully commute by bike.

Once you’ve mastered the NYT intro course, you can proceed to Wanky’s Advanced Commuting Course, below.

  1. Deck your halls. NYT advises lights if you ride in the dark. Wanky advises riding with lights everywhere, all the time. Cagers will avoid you only if they see you, and nothing screams “Lunatic on a bicycle!” like fourteen lights blazing in all directions.
  2. Spot the nutballs. Once you have mastered pedaling, you need to master nutball spotting. On the Peninsula, our resident dingleberry is Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., a small-fry palm frond manager. Nutballs are often seen driving mid-grade German kiddie haulers, and they have it in for you. Learn to spot them by their chrome domes, tiny heads barely peeking over the steering wheel, and their erratic driving. Once spotted, take immediate evasive action.
  3. Cuss practice. Every once in a while twice a day you will need to communicate forcefully with the public. Practice, practice, practice.
  4. Carbon. NYT recommends sturdy, dependable, practical bikes with bells and fenders. That is ridiculous. Dress for your commute like it’s the Tour de France or, more importantly, the Saturday ride. Matchy-matchy shoelaces on your Giro Empires, yo. And make sure you’re riding 100% carbon that is pure carbon and made of carbon.
  5. Hand signal. NYT talks about hand signals as if there were more than one.
  6. Strava. Mere mortals commute. If you didn’t KOM a heavily congested segment replete with pedestrians and moving vans on the way to work, it didn’t happen.
  7. Race numbers. Always commute with a race number sticking out from your seatpost or top tube. Better yet, pin up both sides of your aero commuting skinsuit. Extra points for shoe covers and aero TT helmet.
  8. Commute recap. Rehearse your Amazing Commuting Dominator story in your head so that when you get to work you can regale everyone with the incredible feats you performed on a bike whereas all they did after waking up was get fat.
  9. Jaunty cycling cap. Mandatory apres-commute gear for hanging out around the water cooler as you execute #8 above.
  10. Raw celery. Crack out a stick of this calorie-free, nutrient-free, tasteless and waterlogged vegetable, and gnaw on it while executing #8 above. [Must begin with “I’m famished.”]

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