Bicycle LA

‘been biking LA for ten years.

You bike without a helmet, isn’t that very dangerous?

AR-15s. Those are dangerous. Those will pulverize your body in the distance through a concrete wall, do you understand? Navy Seals training is dangerous. Landing a switch 3 flip to switch crooked grind on a handrail is some dangerous shit.

Biking is way softer than that. Most people on earth ride bicycles without a helmet, sometimes drunk while wearing flip flops. And for those who do wear a helmet here in California, well some are the wildest riders I’ve ever seen, running red lights as if they were driving a Hummer. You might have a helmet but you’re still a bunch of sticks on wheels, bro.

How do you deal with traffic, potholes etc?

You just do, memorizing them. My training comes from playing shoot’em ups when I was growing up. I’ve become pretty good at aiming, avoiding, “reading” movement and now have an acute sense of anticipation. It’s crucial. And yes, you need to know how to ride while looking behind you on both sides. It takes a little while to get good safety habits for rush hour time.

It’s also taxing. More than the physical effort, paying attention to the environment at all times is the hardest part of biking daily I think. You can (but shouldn’t) chill in your car. You can but also cannot on a bike.

Still biking the same bike?

Yup, ten years on my 1974 red Schwinn bought off Craigslist in 2009. Extremely sturdy. Built-in kickstand. Single speed. Sometimes I wish I had two that would go like “default” and “nope, not today”.

Why red?

It’s a nice, bright color. You want to be seen on a bicycle, people are not even looking at the road anymore. And it’s also red like Kaneda’s legendary vehicle and I like that. I’ll stick to red.

Aren’t drivers in LA the worst?

I think they’re fine (they feel way worse when I drive my car for sure). They’ve never done anything bad to me. But I also make sure to be gracious to them: a little peace sign when they let me go while waiting. It’s just courtesy. I’m still nothing on my bike so I make sure the four-wheels predators are chilling. No taunting or anything like that. Be fluid, don’t act as if you were a full vehicle. Don’t be that biker who doesn’t give a damn.

Maintenance?

Beside the occasional flat tire and greasing the chain once a year, not much. I just broke my brake cable and one pedal, after ten years. Bike technology is fascinating when you think about it. I mean, you have a wheel that stands on an axle that needs to be locked on one side (bike frame) and is in perpetual movement on the other side (wheel). While taking all kinds of vibrations from the road and sustaining my weight on tubes full of air. The whole thing allowing me to bike 5,000+ miles a year *for years* without changing anything. Talk about resilience.

A bicycle axle is some serious technological dope ass marvel, is all I’m saying.

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