I sat on the hot asphalt atop the spillway, legs splayed, the fiery sun beating down while a dry wind blew dust over the caked salt that stained my t-shirt and pants. My jaws mechanically chewed dinner, the second of two ham sandwiches, while I intermittently sipped on a dwindling bottle of water.
I gazed out over the bike path that stretched along the L.A. River back towards home. “I’m almost there,” I told myself. “Only 30 miles to go. Or so.”
It wasn’t convincing because 20 of those last 30 miles would be straight into the headwind I’d been battling all day long, and the last five of those miles would involve 1,000 feet of climbing, and the last two of those miles would require getting up two short walls, Basswood and Shorewood, one of which pitched up to 18%. Ish.
So many lessons learned today …
For example, when you have a 130-mile commute and you insist on wearing bike commuter pants instead of cycling shorts, your undercarriage will become, ah, sore. WHO KNEW?
For example, 32-mm tubeless sand tires are great for flat avoidance, but that combined with a tall, heavy ‘cross bike they are poor for speed.
For example, a backpack with a 10-lb. lock and cable, plus food, extra water, paperwork, extra lights, and a jacket starts to weigh about 150 pounds after eight or so hours.
For example, it takes 12 hours to meet with a client and ride from Rancho Palos Verdes in L. A. to Rancho Cucamonga in Riverside County.
For example, in the morning it’s an uphill headwind the whole 65 miles there.
For example, in the late afternoon it’s a headwind the whole 65 miles home.
For example, there are long stretches where it is uphill both ways. Exhausted commuter cyclists will understand.
And yet there were so many amazing parts of the day, for example, hopping off your bike to meet a new bike client and earning the instant respect of a fellow cyclist that you were doing a 130-mile commute to meet with him. Or the quiet beauty of the river trail, passing kestrels as they perched in mid-hunt, watching a snowy egret dabble its yellow foot in the water, or seeing the glow of a gorgeous sunset as you make your way homeward.
The transitions were amazing, too, from elbow-to-bumper, brass-knuckled jockeying in morning rush hour traffic along Vermont to the peaceful hum of tires on the 30-miles of bike trail where it’s just you, your bike, and the other cyclists outside pedaling, same as you are. It was also reassuring to sit in 50 miles of traffic out and back on Arrow Highway and get honked at exactly once, and that by a motorist who may have even been honking friendly.
At times euphoric and moving effortlessly, at others tired and struggling to stay on top of the gear, the undulating ebb and flow in strength, motivation, confidence, and optimism cycled me through every sensation and emotion, and no emotion more intense than the weary satisfaction of pushing my bike over the threshold.
You can’t live without a car in Los Angeles.
You just can’t.
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