Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Be a Hero" bike ride - Earth Day April 21st!

"Be a Hero, Ride a Bike": Super-Hero themed bike ride on Earth Day, this Saturday April 21st 2012.  Family Friendly for older kids/teens.

Meeting Place: NoHo Red Line Station at Lankershim/Chandler in North Hollywood, CA 91601

Meeting Time: 9:00 am  - Roll Out 9:30 sharp!

Ride Route:  from NoHo red line station to Balboa Park and back via Chandler and Orange Line bike path.
Pace:  Easy/Medium - 12-15 mph, Pack water & lunch or bring $3 for pizza at the park!

Lunch/Snacks:  at Balboa Park from 11:30-12:15 (Want to be a sponsor?  Please email Head back to NoHo Redline station - Roll Out from Balboa Park @ 12:30pm arrive back at NoHO red line station between 1:30 -2:00 pm

Prizes:  Best Dressed Super Hero!

Do your part: Be a Hero, Ride a Bike! -  this Earth day April 21st! 
Love the Planet, Love your Bike, Love Life
Commuter Girl and Commuter Girl Bike Advocacy Program

Copyright 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Commuter Girl "Be a Hero" bike ride - Earth Day April 21st!

 Commuter Girl "Be a Hero, Ride a bike" ride on April 21st!  - Check back for details.  I know it will involve dressing as a super hero and riding possibly to Balboa Park or maybe the L.A. River on Earth Day.   Let's make a difference by drawing attention to bike riding as the "green-est" form of transportation and have fun at the same time!   Maybe there will be some free capes involved for the best dressed "Heroes".  :)  We will meet at the NoHo redline station on the Chandler bike path around 9 or 10 am on Saturday April 21st 2012.  I will finalize the details and post a map of the path we will take very soon.   (Leave a comment for chance at a prize fit for a Commuter Girl Hero.) See you there! 

Copyright 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Well I am finally back in the saddle and let me tell you, it hurts!  I don't mean the actual bike seat or saddle as known in the Cycling vernacular.  I just mean it hurts.  My whole body . . . but especially my right lung which I think no longer exists.  I must apologize for being out of "bloget" for such a long time but such is life.  Just to touch on where I've been and what I've been doing; I had HUGE tax deadlines at my office in September and October and worked most days, including week-ends until 11 pm or after.  Let me tell you, my beautiful two-wheeled silver steed was sorely missed.  Additionally, I have been dealing with a serious family issue involving my youngest sibling and my heart has been breaking for her and for my mom and my other much loved siblings during this incredibly tough time.  I would love to talk about what is happening with her as I know there are people out there that would be able to offer much needed advice or would be helped by knowing her story but this is her journey and even if I tried to tell it, it belongs on a blog dedicated to that topic.  On top of all that, I have been sick for 3 weeks with some crazy alien flue bug which in the aftermath, feels like I am left with only one lung and that one feels like it is threatening to surrender.    So now you know where I've been and I'm sure your day is much better now that you know that Commuter Girl may have been down, but she's definitely not out.  I feel as though I have missed 3 or 4 weeks of my life that I will never get back.  The days here have been so beautiful.  Some days are grey and misty in the morning, breathtaking at mid-day, and dark as the kohl black eyeliner of the self-identity-seeking young junior high girls I cruise past by the time I go home at 6:30-(ish).  Speaking of "ish", those of you that actually know me, know that the extremely important time marking parameter know as "ish" can encompass a time period of a few minutes to several hours.  I have seriously lamented over this flaw my entire life, and it was driven home the other day when S1 and S2 came back from a school meeting where they had taken personality tests that labeled their personality type in one of four colors and they were yelling, "Mom you are so an "Orange".  I did not even have to bother taking the test as after they read to me the personality traits of the Orange I realized, why fight it?  I am definitly an "Orange" which explains a lot and that also means that I am not a freak and better yet, that there are a lot more people out there exactly like me!   Believe it or not, that person in your life that seems to be selfish, uncaring and continuously late is in fact a huge asset when it comes to out-of-the-box problem solving and getting things done.  We are an action and task oriented breed so all you type A people that I have offended my entire life, I apologize.  I was born this way and someone exactly like me will save your a_ _ in a time of crises.  What does this have to do with bicycling or commuting you say? Absolutely nothing.  That is the beauty of being an Orange.  There are no rules in the life of a Commuter Girl.  We strive daily to make a positive impact, whether it be on two wheels, four wheels or two feet.  The point is to never give up and why not ride your bike?  You will feel better and that in itself is a gift to yourself, your family and your world. 

 For those of you that stumbled upon this blog hoping for info regarding a bike saddle or seat. Check out the blog below.  No need to give you my take, when he has done such an excellent job

Copyright 2009-2010 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Giveaway coming soon!

Get ready for giveaways!  Coming soon to Commuter Girl. 

Copyright 2009-2010 All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 30, 2010

Left Turns and Taming the Ragemonster

I have really been trying to get the whole family on board with the bicycling thing and believe me, telling a 17 year old that a bicycle is better than a car is a tough issue to take on.  S1 is an artsy,  sensitive, caring, periodically vegetarian, environment-loving person in all other aspects of his life, but when I try to say, "let's take our bikes!", whoa - I get a totally unexpected response.  I am sure this is in direct relation to the fact that by living in L.A. he has had to start driving later than his friends and cousins that live in a more rural setting combined with the fact that I have been in no hurry for my child to start driving around crazy L.A. in a metal death trap so I drug out his permit process for as long as I possibly could, therefore I am now reaping the result: It doesn't matter if we are going two streets over, he wants to drive a freaking car!  That being said, I still have S2 who although she idolizes S1 and tends to parrot a lot of his ideals,  still loves her mom and after all, she is the reason we started this biking adventure and on top of that she has a really cool bike.  So what's not to love?
 I talk her into riding with me on a beautiful Saturday morning to her acting workshop and then on to CVS, lunch and to the mall area for hair-cuts and pampering.  What fun right?  Well as we ride along, I can tell that she is fluctuating between loving it and a why-did-I-let-her-talk-me-into-this attitude.  I figure I won't acknowledge it and just let the bike and the beautiful day do it's work on her.  It was perfect.  We ride down the peaceful tree-lined streets, mother and daughter, chatting about the day.  As we turn on a more main street, Verdugo, I explain that she should stay pretty close to me for safety reasons and that it is easier for cars to see us together than if we let distance get between us.   As soon as I say that, the rebellious teen thing kicks in and she starts to lag behind.  We don't have that far to go so it works out fine.  We lock the bike's up with no problem (love not having to look for parking) and head up to the The House of Actors's for her workshop.  After the workshop, which goes great btw, we start heading West on Verdugo with the intention of stoping by CVS on the way home.  This is where I have to hand in my Mom card.  We are heading West in the Verdugo bike lane from Victory and we have a big intersection coming up that involves 3 streets: Verdugo, Olive and Sparks.

I tell S2 to stay right behind me and I eyeball the intersection up ahead, everything looks good.  No traffic, we have our own lane so everything should be fine.  We stop at the red-light, I tell her "let's go!" when the light turns green and off we go, through the intersection continuing west on Verdugo, in the brand new bike lane on the right side of the street.  I am continuing to look ahead as I also look back to check on S2 and say "Stay with Me" as we are going to be turning.  You see, we need to turn left into CVS.  It Shouldn't be a problem because there is essentially no traffic and I know the rules right?  So as soon as we cross the intersection, I tell S2 "Do exactly what I do" and I signal with no cars behind me, that we are entering the car lane as we will soon be turning left.  Suddenly I jump out of my skin and almost eat it on the pavement when a car driver honks loudly right behind me, and then proceeds to stomp on the gas and pass me to the Right, in the bike lane yelling something I cannot hear.  I turn to make sure my daughter is safe, when a 2nd car does the same thing, honking and passing to the right very aggressively and illegally in the bike lane because 1 minute of their life having to wait on a bicyclist to get out of the way is too long when finally a third car pulls to the right of me and slows down.  A woman rolls down her window and screams at me to get in the bike lane and  . . I lose it.  She is right beside me, in my face and I totally screamed back F--- Y--!!!! and she of course responds back with the universal friendly hand gesture and I turn into our destination, shaking, enraged and ashamed.   I know immediately that although I was not wrong, the woman learned nothing from that exchange and in fact all I did was confirm to in her mind that bicyclists are idiots or that I was an idiot, or whatever.  Why I didn't say, "Um, We are  turning left! Lady" or something to that effect which would have at least explained that she was in the wrong or at least educated her to fact that what were were doing was legal and correct, I don't know.  Ugh.  In looking back, I hadn't signaled quite yet because I was looking back for S2 and there was a little street with cars to the left of the McDonald's that were waiting to come into my lane so I couldn't signal until we were past it so the cars wouldn't think we were turning earlier and try to come out on top of us when the crazy car drivers behind us honked and scared me to the point that I had to grip the handle bars with two hands making signaling at that point extremely difficult.  So how did it end? My daughter was scared and humiliated and would not speak to me for 15 minutes while I asked for forgiveness and tried to explain my actions and that although it was not the correct response, and that I was very sorry I reacted that way, sometimes a deeply hidden ragemonster overrides the intelligent caring person she normally knows as her mom.
by: Mark Harmon

After explaining every detail of the incident to my husband Borgbiker and B.i.l. (brother-in-law) over delicious Philly cheese steaks and pizza at South Street, I realized that I should have taken the safest route with my daughter and stopped at the light and crossed the street on the crosswalk to the opposite side like a pedestrian rather than pissing off the cars and possibly putting both our lives in danger.   I hate that I did not represent bicyclists very well to the car drivers and even more so that I didn't represent myself very well in front of my impressionable daughter.  Oh well, we hugged it out, went on to have a great afternoon on the bikes and chalked it up to lessons learned.  Thank goodness we are still here to learn from it.  So biggest lesson learned? It is better to take a little extra time and make the safest choice rather than try to prove a point and possibly lose the chance to ride a bike ever again.
Life is short enough.  Love people, love life, love your bike.

- Commuter Girl

Safety Tips for Bicyclists:

Copyright 2009-2010 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Critical Mass S.F. Valley - Perspective from a first timer

So this past Tuesday night I fully embraced my alter ego, Commuter Girl.  My mission, to present an alternative view to an alternative mode of transportation, in other words, to save the world, one massive bike ride at a time starting with Critical Mass, the Valley.  It was exhilarating.  I left my workplace at Ventura and Balboa around 7:00 and peddled like a crazy person to get there by 7:15 when I thought the group ride might be leaving.   I had pictured thousands of bicyclists, from intense road bikers, to fun-loving families, to hippy environmentalists, to bike shop owners all joining together in one harmonious mass to take over the streets of the valley in a two-wheeled swarm to highlight the mutual vision that biking is the new cool in L.A.   When I arrived at the designated meeting spot, I was surprised to see less than ten cyclists.  Not to fear, as B.i.l. and I waited, more cyclists continued to arrive.  It was very interesting to note the overall hipster vibe as more and more cyclists showed up.   I was a little concerned that I would not fit in, my Commuter Girl alter ego began to waver as I wondered if I had maybe made a mistake.  After all, I don't have any cool tattoos on display, I still had on my work jacket and jewelry and I wondered if the practice of having gauges with a 1/2  hole in the earlobe decreased wind resistance due to the prevalence of them among my fellow bicyclists.  On top of that, I was suddenly fully aware of what must be my status of bike nerd as I sat with helmet on, the glint of the setting sun off my big chrome mirror, bell and water bottle holder all claiming their place proudly on my handle bars temporarily blinding any unfortunate hipsters lounging nearby.   Not to worry, after taking some pictures of a couple of really cool fixie style bikes and helping a fellow cyclist pump up their tire, my insecurities began to subside.  When the call rang out to "Roll Out!" Commuter Girl was ready to roll, albeit if one looked closely, clenched knuckles and a trickle of sweat on her brow gave evidence to a bit of residual trepidation.
     We took off from the corner of Woodley and Victory at a good clip heading East with some riders claiming the road and others the bike path.  Riding in a large group means that you must be aware of fellow cyclists behind, in front, and to the left and right of you.  I was a little worried that I might not be able to keep up with this pack of 20-something spinning L.A. scenesters and I had a ditch plan in place in case I needed it.  My concerns turned out to be inconsequential as the people were accepting, the ride was exhilarating and I could keep up, in fact I was in the front half of the pack the entire way . . I know,  unbelievable but true.   We rode East to Sepulveda and hooked a right and headed down to Ventura Blvd where people yelled out "Left!" or "Right!".  The Left's won out and we turned left and headed as a pack down Ventura Blvd. taking over the far right East bound lane.  It was . . amazing.  Any rider that has ridden alone for long knows the feeling of fear that certain car drivers love to dish out with aggressive movements, honking, sideswiping, rude gesturing or even yelling.  With Critical Mass, the fear is gone.  No motorized vehicle can take on a group of that size.  You are left with a feeling a total freedom, security and comradeship as you revel in the feeling of blood pumping to your brain, the wind parting before you and you can't help but join in the primitive cries not unlike our native American predecessors on their way to take part in what must have been sweet retribution.  I rode with Critical Mass from Ventura, North up Van Nuys and East again on Chandler, finally leaving them at Laurel Canyon where alas I had to split off and go home so I could pick up the S-twins from the Bob Hope Airport on time.  One of the best parts? - I almost had a better story to tell than the S-twins and they both exhibited just the right amount of pride and horror as I recounted my adventures with my new found fellows at Critical Mass. Over all, it was a great time and I can't wait to take part in the next ride so fellow commuter girls and guys, find that alter ego and meet us at the locations listed below.  If we simply make drivers in L.A. a little more aware of us cyclists or better yet recruit a few of those drivers to cycling, then mission accomplished.  So join us at the next Critical Mass here in L.A. or find it in your city, you won't regret it.


Central L.A. Ride 

Meets At Western & Wilshire at the Metro Stop
Gather 7:00 PM. Ride Leaves at 7:30 PM
The last Friday of the month.

San Fernando Valley Ride

Every First Tuesday of the month
Victory Blvd. & Woodley Ave. Van Nuys (southwest corner)
by the bike racks and lockers off the Orange Line Bike Path.
Orange Line Woodley stop.
Gather 7:00PM :: Ride Leaves 8:00PM

Copyright 2009-2010 All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 2, 2010

Seat Height

Another tip for any and all bike commuters out there would be to check your seat height.  I recently raised my seat an inch or so and it has made a HUGE difference.  I was experiencing major thigh burning and was just a tad concerned that I was going to be able to pull off a freaky Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation from the waist down.

Don't get me wrong, I like the Govinator and all, I just don't want to have his thighs and my husband would probably agree.  On a more serious note, I was not getting the proper leg extension which progressed into major muscle fatigue and overall slowness.  I could not figure out why my thighs were constantly in pain and I never felt anything at all in my calf muscles.  Raising my seat did the trick, and I noticed an immediate change.  My speed and endurance increased dramatically so after researching it a bit I discovered that it is actually very important that your leg is able to fully extend when the peddle is as close to the ground as it can get.  Your knee should only have a slight bend.   It turns out that most people think that their feet should touch the ground flat footed while on the seat and this is actually not correct.  When standing flat footed on the ground you should clear the top bar (if you have one) by an inch or two.  The seat is another story entirely.  When on the bike seat, you are supposed to be able to get full leg extension even if that means you have to come off the bike when you come to a stop.  In my case, I raised my seat a little bit last Friday and today I raised it some more.  I am able to put the tip of my right shoe down when I come to a stop and that is about it.  I can stay on the seat if I lean the bike slightly to the right.  I never put my left foot down anyway due to a previous ankle injury but I am hoping that I will continue to gain some strength on that side as time passes. Taking into consideration that time will help with getting used to the way the bike feels when I stop and I will be a little more comfortable a few days from now, I can tell you my thigh muscles are thanking me today.  They feel great!   I am sure that the more seasoned cyclists that have seen me every week for the past several months have had to laugh at the girl peddling away with her knees in her chin, but hey, I figured it out.  Better late to the party, than to never have arrived at all, right? Besides, I am here for your amusement as well as mine.  It is the least I can do.   So give those thighs a break, raise your seat and let me know how it feels.
- Commuter Girl