30 Days of Biking – The Easy Part
Each April a challenge is issued to ride every single day for the entire month with the intent to set habits that will last for the entire summer. Called 30 Days of Biking, it was created in the Twin Cities by Patrick Stephenson as a personal goal. Now in its seventh year, local group rides take place while others participate via social media all over the world.
To put it into context, April weather is very fickle in Minneapolis and St. Paul. It can be 70 degrees one day and snow can fall the next. Generally, it’s just a matter of choosing the right layers of clothing to make it through the 30 days while retaining any excitement to keep riding. The commitment forces the rider to get over any barriers and get creative on how to incorporate biking into their daily lives.
For me in Santa Monica it comes down to persistence. We are about three quarters of the way through April and I’m doing just fine riding at least a little bit each day. The hard part will come Sunday when we start our next move which means most days we will be driving cross country with the Honda Element stuffed to the roof. (I’ll report back after we land in our summer digs in Minneapolis.)
Shorties – The Letter of the Law
The library has been my most frequent errand this year usually accompanied by a coffee stop. These rides are really excuses to get on the bike for a short distance. I have to admit to my most ridiculous ride that was 2 blocks round trip to my local coffee shop for coffee and a bagel before driving 50 miles to Santa Clarita.
Bike Advocacy takes many different forms and April brought several opportunities for me to join in! Infrastructure plays a key role in the safety of all road users so any chance I get to provide input, I do. Santa Monica Spoke hosted their quarterly meeting with an update on the City’s bike projects. I was also able to spend some time with a staffer looking at the details of the new bike trail that runs along the Expo line rail line that opens in May.
My favorite event took place at the New Los Angeles Charter School – a middle school with a focus on developing civic leadership skills. I was one of several speakers invited by my friend Yolanda Davis-Overstreet (Ride In Living Color ) to participate in this safety fair that also celebrated that by persistence they have won approval to add a new traffic light so the kids can cross the street safely to the bus stop. The keynote was John Jones III who founded East Side Riders Bike Club in Watts. His club has made great progress in bringing attention to the needs of his community and focusing on gang prevention in part by hosting fun social rides. You can read about his work in this month’s Bicycling magazine. (I’ve ridden with the club before but don’t think I’ve written about it yet…)
Riding as Tourists
I love mixing art and bike riding. This past weekend we rode to downtown LA to take part in LA Art Tour’s Alley Adventure. Led by local artists, this ride explored back alley art works ranging from graffiti to street art to commissioned murals. It goes through some gritty parts of LA that can be eye opening and depressing at the same time.
Earlier in the month, the posh Westwood area took two trips to explore the Hammer and Fowler art museums along with the UCLA campus and the Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park. (The final resting place for Marilyn Monroe among other celebrities.) We’ve also been exploring to find some new routes to help a friend training for the upcoming AIDS Ride.
My Favorite – Beach Rides
The Marvin Braude Bike Trail runs along the coast from Redondo Beach on the south end up to Pacific Palisades on the north. Parts of it are heavily congested with tourists on beach cruisers and selfie sticks yet it brings riders close to the shoreline for some magnificent views. One of my favorite things about the trail is the variety of languages you can hear all along it. I actually enjoy the chaotic frenzy of people from all over the world coming together at the beach.
The lifeguard stands are iconic yet they play an important role in beach life. Two days ago the trail overlooked a tragic scene – a swimmer had gone missing so the coast guard and rescue teams were busy trying to locate him. Unfortunately, the search continues.
The power and mystery of the ocean is also present when the pods of dolphins can be seen from shore. I was enjoying an evening ride when I caught a glimpse of dorsal fins flowing in and out of the waves. My phone camera can’t capture the beauty and grace of these creatures so I just put it away and enjoyed the view.
Check back in to see if I can complete the challenge while on the road!