A good ride, and a bit of bike physics

This was a nice surprise:

I haven’t been on a real ride for a couple of weeks. Sure, I did CicLAvia last Sunday, but that’s sort of a lazy amble through downtown. Today, I actually got to do my regular Warner Brothers – Forest Lawn – L.A. River – Burbank Bike Path loop. I didn’t push, just rode comfortably… and had my Eighth fastest time for the route. Neat.

Two Points About Bike Physics:
(Note: If you are looking for bike psychics, please go here.)

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  1. When a rider want to make a bicycle move, they apply force to the pedals, which transfer that energy into the crank, chain, gears, and wheels. The wheels transform the energy into acceleration. This acceleration is limited by the energy the rider puts into the system. Energy is also lost to forces like friction and gravity. In general, the amount of possible acceleration is lower than the acceleration possible from a car. So: If you are in a car, and you’ve pulled into a bike lane behind a bike to make a turn, it’s very likely that it will take the bike more time than the car to accelerate.

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  2. Honking your horn will not transfer energy to the bike and so will not decrease the time it takes for the bike to get out of your way. In fact, in may increase the time, for the rider might stop to find out why you honked and/or stop to yell at you for honking at him while in the bike lane.

SCIENCE!

CicLAvia

CicLAvia was yesterday. It was a version of my favorite route, all through downtown. I did the same thing I always do: bring a backpack full of camera stuff, then barely take any pictures because I’d rather be riding. Someday I’ll learn that I like to bike, and I like to take pictures, but I don’t really like to bike AND take pictures.

Oh, and I saw students there. That was cool.

Spaghetti Ride

Yeah, Spaghetti Ride. That’s what I’ve decided to call the rides where I just try to keep moving, even if it means I have to ride in loops to avoid stopping.

Here’s tonight’s ride:Spaghetti Ride

Highlights of tonight’s ride include:

  • looping twice past of Jamie & Brian’s place
  • getting caught in a narrow space by Costco and technically continuing to ride by pushing up the street with one foot on the sidewalk
  • mostly riding legally

Side note: I always enjoy looking at these maps because they include the old names for the neighborhoods. Why doesn’t anyone say they live in La Paco, or Vega, or even McNeil? Those all sound like more interesting places¬†¬†than North Hollywood or Burbank.

Walk (Bike) to School Day

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Twenty years ago, someone started “Walk to School Day.” Not to get all grandpa here, but when I was a young’un, every day was walk to school day. These kids today with their fancy minivans and whatnot don’t know what it was like!

Then someone realized that there are other ways to self-propel yourself to school, and the name changed to “Walk/Bike to School Day.” I think using the word “and” would be clearer than using the slash, which makes reading it out loud sound like you want people to walk their bikes to school.

But today was the official day, so I rode with a few students and adults to school. It was about a half mile from the meeting place to the school; I actually rode about five times as far to get to the meeting spot. I decided to be Mister Safety, so I wore my nighttime reflective jacket. It’s like wearing a plastic bag. I transformed into Mister Sweaty.

But it felt good to ride, and the kids who went with us seemed to enjoy it. I’ll do it again next year. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even ride my bike to work sometimes when it’s just a regular day! Crazy!

Technically, I did observe part of Griffith Park…

Original plan for today: Ride up to Griffith Park Observatory. I always fight with hills, but I was pretty confident I could get up the hill. After all, that’s why bikes have granny gears.

Then I woke up this morning. I don’t know if it was a lack of sleep, or spending yesterday in the sun taking pictures, but I was TIRED. Not sleepy-tired; exhausted tired. I decided to try anyway. Google maps picked a funky route. I think it was trying to keep me off scary roads and level my ride out, but it was still reasonable.

I knew my success wasn’t likely from the first mile. Even the flats were a struggle. When I started up the actual hill, my legs said “You MIGHT be able to do this, but you won’t enjoy it.” I know: that’s what muscles always say to get out of work. But this time I knew they were right. I skipped the Observatory and instead went to the Hollywood Farmer’s market- just in time to watch it close. I thought “Well, at least I’ll get in the hill back to the San Fernando Valley, but my legs laughed and told me to take the subway.

The moral of the story: Always bring your TAP card when you ride.

Next weekend: I will get farther up that hill.

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