Thursday, July 7, 2011

Out of Shape (But Not Really)

Yesterday, I did something I haven't done in a while. A couple of friends and I did a forty-mile bicycle ride from Van Nuys, through Burbank, to Cypress Park and back, and to be honest, it was a little brutal. Perhaps it was the heat of the day or my personally not having done hills in a while (not that the hills were particularly grueling), but I just found it strange that for all the running and walking and muscle training I've been doing this year, the ride in itself was a little... tiring.

And it should have been, right? Maybe?

See, I'm not too sure it should have been. Granted I know that exerting oneself in one fashion is completely different than exerting oneself in another. Whether swimming, cycling, running, jogging, doing yoga, pilates, tae kwon do, jiu jitsu, picking up a twenty-five pound package or a small child - simply being athletic does not a Jack or Jill of all athletic trades make.

Maybe I just need a little more training on the bicycle, so to speak. We've done longer rides, in more brutal headwinds, on heavier bicycles - granted, in cooler weather - and for some reason it felt more effortless. But really, in the end, my debating it with myself does nothing other than spin my brain in circles. It was a good ride, we covered a long distance, and there will be more rides to come in the very near future. In the meantime, whether I cover a long distance or not shouldn't be the issue... it's being on the bicycle that 'should be', period - but only because it's important to me.

I guess what I'm getting at is that it's not really worth worrying about something if you're out there actually doing it and really pushing towards, and that one's level of activity really should be aimed towards their individual goals, whether funneled through a hobby (such as cycling or working out) or otherwise.

I love bicycling. It goes without saying that such 'training' in a recreational sense serves to help any aspect of life outside of the recreational realm (as far as making strides in commuting and/or running errands around town). Bring it on, I suppose.

No more whining. I am fabulous. And, frankly, if you're out there working it, so are you.

P.S. The extended LA River Path is most definitely something awesome. Much thanks to the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

From the Valley to West Hollywood (and Back)

I live in the Valley. My boyfriend lives in West Hollywood.

In this time in getting to know each other, I have learned quite a bit, especially transportation-wise. Transportation is always on my mind, even when I'm stationary, but let's just give it a go anyway:

1) There are three ways to get to West Hollywood, whether by car, bicycle or bus. (a) Take the 405 to the back end of Sunset and head to your destination that way, heading east. (Or, the 761 to the 2.) (b) Take the 101 to Highland, make your way to Sunset, and head to your destination via the boulevard heading west. (Or, the Red Line to Highland, and the 2.) Or, to me, at least, the most direct in the form of (c) taking the 101 or whatever side street of your choosing to Laurel Canyon where it bleeds into Crescent Heights, and head wherever it is you choose, because you're pretty much in the middle of it all. (Or, the 150/240 to the 218, then the 2. Feel free to write this down.)

I have not yet ridden my bicycle from the Valley to over the hill yet, but one of these days, I think I will. Bicycling in the Valley has made me brave and/or ambitious, which, in my vocabulary, can be substituted for crazy.

2) Depending on what you're doing, you don't have to drive much over the hill. Unless you're going to the El Capitan and then to Fred 62 and then maybe The Roxy for a late show, that is. Surprisingly, a lot of people walk and/or cycle in the particular area I'm referring to, so much so that to get in the car is a little strange, unless one is going to work.

3) The local 2 bus is I've never had to wait more than 20 minutes for it, even on the weekend. And that's a fact. If the north-south buses in the Valley were as considerate, it'd be pretty nifty.

4) It's cool being on an island, as apparently West Hollywood is socially termed. And granted, there is always something going on. But it's nice going somewhere else every so often. I like the Valley, quite a bit. I used to not, but in recent years I learned how nice it is when something has the ability to become your own, or you learn where it lands in the scheme of everything else, geographically or otherwise.

Personally, I love the bicycle paths in the Valley, the hills, the hiking opportunities, the wide streets, the lake and art house theater down the street from my house, the parks and paved streets to run in, on and around, and the In-N-Out a block away... it's silly. It's a bit quieter. But it'll do for the next ten or so months as I finish up this current chapter in life.

And finally,

5) The distance between West Hollywood and the Valley really isn't the end of the world. This is coming from someone who does not drive the distance. I have mentioned before the one time I had been in a car after years of not driving and it felt like I was in a capsule and completely cut off from the world. Not to say that's how it feels to anyone who spends a lot of time driving, but I get not wanting to be behind the wheel. But comparing a convenience to the more time it takes to utilize public transportation is... maybe not silly, but let's just say I'm always open for a debate and/or discussion. On any front. Let's talk gas, insurance and waiting in traffic. Let's talk summer temperatures, and how going Metro takes about three times as long (but there's nothing a book and a fully charged iPod won't do to make it better). But still, even though Orange Line is a walk from my place, as it's always been, in about 25-30 minutes from that point I'm thisclose to being back over the hill, whatever it is I may be doing.

It's not news that I'm planning for a car-lite existence rather soon-ish. Someone on another blog said it best, paraphrased: "I'm not car-free, but I like to pretend that I am." That's always been the goal.

I really do think that's it for now. Collected observations are my favorite.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Local Service Still to Improve

I am really excited at the thought of Metro expanding its rail service. The Orange and Red Lines have been really awesome in the years of their operation, and to be honest, the more the better.

However, the cost going towards the expansion of rail is depleting the function of local service. Let it be said, rail is awesome. But I feel that this is catering to the car culture even more.

Look, and cars are great, too. They definitely serve a purpose, especially since local service is virtually disappearing.

But if we're ever going to be reliable sans cars, or ever really achieve a 'car-optional' culture, local service needs a friggin' chance.

Back in March, The LA Times announced Metro's plans to cut local service in order to better transfer funds to the rail projects. As of June 26, these changes were implemented, which included the discontinuation of weekend lines, the shortening of lines in general, and some schedules have been changed to hourly. And yes, while others were extended or combined, the decrease of service is the most noticeable and is not the first change of its kind in recent months, nor will it be the last.

It almost seems like a moot point to even say anything about this because they are changes that will happen no matter what, in some capacity, at least. But I've always believed that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Hourly service does not cut it. Cutting lines doesn't cut it. Mediocre service doesn't cut it. Rail is awesome, but unless you have a car or are willing to pay exorbitant rates for a taxi, how exactly does one plan to get there?

If it's important enough (read: if it's bothering you enough), say something about it already.

And maybe, maybe in thirty years we'll see less backwards movement.

Photo via The Transit Coalition