Biking in the AV


The joys and challenges of riding in the Antelope Valley

Archive for May, 2011

In which I take the train, bus, and ride my bike to the doctor

Friday, May 27th, 2011

A little change of pace. Today’s post is not about riding in the Antelope Valley. It’s about riding in the San Fernando Valley.

Let me backtrack a little bit to explain. On May 15th, I ran the Pasadena Half Marathon along together with two of my running buddies. Somewhere around the halfway mark, my left heel started to hurt. B-A-D-L-Y. There was so much pain my friend emphatically suggested I stop at the medical tent for some ibuprofen. That helped and I was able to complete the race. But, by the time I got home, I could barely walk.

It’s customary after a race to take some time off from running for recovery, then resume running later. When I tried to run again, though, the pain came back with a vengeance. My friend and I theorized that it was the dreaded plantar fasciitis, but it seemed prudent to get a medical opinion, and in the interim ice and take anti-inflammatories. I made an appointment with my podiatrist.

Around this time, I heard about Clif Bar’s Two Mile Challenge. So since I hate driving down to the doctor’s office in Northridge, I made an elaborate plan to ride my bike to the Antelope Valley Metrolink Line’s Palmdale station, get off at the Burbank station, catch the Ventura Line to the Northridge station, and bike the last mile and a half to the doctor’s office.

Unfortunately, I overslept yesterday morning. Despite riding as fast as I could, and getting to the Palmdale station on time, I could not get a ticket out of the machine fast enough. The train left without me. This was the only train that would make a connection with the only train of the day that would stop in Northridge.


Biking in the Wind

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

My Caffe Racer friend Fred asked me to write something about biking in the wind. As anyone who lives in the Antelope Valley knows, the wind is an ever-present reality. Since we aren’t likely to find a way to avoid it, we might as well figure out ways to deal with it.

I did a little bit of research on the web and found a plethora of websites with cycling-in-the-wind tips.

When you have time, check out what each has to say.

Overall, they agree on several things you can do to make your windy ride more comfortable.

  • Get aero – Lower your head, elbows and knees in.
  • Don’t worry about how fast you are going.
  • Don’t wear loose clothing.
  • Start out into the wind, so you’ll have a headwind on the way back.
  • Start riding earlier in the day before the winds get really strong.
  • When you are riding with others, take turns pulling at the front, and shelter behind other riders if you can.
  • Use trees, shrubs, houses, or buildings as shelter.
  • Keep a positive attitude and stay mindful of the present moment.

Interestingly, the sites give differing advice on what gear you should be in. According to some of them, you should change to a bigger gear and push through it. The others say that you should use an easier gear, as that will be protect your knees.

Flags flying over the bank on May 24, 2011

Over the past two days, I’ve tried to use some of this advice on my rides. I think getting into a more aerodynamic position is easier on a road bike than it is on my folding bike, since I’m much more upright on the folder. I did, however, lean over as much as possible, kept my elbows and knees tucked inward. The most aero position seemed to be with my hands on the bar ends, as I could lean over further that way.


Unsafe Routes to School

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Biking in LA reports on the unsafe condition of LA’s streets near schools:

I knew L.A. wasn’t the safest place to bike or ride.

But it never really sank in until I saw the maps.

Safe Routes to Schools has joined with the LACBC to call attention to just how far this city has to go before children to walk or bike to many schools, especially in lower income areas. New collision maps based on TIMS data (the Transportation Injury Mapping System) clearly shows how many injuries and fatalities occur near schools.

Take a look at the map for the Antelope Valley.

“Now with the TIMS data, the State of California has provided an amazing tool that allows us to see the neighborhoods, intersections and streets of greatest need and make strategic investments. We need the City to provide staff, and create a plan to implement safety improvements quickly, so we can see our transportation priorities shift. For too long, there has been a focus on moving cars to the detriment of our health and communities, the City of Los Angeles needs to put safety and people first,” says Jessica Meaney, California Policy Manager, Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

What Jessica Meaney said above concerning the City of Los Angeles can equally be applied to the Antelope Valley. I hope that local cities and the County of Los Angeles along with our local school districts will use this data as a tool to improve the safety of our children.


Upcoming Biking/Wellness Events in Lancaster

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

The City of Lancaster will have the following events during the summer months of June, July, August, and September.

Bicycle Master Plan Public Workshop. Date: Wednesday, June 29. Time: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Bikeway and pedestrian improvement recommendations will be reviewed. If you missed the previous workshops and walk-audits, now is the time to come and speak up. Let the City of Lancaster know what changes you’d like to see in bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

LanCoaster Bicycle Experience. Dates: Wednesdays, June 8, July 13, August 10, and September 14. Ride times and locations: 6:30 pm Lancaster City Hall, 7:00 pm Lancaster City Park. Lights required.

Open House at Mariposa Wellness Home. Date: Thursday, July 14. Time: 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Walk through the neighborhood.

Trailhead Bingo Event. Date: Saturday, August 13. Time: To be determined. No details at this time.


How to Lock Your Bike Properly

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

In this video from Streetsfilms, Bicycle Habitat mechanic Hal Ruzal not only grades how people have locked their bikes, but shows how to lock your bike to get an “A” locking grade.


Cycling in the Desert: The Challenges and Joys of Biking in the Antelope Valley

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

(Originally published on LA Streetsblog on May 18, 2011, as the third installment in LA Streetsblog’s series on bicycling around L.A. County as part of their Bike to Work week coverage.)

The Antelope Valley covers an immense area 60+ miles north of the City of Los Angeles. Within the valley are 2 large cities with populations above 150,000, Palmdale and Lancaster, and several smaller desert communities. Politically, the valley is part of 3 different counties — Los Angeles, Kern, and San Bernardino — with most of the population living in Los Angeles County.

Cycling is very popular here as a recreational sport. You can ride only a short distance and find yourself out in the country. On a Saturday or Sunday morning with various cycling clubs or groups, you can go out on a peaceful ride through the countryside with fairly empty roads and gorgeous desert views for miles and miles. You might experience high winds, but hey, that’s character building.

Caffe Racers on the windy California Aqueduct. (Michele, Brian, Sarge, and Alex)

The flip side of that is that in the city cycling for transportation is more difficult, though not impossible. The people who laid out the roads here did so on a grid pattern with arterials on a mile and half-mile grid. Most of those arterials have very high speed limits of 50, 55, and even up to 65 mph. This makes biking challenging, even on the streets that have bike lanes.

Wide bike lane narrows on Lancaster Blvd



Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Clif Bar has always been a company that cares about the environment. Since 40% of all urban travel in the United States occurs within 2 miles of people’s homes and 90% of that travel is usually done by car, Clif has created the 2 Mile Challenge as an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. It’s a competition to get as many car trips as possible replaced by bike trips instead.

Clif Bar is determined to inspire 100,000 avoided car trips and will be awarding $100,000 in grants to three nonprofit organizations: Alliance for Biking and Walking, Safe Routes to School, and

You can participate by going to Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge. Register, choose your team, and start replacing your car trips with bike trips. You’ll earn points, have fun riding and competing, and do something good for the earth in the process.


Weekend Rides in the Antelope Valley

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Bicycle John’s Caffe Racers’ Club Rides

Where: Bicycle John’s

1715 W Ave K

Lancaster, CA

When: Saturday, May 21, 2011

Time: Leaving at 6:30 p.m.

Be sure to bring your lights for this one!

When: Sunday, May 22, 2011

This ride will be led by Sarge and Michele.
Route to be determined at the time of the ride.

Time: Leaving at 8:00 a.m. SHARP (please arrive at whatever time you need in order to leave at 8:00 a.m.)

Difficulty: Beginner — SLOW PACE

*All riders must wear a helmet

For more info email: or call 661-951-8330