Sunday, March 08, 2009

Underground to the Mountains

I've never really explored Runyon Canyon, one of L.A.'s premiere "hike and be seen" spots where cute actresses and scruffy musicians walk their dogs and look fabulous. Its absolutely packed on weekends, with great scenery to be found - both of the human and nature varieties. So today I hopped on my friendly neighborhood subway with my singlespeed, which is no good for getting across town, and took it a stop or two to H-wood town.

*click photos to enlarge

Obligatory still life + motion

Knobbies on Stars

A few quick blocks of dodging tourists and I was on my way up the hill to the entrance to Runyon. Leaving the BS of the city behind. Sorta.

A much shorter ride than I'm used to, maybe 3-4 miles round trip, but I felt like I owed it to myself to get familiar with something in my backyard so to speak. The paved climb up from the bottom is a nice consistent grade, definitely a workout on a singlespeed. And I did not see any other cyclists the entire time, only swarms of people and dogs. Looking back down on the climb -

Great views looking south & west at the top. I rode to the gate at Mulholland to make my summit official then turned around to head back down. I conveniently looked the other direction as I passed the 'No Bikes' sign at the top of the dirt trail. For the sake of my knowledge and this blog I had to be a scofflaw for a day and see what was in store. Besides, riding down the way I came up would be no fun at all.

Top looking south

East (HW sign center)

Rustic living on the ridge. Downtown in b/g

Summit Me

The top half of the dirt trail was rideable, with only some water bar drops and a few ruts to contend with. The second half? Yeah no. Hike-a-bike time.

Wheel catchers

Made it back down safe and sound with nary a gripe from any hikers. Ideally I would do 2 laps but the sun was setting and I had a train to catch. Next time. Back down to HW proper for a much-needed recovery beverage. Something tells me its mandatory to include Starbucks with a Runyon hike.

What Would Jesus Drink?

A. a double-tall cappuccino

* all photos courtesy of my sucky iPhone cam.

Runyon Wiki

Saturday, March 07, 2009

OMG it's Lance!

Following Lance Armstrong on Twitter is pretty entertaining, and tipped me off to his upcoming "group ride" in Hollywood. I took the info down, made the appropriate rsvp's and planned on attending whatever was in store for those who showed up. The group ride turned out to be: Closing Sunset Blvd completely for a 2 mile stretch from L.A. to Hollywood at 6pm on a Saturday night. Hundreds of people turned out, free water, snacks and mechanical support were provided, everyone got free t-shirts, PD & FD were out in force. Epic. All for a 2 mile ride.

*click photos to enlarge.

Queuing up

I'm not the *best* when it comes to playing along by the rules, so I somehow decided that digging my "LiveWrong" tshirt out of the drawer would be a good idea for a LiveStrong event. More on that later. (wtf is that over my shoulder???)

Lance and local politicians make chit chat under huge movie lights before the ride

Lance then hopped on a bike customized by artist Barry McGee and led the ride. Riding on a closed Sunset Blvd was pretty cool, not to soon be repeated.

Lance kits

photo by James

We all arrived at the Montalban Theater on Vine and were greeted with a very efficient bike valet. We then entered the theater and were treated to an open beer & wine bar. Nice! A couple glasses of Pinot after a 2 mile sprint on an empty stomach is a great way to kick off a Saturday night.

I was headed towards the men's room when I got stopped by a security guard in a suit. "Excuse me sir, we need you to step outside". What? I thought I had violated some "no open container while in the restroom" law. He looked around like he was was waiting for someone else to show up. A few seconds later a younger staffer shows up and confirms that they want me to leave. He follows up his request with "Whats with the shirt?". Oh, that. I smile and assure them that I'm just having a little fun. They don't like it. "Were you even on the ride??" they inquire. "Um, yes" I reply and show then my wristband. I attempt to defuse it by assuring them I will go to my seat, get my standard issue yellow shirt and wear it like everyone else, effectively covering up the offending message. They mull it over and agree. I'm sent off with a "no worries". Thanks fellas!

When in doubt, go half-shirt.

We took our seats and Ben Stiller took the stage to get things under way. Apparently Ben and Lance had become friends on the Dodgeball film and now do favors like this for each other. He introduced Lance, LiveStrong CEO Doug Ulman and Nike CEO Mark Parker. They talked about Lance's mission with fighting cancer, his return to cycling and his newfound interest in the art world and how he is drawing his current favorite artists into his world to help promote his cause. Look for the unveiling of his "Stages" exhibit following the Tour de France in July.

Doug and Lance

Lance then thanked everyone for coming, said he was off to Europe tomorrow and then introduced the second Ben-friend of the night - Ben Harper, who jammed a nice set with his band The Relentless Seven, which consisted of 3 dudes.


After Ben's set we headed out to bike valet to recover the bikes, then decided on Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles for some late night eats. On the way there, a woman joined along to ride with us. We knew her vaguely from hanging around various L.A. bike events. She had way too much to drink at the event and decided that riding no-handed down the middle of Sunset Blvd would be fun. Until she wobbled and hit the blacktop. Hard. Hard enough to knock her unconscious in the middle of the street. Doh! Traffic waited while we carried her off to the sidewalk and laid her back down, still out cold. Lots of "is she ok?/ Should we call 911?" shouts from strangers. No and No. We eventually got her to come around then called an ambulance. She had no clue where she was or what she was doing earlier, or even that she had crashed. Her helmet was cracked, hands and lips bleeding. The paramedics hauled her and her bike (thanks guys!) off to the hospital. Drinking and dumb riding don't mix. Thank god for her helmet. She recovered ok with some stitches on her hand and a concussion. Lucky.

We wished her well over excellent fried chicken, cornbread and waffles slathered in butter and honey. Then off to the subway to complete the journey home.

More on Lance here