Celebrating National Bike Month!

Reserve staff members are pleased to celebrate National Bike Month with their favorite bicycling experiences, trails, and thoughts! Bicycling produces positive environmental, economic, health, and social benefits. These days more and more commuters are choosing two wheels over four. We hope you’re also celebrating National Bike Month and enjoying the ride!

Share a bicycle memory that has had a lasting effect on you in our comment section below to win one of five Reserve front bike lights! Thanks!

Stephen H. rides with Jesus
stephen
What is your ride?I have a 2009 Schwinn Le Tour. It has carbon forks and an aluminum frame. While it isn’t the fanciest road bike on the market, it gets the job done.What is your favorite bike trail?

Some of my favorite biking trails are in Minnesota outside of the Minneapolis/St Paul area. They have a fantastic rails to trails program and the paths are oftentimes meandering through beautiful lush forests and coinciding with rivers and lakes. As you push forward on your ride you can really feel the purity of the air rush through your lungs. I also really enjoy riding on the coast in San Diego. The bike lanes are plentiful and the pacific ocean is beautiful.

What is your best bike memory?

My favorite biking memory was when I went to Baja, Mexico to do a ride with my buddy Jesus. The ride is 50 miles from Rosarito to Ensenada. The ride traverses the coast and cuts inland through the Baja desert. Hundreds of people come to do the ride at one time and all the roads are blocked off to prohibit automotive traffic (http://www.rosaritoensenada.org/). It was a great experience to only share the road with fellow bikers and experience the rugged terrain of Baja on a bike. It was definitely a hard ride and at the end we enjoyed a little party by the beach in Ensenada. Luckily, my friends family owns a taqueria called Tacos El Chente so the food was endless.

What do you love most about bicycling?

The thing I find most enjoyable about biking is the fact that you can get to a destination while simultaneous exercising. Being in LA, which is mostly flat, it is easy to get around to fulfill daily routines on a bicycle. I also enjoy the fact that I am not contributing to our reliance on oil to get around. As cities become more condensed it will clearly be inefficient to operate a vehicle.

What do you think about LA’s bicycling infrastructure?

LA biking infrastructure is improving and I really appreciate the marketing campaigns the city is installing, which suggest that “every lane is a bike lane.” I feel that it’s very important for motorists to realize this because sometimes it feels slightly dangerous biking around the city. However, biking infrastructure in the city has a long way to go. I think LA could definitely use a bike sharing program as well as the installment of more electric bikes. Within the LA metropolitan area it seems that people are heavily dependent on personal transportation. I read some interesting statistics awhile back that suggested over half of all car trips are approximately 3 miles or less. It is amazing to consider this, because a 3 mile bike trip takes less than 30 minutes. Ultimately, I would like to see more people biking and utilizing public transportation because it would definitely help with localized sources of air pollution and contribute to a healthier population.

Heather R. does not let LA drivers deter her
heather
What is your ride?A Kona Dew Plus hybrid bike in sage green. My first vehicle purchase after moving to LA!What is your favorite bike trail?

I really like biking through Griffith Park. Cyclists are not allowed on the dirt hiking trails, but the roads are perfect for my hybrid bike and are mostly shaded, so it’s a pleasant ride even in the summer heat. Going into the park on Crystal Springs Drive, you can bike past the zoo, head down Zoo Drive, pass the Travel Town railway museum, then head up a challenging incline on Griffith Park Drive. You end up back on Crystal Springs Drive and ready to head home from there…or wherever your bike may take you! Griffith Park Map

What is your best bike memory?

My first adult bike purchase when I was 9 years old: a red mountain bike. I was finally able to head into the dirt hills with my big brother and straight through overgrown fields. I had that bike for about 15 years…definitely got my money’s worth!

What do you love most about bicycling?

When the physical challenge of some trails is completely overshadowed by the beauty of nature around you.

Any tips for biking in LA?

When road biking in LA, you have to assume that no one driving a car sees you. It’s the best safety tip I can give. But also to not let that intimidate you from venturing out on your bike. There are many quiet roads in LA that lead to beautiful parks or community gardens. You can also take your bike to Griffith Park for a ride without battling traffic, or out to some mountain trails within an hour from the city. There are so many areas to explore with your bicycle, don’t let those LA drivers deter you!

Teresa L. hits the mud-erlode
teresa
What is your ride?I absolutely love taking my bike down to the Strand (aka the bike path on the beach) where I live in Manhattan Beach. During the summer, I barely use my car on the weekends, and just bike along the Strand everywhere I need to go! There really is nothing like cycling along the beach in the summer sunshine.What is your favorite bike trail?

When I have time for a longer bike ride, I love to take my bike north along the beach. The best is to bike all the way from one end of Los Angeles’s coastal bike path to the other. It starts just south of me in Hermosa Beach, winds around the inner edge of the marina in Marina Del Rey, and then hits the beach again to take you through the Venice and Santa Monica boardwalks, under the pier, all the way north to Pacific Palisades, where Sunset Blvd. hits the Pacific Coast Highway.

What is your most lasting bike memory?

Definitely not the “best” memory, but by far the most memorable…. After living in Costa Rica and Nicaragua for a few years, I have come to be known as quite prone to cycling accidents. By far the worst occurred while I was living in rural Nicaragua. Once or twice a week, I had to visit the next town over to teach my ecotourism class. It was a 12 km trip (7 sort of flat, 5 uphill) on a dirt road in the middle of the rainy season. Sometimes I was able to hitch a ride or take a bus the first 7 km, but frequently I biked, and on one particularly rainy day, I didn’t make it…. At km 6.5, on the last gently sloping downhill prior to where the river that crosses the road (and yes, everyone has to ford the river, whether on foot, in car, or on bike), I started gaining way too much speed. On soft mud (as the road was that day), hand brakes don’t do a whole lot… In what can only be described as “fishtailing in the mud,” I managed to launch myself superman-style over the handle bars, landing face first in the mud in the middle of the road. Totally by myself, in the middle of nowhere, and hoping there wouldn’t be too much traffic on the road, I lay face down in the mud as I slowly checked, limb by limb, to make sure I wasn’t injured. Miraculously, I walked away with barely more than a few scratches and a handle-bar shaped bruise across my thighs, but my bike wasn’t so lucky — I managed to bend and break my bike wheel in the process, preventing me from biking home. After over an hour, one of my neighbors happened to drive by in a pick up truck, and graciously gave me a ride home — he definitely made me and my bike ride in the back though!! He and the other passengers also asked for permission to take photos of me (the town’s lone gringa) to show their families how ridiculous I looked!

What do you love most about bicycling?

I love the feel of wind in your face when riding fast. Especially if it’s a sea breeze with a view! Also, when I was living in Central America, I loved seeing a family of 4 managing to ride the same bike – Dad pedaling, Mom on the center bar holding the baby, and the older child perched on the handlebars. It’s not as easy as it looks!! (trust me I’ve tried)

Any tips for cyclists?

I think bicycling, especially in LA or other big cities, comes with responsibilities to know and follow traffic laws. Cars absolutely need to share the road, but bicyclists must keep their own safety in mind at all times – and that includes following the rules of the road! If bicyclists don’t do a good job of signaling turns or lane changes, or run red lights, our actions become unpredictable to others on the road, increasing the risk of accidents! After getting hit by a mo-ped while cycling in Costa Rica, I was mad at the mo-ped driver – but looking back now, I realize that accident was totally my fault and completely preventable because I didn’t signal properly.

Stephanie S. shares a tip on the best car-free stretch in LA
stephanie
What is your ride?Specialized brand. Lady-sized and perfect for short people.What is your favorite bike trail?

When I lived in Culver City it was great to jump on the Ballona Creek path and ride it down to the sea. And if so inclined I could turn left and keep going south to Palos Verdes. It’s the best car-free stretch in L.A.

What is your best bike memory?

Climbing the entire length of Big Tujunga (without stopping) up to Clear Creek on the Angeles Forest Highway. And this was on my old, heavy steel bike that had fewer gears.

What do you love most about bicycling?

Cycling is exhausting and I’ll never be comfortable with the cars. But one does get a great sense of achievement in a long ride, it’s great exercise, and if you are in a car-free area (bike path, country road) it is quite a high to zip along making no noise and being able to look at the scenery and be in the scenery.

Max D. tinkers, tailors, soldiers with his bike
max
What is your ride?An aluminum Vitus road bike made in France in the early 1990s. I removed the gears and converted it to a single speed with a freehub.What is your favorite bike trail?
The Strand along the beach.What is your best bike memory?

Commuting to UCSB on the trails along the Elwood Bluffs. There’s nothing like it!

What do you love most about bicycling?

I love the freedom of movement as compared to other forms of transportation, as well as the hobby aspect of puttering with the bike itself.

What are your thought’s on LA’s bike infrastructure?

New bikes paths and bike lanes aren’t going to help solve the issue of LA being completely sprawling and spread out, but it sure could make the neighborhoods more pleasant. We have possibly the most compatible climate for bicycling, and yet it’s not seen as a major mode of transportation as it is in other cities (Portland, Minneapolis, Copenhagen, etc.). Good bicycle infrastructure can go a long way toward changing that.

Anna S. enjoys the California sunshine on her cruiser
anna
What is your ride?Single speed 3G ladies beach cruiser, designed right here in Southern California.What is your favorite bike trail?

I like any bike path that provides an interesting or scenic journey to a deliciously refreshing end point. A few that come to mind are Crystal Cove State Park, which has Ruby’s Shake Shack at one end; riding along the Isar River from the center of town in Munich up to Gasthof Hinterbrühl; and riding around the historic town center of Oxford and through the surrounding fields, which provides many refreshing points throughout the journey.

What do you love most about biking?

Biking for me has a lot of the same benefits as walking (which I also love) but is just faster. It helps me grasp of the lay of the land and get an understanding of the place I’m visiting in a way that would be impossible by driving or even riding on public transportation. I like having the flexibility and accessibility that riding a bike affords when exploring new places.

What’s your best bike memory?

I think my best bike memory is yet to come. I’ve always been more of a recreational or tourist biker, but within the next few years I would like to take part in “Bike to the Beach,” an annual bike ride to raise awareness for autism. My cousins and a couple friends of theirs turned their annual bike ride from Bethesda, MD to Bethany Beach, DE into several 100-mile rides that now take place along the East Coast. Since officially becoming a 501(c)(3) in 2007, Bike to the Beach has raised over a million dollars for autism awareness. Even though it has grown quite large in recent years (over 2000 people ride and volunteer at the event), it still has a family and friends vibe. To date at least a dozen of my family members have participated in the ride, including three of my siblings. So my cruiser might be taking the backseat to a more serious (read: multiple speed) bike soon enough.

 

Update to Best Bike Memory:

Nil Volentibus Arduum
Nothing is impossible for the willing

In May I wrote that my best bike memory was yet to come. In early August I took the plunge and “Biked to the Beach,” 105 miles from downtown Washington, DC to Dewey Beach, DE. Before embarking on the ride I needed to train – and not on my beach cruiser. So after visiting CicLAvia, I went to the Bicycle Kitchen here in Los Angeles and got myself a “project bike” in the form of a 1983 Nishiki Sebring road bike (before and after pics below). It was pretty much ready to go once we cleaned off the dust and oiled up the chain, but I also updated the saddle and grip tape, added a Climate Action Reserve headlight and some other safety features, and named my new road bike “Yoshi.” I can safely say that along with the two training rides and raising over $1,000 for autism awareness,* Bike to the Beach DC 2013 is my favorite biking memory. Waking up at 3:30 AM to meet up with over 500 bicyclists to get on the road by 5:00 AM was exhilarating; riding out of the city in the dark with the DC Police Department was exciting; biking through the Maryland and Delaware countryside was both challenging and breathtaking; and completing the ride on time with my best friend and my little sister was incredibly gratifying.  Now I’m looking forward to exploring the LA and OC road trails with Yoshi, and of course to getting back on my beach cruiser too.

*90% of proceeds go to Autism Speaks, with the remaining 10% being apportioned out to smaller local (DC) autism charities and bike charities. Fundraising is open through September, so it’s not too late to donate!