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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

yogis and bikes

slowly but surely, the bicycle commuting population continues to grow here in LA.

there are many reasons why more and more people are jumping on the cycling bandwagon: higher gas prices, worsening traffic problems, inadequate parking facilities. there's also the desire for cleaner air, improved physical fitness, and just being able to have fun and meet other like-minded people.

and it's through my participation in the various events organized by the LACBC, or the los angeles bicycle coalition, that i've had that chance to meet many of my fellow cyclists. or in the case of the recent LA bicycle count, a fellow yogi.

last week, almost two hundred LACBC volunteers were stationed at 50 intersections within the LA city limits. the goal: to count the number of bicyclists and pedestrians who travel through these intersections on three separate days. i was one of those volunteers; when the initial sign-up sheet was posted, i offered to work afternoons at either of the two intersections that were close to where i lived. and when the final assignment spreadsheet was handed out, i was happy to find out that i got the afternoon shifts at the intersection closest to my home -- the corner of bundy and idaho in west LA. and in a strange coincidence, a guy named yogi got the morning shifts at the same intersection.

yogi? as in a practitioner of yoga? or as in the bear? hmmm...

since there was a span of almost six hours between his shift and mine, there was no way we'd ever run into each other. too bad.

at the press conference held at the corner of lincoln and venice the first morning of the count, i thought that i might catch him there. i didn't. (shameless plug: while i was chatting with some of the other cyclists gathered on the sidewalk, a photographer for the argonaut took a picture of us and put it in last week's issue. while the article can be found online here, the photo can only be found in the print issue. my friend michael first spotted the photo, and as he put it, "You're on your bike watching other bikers hold a LA Bicycle Coalition Sign. Page 9. Your legs and hair look great." i have really nice friends, don't i?)

later that afternoon (and again the next day), i sat at my assigned corner, counting all the cyclists and pedestrians who went through the intersection. i had to keep track of the direction they were headed, the number of kids, and whether the cyclists were riding without a helmet, on the sidewalk, and/or riding on the wrong side of the street. there was also a separate count for female cyclists (the theory being that if a neighborhood is perceived to be unsafe, women will tend to avoid it). luckily for me, it was a beautiful almost-fall day and it was a treat just being able to sit outside and watch the cars and the bikes and the pedestrians go by. and remind myself every now and then to mark my tally sheet...

as compared to some of the other intersections covered during the survey, bundy and idaho is relatively quiet. during the two-hour period on each of those days, i counted an average of around a hundred bicycles and easily over twice as many pedestrians. one cyclist, after finding out what i was doing, suggested that i add a hundred more to the count so that we'd get a bike lane on that street. i told him that i would do it only if he biked back and forth through the intersection that many times. he biked away and never came back. he was no fun.

a post-count party was held saturday night at a dive bar in downtown LA. while we stood around ingesting mass quantities of pizza, beer, and red bull (who were sponsors of the soapbox races that were held around the corner earlier that afternoon), i finally ran into the elusive yogi. and when i asked him about the origin of his name, he said that it was his real name, bestowed upon him by parents who were influenced by the cartoon character, the sports legend, and their own personal lifestyle -- they were yoga practitioners.

so does yogi do any yoga? yes he does; in fact, he leads classes at the church on ocean park in santa monica. it was through psalm isadora, a mutual friend of ours, that he found that space. and in a strange coincidence, both of us were invited to her birthday party later that evening. i told him i was going... would he be there, too? he said he'd try.

how cool was it that my bicycle and yoga paths had somehow come to an intersection?

anyway, after finding and friending yogi on facebook, i decided to attend his acroyoga class earlier this evening. and despite it being a small group that showed up -- including one person playing various instruments and another videotaping as much of it as he could -- i had a great time doing some basic flying maneuvers. me definitely want more!

by the way, as of next week, yogi's acroyoga class will be immediately followed by an ecstatic dance session with some really good musicians playing some really good music... or so goes the plan. the details are still being ironed out, but here's a heads-up if you're interested:

acroyoga + ecstatic dance
church in ocean park, 235 hill street, santa monica
tuesdays at 6:15pm, starting oct 6th

6:15-8:00pm - acroyoga with yogi hendlin
8:00-10:30pm - ecstatic dance

website: http://www.ecstaticdancela.org/

parking can be an issue around the venue, especially in the evening, so you might want to join the growing ranks of bicycle commuters and leave your car at home! :)


Blogger Amanda said...

Man that acroyoga & dance class sounds like a ton of fun! Sometimes I feel like I am on the wrong coast.

I recently bought a mountain bike so I could rude with my fiance, and have fallen in love with it! While I haven't bit the big one to ride to work every day, I have begun using it as transportation when I need to buy something locally.

I recently found a link on facebook for a group called Critical Mass. They are a group of bikers all over the world that get together on the 30th of each month and just ride around for fun. It is really great! Leg power! hahah

5:59 AM  
Anonymous Marina Kamen said...

great blog bringing a different perspective

1:56 PM  
Blogger joni said...

maendy -- the last job i had was 20 miles from home. i considered biking to get to work, but it would probably take over an hour each way PLUS i'd need a shower by the time i got there! needless to say, i ended up driving... i'm hoping that my next job is close to home (or better yet, that i'd be able to work from home!)

marina -- i sometimes like to add in other aspects of my day just to mix things up, otherwise people would think that all i did was yoga :)

12:18 AM  

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