Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Point Loma

Filed under: — stan @ 8:36 pm

Route map

Today I was in San Diego to visit with my father while he has knee-replacement surgery. The doctor said that the total time I’d have to wait would be around four hours, so I brought my bike along. I figured that I’d have my phone along, and riding would be more entertaining than sitting in the hospital waiting room, doing the a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. Besides, I lived in San Diego for a year in 1984-85, and I was curious to see how much it had changed since then.

I started out from Thornton Hospital and rode up La Jolla Village Drive to get to Torrey Pines Road. Then I rode down the hill into La Jolla. I used to just ride straight through downtown La Jolla, but today I took the scenic route by the cove. I saw a big sea cave, lots of seals lounging on a beach, and another ’stick-man in peril’ warning sign. That was all amusing.

Heading straight down the coast on Mission Blvd, I went through Pacific Beach, which was where I used to live. Then down through Mission Beach to the roller coaster. Back in 1984, it was shut down and falling apart, and a campaign was just starting to renovate it. Apparently they succeeded. The coaster was fixed up and had a new coat of paint, and it’s running again.

Next, I rode across the mouth of Mission Bay on Sunset Cliffs to get to Ocean Beach, and then up a hill to Catalina Blvd for the ride out to Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument. On the way up the hill, I took a picture of a very striking house with the largest cantilevered balcony I’ve ever seen.

The road out to Point Loma is quite nice. About the only bad thing about it is that it goes through a Navy installation, and they insist on closing the gate at 5:00 every day. That was my pet peeve with living in San Diego. It seemed like everywhere I went, there were gates that said “Restricted Area” on Navy installations.

So I rode out to Point Loma. I used to just go to the lighthouse and get a drink, but I thought I’d sightsee a bit. So I rode down the hill on the ocean side to see the tide pools. At the bottom, I met another guy who was also out riding, so we rode out to the end of the road, which ends at the gate of the sewage treatment plant. It was kind of refreshing to see a “Restricted Area” that had nothing to do with the Navy.

Back up at the top of the hill, I got a souvenir picture in front of the lighthouse. I also got a picture of a submarine cruising out of San Diego Bay. I remembered walking along the downtown waterfront. They used to have coin-operated binoculars there, and I always thought that they should have had slots for ruble coins for the convenience of the KGB agents who were no doubt there.

Then we rode back down Catalina back into the city. We took a short ride on Nimitz Blvd, which sort of summed up my impression of riding in San Diego. A lot of the bigger streets are like riding on the freeway, and it’s not a Freeway of Love.

We split up again by Sea World, and I headed up the east side of Mission Bay. This part of the ride was quite pleasant. I rode up back to Pacific Beach and the got on Santa Fe St, which goes up the east side of the 5 freeway to the Rose Canyon bike path. The bike path was pretty nice, and it bought me up to La Jolla Colony. I stopped at a construction site for a picture of a machine called the “Putzmeister“. I thought this was funny name. Then I took a few other streets and came out on Regents Road, which bought me back to the hospital in time to change and have lunch. Then I went back in and got to my father’s room just before they brought him in from recovery.

42 miles.


CSI: Foothill Cycle Club

Filed under: — stan @ 7:46 pm

Route map

Today’s ride was Gene’s “Noodling: 3″ ride. It was a cool and overcast day, but the sun was promised to come out later.

We set out from Victory Park and headed south in to San Gabriel. Then we turned and made a partial loop around to get to South San Gabriel. For some reason, everybody had had their Wheaties this morning, and they were going quite fast. So I found a “FUNERAL” sticker on the street and stuck it on my bike. Then I said something like, “Now will you guys slow down?”

We rode down to the 60 freeway, and then up and over the hill on the south side of it, coming out below Whittier Narrows Dam in Montebello. Then we rode up Lincoln Ave, which is always a big dumping ground. I expected to find an abandoned couch or two, but instead, we found a mermaid statue.

After getting a picture of the mermaid, Philippe and I were quite far behind the group. But Philippe had a solution. He said something like, “let’s catch them” and put his head down and started to motor. I just got on his wheel. In the old days, I would have taken turns pulling, but now I’m lucky just to be able to hang on. He did a fine job of riding very fast and towing me back up to the group.

Next, we rode around the hill in Commerce and headed into West Covina. Then straight north into Irwindale and west back to Myrtle Ave, which brought us into Monrovia. Our snack stop was at Planet Cookies there.

When we got to Planet Cookies, the sidewalk in front was blocked off with police tape. There were two crime-scene investigators there, and there was blood on the sidewalk. They said that there had been some sort of fight ending in murder there last night. This was kind of disturbing, but we went ahead and got our pastries anyway.

While we were sitting there, I saw my old tattoo friend Nikki walking by. I haven’t seen her in over a year, so I flagged her down and we got to visit a bit right there. I also got a souvenir picture, which she insisted should be in front of the crime-scene tape. Nikki’s an interesting character, and I like her a lot.

The way home was a somewhat roundabout route that involved going up and down several unnecessary hills. This was nice. We got back to the park at 44 miles. At that point, I rode down to Incycle with Ben so he could buy a new pair of cleats. So by the time I got home, I had 49.8 miles. I rode around the block one extra time, just to make it a nice round number:

50 miles.


An audience with The Oinkster

Filed under: — stan @ 9:29 pm

Last week, we saw a restaurant review in the L.A. Weekly for a place in Eagle Rock called The Oinkster. OK. I’ll admit it. We thought the name was funny. And the review was good, too. So we decided to try it.

We went there, and we liked it immediately. The place smelled a lot like the old-style barbecue places we went to in Texas. We got our food and sat down.

Sadly, we didn’t like the food as much as we thought we would. It was tasty, but it was all too salty. I got the pastrami, which I expected to be salty, but the pulled pork was also too salty. Jonathan Gold’s review had made special mention of the Belgian-style fries. They had an amazing crunch and texture, but they were also über-salty. But they still tasted great dipped in the garlic aioli.

Cathy and Lucinda had the Oinksterade, which was very good. And Cathy had the peanut-butter-and-jelly cupcake for dessert. She said it was weird, but quite good.

So overall, it was a mixed bag. The food was tasty, but the saltiness put us off. Still, it was an interesting experience.


Crown Ave

Filed under: — stan @ 7:07 pm

Route map

Today’s lunchtime bike ride was a special trip up Crown Ave in La Cañada. Vikki didn’t feel up to riding, so I just went with Eric from the Seismo Lab.

We rode straight up Wilson to Mountain, and then over to near the Rose Bowl. Then up Arroyo to Oak Grove and into La Cañada.

When we took a right off Foothill, the fun began. We headed up the hill, ending in the very steep pitch up Crown Ave to Starlight Crest. Eric said he had some choice words for me regarding the route at that point, but I couldn’t hear them because he was too far ahead of me. I even had to say ‘uncle’ and shift for the last bit up to the crest. Then we rode along the ridge to where the road came out on Angeles Crest, where we went left and headed back down the hill.

We came down off the hill and rode back into Pasadena, down Linda Vista and the west side of the Rose Bowl. Then up Holly to get to Green St and back to the office.

It was a perfect day for riding.

18 miles at lunch, 26 for the day.


Santa Monica

Filed under: — stan @ 11:25 pm

Today I went along with Gene and Sandy for their ride to Santa Monica. They do this ride when the regular Saturday club ride is a route they don’t like. This is a pretty substantial ride from Pasadena, and it’s been many years since I’ve ridden my bike by the ocean, so I thought it would be a treat.

I met Gene at Victory Park and we rode out to meet Sandy by the Colorado Bridge. Then we all headed west on Colorado, down the hill into Eagle Rock. That was where we saw the “LA TRAMP” license plate. We have no idea what it means, but it was amusing.

Heading down Eagle Rock Blvd, I picked up the day’s first abandoned couch. Then we headed down Fletcher and over the river and into Silver Lake.

Coming down the hill in Silver Lake, I went slowly, since I wanted to find the Materials and Applications office/gallery. We’d missed it a few months ago when we were trying to see the “Bubbles” exhibit in their courtyard. The current courtyard exhibit is an igloo made of bamboo and industrial felt.

We took 1st St across Koreatown. That was where I saw the second abandoned couch. Then we rode through Hancock Park and Larchmont Village, which was very pleasant.

After Larchmont, we had to get past the big L.A. Country Club, which meant riding on 3rd St, which is generally No Fun. But it’s the one of the only streets that goes through there. So we took it all the way to Beverly Hills. Then we rode across Beverly Hills to Century City and got on Santa Monica Blvd. This used to be an absolutely wretched street to ride on, but they’ve fixed it up with new pavement and a bike lane. So it was all right. We rode that all the way past the 405 freeway.

Just before turning off Santa Monica Blvd, we saw a giant shoe in the road. It was the Quality Shoes car. Then we headed north to get to San Vicente, which we rode all the way to the ocean.

After looking briefly at the ocean, we headed back up Montana Ave to get to the City Bakery, where we stopped for a snack. When we were getting ready to leave, I asked Gene to take my picture, since I’m never in the pictures from my bike rides. I was pointing up to the sky to show how the light was perfect, and he took the picture.

The way back was up and over the Sepulveda Pass and down into the Valley. There is a tunnel at the top where we had to push a button to turn on the flashing ‘Bikes in the Tunnel’ light. This is presumably so the cars will be at least aware of our presence. I don’t know if it actually works, but we made it through the tunnel in one piece, so it can’t be all bad.

After a nice bracing downhill run, we turned off on Valley Vista. That was where we saw the house with the little reindeer sculptures in front. If you want to see them, the sign with the address is in the photo.

Most of the ride across the Valley was on Moorpark, where we saw two more abandoned couches: 1 2

We rode past Forest Lawn and the burned hillside from the big brushfire a few weeks ago. Then we rode through part of Griffith Park and got on the L.A. River bike path to go down to Fletcher for the ride back up into Eagle Rock.

In Eagle Rock, we were amused by the manhole cover at Eagle Rock and York. It said: “CITY OF L.A.” and “MADE IN MEXICO”, which in many ways sums up the Los Angeles experience. This is not a bad thing. It’s just part of the culture here.

Finally, we made it back to Pasadena. It was a very pleasant ride.

73 miles.


A Very Blustery Day

Filed under: — stan @ 7:56 pm

Route map

Today was a Very Blustery Day. The wind was blowing hard from the northeast all day. It made for an interesting lunchtime ride. It was blowing hard enough that it knocked me off balance several times while I was trackstanding at red lights, so it was actually quite remarkable that I was able to do the entire ride without ever putting my foot down.

Vikki wasn’t in the office today and Piglet was nowhere to be found, so I went riding alone this time. I headed out east on San Pasqual, and then took California into Temple City Blvd. The wind was at my back most of the way, so I was able to cruise at 20-22mph the whole way with very little effort. This was nice, but I knew that it meant that coming back was going to be somewhat harder.

On Camino Real on Arcadia, I saw an abandoned couch, which I collected for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

I came back by way of Highland Oaks up to Grand View. Then Grand View and Sierra Madre Blvd back to Pasadena. This time I managed to not run over any nails on the way back, so I made it back to the office with both tires still fully inflated.

It was a nice ride for such a blusterous day.

In other trivia, I rode my old bike today, since this week marks 30 years that I’ve had it. The first race I rode it in was the National Capitol Open on The Ellipse in Washington, D.C. on April 17, 1977. That race was extremely fast, since there were no corners. The only thing I remember about it was on one lap where I was on the inside trying to move up. Suddenly, a big pothole appeared in front of me. There was nowhere to go, so I bunny-hopped it. And then I heard a loud BAM as the guy behind me rode into it. Bummer for him.

18 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


Woo-Hoo! Free ice cream!

Filed under: — stan @ 10:34 pm

It was Free Ice Cream Cone day at Ben and Jerry’s. The line was pretty long, but it went fast. And the ice cream was good.


Noodling1 again

Filed under: — stan @ 3:43 pm

Route map

Today’s ride was Gene’s “Noodling 1″ ride. We’ve done this ride before, and it never ceases to please.

We started out from the park and headed east to Sierra Madre, and then south to Huntington Drive. Then we took Huntington down into El Sereno, where the noodling began in earnest.

We rode up Mercury Ave, which was a nice short hill. The next hill was on Roberta, and it had a nice steep pitch at the end. Then we went left on Montecito for the trip down. Along the way, we saw some of the famous L.A. houses on stilts. I noticed that one of them had bars on the window. That window had to be at least 20 feet off the ground, and the ground underneath was a steep slope. Just how tough is that neighborhood if that window needs bars?

At the bottom, we got on the bike path down in the arroyo. We had to portage the bikes over a small barrier to get on, but it was a pleasant ride. We had a little rain last night, so there was actually some water flowing down there.

The park at Ave 60 was where we got off the bike path. Then we took Monterey Road up another nice hill before turning left on Via Marisol for yet another good climb. Following Via Marisol, we came back down the hill to Ave 60 again. There, we went right and took that up into South Pasadena.

Ave 60 turns into Hill Dr, and that is the one that has the very steep pitch at the end. The last bit is close to 20%, and at that point I said ‘uncle’ and shifted. That doesn’t happen often.

At the top of the hill, we rode down the other side and then back up the same hill on yet another street, all the way up to the water tower at the top. Then down, coming out on Monterey Road yet again.

Monterey Road took us back into South Pasadena, where we stopped at Kaldi’s for a snack and rest. This time, they had both Twinkies and Ding Dongs on the counter. I had a bran muffin.

After the stop, we continued east through South Pasadena and San Marino, getting on Duarte Road and riding out to Arcadia. Then we turned north, passing the old San Gabriel Mission dam and back into Pasadena.

At this point, we had only gone about 34 miles, so a couple of us rode out to Arcadia again, just to pad it out a bit.

It was a good day for riding.

44 miles.


Dinosaurs and other geek diversions

Filed under: — stan @ 9:10 pm

Lucinda’s class has been doing a unit on dinosaurs lately, so we decided to take her to see the new “Dinosaurs Alive!” IMAX movie at the California Science Center. They are also having an exhibit of “Star Wars” props and costumes there, so we figured it could be a very fun day in a geeky way.

We went down there and got our tickets for the movie. Then we headed in to the museum. There was a long line for the “Star Wars” exhibit, so we went away for a little while. When we came back, there was no line, so we went right in. They had a lot of the original models and costumes from the first movie, which was fun to see. I particularly enjoyed looking at the Millennium Falcon model. There was a lot of detail on it that wasn’t apparent when it was moving in the movie.

After “Star Wars”, we went over to the aerospace gallery. We saw a model of the 1976 Viking Mars lander, and I thought of the story about it that is told around the Seismo Lab. Apparently, one of the guys who retired recently built the seismometer that went to Mars on the Viking lander. But before it went out, the Caltech property people slapped an inventory tag on it. The next year, they came back to do an inventory and they asked about it. He told them it was on Mars. For some reason, they didn’t believe him. But they didn’t take him up on his offer to go there and see it.

We headed over to the IMAX theater to see the dinosaurs. The movie was pretty well-done. The CG-animated dinosaurs were pretty realistic, and there were lots of gratuitous 3-D effects.

Overall, it was a fun time, and I got some more pictures for Lucinda’s photo album, too.


Arcadia at lunchtime

Filed under: — stan @ 4:49 pm

Route map

Today’s lunchtime bike ride went out to Arcadia and back. Vikki is racing this weekend, so she wanted to do a relatively flat ride today. And ‘flat’ it was. I got a flat on the way back.

We headed out straight east on San Pasqual and California to get on Temple City Blvd. Then we took Camino Real out to 5th St in Arcadia and turned north. We took 5th to Santa Clara and then cut over to 1st and went up Highland Oaks to Grand View.

Coming back, we took Grand View through Sierra Madre. We got a look at the progress of the topiary rocking horse there. Then we got on Sierra Madre Blvd and rode back into Pasadena.

To get back to the office, we took the ’scenic route’. When we were passing under the 210 freeway on Sierra Bonita, I heard a funny noise, and then my back tire started clicking. So I stopped and saw that I had a big nail stuck in the tire. The nail was hitting the frame as the wheel went around, and that was the source of the clicking.

I sat down to fix the tire, while Vikki took the obligatory picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

After that, we finished the ride back to the office. Aside from the flat, it was a perfect day for riding.

18 miles at lunch, 26 for the day.

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