Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Hartford, 1978

Filed under: — stan @ 12:37 pm

The year before last, when we were on vacation at Lake Tahoe, we found my parents’ old slide projector in the closet at the house. There was a carousel in it filled with slides of bike races I rode back in 1978. Included were the big races in Hartford and Fitchburg on July 4th weekend, and also the races from Super Week in Milwaukee.

This year, Cathy took these slides to Ritz Camera and got them all scanned onto a DVD for me for Father’s Day. So I’ve been going through them and sorting them out. Today I put up the first set. This is from the Hartford Criterium in Hartford, CT. At the time, the race was sponsored by Travelers Insurance, and it had a very rich prize list. This race was very popular with racers on the east coast. They had a little sticker with the Travelers umbrella logo that they put on bikes when they passed pre-race inspection. Lots of racers kept this sticker on their bikes long after the race was over, even going so far as to glue it back on if it fell off.

Apparently, they are still doing this race now. It was on Memorial Day weekend this year.

The race is held on a short course around Bushnell Park in downtown Hartford. The Category 1/2 race was relatively short. My recollection is that it was something like 25 miles. There were only a couple of real corners on the course, so the race was very fast. I don’t remember much about it. I just stayed in the pack the whole way, and I didn’t place. But it was an exciting race, since it was a big pack on a fast course.

So here are my pictures from that day. It’s old-school racing at its best.


A stop at Kaldi’s

Filed under: — stan @ 10:37 pm

Today’s ride was Gene’s “South Pasadena Cafe” route, which takes us up through La Cañada and then down through Glendale and Glassell Park. Then we climb Mt Washington and pass the Self Realization Fellowship before heading back through Highland Park to South Pasadena to our snack stop at Kaldi’s. I don’t have a route map for it, but it’s pretty much the same route as we’ve done before.

Along the way, I spotted a pretty girl with a nice tattoo filling her car up in Glendale. We also stopped to see the tiny house we’d looked at last year. At the time, it was for sale. 450 square feet, boarded up, and listed as “uninhabitable”. But today it appeared that someone had bought it and was fixing it up.

In Highland Park, I spotted an abandoned couch, so I got a picture for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

When we got to Kaldi’s, Jon took my picture in front of the Twinkies and Ding Dongs. Apparently, it was hot. I didn’t realize just how sweaty I’d gotten.

I was glad to see the big steel girder next to the toaster. That meant that the brick building had been reinforced, so it wouldn’t need a warning sign like the one we saw in Covina one time.

After the stop, we headed home by way of San Marino and San Gabriel. When we got back to the park, I rode back up to Woodbury Road to get photos of a couple of other abandoned couches we’d passed earlier. There was a pair of them on Hill Ave, and then one on Woodbury, followed just a few blocks later by another. It was a very good day for feral-couch spotting.

Finally, on the way home, I saw a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s car going through the drive-through at Jack-In-The-Box. I guess those guys have to eat, too.

It was a very nice ride.

50 miles.


The Secret Life of Cows

Filed under: — stan @ 6:43 pm

Today we went out to Santa Monica to Track 16 Gallery at Bergamot Station to see “The Secret Life of Cows“. This was a photo exhibit of digitally composed photos showing real cows in weird, funny, and impossible situations. It was tremendously amusing.

Sadly, they’d sold out of the book, so we didn’t get a copy. But we are going to order one from the gallery next week when they get more.

We also browsed around some of the other galleries. We saw some nice art, but nothing that quite matched the cows.

So if you’re in L.A., head over to Santa Monica and see this. If not, get the book. It’s great. The show runs through August 4th.


As seen on TV…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:19 pm

KCET is going to be doing a special program about earthquakes sometime soon. They were out at the lab filming today. So I got out my camera and played tourist at the office for a few minutes.

The most amusing thing I saw was how they were positioning Val Zavala in front of the earthquake map on the video wall. Apparently, having her stand on top of two phone books was just right for the Southern California map. But when they changed it to the world map, it just wasn’t quite right. So they added a sandbag. For some reason, I thought that seeing her standing on the sandbag was funny.


Feets don’t fail me…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:46 pm

Well, I was supposed to go riding today. I rode my road bike in this morning. But when lunchtime came, I changed my clothes and pulled the bike out into the hall. At that point I noticed that the front tire was flat. The front tire on that bike has a funky valve that sometimes doesn’t seat properly. So I reached for the pump to pump it up again. That was when I realized I had no pump. And I recalled Gene’s sage (and probably hard-won) words of wisdom:

“Each bike should have its own pump so you don’t have to remember to switch the pump when you switch bikes.”

Yep. Them’s words of wisdom.

So I changed back into my regular clothes and started walking. I walked to the bike shop that is closest to my office. In this case, it’s Incycle. I don’t go there often, even though Gene mentioned that we can get a discount for being members of Foothill Cycle. But since I was in a bind, it was the place.

I got there and found a suitable pump. I took it up to the register and asked if I could get my discount. The guy looked at me like I was asking to see Bigfoot. He rummaged around in the papers under the counter and finally, grudgingly, gave me the discount. Sheesh. The whole point of offering a discount on products to groups of people who are enthusiasts for your product is to create word-of-mouth to get people to patronize your business. And if they ask for the discount, that means it’s working. But then the exact wrong thing to do then is to treat them like they’re doing something wrong. That negates any possible good, since any time I tell the story of how I got a discount at Incycle, it’s going to be accompanied by the story of how the counter guy acted like he thought I was trying to examine his prostate. Sheesh.

But in the end, I have a new pump on my old bike, and I was able to pump up my tire for the ride home.


Thank You! Come Again!!!

Filed under: — stan @ 8:48 pm

Last week, I’d heard that they’d dressed up a 7-11 store in Burbank as a “Kwik-E-Mart” as a promotion for “The Simpsons Movie” that’s coming out soon. So of course I knew we had to ride there to see it. So today’s bike ride was a variation on the classic Toluca Lake route, with a slight detour to the Kwik-E-Mart.

We headed out from Victory Park and took the usual route across Eagle Rock and Glendale. The only unusual thing we saw was the big mound of suds spilling over the fountain in front of a hotel in Glendale. That was pretty funny.

We rode through the equestrian neighborhood near Griffith Park, and then turned north on Marposa to get to Verdugo in Burbank. Then we turned left and saw the Kwik-E-Mart. I wore my yellow jersey today so I’d fit in with the color scheme there. I got a bunch of pictures, but for some reason, nobody wanted to get a pink donut. Still, it was a fun little sightseeing stop.

Leaving the Kwik-E-Mart, we headed down Olive Ave to Riverside and then rode over the Priscilla’s. I got my usual large orange juice and bagel. We couldn’t get a table this time, since the San Fernando Valley Bicycle Club was there, and their group was so large that they took up all the outside table space. So we sat in the grass across the street.

After the snack stop, we rode back into Griffith Park. The plan was to ride up and over Mt. Hollywood and see some of the damage from the recent fire. But when we got to the turnoff, there was a ‘Bicycles Prohibited’ sign up on a little sawhorse on the road. We debated whether we could pretend that we didn’t see it, but in the end we decided that there just wasn’t any plausible deniability there. So we rode took the other route through the park to come out by the fountain on Los Feliz. An electric sign warned us that the road was closed, but there were no barricades, and traffic was going through. So we went through, too. And along the way I finally got to see some of the burned area up close.

Coming out of the park, we took Riverside down to Fletcher and then headed back up into Glassell Park. When we turned on El Paso, Gaurav got a flat. The rest of the group was a bit ahead of us, and they didn’t hear the tire going flat. So that was the last we saw of them for today.

After the flat fix, we headed up Figueroa to Ave 60. That was where the pickup truck loaded with appliances passed us. I liked the little poodle with his head out the window. Not the sort of dog I usually associate with big pickup trucks.

Then we turned left on Monterey Road for the trip home across South Pasadena. I picked up a couple of abandoned couches. The first was in the middle of a huge pile of trash on the curb. The second was all by itself, with a little, slightly forlorn-looking sign on it that said, “FREE STUFF”.

When we got back to the park, I had 41 miles, and it was still early. So Gaurav and I rode out to Arcadia and back. On the way back through Sierra Madre, I got a flat. Gaurav took the obligatory picture.

Overall, it was a very pleasant ride, even with two flats. And check this out:

Gaurav has one of those fancy bike computers that keeps track of where we went. So here’s the route.

50 miles.


Wired to Win

Filed under: — stan @ 7:44 pm

We went to the IMAX theater in Exposition Park today to see “Wired to Win“. This is about the 2004 Tour de France and how the brain adapts to competition. It was pretty interesting, and the racing footage was pretty well done. In particular, the shots of what it looked like in the pack were very realistic, and they captured pretty well what it’s like to be in a 200-rider peleton.

We also went to see the “Goosebumps: The Science of Fear” exhibit in the museum. That was pretty interesting. I’d never even realized that there was such a thing as “Fear of chickens”. Apparently, fear of creepy, crawly animals is a big thing, so they had an animal exhibit where people could pet a small snake, a giant millipede, and a giant hissing cockroach. Lucinda liked the snake a lot.

Also, they included a section on collective fears of society. It was pretty funny to see the collection of things we’ve been afraid of. Sharks, microwaves, and rock-n-roll. It was all there. But my favorite was the bit about bicycles.

Afterward, we headed home, but not until Lucinda could play on the ropes at the ‘Big Lever’ exhibit outside.

And just for the record, I know what it’s like to ride in a big peleton. Here’s a picture of a Category 1/2 race at Super Week in Milwaukee from 1978. Like Waldo, I’m in it:


Lida Thursday

Filed under: — stan @ 9:46 pm

Route map

Since Wednesday was a holiday, I went riding at lunch today instead. Vikki couldn’t go, so Eric and I did the Lida Loop. It was hot and hazy, with a bit of a monsoon making it humid by SoCal standards. It was so hazy that we couldn’t see the mountains until we were in Altadena, only about 1/2 mile from them.

We didn’t see anything particularly amusing today, so I didn’t take any pictures. Still, it was a nice ride.

18 miles at lunch, 30 for the day.


A holiday at home

Filed under: — stan @ 5:18 pm

It was Monday, July 4, 1977, and I rode a bike race in Rahway, NJ. It was billed as “A Holiday at Home” because the big east coast races on the 4th of July weekend were in New England, so this was a race for people who didn’t feel like traveling to Massachussetts. This was my third step towards my Category 2 upgrade, so it was a significant day.

The Junior race was something like 10 or 15 miles. The course was a short, four-corners criterium course through downtown Rahway. The course went underneath the railroad tracks in two places. The race was pretty fast. I never got the front to try to break away, and most it was a blur. I don’t remember much about this race, aside from one incident right by the finish line.

Around the middle of the race, there was a crash right as we passed the finish line, and several riders went down. One of them was Frank Kaler, who was the rider who had helped me win the Challenge Cup race back in April. My recollection was that he seemed to crash in a lot of races. That and that he had the orange-tread D’Alessandro tires that always seemed to pop off his rims when he crashed. Usually, when riders crash, they are off the course by the next time the pack came around, but this time, we came around, and Frank was still lying in the road with the ambulance crew around him. He was still there on the next lap, too. Then he was gone, and I never saw him at a race ever again. I heard later that he’d fractured his skull, and was told not to race any more. Back in those days, helmets were the old ‘leather hairnet‘ type, and they didn’t offer the same degree of protection as modern helmets.

Somewhere along the way, one very big and strong kid named Chris Diehl broke away solo. So on the last lap, all of us in the pack were racing for second place. I’d recently learned how to position and sprint in a pack, so on the back stretch I moved up the inside. Coming out of the last corner, I was near the front. I used a 52×17 gear for the final sprint. My eyes rolled back into my head and I went for it. I came in fifth in the sprint, for sixth place overall.

This finish meant that I now had one first-place finish, one fourth-place finish, and a sixth-place finish. All I needed now was one more top three finish, or two more top six finishes to get my Category 2. The goal was within sight.

My prize for the day was a $25 savings bond, which I saved for many years like a trophy. I finally cashed it in 1988 when Cathy and I were buying our first condo. So in a small way, my ride in this race helped me to enter the southern California real estate market.

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