Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Page 2 of 2«12


New Jersey Wildlife

Filed under: — stan @ 10:45 pm

Did you know that there are wild bears in New Jersey? I didn’t. We were going out to visit my old high school friend Steve on Friday afternoon. He and his family live in the far suburbs of Sussex County. We were going down a semi-rural road when Cathy said, “I just saw a bear.” I didn’t believe her, since seeing a bear in New Jersey seemed about as likely as seeing Bigfoot or Elvis. But she insisted that it was really a bear. So we went back to look. And there it was, just ambling across someone’s front lawn. I grabbed the camera and got a quick photo before it strolled off into the woods.

When we got to Steve’s house, his wife Kris told us that the bears are common knowledge around there. But they are not particularly abundant. She said that she’s seen them on just a few occasions in the 16 years they have been living there. So we were lucky to have seen it. With the bear we saw last year at Lake Tahoe, we’ve now seen a wild bear while on vacation for two years in a row.

We had a nice time visiting, and Lucinda had fun playing with their kids. Pictures are in our photo album.


Worst. Day. Ever.

Filed under: — stan @ 11:55 pm

Months ago, when Cathy told me she wanted to do this trip to New Jersey, I told her that there were two things that I absolutely had to do while we were there:

So Wednesday was our day for these things.

The plan was to drive the car out to Queens and park it for the afternoon at a garage in Forest Hills, which is near the velodrome. Then we could take the E train into Manhattan and go to the museum. This way we could go to the bike races at 6:30 without having to drive very far in NYC traffic.

Wednesday morning, a storm moved through the area and it rained. By the time we were ready to go, it was clear, and a reasonably nice day, so we didn’t really think that much of it. But it turned out that the storm dumped about three inches of rain in two hours, which is a remarkable amount by New York standards.

So we headed out. The trip over to Queens was fine, and we got the car stowed. But when we got to the subway, they said that the tunnel was flooded, and there were no trains into Manhattan. Instead, we had to take a train out to Jamaica and then transfer to the J train to Broadway in Brooklyn. Then we had to take the A train into Manhattan. So what should have been about a 30-minute subway ride turned into almost two hours of riding in stifling hot and crowded trains.

But we finally made it there. We met my old friend Gordon there, and we had a fun time looking at the dinosaurs.

When it was time to go, I decided to assume that the flooded tunnel was fixed in time for the evening rush. We rode the C train down to 42nd St to get the E out to Queens. But they said that the tunnel was still flooded. So instead, we had to walk over to 7th Ave and take the #7 train. The train was crowded, and the air conditioner was broken, so it was very unpleasant. We had to ride it out to 74th St in Queens, and then transfer downstairs to a shuttle train out to Forest Hills. This took a bit over an hour.

We finally made it to the car, and we drove out to Kissena Park. The velodrome has been repaved, and it looks pretty nice. It’s much better than it was back in the ’70s. There we no cracks in the pavement with weeds growing out of them, and they’d even shaved off the big hump in the last turn.

I talked to some of the racers, and I took lots of pictures. It was a fun time.

Then we headed home. We were all in agreement that the day had been quite the trying ordeal. And then it got worse. We got rear-ended on the Cross Bronx Expressway. The car in front of us had to stop. I hit the brakes hard enough to feel the anti-lock take over, but we managed to stop in time. The guy behind us stopped in time, and we thought we were all right. But then a fourth guy in a Toyota minivan plowed into all three of us.

And this was where the real ordeal began.

There was no visible damage to our car or the one in front of us. The Pathfinder behind us had minimal damage, and the front of the minivan was destroyed. A tow truck and the fire department arrived almost immediately. They set out flares and told us to stay there until the NYPD arrived to make a report.

So there we were, standing in the left land on the Cross Bronx Expressway, in stifling heat, with irate New York drivers screaming at us as they passed. I’ve mentioned before that I think that standing on the train station platforms in the middle of the freeway in L.A. is hellish, but this was far, far worse. Yup, just the way I wanted to spend my vacation time.

Nobody was hurt, so the paramedics left. But while we were waiting for the police to arrive, there was a second accident about 50 yards back up the road from us. A driver had been hit sideways by a truck. So the paramedics came back, and they ended up treating the driver on the scene.

When the police arrived, they noted the positions of everything and then stopped traffic so we could drive off the road and so the tow trucks could tow the damaged van off the road. Then we all sat on the side of road for another 45 minutes while they took down all the information for the report.

You can see the scene in Google Maps. We were in the left lane on the westbound side of the road. When we moved off the road, we were standing on the triangle of bare dirt next to the Jerome Ave exit:,-73.912612&spn=0.001234,0.002097&t=k&z=19&om=1

We ended up having to be there for almost two hours before we could leave. By this time, we all agreed that it had been the Worst. Day. Ever.

All of the pictures from that day are here in our photo album.


A day in Pittsburgh

Filed under: — stan @ 9:24 pm

It was August 7, 1977, and I rode a race in Pittsburgh, PA. The race was in Schenley Park, across the street from Carnegie-Mellon University. The course had a straight uphill stretch along the edge of the campus. There was a right turn at the top and short level stretch. Then a long downhill with big, sweeping switchback turns. At the bottom it met up with the uphill back to the finish line. I was riding in Juniors at the time, so the race would have been something like 15 miles.

The course was nice. I particularly remember the downhill as being very exciting. The road was a bit rough, and going around the turns at high speed was great fun for a 17-year-old.

Somewhere along the way, two guys broke away. I missed that, but I managed to make it into the second breakaway. There were four of us, and we got a good gap on the pack. The downhill was faster for the four of us than it was for the pack, since we didn’t have to slow down for the turns.

At the finish, I just coasted across the line. I figured I couldn’t do worse than 6th place, and that was good enough for points toward my Category 2 upgrade.

This race meant that I had one first-place finish, a fourth-place finish, and with sixth place in Rahway in July, I had two sixth-place finishes. So now I just needed one more top-six finish to get Category 2.

I have no pictures from that day, and I don’t even remember what my prize was. But I do remember it as a very fun day.


Garden State

Filed under: — stan @ 4:58 pm

Some years ago, we saw the movie “Garden State“. I remember thinking that it seemed very true-to-life. As a New Jersey expatriate, it seemed to pretty much sum up my experience every time I went back to visit. I don’t have any family there any more, but Cathy does, and I still have a few friends who live there. So Monday was the beginning of our trip to New Jersey to visit the friends and relatives.

Pictures are in our photo album.


Noodling #7

Filed under: — stan @ 8:21 pm

Route map

Today’s ride was number 7 in the “Noodling” series. It was a ride involving lots of hills and riding around to nowhere in particular. It was fun.

We started off going up into Altadena. That was where we saw the guy with the big fox-shaped sign advertising breakfast at Fox’s restaurant. Then we went across into La Cañada, and up and over the big hill by a roundabout route to come out on Chevy Chase. Then back up the hill to pass the school at the top. On the way down, we saw some deer on the side of the road, including a young buck.

Coming out on Linda Vista down by the Rose Bowl, we rode south a bit, and then headed up the big hill on Glenoaks. At the top, we continued on and came down on Patrician Way. This was novel, since we usually do this hill the other direction.

At the bottom, we were at Ave 64. One of the guys made an offhand comment about how he would have enjoyed riding up the hills more if he were 15 years younger. I think we all felt that way, and that was when I noticed the ‘Anti-Aging Institute’ across the street.

We went south on Ave 64 and then turned on La Loma to go up and over another hill. Then we went down the other side and turned to go over yet another hill. There was a part of the route marked ‘Extra Credit’ that involved going up Romney, which was a very steep hill. Then we rode Fortune Way, which took us to Easy St, which seemed entirely appropriate.

In Highland Park, I found a two-piece sectional couch abandoned on the side of the road. Then we rode down through the arroyo and across the freeway to come out on Monterey Road. From there, we headed straight across South Pasadena and San Marino, and then back into Pasadena for our snack stop at the Corner Bakery on South Lake Ave. The pigeons there are quite brazen, and walked right under our chairs to scavenge crumbs.

After the snack stop, we rode straight across the Caltech campus and then back to the park. When we got there, I had 34 miles, so I rode out to Arcadia with Newton just to add a little bit more.

It was a very nice ride.

44 miles.


Noodling – 8

Filed under: — stan @ 7:14 pm

Today’s bike ride was an unusual one. Gene has made up a series of “Noodling” routes for the Sunday morning rides, and today I went along on a test-ride of #8 in the series. This one went up through La Cañada, La Crescenta, and Tujunga.

We started out from Victory Park in Pasadena and headed north into Altadena. We passed the Zane Grey estate along the way. Then we rode into La Cañada.

Heading up Crown Ave, we were passed by several L.A. County fire trucks, so we rode a bit farther up the hill to see if we could see the fire. But there was nothing obvious, so we just continued on. We rode across La Cañada on Journey’s End Drive, which seemed like an odd name for a street. Then we went down to Foothill Blvd to cross over into La Crescenta.

The ride up Briggs was pretty grueling. It’s a long, straight street that goes right up the hill. At the top, we turned left and rode over to Rosemont and then up Pinecrest. This was yet another steep and long hill. And to top it off, near the top was a warning sign about mountain lion sightings in the area. We attempted to maintain a brisk pace, but it was hard to do on the 15% grade.

Pinecrest ended at Pine Cone Road, which we took back down the hill. It’s something like a 20-25% grade, which makes for an exciting downhill ride. This is the road that figures prominently in the first story in “Los Angeles Against the Mountains” in John McPhee’s book, The Control of Nature.

Coming back down the hill, we headed north into Tujunga. Since this is part of the City of Los Angeles, the road immediately became more rough and wretched. But we did see a mailbox with hot-rod flames and a very amusing house that looked like something the Vikings might have built.

Crossing Foothill Blvd, we headed down the hill some more. I saw a couch on the side of the road. This one looked like its former owner really like the right-hand end of the couch. It looked like Homer Simpson’s “ass groove”.

The street we’d planned on taking turned out to be an unpaved road, so we ended up having to improvise a different route. It worked out all right, and I even found another hot-rod mailbox along the way. We finally came out on Tujunga Canyon Road, where we turned right and coasted down the long downhill back into La Crescenta.

We didn’t stop at the bakery, since this was just a test ride. Instead, we just continued on towards home. Then I got a flat. The hole in the tube looked like a big thorn or something like that. I patched it and pumped it up. I gave the camera to Gene to take the picture, but it didn’t turn out, so I have no official record of this flat tire.

Finally, when we got back into Pasadena, we saw the roadside vendor selling bonsai trees at “STUPID PRICES”.

It was a fun little ride.

42 miles.

Page 2 of 2«12

Powered by WordPress