Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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In today’s obituaries…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:24 am

Vern Gosdin has died. He was a noted country music singer and songwriter, and I was very familiar with his work back in the ’80s. You see, I developed a liking for country music back in high school. This was the result of traveling a lot for bike races in a car with a lame radio that only really worked on the country station. It grew on me. Sadly, I lost my taste for it during my years living in Texas. But maybe I’ll go back to it again, now that I don’t hate Texas any more.

The money quote in his obituary:

“Out of everything bad, something good will come if you look hard enough — and I got 10 hits out of my last divorce,”

Read the whole story here.


The Force is strong with this one

Filed under: — stan @ 7:30 pm

Tonight at dinner, Lucinda was showing me that she can pick up ice with her chopsticks. A long time ago, I’d told her that I used to do this for practice, and she wanted to show me that she’d mastered it.

I’m so proud of her.


A ‘fun’ ride

Filed under: — stan @ 6:36 pm

Today I did something different. It was the City of Angels Fun Ride. We’d seen this ride go by last year. The idea of riding with a rolling road closure was appealing, since it meant that we wouldn’t have to stop at all. So I thought I’d try it. I guess I was expecting a well-disciplined group that could ride smoothly together, which can be a lot of fun. When I got there, I saw Ben from the Sunday Morning ride group, so we rode together.

As it turned out, this was a sort of different usage of the word ‘fun’ with which I was previously unfamiliar. Because of the rolling road closure, they required that we ride in one large group. This was a lot like riding in a large racing peleton, but with mostly riders who do not know how to ride in a peleton. So the end result could more accurately be described as ‘harrowing’. We toured around the city, but really couldn’t do any sightseeing, since I didn’t dare look away for even a second. During the first part of the ride, I only saw one rider crash. This was pretty remarkable, considering all the bumping and bonehead moves that I saw going on in the group.

They had a rest and snack stop at the Ford Theater in Hollywood. I grabbed an orange and a few cookies. Then, when it was time to go, several more riders fell while pulling out of the parking lot. They hadn’t realized that the street was uphill, and they were in the wrong gears. Turkeys.

For some inexplicable reason, the police escort we had forced us to go really slowly into Griffith Park. We rode through the park, and then made one lap around it. At the end of the lap, we were about to leave the park and ride back to the finish. But they made us all stop. They said we had to wait 10 minutes for some reason that they really didn’t make clear at all. At this point, I’d had enough. I wasn’t enjoying it. So I unpinned my number from my jersey, pulled out of the line, and rode home.

The ride home was very nice and relaxing. Even having to deal with cars and traffic signals was much mellower than my experience riding in that group. So overall, it was not an especially nice ride.

77 miles.


Nice dinner at Drago

Filed under: — stan @ 11:50 pm

For several years I’ve known Silvio from the Sunday morning bicycle club rides. About a year ago he mentioned that he manages Drago in Santa Monica, and he said I should come out some time for dinner. So tonight was the night.

We made an afternoon of is. Shari and I did some costume and jewelry shopping across Hollywood on the way out there. And when we got there, a table was ready and waiting for us. After looking at the menu, we decided to go for the prix fixe menu. Silvio said he would pick the wine for us. He selected and comped us a very nice bottle of Sicilian red wine that was very good, and went well with the filet mignon and lamb chops we had picked.

At the end, he brought us a special dessert sampler, which was all very good. Overall, it was a very fun little evening.


Life goes on

Filed under: — stan @ 5:06 pm

scavenger hunt


A ride to nowhere with no hills

Filed under: — stan @ 7:55 pm

Today’s bike ride was one of Gene’s routes that basically goes nowhere in particular, and it does it without going over any substantial hills at all. After yesterday’s adventure, this was just the thing I needed. It was a perfect spring day. Cool in the morning, and warming up nicely.

We headed out east through Arcadia and Monrovia, and then up the San Gabriel River bike path. Then back down into Azusa and out into Glendora. Turning south, we went down into West Covina before turning back west and making a loop back to Monrovia, where we stopped for a snack at Merengue. Then straight back home through Arcadia. It was a nice little ride. And I was glad for the lack of hills, since my legs were a bit weary from the stairs yesterday.

41 miles.


Hey! I can see my house from up here!

Filed under: — stan @ 5:41 pm

A few weeks ago, I signed up for the Climb California stair climb up the AON tower in downtown Los Angeles. And yes, it turned out to be an interesting adventure.

Since doing this meant missing my regular bike ride, I decided to ride my bike there. Besides, I figured that would give me a good warm-up for the stairs. The guy who organized our group lives right across the street from the tower, and he said I could leave my bike at his place while we were climbing.

When I got downtown, I heard a savage yell, and I saw what looked like a group of Vikings in front of an ATM. They were being filmed for something or other. It almost never says what they’re filming.

When I got to Dan’s place, I changed while we waited for the rest of our group to arrive. Then we took a picture before starting out. Notice how we’re all smiling and ready. Then we headed across the street and took our places in line to start. When they said “go”, I just sort of trotted in the door and starting climbing the stairs. The actual flights were very short. Only about 8-10 steps each before a turn. I took the first 32 floors two steps at a time. But after that, I had to slow down a bit and go to single steps. Running up stairs is a lot like bike riding up hills, and it brought out my competitive side in the same way. I passed lots of people on the way up. Each time, after passing someone, I just focused on catching and passing the next person in front of me. Nobody passed me.

I took my picture Myspace-style at about floor 43. At that point, I could really ‘feel the burn’, and it was pretty grim, as you can see in the picture.

When I went around the last turn and saw sunlight in the stairwell, I knew I was there. I sprinted up the last flight and up onto the roof. Then I stopped and just stood there panting in the bright sunlight. After I stopped panting, I got my picture taken with Hollywood in the background.

Looking around at the commanding view from the roof, I said, “Hey! I can see my house from up here!

After all five of us made it to the top, we took an ‘after’ picture and then headed down the stairs to the 60th floor. This was a big open unfinished space. They had water and cut-up oranges. We just wandered around and looked at the views out the windows. Then we got in the elevator and rode back down to the ground.

When we got down, they were already posting the results. I was pleasantly stunned that my time of 12:50.49 was good for 23rd overall, and 20th among men. There were only four men my age or older ahead of me. I was very pleased. Especially since I’d prepared last night by sharing two bottles of wine with a friend and staying up until 2:00 so I looked and felt my best. I guess all that bike riding really is good exercise after all.

Afterward, we headed back across the street to Dan’s place. I had some chips and salsa before mounting up my bike for the ride home. My legs felt a little tired, but it wasn’t bad at all. So overall, I give this adventure an “A”.

29 miles by bike, 62 stories by stairs.

Update 4/20/2009: I found the final results online, and it looks like one later climber beat my time. D’oh! So I was actually 24th overall out of 327 finishers. I was 21st among the men, and 7th in the men’s 40-49 group. Still, I don’t think that’s half bad.

Full results are here:


Sunday afternoon, with leather

Filed under: — stan @ 11:22 pm

On Sunday afternoon, I went over to Santa Fe Dam to join some of my friends at the Renaissance Faire. They’d decided to meet there en masse today. Little did we know that Easter Sunday is the busiest day of the year at the park there.

The trip out there was easy, until we got to the corner of Irwindale and Arrow Highway. This is nowhere near the actual entrance, but the line of cars waiting to get in was all the way back there. We sat in line for about 45 minutes to get to the front. Then the police closed the entrance and put up a sign saying it was full. So we drove down to where the bike path goes over the dam. I was thinking we might be able to park there and bushwhack over the dam to the fair. But there was no place to park there. So as a last-ditch attempt we went and parked on one of the streets by the chemical plants behind the Miller brewery. I knew that there was a back entrance to the park there. I figured we could walk in from there. There was plenty of parking there, but the walk in turned out to be something like 1.5 miles. But it was a nice day, so it wasn’t too bad.

When we got there, we got our tickets and went in. The plan had been to meet at noon, and it was 1:45. But it turned out that everyone else had had a similarly epic journey to get there. So we were able to meet up with the group at a picnic table in the shade. It made for a very pleasant setting to watch the cavalcade of weirdness passing by.

At the end of the afternoon, we hitched a ride out with a couple from the group who had gotten there early and had their car into the parking lot. But even that was a epic journey. It took us something like 45 minutes to cover the 1.5 miles back to my car.

When we got to my car, I started it up and started to back out of the parking space. Then I heard it make a weird SNAP noise. And it would not go into reverse. I ended up having to push it out, which was difficult, since the front wheels were in the gutter at the side of the road. Fortunately, I was able to rock it back and forth enough to get out. Then I used my bicycle-riding-up-hills-in-stupid-high-gears muscles to push the car out far enough to be able to get out going forward. It was a very weird ending to a weird afternoon. So to celebrate the weirdness, we went to Kabuki in Pasadena for sushi. Yum.

It was both a very weird and very fun afternoon.

Sunday morning, riding uphill

Filed under: — stan @ 11:30 am

Sunday’s ride was another of Gene’s ‘rambling around’ rides. It was cool and clear in the morning, but it warmed up fast.

Riding down to the park to meet the group, I saw a special Easter service going on in the park. They had a big blue banner proclaiming, “He is Risen”, and for some reason, I thought that it was blue because that’s the color of a Viagra pill. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they had in mind.

The first part of the ride was pretty level. We practiced our double pace line on Huntington Drive and Monterey Road. Then we started going up hills. We rode up Fortune Way and made our way up to Colorado, and then up Patrician Way. At the top we kept going on down the other side to Linda Vista. Then we went up the Lida hill. We went over the top and part-way down the other side before taking a small street across to meet Chevy Chase, which we rode back up to the top. From there it was downhill (almost) all the way.

At the bottom we rode two laps around the Rose Bowl before heading over to the Corner Bakery on Lake Ave. I skipped the stop, since I needed to get back early. But when I got home, I had 38.2 miles, so I rode around a little bit more just to get to 40. Good fun.

40 miles.


Saturday to Whittier

Filed under: — stan @ 5:46 pm

Today’s bike ride was to Whittier, which is not exactly a garden spot, but it’s not a bad ride at all. It was cool and overcast, which was actually very pleasant for riding.

When we got there, we stopped in at Panera Bread for a bagel and some orange juice. Then a small group of us headed back early, since I had a sitter with Lucinda, and I didn’t want to waste time. We maintained a brisk pace all the way back.

It was a nice ride.

55 miles.

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