Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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And I was suddenly overcome…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:12 pm

We’re coming down to the last set of practice climbs before the race at the end of the month. So tonight’s plan was the same as Monday’s. To see how fast I could climb the first time up, and then to do three more, just because.

It was a bit of an ordeal getting downtown this evening. I went to the Allen Metro station in time to get the 4:57 train to downtown. When I got to the platform, there was an outbound train sitting there. After a minute or so, I realized that the outbound train wasn’t moving. And in fact, it had both of its pantographs down, I went and asked the motorman, and he said that the power had failed from Allen to the end of the line at Sierra Madre Villa, and that trains were only running from downtown to Lake Avenue in Pasadena. Now, it seems that Metro could have put up a notice about that on the video monitor above the fare machines at the entrance to the station. But then again, they don’t seem to be known for doing things that seem blindingly obvious to the rest of us. So I went back down, got my bike, and rode over to the Lake station, and got on to go downtown. I made a leap of faith and assumed that they would fix the power by the time I came home, so I brought my bike along, since I didn’t want to have to get off at Lake to get it on the way back.

When I got to the building, I locked my bike up to the railing along the street above where we enter the stairs. Then the building guards came out and said I couldn’t put it there.

Oh. All. Right.

Well, at least they were nice about it. They let me in to the parking level of the building, and I locked my bike up on the rack they had down there.

After all that, it was almost 6:15 by the time I got into the stairwell. I started up, aiming to do 6 floors per minute, but that only lasted a short time. There was a lot of traffic on the stairs, and it was hard to pass people, so I lost some time there. But the worst was about the 35th floor, when I was suddenly overcome by a crushing wave of “Oh MY GOD! What the HELL am I trying to prove here?!?!?” That just took all the wind out of my proverbial sails, and I had to really push to not just stop right there. But I managed to keep going, and came out on 51 at 9:08. So I guess my crushing wave of self-doubt cost me about 20 seconds. Useful to know, I guess.

Oddly enough, just going 20 seconds slower on the first climb translated into being a whole lot perkier on the second. I managed to get up in 11:28, which is quite a bit faster than my second climb on Monday. And the third and fourth times up I was able to maintain a modest pace, which isn’t too bad for being tired.

After all that, I went and collected my bike from under the building, and I headed home. I asked, and the Metro people said that the power was fixed, so I was able to ride the train back to Allen and ride home from there, just like on a normal day. So I guess it wasn’t that bad.


Three weeks out

Filed under: — stan @ 9:14 pm

It’s a stair-practice evening again, and I took the Metro downtown to join in the ‘fun’. As usual, George was there, so we took a few minutes to talk about our goals for the evening. He was aiming to do a first climb for speed, and to try to get under 9 minutes. So that was my goal, as well. My best time for this building was 8:32 in practice two years ago. That works out to just about 10 seconds per floor, so that was my target pace for the evening.

George started out ahead of me by about 30 or 40 seconds. That was just as well, since he was using a metronome, and didn’t want to have the distraction of the sound. My plan was just to do 6 floors each minute for as long as I could. But as it turned out, I was losing about two steps each minute, so by the 37th floor I was about 1/2 floor off my pace. But that still meant I was headed for a sub-9 time. And when I got to about 40, I could hear George’s metronome just a little bit above me. So that gave me the push to keep going and even to speed up after I passed the ‘petting zoo’ on 49. I stumbled up onto the 51st floor landing at 8:51. That’s my fastest time so far in this set of practices, but it’s still a lot slower than my race times in this building, as well as my past practice times.

After doing the first climb for speed, I did it four more times, just to see if I could maintain a pace after the first climb. The second and third times up I was only able to maintain about 4 floors per minute, but at least I was still upright and moving. The fourth time up, I just walked up slowly. Didn’t bother timing it. At that point, it was remarkable enough that I was still able to go up at all.

This evening brings my total up to 53 climbs up the Wilshire-Figueroa building since this round of practice started in July. That’s at bit over 10km, or about 6 1/2 miles vertical. Fun times.


Nigerians and Chandeliers

Filed under: — stan @ 10:35 pm

On Sunday evening, we went to Hollywood to see Dean Cameron’s show, “The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam“. We’ve gone to see this show several times before, and it’s always tremendous fun. Each time, the show is a little different, and tonight was no exception. He was trying out a new ending for it, and as always it was tremendously funny. If you can, go see this show. As the web site says, “You’ll schnertz!”

On the way out of the theater, we passed a shop that sells set decorations for movies, and they had a display of chandeliers in the front window. And I thought we should go see the Chandelier Tree in Silver Lake on the way home. I’d been to see it with the Sunday morning bike club group, but this was a chance to see it at night.

So we had an evening of Nigerians and Chandeliers. Actually, that was a good combination.

The Neutra Tour

Filed under: — stan @ 3:15 pm

I recently got a new app called “Field Trip” on my phone. It keeps track of where I go, and it pops up notices of interesting things to see and do in the area. So yesterday, it popped up a notice about a piece of art on the wall outside the Los Angeles County Hall of Records in downtown Los Angeles. The piece is called “Topographical Map”, and it is a stylized depiction of Los Angeles County. In the process of reading about this, I found out that the Hall of Records is one of only a very few office buildings designed by Richard Neutra. For some time, I’ve wanted to go see the houses on Neutra Place in Silver Lake, so putting these two together to make a tour seemed like a perfect combination.

We rode into downtown by the usual route, down Huntington Drive. On the bridge over the L.A. River, we had to stop for a Metrolink train. That’s the first time we’ve ever seen a train going by on that particular crossing, which always seemed odd, since it’s right near Union Station.

When we got to downtown, we went to the Hall of Records. “Topographical Map” depicts the geology and geography of Los Angeles County, complete with channels carrying water to represent the Los Angeles Aqueduct and the California Aqueduct. We also took a few minutes to look at the Hall itself. It was built in 1961, and bears all the hallmarks of the modernist style of architecture that Neutra was known for.

Continuing through downtown, we passed Grand Park and “Exxopolis“, across from City Hall. We rode down almost to USC before heading west on Adams.

We made a loop, coming up in Hancock Park for snacks at Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont Village. From there, we headed back east to Silver Lake and Benton Way. A short detour off Silver Lake Blvd brought us to Neutra Place. There were several Neutra houses on that short street.

The final part of the ride was our usual route home by way of Eagle Rock. We were all glad that the heat wave from last week had ended, and it turned out to be a very nice day for riding.

41 miles.


Time to make some more room on the kitchen wall

Filed under: — stan @ 7:25 pm

My blueberry muffins won second prize in the Los Angeles County Fair. Woo Hoo! I’ll be getting another ribbon to go up alongside the ones from 2012 and 2010.

The recipe is here, if you want to try making them:


A ride to Downey

Filed under: — stan @ 12:57 pm

Today’s bike club ride was the route to Downey and the Columbia Memorial Space Center. It sits on a piece of land that used to be part of the old North American Aviation plant where they built the Command and Service Modules for the Apollo Program, as well as the second stage of the Saturn V moon rocket. Then, in the late ’70s, it was where the Space Shuttle was designed. Downey’s connection with the Apollo moon program can still be seen in things like the little strip mall called “Apollo Center”.

We stopped for drinks and snacks at 3rd Street Coffee in Downey. After that, we rode over to the Rio Hondo bike path for the ride home. The day got pretty hot, but not to the point of being unbearable.

41 miles.

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