Stan’s Obligatory Blog

3/19/2017

A Little Piece of History

Filed under: — stan @ 2:57 pm

Today’s bike club ride was one to visit a little bit of my personal history. Back in 1978, I was bike racing, and I was here in Los Angeles that spring. And the first big race I rode in was the Griffith Park Road Race on March 19, 1978. The race was on the order of 50 miles, since that was pretty standard for Category 1-2 races in those days. And when we went around for the first lap, I realized that the course reminded me very much of the course we used to race in the Tuesday and Thursday evening training races at Old Westbury, on Long Island. It was a short loop with a long out-and-back dog-leg with a U-turn at the end. I remember seeing signs for the Merry-Go-Round, so I knew pretty much where it was, and the dog-leg was the out-and-back on Crystal Springs Drive. So today’s ride was to go back and visit the race course again.

The race itself went by in a blur. There were about 100 riders, and we were going fast the whole time. Nobody managed to break away. I don’t remember even making it to the front of the pack. I just stayed in the middle of the pack, hanging on. In the end, it was a pack sprint for the finish, and I recall that the winner was Jerry Ash. I had just graduated out of Juniors, so I felt pretty good to be racing in Category 2, and it didn’t seem particularly hard at the time. Which seems kind of ridiculous now, since I can’t even begin to think about riding my bike as fast as I could then. And even if I could, I think I’d be terrified by the speed…

After visiting the old race course, we rode back through the park and got on the L.A. River bike path and rode down to Spoke. We had some snacks there, and then continued on down the river and then up Figueroa St. The route home was up the Arroyo Seco, and then back across South Pasadena, through Caltech, and then my regular route home from work.

44 miles.

Route map and elevation profile
Note that the map is incomplete. I forgot to turn my GPS thingy on until 4.4 miles into the ride.

3/12/2017

“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi…”

Filed under: — stan @ 6:06 pm

Today’s bike club ride was yet another celebrity grave tour. This time, it was a visit to the Hollywood Hills Forest Lawn to see Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. It was forecast to be a very nice day, and there was no chance of rain, so it was safe for us to venture forth far away from the nearest Metro Rail station.

We rode through South Pasadena, and then all the way down Figueroa St to the L.A. River. Then we rode over the nice new bridge that put us right onto the L.A. River bike path. We took the bike path all the way up to the exit by the zoo. Then we got off and made our way over to Forest Lawn.

We checked in at the information booth at the entrance to tell them why we were there and where we were going. I’d looked up the location on findagrave.com, but it turned out my mental picture of the orientation of the building was faulty, so I was looking in the wrong corner at first. But there were other people who knew, and we got directions to the proper spot in the building. I’d brought along a little R2-D2 figure for the photo-op.

While we were there and talking about some of the other famous people we’d been to see there, it came out that Chris had never been to Rodney King’s grave. So we took a short side trip up the hill to visit him.

Leaving Forest Lawn, we rode over to Priscilla’s for snacks. While we were there, we met Fred. Fred is a little rescue dog, and he was very cute and had a nice personality.

The route home included the usual slog up Verdugo and Hospital Hill, then the long downhill glide back from La Cañada to Pasadena. It was a nice ride.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

3/9/2017

ME72 2017

Filed under: — stan @ 5:43 pm

Today was the annual ME72 Engineering Contest at Caltech. I try and go see it whenever I can. It’s generally very entertaining.

The basic premise is that teams of students have to build a machine or machines to engage in a contest. With advances in technology, the contests have become more elaborate. And in recent years, they’ve even added a requirement that the machines operate autonomously for the first 40 seconds of each contest.

This year’s contest was to build three machines to navigate an obstacle course and deliver a baseball into a hole at the far end of the course. The first machine had to drive through a field of concrete-filled pylons, and then transfer the ball to the second machine. The teams got extra points if their machine could make its way through the pylons autonomously. The second machine had to drive up and over a teeter-totter, and then up a 30-degree slope, across the flat top of the platform, and then transfer the ball to the third machine that was waiting on the other side. The third machine then had to open a small gate and carry the ball to the goal.

It turned out that this set of tasks was quite difficult, and in the first round, only the V15TA team was able to get all the way to the goal. In the end they made it to the goal in several matches, and only Team Soul was able to make it all the way even once. Based on that, we all figured it was going to be V15TA in the end, and that’s what happened. In the final match, their machines performed a flawless run from start to finish. It was pretty impressive.

3/5/2017

626 Golden Streets

Filed under: — stan @ 1:25 pm

Today’s bike club ride was to go to the 626 Golden Streets event. This was supposed to be last fall, but was canceled then due to heavy smoke from a fire in the mountains above Duarte. So today was the rescheduled date, and we were headed there.

The event was a Ciclavia-style thing, with a route of closed streets for us to ride on all the way from the Mission St Metro station in South Pasadena to the downtown Azusa Metro station. That’s something like 17 miles. So we started out by riding to South Pasadena, where we picked up the event route. It wasn’t too crowded, and we were able to maintain a pretty good pace most of the way.

We rode to the far end of the route, where we continued east into Glendora for out stop at Classic Coffee. Then we headed back the same way. The ride back was pleasant, until it started raining in Monrovia. At that point, Carla and I decided to bail out and take the train back to Pasadena. The rest of the group decided to take a chance and keep riding. But I figured that I already had 40 miles, and with the two miles to get home from the Metro station, that would make 42 for the day, which was fine, and I really don’t like riding in the rain.

40 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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