Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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5/31/2015

Ciclavia Pasadena

Filed under: — stan @ 1:41 pm

Today was the day that they had the first Ciclavia in Pasadena. We occasionally go to these on the Sunday morning bike ride, and since it’s right here, I figured we could go to it on the way home today. Our route was the old Mt Washington ride, just modified to come back by way of Old Town Pasadena to pick up the Ciclavia route. And as a special treat, I’d gotten a message that my old bike friend from college was going to be there. I haven’t seen Aaron since I graduated in 1982.

It was a perfect day for riding. We started out by heading up to La Cañada, and then down Hospital Hill and the long downhill through Glendale. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. It’s something like eight miles downhill and about 1,000 vertical feel. When we got down to Cypress Park and the L.A. River, we turned north and then took the short side trip up and over Mt Washington. Then we continued on through Highland Park and South Pasadena to get back to Pasadena and the start of the Ciclavia route.

I found Aaron and Sharon by a little bakery near Lake Avenue. It’s hard to believe that 33 years have gone by. But I’d like to think that we’re both holding up pretty well for being in our 50s.

It was a nice ride, and it was good to see Aaron again.

33 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

5/24/2015

Eleven

Filed under: — stan @ 5:51 pm

Last September, I saw an article that Mel Brooks had put his hand prints in concrete for the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. We took a ride out there to see, but when we got there, they said that the concrete blocks are kept inside for a few months to harden properly before they are put outside. So this week, I’d emailed the manager of the Chinese Theater, and he said that Mel Brooks was now out on the Forecourt of the Stars. So this Sunday’s ride was another visit to Hollywood.

We rode out by our usual route across Eagle Rock, across the L.A. River, and then through Silver Lake into Hollywood. When we got there, I saw that the dinosaur on the roof of the Ripley’s Odditorium was dressed up for summer tourist season. Then we got to the Chinese Theater and had a look around. I noticed for the first time that the block with the “Harry Potter” series cast had their wand-prints in the concrete. Then I found Mel Brooks. His block is toward the back on the east end. I tried out the six-fingered hand print for size.

Leaving the Chinese Theater, we headed up Outpost Dr. About halfway up, we saw some skid marks, a broken wall, and the bumper of a car. But the license plate was not attached to it. I guess whoever it belonged to had enough presence of mind to take the plate before running away.

At the top of the hill, we paused for a few minutes before heading down Mulholland Dr into Cahuenga Pass. We stopped for a few minutes at the Hollywood Bowl overlook. I thought it was funny that the little coin-operated telescope at the overlook had an ad on it to try and recruit more people for the coin-operated telescope business. It’s not like coin-operated telescopes are Amway or anything… Then we rode down the hill into Burbank, and our snack stop at Priscilla’s.

Heading home, we rode back across Glendale, and then up Chevy Chase and Linda Vista, coming down the other side by the Rose Bowl. It was a nice ride.

39 miles.

Route map and elevation information

5/23/2015

Train of Thought

Filed under: — stan @ 1:57 pm

Today was the dedication and open house at the new Gold Line Operations Campus in Monrovia. So Carla and I took a short bike ride out there to go see it. We figured it’s our one chance to get to see inside and close-up.

It’s not all that far away, so we rode a little extra on the way there, and we arrived just about when the politicians were starting their speeches. While they were talking, we walked around and looked at things. They had one of the new-style trains parked there, sticking out of the train wash building. It had a nice little steel platform on top of the coupler on the front of the train, so I wanted to get my picture taken sitting on it. I figure that I’ll probably never get another chance to sit there on the train again.

After the outdoor speeches, the herded everyone into the shop building for more speeches. They had a couple of trains parked inside for us to see, and we got to see the maintenance area where they had catwalks to get on top of the trains, and the tracks were elevated to get underneath.

After all that, we headed back, stopping in the parking lot on the way out to look at the Messerschmitt KR200 someone had driven there. That was one weird little car.

This was a short ride, but interesting sights to see.

21 miles.

5/17/2015

Urban Light

Filed under: — stan @ 4:53 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see the “Urban Light” installation in front of the main building. We’ve been out there before, but it seemed appropriate to go there again this week, since I’d heard earlier in the week that Chris Burden had died. So I dug out the route from last year when we rode out there to see the construction site for the new Purple Line subway station. And as it turned out, we had a special bonus today. The final stage of the Tour of California was starting downtown, right about when we would be passing through there. So we planned on stopping to see a bit of the race before heading out to LACMA.

We rode downtown by our usual route. The bad thing is that they have been doing construction where we pick up Mission Road off of Huntington Drive. We need to find a different way through there now, since they’ve made our old route impossible. So that was annoying. I think I may be feeling a letter coming on about it.

On the final bit into downtown, we saw a Metrolink train going by. This is the first time we’ve ever had to stop for a train at that particular crossing, so that was novel. Then we finished riding into downtown, and we set up at the corner of Main and Temple to watch the race go by. After that, we moved to Main and 1st to watch them go by again. That was a good corner to watch, since it was at the bottom of a small hill, so the pack was going very fast as it went by. Then we moved up to Olive and 1st, which was an even better place to watch from, since the course went both ways down Olive, so we got to see them go by twice on each lap. We watched them go by for each of the next three laps, and then they took off for Pasadena and the finish at the Rose Bowl. And we continued on our way.

It’s always kind of novel to see a bike race now. Watching the peleton go flying by, it’s hard to believe that I used to do that. And riding in a pack was just another day for me. Now I think it looks terrifying, and I can’t believe I used to go that fast. But fortunately, I have photographic evidence.

Using 9th St and later 4th St, we rode all the way out to Hancock Park and LACMA. We had to walk through the museum courtyard, but then, when we got to Wilshire Blvd, there were the streetlights. We read the little plaque in front of the installation and just sort of admired the arrangement of the lights. And on the way back, we stopped to look at “Levitated Mass”, otherwise known as the Big Rock. As I said, anything can be art, as long as the artist can convince other people to agree with him that it’s art.

Coming back, we stopped for bagels at Noah’s in Larchmont Village. Then we took our usual route home through Silver Lake, and then up to York Blvd and home through South Pasadena. It was a nice ride.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile.

5/10/2015

The Pink Motel

Filed under: — stan @ 9:57 pm

Last week, I was looking up some movie locations online, looking for things we could go see on the Sunday bike club ride. And I ran across an article on the L.A. Conservancy’s web site about the Pink Motel. It dates back to the late 1940s, and is used in movies and TV when they want to have a 1950s setting. It also has a small coffee shop that is set up for carhop service, and also looks like it just fell out of 1955. They say that the motel is still operating, but the restaurant is only rented out for filming. And the fish-shaped swimming pool is empty.

The Pink Motel is in Sun Valley, which is largely industrial. There is a large landfill, lots of junkyards, and a power plant there. The route we took there was basically the same one that we used a couple years ago when we rode out to see the Stonehurst Cottages.

The motel is on San Fernando Road, just off of Sheldon St. San Fernando is terrible to ride on, but we only had to go about a hundred yards or so on it. And then, there it was, in all its pink glory. We looked around a bit at the different parts of the property. The pool is huge. And it’s empty. Supposedly, people skateboard in it, but we didn’t see any evidence of that. Still, it would be impressive to be there at night and see the neon lit up, although I’d guess that maybe they only turn it all on if they’re filming something there.

A train came by when we were getting ready to leave. It was going very slowly, so we had to wait a bit for it to pass. Then we headed back up Sheldon St. We passed the movie prop house there. They still have the pair of giant hands outside. There wasn’t as much other weird stuff outside this time, though.

Continuing on into the hills there, we saw people riding horses. It’s a strange area. It feels very rural, even though it’s part of the city of Los Angeles. This was where we came to see Lorenzo the Llama, back in 2009.

We rode back up the hill into Tujunga, and then down the long downhill to Montrose. We stopped for bagels at Goldstein’s in La Cañada. And from there, it was all downhill back to Pasadena.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation: http://1134.ddns.net/routemap.php?xmlfile=pinkmotel

4/26/2015

Riding to the 24th Century

Filed under: — stan @ 2:06 pm

If you know any cyclists, you’ve probably heard them talk about doing a “Century” ride, which is to ride 100 miles in a day. But we went one better today. We rode our bikes all the way to the 24th Century. Specifically, to go see the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, which was used as the location for Starfleet Academy in several episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. Kathleen and I went there once on a tour with the Obscura Society, but the only other time we tried riding bikes there, we got rained out in North Hollywood and had to take Metro Rail home.

Today was a good day for riding. The rain from yesterday had blown away, and it was clear, although a bit windy. We headed out, pretty much directly west, across Eagle Rock. And that was where John got a flat. Then we continued on across Glendale and Burbank into the San Fernando Valley. We took Moorpark St a long way before turning north to meet up with the Metro Orange Line bike path, which took us the rest of the way to Van Nuys. We rode in and had a look at the sewage plant administration building. I showed everyone a screenshot of it from “Star Trek”. Fortunately, the wind was out of the north, so the Japanese Garden didn’t live up to the “fragrance” part of its name.

Coming back, we saw that they were having some sort of Mini Picnic in the park next to the sewage plant. Then we got back on the Orange Line bike path and took it all the way back to North Hollywood. We stopped for snacks at Panera there. Then we continued on the Chandler bikeway into Burbank. That was where Jay got a flat. After fixing that, we headed back into Glendale on the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, which was where we met the miniature horse.

The final part of the ride was the climb back up the Colorado Hill into Pasadena. That never gets old. Or easier. Still, it was a nice ride. And we finally made it all the way to the 24th Century.

55 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


4/19/2015

Gay’s Lion Farm

Filed under: — stan @ 2:54 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a tour in search of a bit of SoCal history. In this case, Gay’s Lion Farm, which existed in El Monte from 1925 to 1942, and at its peak had 200 lions living on five acres where the San Bernardino Freeway exists now.

The actual location of the lion farm isn’t all that far from Pasadena, so I had to make up a kind of roundabout route to get there and back, just to keep to our basic framework of the ride being about 40-45 miles. So we started out riding all the way out to Duarte before turning around and heading back west to Monrovia and then south. But we finally made it to the intersection of Peck Road and Valley Boulevard, and there, right on the freeway embankment, there was a lion statue. There was a small plaque that said that it marked the site of the lion farm. We looked around a bit and took some pictures before moving on. Just a few blocks on the other side of the freeway was El Monte High School, and it has a large statue of a lion in front of it. One article I read said that the statue was of a lion named Jackie, who was the MGM lion in the 1930s and ’40s.

Continuing south, we ended up on the Rio Hondo bike path, and when that let us out on San Gabriel Blvd, we headed north. We ended up in San Gabriel, where we stopped off at the San Gabriel Cemetery to visit Charles Gay’s grave. While we were there, we also saw the statue and memorial for General George S. Patton, who grew up in San Gabriel.

Our snack stop was at Peet’s Coffee in Pasadena. That’s almost at the end of the ride, so we don’t stop there often, but it just worked out that that was the best place we knew along this route.

42 miles.

Route map: http://1134.ddns.net/routemap.php?xmlfile=gayslionfarm

4/12/2015

The Tortoises of Burbank

Filed under: — stan @ 2:28 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a route to Burbank to go see the big desert tortoises that live in the front yard of a house there. We’ve stopped in to see them many times before, but this time we made a point to bring some food for them.

The ride out there was pleasant enough. We took the northern route through La Cañada, coming down Verdugo Rd into Glendale. Then we rode over into Burbank and headed down Chandler. When we got to the tortoise house, they were all just basking in the sun in the yard, and they weren’t moving. Nicholas pulled out some romaine lettuce and stuck it through the fence. One of the tortoises came over and started eating. I had brought an apple, and I tossed it into the yard. After a few minutes, one of the other tortoises noticed it and came over to start eating it. We had some more cut-up apples with us, and we fed them to the tortoises. They seemed to like the apples a lot. They had some other lettuce in the yard already, but they ignored that for as long as the apples held out. But once the apples were gone, they went back to the lettuce. They made pretty loud munching sounds, so I shot a little video of it, just so you can hear the crunch:

After that, we continued on the Chandler bike path out to North Hollywood. We stopped for snacks at Panera, and then headed back the way we came. We turned down Keystone to get to Riverside, passing by the “Chuck Norris Rules” wall. Then we came back by the direct route across Glendale and Eagle Rock, with the always-popular Colorado hill back into Pasadena. It was a nice ride.

44 miles.

4/5/2015

The New George Harrison Tree

Filed under: — stan @ 1:42 pm

A week or so ago, I saw an item in the Los Angeles Times about how they had planted a new tree in Griffith Park in memory of George Harrison. The former tree had died last year after being infested with beetles, which of course made the news around the world. We’d gone to see the stump of the old tree, so I thought we should go see the new tree today. Also, I’d read recently that the city is doing an experiment with allowing car traffic on Mt Hollywood Drive for the first time since 1989 in an effort to relieve congestion brought on by the crush of cars bringing people to the park to see the Hollywood sign. So I wanted to take a ride up there so we could see just how bad it was, and decide for ourselves just what we thought of it.

The day was cool and overcast. It was actually quite pleasant for riding. We headed out by our usual route across Eagle Rock. We had a relatively big group today, and we even picked up a couple new riders on the road who joined us for a part of the ride. We went up into Griffith Park to the observatory, where we saw the new tree.

Leaving the observatory, we went down to Mt Hollywood Drive. We were expecting the gate to be open. GT had been riding up there during the week, and he told us about the traffic on the road then. But the gate was closed, and there were no cars. There were cones and signs directing traffic everywhere, but for some reason, they did not open the gates today. So we rode up to the spot they had designated for people to park to see the sign. And while we were there, we looked back for the first time ever, and we saw that that spot actually has a nice view of the observatory and downtown L.A. We’d never looked back from there before.

Continuing on, we got to the top of the hill, where we regrouped before heading down the other side. Along the road there, we saw movie trailers parked on the road, and then, just around the bend, we saw two wrecked cars. Apparently, they had been filming something that involved those cars, and I guess they weren’t done with them yet. The one that was completely upside-down had a hose connected to it. I presume that this was to pump fuel into it so that it could explode in a fireball, like cars always do in movies.

At the bottom of the hill, we rode into Burbank for our snack stop at Priscilla’s. Then we headed back by way of the L.A. River bike path. Since the Riverside Drive bridge isn’t quite finished yet, we tried an experiment and rode back up Fletcher, but then cut across on a small street we’d never ridden on before to get to Cypress and Figueroa. Then we took Figueroa back up through Highland Park, cutting over on Ave 57 to get to South Pasadena. It turned out to be a pretty good way to go, so we’ll probably do it again in the future.

47 miles.

Here’s the route map and elevation profile: http://1134.ddns.net/routemap.php?xmlfile=georgeharrison

3/15/2015

Update on the NoHo Barrel

Filed under: — stan @ 1:17 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another trip to North Hollywood to check out the barrel-shaped restaurant. We’d gone to see this in January when it was being renovated, but I’d read recently that it was finished and open for business. So it was time to go see it again.

There’s a spot on Riverside Drive where businesses park their trucks as advertising while they’re not being used. There’s the “Hot Topless Maids” van, and today there was also a junk-hauling truck. And thanks to reality TV, apparently now “Extreme Hoarding” is a thing.

When we got to NoHo, the barrel was all out in the open and nicely refinished. We were able to peek in the windows and see the inside, and it really looked pretty good.

After looking at the barrel, we continued on up Vineland Ave to Chandler, where we stopped for snacks at the Panera across the street from the Metro Red Line station. That was where we’d caught the train home three weeks ago when the ride was rained out.

Heading back on the Chandler bikeway, we came across a big group of people running around in circles carrying medicine balls. I guess that’s one of those fitness boot camp things. I think riding the bike is just more fun. And we get to cover a lot of ground. And today, I finally got my photo-op riding the shaggy dog sculpture in Burbank. That makes for a companion to the time I got to ride the rattlesnake sculpture in Rattlesnake Park or when Lucinda was a little kid and like to ride the little fox sculptures in the park downtown.

On the way back on Riverside Drive, we saw that apparently Rene Magritte has a hamburger stand now. It must be, because the sign clearly says “Not a Burger Stand”.

44 miles.

Here’s the route map and elevation profile.

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