Stan’s Obligatory Blog

10/25/2015

Down for the Count – 2015

Filed under: — stan @ 2:46 pm

It’s the end of October, and that means it’s time for our Halloween ride. Out to Culver City and Holy Cross Cemetery to pay respects to The Count – Bela Lugosi. And I also wore my “Star Trek” bike jersey today, in case we wanted to take a side trip to Hillside Memorial Park to pay respects to Leonard Nimoy.

It was a nice day for riding. We headed downtown by way of Huntington Drive and Main St. Coming down Spring St downtown, we saw a big display in Grand Park for the Day of the Dead, so that was a photo-op. Then we had to cross the course of the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon, which was in progress. Then we continued on south all the way to Pico, where we turned west to get to Flower St. There wasn’t an Expo Line train going down Flower St at the time, which was too bad. I like to race the train when there’s one there, since it goes just fast enough to chase, but not so fast that I can’t keep up.

We had to stop for a minute at La Cienega for a quick bike adjustment. That was where we saw the VW Micr -er- “Mico Bus”. Heh.

When we got to the cemetery, we rode up and over the hill to The Grotto. It took us a couple minutes to find Bela Lugosi. Usually, his grave is decorated for Halloween, but I think that maybe they haven’t done that yet, since it’s not until next Saturday. While we were there, Carla showed us her Halloween-themed nails.

Continuing on, we went to Hillside Memorial. In the past, we’d been able to go in the back gate, but it was closed today. So we rode around to the main gate. We asked directions, and the guy gave us a little map and showed us where to go. When we got there, we wandered around a bit until one of the maintenance guys saw us and pointed us to the right spot. Apparently, there are a lot of people stopping by to visit Leonard Nimoy. And deservedly so. I’m not the only one whose childhood hero was Mr Spock.

On the way home, we stopped for bagels at Noah’s. Our route home was supposed to be through Silverlake, but we decided to alter that and go home by way of downtown L.A. So I stopped there for a minute to get a photo of the little junkyard underneath the elevated Metro tracks that’s filled with wrecked police cars. And I wonder what’s the story of the gray car with “Do Not Shoot” painted on it. And by taking Griffin Ave, we passed by the giant dragonfly again for the first time in years.

59 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

10/18/2015

A slightly-damp CicLAvia

Filed under: — stan @ 1:16 pm

This week’s bike club ride was planned to be a visit to yet another downtown CicLAvia, followed by a side trip to Echo Park to see some abandoned oil wells there. The weather was threatening rain, and this route would also keep us close to Metro Rail stations, just in case we needed to bail out.

Pretty much as soon as we started out, we felt a few raindrops. It got wetter as we headed down Sierra Madre Blvd, and when we got to Huntington Drive, Carla turned around and bailed out. The rest of us continued on. I figured we could go a few more miles, and if it got worse, we’d just go the South Pasadena Metro station and take the train back. But as we continued on, the rain got lighter, and by the time we were coming in to downtown L.A., it has stopped. The streets were still wet, but it wasn’t actively raining any more. So we joined up with the CicLAvia route in Chinatown and rode it all the way to the other end by MacArthur Park. It was actually kind of nice, since the rain meant that a lot of people stayed away, and it wasn’t too crowded. We stopped to look at the Spheres art installation again, and I also noticed a few Egyptian Geese wandering around in the park. We’d seen some of them when we visited the Japanese Garden in Van Nuys, and I recognized them, since they kind of look like they’re wearing Lucha Libre masks. Since it still wasn’t too crowded on the streets, we decided to skip the side trip to the oil wells, and ride back to Chinatown. By the time we got there, word was getting around that the rain had stopped and streets had dried, and the route started to get crowded a bit. So we left it in Chinatown and headed up the hill by Dodger Stadium and the 9/11 memorial by the Fire Department training center to get to Echo Park and Chango Coffee. We had some snacks and drinks there.

By now, it was pretty clearly finished raining for the day, so we headed home by our regular route up Eagle Rock Blvd and then across Highland Park on York. And in the end, it turned out to be a pretty pleasant ride.

40 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

10/11/2015

Whole Yotta Love

Filed under: — stan @ 2:05 pm

Last week, there was a column in the L.A. Times by Steve Lopez about a couple who had moved in to a rented mansion in the Hollywood Hills and were throwing big parties and annoying the neighbors. But the detail that really put the story over the top for me was that they had had a mural of themselves put on the garage door. Since houses in the Hollywood Hills are on small lots, that meant that the garage door would be right on the street, so I thought we should go see it. So I went looking, and found out that the house was right on the street leading up to the dam, and we’d been by there before. Once when we went to see the monsters on Chris Brown’s house, and once when we went to see the Mulholland Dam itself.

We took our regular route through Eagle Rock to get to the L.A. River and Silverlake. Then we took Hollywood Blvd across to Argyle Ave, where we turned and headed up into the hills. The climb up to the dam is very steep in places, but with appropriate gearing, it’s not too bad. And then, we arrived at the mansion. The decorations were only slightly over the top. There was no lion in a cage outside, since their housewarming party was over. But the mural on the garage was there, and it was just as gaudy as we expected. So overall, it was worth seeing.

Continuing on up the hill, we got to the dam, and we rode across the top of it. Stopping in the middle, we looked across the lake and we could see both the Hollywood sign and the vineyard on Mt. Lee. John looked down the front of the dam, and he noticed that it has grizzly heads cast in concrete on each column. Sort of like the walrus heads on the columns of the Arctic Building in Seattle.

Leaving the dam, we had to to the very steep climb up out of the bowl that Lake Hollywood sits in, and then it was all downhill into Burbank, and our snack stop at Priscilla’s. We had drinks and snacks there, and then headed home, back across Glendale and Eagle Rock, and up the Colorado hill back to Pasadena.

39 miles.

9/27/2015

Update of the Spheres of MacArthur Park

Filed under: — stan @ 2:11 pm

A few weeks ago, we went out to see the “Spheres” art project under way in MacArthur Park. That weekend, they were in the process of installing the painted balls on the lake in the park. So this week we went to see the completed piece.

We took our usual route into downtown Los Angeles on Huntington Drive and Main St. There was a little haze in the air there, and that made for dramatic reflections off the windows of the Ritz Carlton near L.A. Live. We’ve seen this effect before, in 2013 and 2009. It’s always this time of the year, so I think the angle of the sun also is part of the effect.

Our snack stop was at Noah’s in Larchmont Village. We had bagels and drinks there. There was a little bakery a few doors down that we noticed for the first time today. I went in to see what it was like. But when they said everything was vegan and gluten-free that was a big NOPE for me.

The route back went on 7th St to MacArthur Park. That was where Carla got a flat. Fortunately, there was a nice shady spot to sit in and fix it. Then we got to the park. There were a lot more balls floating on the lake this time. It was very colorful.

It was getting pretty hot by now, so we deviated a bit from the route and headed directly up Benton Way to Silverlake. We took York across Highland Park to avoid the Colorado hill. And we stopped briefly at my office to get some ice from the freezer to ice our water bottles down for the last few miles home.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

9/20/2015

Straight Outta Compton

Filed under: — stan @ 2:57 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another celebrity grave tour. Since we’ve all gone to see “Straight Outta Compton” and liked it, today’s ride was a visit to Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier to visit the grave of Eric “Eazy-E” Wright. It was a nice day for riding when we set out in the morning.

We rode down to the Rio Hondo bike path, and took that all the way to Whittier Narrows. Carla told me that there had been a brushfire there recently, and sure enough, a large area down there was burned. It looked like the fire went through fast, since all the low brush was burned, but the trees had not burned. Still, it looked pretty bad there.

Heading east, we went over to Workman Mill Road and the main entrance to the cemetery. The guy in the information booth gave us directions on how to get there. It sounded simple enough. Just go up the main road and turn left at the sixth street. Little did we know that that meant a mile in and 500 feet up. Wow. That was a hard climb. But up there on the hill, we found Eric Wright. His grave is obviously visited a fair amount, judging by the grass around it. So he still has fans to this day, which I think is well-deserved. He did make a pretty big contribution to our culture. While we were up there, we also noticed another nearby grave which said that its owner’s favorite saying was, “That ain’t no hard hill to climb”. Which was funny, since it was a hard hill to climb to get up there. And also, because there’s a typo on his stone. D’oh.

Back at the bottom of the hill, we headed south in to Whittier, making a loop to get back to the San Gabriel River bike path. The plan was to take that all the way up to Irwindale. By then, it was starting to get hot. And the trail is uphill going that way. And we had a headwind. A hot headwind. By the time we got to Arrow Highway, we were all suffering, so we got off to go get some cold drinks. I found a Subway and got a big iced tea. Just drinking that cold liquid just felt so good. We stayed there for a while to cool off and rest. Then we decided to head home by the shortest route possible. The last part of the ride began to resemble the Retreat from Moscow. But we made it home all right. Which was good. Napoleon’s army had horses they could kill and eat, but we can’t do that with our bikes.

48 miles.

Route map and elevation profile.

9/6/2015

Checking up on the Gold Line Extension again

Filed under: — stan @ 1:57 pm

Today’s bike club ride is the latest installment checking up on the progress of the Metro Gold Line extension out to Azusa. We’ve been going out to see this about every few months for the last two years, and it’s nearly finished. The last time we did this tour was in January, and there’s been a lot of progress since then.

Starting out, we rode Colorado across Arcadia to get the the nearly-finished Arcadia station. In fact, it looks finished. The monitors were all turned on, and it looked like it was ready for a train to pull in at any time. And of course the art for the station includes a peacock.

The Monrovia station looks nearly finished, but it is still fenced off, and there are still a lot of paving stones to be placed. The parking structure next to it looks done, though. We also stopped off to have a look at the operations center. Carla and I went there for the dedication and open house that Metro held back in May.

Continuing east, we stopped at the Duarte station. It also looks like it’s ready for a train to pull in. In fact, I did see a train there a few weeks ago when I rode out there for the dedication of the station.

Heading up the San Gabriel River bike trail, we turned off at the Azusa Rockery. We took a few minutes to look at the signs, and we finally found out just what it is that they’re mining there. Then we continued on to the Azusa downtown station. That was where Metro held the ‘Golden Spike‘ ceremony last year. It’s also where Carla and I saw how they weld the rails together with thermite. And while we were there, we met Oreo. She has a piece of cardboard to stand on, and she’s happy to ride around in the bike basket.

At the end of the line, we saw the Azusa APU/Citrus College station. That one looks the least finished of all the new stations. The station itself looks pretty finished, but the access to it is not done yet. It looks like there is going to be a street going through the underpass under the tracks, and that will be the access to the station, but it’s still a bit unclear if that will be a real street, or just a walkway of some sort.

We turned south in Glendora, and we headed back on Gladstone St. We took a side trip to see the Irwindale station. It looks pretty much done. It’s a far cry from how it looked the first time we did this tour.

Coming back, we rode to Monrovia and Merengue. Leaving there, we took the alley, where we saw the airplane mural on the wall of a building there. I guess there was some sort of vent built into the wall, and someone decided to put a propeller on it and then paint an airplane on the wall around it. It was a good little bit of street art.

39 miles

Route map and elevation profile

8/30/2015

Balls!

Filed under: — stan @ 2:24 pm

A few weeks ago, I’d read about the city had put 96,000,000 black ’shade balls’ on top of the big reservoir in Sylmar. Since we went to see the art balls in MacArthur Park last week, I thought it might make a good companion piece to see these more utilitarian balls-floating-on-water this week.

The route was straightforward. Across Eagle Rock and Glendale, and then all the way up Glenoaks to Sylmar. We did most of this route last summer, when we went on a tour of sights from the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. Since we were there, we stopped briefly to see the fault scarp next to the McDonald’s in San Fernando. Then we continued north on Glenoaks, almost all the way to its end. A quick left on Roxford St brought us under the 5 freeway, and right to the reservoir. And from there, we could see the water, completely covered by black plastic balls floating on the surface.

A few months ago, I had occasion to take the Metrolink train back from Santa Clarita one day. Along the way, I’d noticed that there is a dedicated bike path that runs between San Fernando Road and the Metrolink tracks. So we tried that out today. The north end of it begins at Roxford, and we rode it for several miles, all the way to Van Nuys Blvd. It was a pretty nice path, although it had some discontinuities at some intersections where it moved from one side of the railroad tracks to the other. They kind of need to sort that out to mark it better and make it a little easier to get across the streets at those places.

It was hot, so we stopped to get some cold water along the way. That helped a bit. And then it was time for the ride up La Tuna Canyon. Five miles uphill, and as much fun as it sounds like. With the heat and the distance we’d traveled, we were kind of dragging a big by the time we got to the top. But from there, it’s almost entirely downhill all the way back to Pasadena. So all told, it was a nice ride.

58 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

8/23/2015

The Spheres of MacArthur Park

Filed under: — stan @ 1:14 pm

A few months ago, I read about how an artist was planning on having some 3,000 plastic spheres painted with flowers, fish, birds, and so forth, and then was going to float them all on the lake in MacArthur Park. I made a note that we should go see this when it was done, and this was the weekend. This is our first art tour bike ride since we went to see “Urban Light” back in May.

We rode down Huntington Drive into downtown L.A., and then down Spring St through downtown, and then Flower down to Adams, near USC. On the way out on Adams, there is a place with some sharp humps in the pavement, and Carla’s pedal hit the peak of one of them. This knocked her foot out of the pedal, and it snapped off one of the little stops that hold the spring-loaded back of the pedal. We were able to lever it back into place well enough to continue the ride, but that was today’s installment of the long-running series, “I’ve never seen one of these break before“.

We stopped for bagels at Noah’s in Larchmont. After that, we headed back toward downtown, taking 7th St in, since it goes right by the park. When we got to the park, we stopped off to have a look at the balls floating on the lake.

The route home went through Echo Park and Silverlake, and then home by way of York Blvd and South Pasadena. It was kind of hot at the end, but a pleasant ride.

43 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

8/16/2015

Spoke

Filed under: — stan @ 10:53 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a visit to Spoke Bicycle Cafe, on the L.A. River in Frogtown. We’ve been down that way before to visit The Frog Spot last summer.

We started out from Victory Park and headed west. And we didn’t get too far before GT got a flat right in front of the Gamble House. (The Gamble House is a landmark in Pasadena, and it also was Doc Brown’s house in 1955 in the “Back to the Future” movies)

We rode across Eagle Rock and Glendale all the way into Burbank. Then we turned west to go on the Chandler Bikeway. We took a short side trip to see the desert tortoises along the way. Then we headed south to pick up the L.A. River bike trail, which took us all the way to Frogtown and Spoke.

It was pretty hot today, and we pretty much all wanted cold drinks and maybe some small snacks. But Spoke was nice. It was a good place to stop along the river trail, and I think we’ll go back there again. I got a big iced tea, and after I finished that, they gave me another cup of ice to put in my water bottle for the ride back to Pasadena.

We started out up Figueroa, and then turned off at Avenue 43 to get on the Arroyo Seco bike trail. We’ve been on part of that before, but this was the first time we rode the entire length of it. And it was pretty nice. At the end, it let us out into South Pasadena, and at that point, our group kind of broke up. It was very hot, and everyone just wanted to head for home, and only a few of us live near the park where we start. So in the end, it was just a few of us who went all the way back to Victory Park. But it was a nice ride.

43 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

8/15/2015

Getting close…

Filed under: — stan @ 12:25 pm

Back in May, Carla and I rode to Monrovia for the dedication of the Metro Operations Campus. And today was the first of the dedications of the new stations that they are finishing up on the Foothill Extension of the Metro Gold Line. Since I’m not going to be able to make the other ones, I made a point to ride out to Duarte for this one.

It was very hot today, but the ride out there is only about 10 miles, so it’s not bad, even in the heat. They had a short stretch of Duarte Road closed for the event. There were tents set up for shade, and the dignitaries were making their speeches. The station itself looks like it’s basically complete, although they had it roped off. They had a train parked there, which I guess means that the track from Pasadena to Duarte is passable by train now.

They had a table set up to tell the story of the artwork in the station. Every Metro station has some sort of art in it. The art at the Duarte station has steel pillars with carved limestone at the top. The carvings are supposed to evoke something of the history of the area near the San Gabriel River. Or at least that’s what they told me. In contrast, I passed the Arcadia station on the way out there, and it had a big peacock on it. That seemed appropriate, since Arcadia is known for its large collection of feral peafowl.

They had some cakes there, but I didn’t want to stay out there in the heat until they served them. I did manage to bum some ice from the caterers, so I filled my water bottle with ice and had cold water for part of the ride home.

21 miles.

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