Stan’s Obligatory Blog

6/21/2015

“Can we all get along”

Filed under: — stan @ 5:39 pm

Whenever police misconduct is in the news, the story of Rodney King comes up. He was really the first high-profile case of the modern era where police doing bad things were caught on video. At the time, that was a first, but now, we’re seeing it over and over, and it’s shining a light on something that the police really don’t want people to see. Because of that, and the L.A. riots in 1992, Rodney King became an icon. I’m sure he never wanted to be a household name. After that, he lived his life in a fishbowl, which must have been very unpleasant. Still, the ordeal he went through led to some positive changes for society.

I recently found out that, after several years of being unmarked, Rodney King has a proper headstone. So today’s ride was to go see it, and to remember the reluctant icon.

It was a good day for riding, and we had a pretty big group this time. Apparently, Father’s Day is a big occasion at Forest Lawn, and the place was packed. When we got there, we rode all the way to the back. It’s about a mile from the front gate to the back section where Rodney King is buried. His new marker is nice, and it’s kind of fitting that it features the one line he’s remembered for. In all his time in the media spotlight, he never said much. Maybe he didn’t want to say anything, and maybe nobody ever asked him what he thought. But there is still the one line he is remembered for, and apparently, most people remember it wrong. I looked up on Youtube and found the video clip, and he did in fact say, “Can we all get along”. So there it is. Like the headline on an obituary, to have one’s entire life summed up in one line.

Continuing on, we stopped for snacks at Priscilla’s. Then we headed home, across Glendale. GT’s friend Lura got a flat, so I doubled back for a quick picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. Then we rode up Verdugo and home through La Cañada. It was a nice ride.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

6/7/2015

Burger Tourism

Filed under: — stan @ 1:54 pm

Last fall, we rode out to Baldwin Park to see the replica of the original In-N-Out Burger stand that they built down the street from their In-N-Out University and company store. This past week, I realized that if we did that same route in the other direction, we’d get to the In-N-Out museum right around 11:00, and it’s open from 11-2 Thursdays through Sundays.

We started out from Victory Park and headed east. We rode through Monrovia and Duarte to get on the San Gabriel River bike path. We took that to Irwindale, where we rode past the Huy Fong Foods sriracha hot sauce factory, and then south into West Covina.

We stopped for snacks and such at Panera in West Covina. Then we continued south to La Puente, making a big loop that brought us back to Baldwin Park. Unfortunately, our timing was a little off, and we got to In-N-Out at 10:45. Since we had a few minutes to wait, and it was pretty hot by then, I went and rode through the regular In-N-Out drive-through and got some iced tea. The drive-through is a big part of the total In-N-Out experience, and just because I was on a bike wasn’t going to stop me from experiencing it.

By then, it was 11:00, so we rode back under the freeway to the In-N-Out museum. Karen was our docent, as it were. She said that she is a regular In-N-Out crew member, but she spends three hours of her shift working at the replica of the original stand, greeting visitors, answering questions, and generally telling the story of how In-N-Out got started. She took our picture in the drive-through at the replica, and she showed us the washing machine that they used in the old days to wash and spin-dry the french fries before they cooked them. She also showed us a picture of the guy whose job it was to sit out back and peel potatoes by hand. After the potatoes were peeled, they cut them into fries by hand with the same machines they use today. It was all an interesting piece of history.

The ride home from Baldwin Park was mostly uphill, but not unpleasant. It was a warm day, and summer is definitely on its way.

43 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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.

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