Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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10/16/2016

Metro Rail Tour and Ciclavia

Filed under: — stan @ 5:10 pm

The weather forecast for today called for a slight chance of rain, so that meant it was time to bring out the classic Metro Rail Tour. This is about 40 miles around L.A., but with the route never being more than two miles or so from the nearest Metro Rail station. We’ve done this before, and having the quick bailout option has come in handy in the past. Also, today was the Ciclavia downtown event, so we figured we could ride at least part of that route.

It feels like fall now, and we headed into downtown Los Angeles by our usual route. There were a few times when it started sort of just barely misting rain, but it wasn’t bad, and it stopped quickly. We made good time, and we got to the bridge across the river just in time to see the 8:50-or-so Metrolink train go by. Then we went to Chinatown and picked up the Ciclavia route. It had just opened, so it wasn’t crowded yet, and we rode the route to 7th and Flower, where we turned south.

We made the usual loop through Koreatown and Hancock Park, ending up at Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont Village. After the snack stop, we rode west, picking up the Ciclavia route again on 7th St near MacArthur Park.

Coming back into downtown, it started getting a bit crowded, so we turned off and rode up Main St instead of the Ciclavia route on Broadway. We took that to Chinatown, were we got back on Broadway to cross the river. Then we headed home by way of the Arroyo Seco bike trail

43 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

10/9/2016

Back in the saddle

Filed under: — stan @ 2:34 pm

It’s been just a bit over three weeks now since I had the surgery for the pituitary gland tumor, and last week, I got clearance from the surgeon to resume most of normal activities. Last week, I came on the bike club ride, and we rode to Glendora. That time, I bailed out at 25 miles and rode the Metro home from Azusa. So my goal for this week was to try and go a bit farther. The route for today was the ‘Big Donut’ ride to La Puente to see the Donut Hole drive-through donut shop. The route is something like 45 miles, but I figured I’d probably bail out somewhere near the end when the route met up with the Metro.

The route is pretty flat, although it begins with the ride up and over the hill through Sierra Madre. I was curious about this, since I was curious to see how the downhill out of Sierra Madre would feel. For the last few years, I’ve been having a sort of low-grade vertigo thing that’s made me doubt my balance on the bike. This has caused problems with both downhills, and also with doing my traditional trackstands at red lights. Last week, I managed to make it all the way to Glendora without having to put my foot down at any of the lights, and that was my goal again for today. And it worked out pretty well. There were a couple of intersections that were off-camber, so I ended up putting a foot down at them, but most of them, I was able to just balance on two wheels until the light changed. So between that, and the fact that the blurred vision I had in my left eye has cleared up, the surgery seems to have done what it was supposed to do.

We stopped briefly for a photo-op at the Big Donut. Then we continued on, making a loop through West Covina and back up to Irwindale and Santa Fe Dam. We picked up the bike path there, and rode that up to Duarte and Encanto Park. At that point, I had about 33 miles, and that was where I bailed. I rode about two more miles to get to the Duarte/City of Hope Gold Line station, where I got on the train to come home. For some reason, the train was packed. There must have been a game of some sort going on somewhere that everyone was going to. But I rode the train back to the Allen station in Pasadena, and then rode the two more miles home from there. So overall, it was a pretty good ride. I think next week, maybe I’ll try for the full 40-mumble miles we usually do on Sunday mornings.

35 miles, plus two more riding home from the Metro station.

Route map and elevation profile

9/11/2016

Santa Monica and the California Incline

Filed under: — stan @ 3:07 pm

Today is my last Sunday bike club ride before at least a couple of weeks for forced rest to recover from surgery that is scheduled for this Wednesday. So for my last ride, I thought we should go and see the newly-rebuilt California Incline in Santa Monica. It was closed for rebuilding in 2015, and recently reopened.

As we did the last time, we ride through downtown Los Angeles, and then west along the bike lanes and trail constructed alongside the Metro Expo Line. When we got to Culver City, we turned off onto the Ballona Creek bike path, and rode that to Marina Del Rey, and then north through Venice. It was a perfect day for riding.

When we got to Santa Monica, we stopped for snacks at Dogtown Coffee. Then we rode through downtown Santa Monica to the Incline, and then down to the beach. We ride all over L.A., but it’s not that often we make it all the way to the beach, so this was a nice treat.

After that, we rode back up the Incline and down to the Santa Monica Pier. Then we got on the Metro Expo Line for the trip home.

36 miles to Santa Monica, 39, including the ride home from the Metro station

Route map and elevation profile

9/4/2016

An Airplane-Themed Ride

Filed under: — stan @ 4:32 pm

Today’s bike club ride was the route out to Burbank to see the F-104 Starfighter-on-a-stick that they have displayed in a park. And also, we went by Burbank Airport to see how their new airplane topiary is coming along. It was cool and overcast and perfect for riding.

When I got to the park to meet up with the group, I saw that they had one of the playing fields fenced off, and there was a small group of geese foraging in there. When everyone got there, we headed out straight west across Eagle Rock and Glendale to Burbank. At the park, I read the little plaque that told the story of the F-104. It said it was developed by the Lockheed Skunk Works in the late 1950s, and it was in production until 1979. It also said that it set an altitude record by flying up to 103,395 feet, and a climbing record of 82,020 feet in 286 seconds. To put that in perspective, that works out to be about 195mph straight up.

From there, we headed north to the airport. The new topiary is coming along nicely. We’d been to see the old one before, but the last time we were out there, the former bush had died and they’d replaced it with a new one that wasn’t quite full yet. This time, the wire frame was completely filled out, and the bush needed a little trim. Carla noticed that the topiary plant itself is jasmine this time, and it was flowering. So we had to stop and smell the flowers.

We passed the kiddie ride boneyard again. I still think that would be a perfect setting for a killer-clown horror movie. Then we stopped at Priscilla’s for snacks.

For the trip back, we took the L.A. River bike path. They are apparently widening the bridge where Riverside crosses over the river. It’s kind of a mess now, but it will be nice when it’s done. And at the other end of the path, we rode the new bridge over the river to Figueroa Street, and I stopped to take a picture of the stub of the old bridge. Then we rode up to Ave 43 and got on the Arroyo Seco bike path to South Pasadena. All in all, it was a pleasant ride.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

8/21/2016

Glendora and the castle

Filed under: — stan @ 1:06 pm

Today’s ride was the old Glendora route, with a side trip to see Rubel’s Castle, and also the Glendora Bougainvillea.

When we were going through Covina, we passed the original topiary house. This was where I got the idea for the original Topiary Tour. I also saw that the first hot-rod mailbox house is for sale now. I guess times change. I hope the new owners will still keep the mailbox.

When we got to Glendora, we took a short side-trip up the hill to see Rubel’s Castle. Then, on the way back down, we passed by the Glendora Bougainvillea. Then we stopped for snacks and drinks at Classic Coffee.

39 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

8/14/2016

Another Downey Tour

Filed under: — stan @ 2:07 pm

Yesterday, I went on a tour of the Columbia Memorial Space Center with Atlas Obscura. During the talk there, they mentioned that one of the original buildings was still standing, dating back to the days when it was Vultee Aircraft in the 1940s. So today’s bike club ride was the route to Downey to see the oldest operating McDonald’s, and also to see the old Vultee office building.

When I rode to our meeting place in Victory Park, the sprinklers were all running. In these drought days, that looks odd. But the city is using recycled water to keep the playing fields in the park green. And thanks to Atlas Obscura again, I know where ‘recycled water’ comes from…

The route was pretty much straight out and back. We went directly south all the way to Downey, where we stopped briefly at the old McDonald’s so John could get a classic fried apple pie. Then we continued on the mile or so farther to get to the site of the old Vultee/North American/Rockwell plant. I stopped for a moment to take pictures of the building that used to be the main entrance to the Vultee offices. Then we headed back north to downtown Downey and 3rd St Coffee.

The route back went up the Rio Hondo bike path, and we had a nice tailwind, so we were able to go pretty fast. The rest of the route back was just retracing our route out from the morning.

40 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

8/7/2016

LA Current: Prime

Filed under: — stan @ 2:46 pm

Last week, I found an article about Current: LA, which is sponsoring a set of art installations around the city, all intended to have a water theme. So today, we rode to Studio City to see one of them. And to go for gelato, too.

It was a prefect morning for riding. Cool, with the marine layer keeping the sun hidden. We rode out across Eagle Rock and Glendale to Studio City. The entrance to the park was right across the street from Universal Studios, and the actual art installation was all the way at the back of the park. Three fiberglass horses embedded in the ground. “…the horses are empty slates onto which viewers can project meaning.”

As I always say, anything can be art if you say it is and can get other people to agree that it’s art.

Leaving the park, we made a brief stop at the little park with the foundations of Campo de Cahuenga. This is a little piece of history that was unearthed during construction of the Red Line Universal subway station. Then we took some little side streets to make our way over to Tujunga Ave and the gelato place.

The route home went down the L.A. River bike path, and then up the Arroyo Seco path to take us back to Pasadena.

46 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

7/31/2016

Pyramid Scheme

Filed under: — stan @ 3:17 pm

A few years ago, the Sunday bike club group rode the Ciclavia to Venice. On the way back, we passed by the back side of Angelus-Rosedale cemetery, and I noticed a 10-12 foot high pyramid in the cemetery. I was curious, and I found out that there were two pyramids in that cemetery, and only three in the Los Angeles area. We rode down there to see the two pyramids, and today’s ride was to Brand Park in Glendale to see the third one and complete the trilogy.

The pyramid is in the small Brand family cemetery, which is all the way in the back of Brand Park. We had to walk our bikes past a gate, and then we had to walk up a flight of steps at the end of the road to see it. It was about the same size as the other two pyramids, but it did not have a door like the others.

After seeing the pyramid, we went to Paradise Bakery for eclairs. I’ve always said that their eclairs are the best, although they seem to have altered the recipe a bit. The filling was more whipped-cream-like than it used to be, and the eclairs were about 50% larger. But it was still good. Then we headed home by way of La Cañada. In the end, when I got home I realized I’d made a mistake, and the route was not quite as long as I thought it would be. But we got to see the pyramid.

32 miles

Route map and elevation profile

7/24/2016

Dome Day

Filed under: — stan @ 2:51 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a dome-themed ride. First, we went to see the “Domestead” in Glassell Park. This is a three-level house in a geodesic dome built into a hillside. And on the way back, we went to see the ‘Bubble House‘ in Pasadena, which has the distinction of being the only such house still standing in the U.S.

The Domestead is just one street below the “Big and Small House” that we went to see a couple years ago. And they’re both at the top of a pretty steep hill. Not quite as terrifyingly steep as the one we rode up last week in Echo Park, but still pretty steep. You can see it on the elevation profile. It’s the spike at about the 12 mile mark.

After we saw the Domestead, we continued on, picking up the L.A. River bike path. Our snack stop was at Spoke in Frogtown. I saw that they were selling vintage vinyl records for $5 there. Which is about what records cost back in the day. But $5 was a lot to me when I was 14 years old.

The route back was kind of roundabout, which was by design. Along the way, I had a laugh at the laundromat with the sign that read “LAUNDY”. Then we ended up in South Pasadena for the ride up Los Robles to the bubble house.

41 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

7/17/2016

Doheny Library at USC

Filed under: — stan @ 2:09 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a mishmash sightseeing ride.

The first bit of sightseeing was the closed bit of the 210 freeway in Pasadena. This didn’t have a catchy name, like “Carmageddon” did, but seeing a freeway with no cars on it is strange no matter what. There was even a news truck parked on the overpass. But when we looked, it was really only the ramps that feed into the northbound 210 that were closed. It was really pretty anticlimactic.

Continuing on, we headed south into downtown Los Angeles. We took a short detour to go see the old Fire Station 23 on 5th St. This was the location used for all the firehouse interior scenes from the 1984 “Ghostbusters”.

The main bit of sightseeing for the day was Doheny Library at USC. I had recently been to a talk at Caltech where the retiring Vice President of Finance told us a story about the library building. Apparently, when Rice University was starting up, they had their architect design the main administration building, as well as the library. The two buildings were meant to form the ends of the main academic quad on campus. But due to some financial trouble, the library was never built. In the meantime, Edward Doheny gave USC a donation to build a new library. They contacted their architect, who was the same one who had designed the buildings for Rice, and he told them that he had a library already designed and ready to build, so that’s what they did. So in the end, the building that was designed to be a companion to Lovett Hall ended up being built on the USC campus. When I heard this story, I figured it would make a good sightseeing destination, both for the architectural interest, and because Amiee and I are both Rice alumni. And sure enough, it looked a lot like Lovett Hall.

Riding back up Hill and Olive, we went back into downtown, and then turned west. The plan was to try a new route to get to Echo Park and Chango Coffee. I’d looked up a way to get there from Benton Way in Silverlake. And as it turned out, that way involved riding up and over a short, but terrifyingly-steep hill. It’s pretty rare that I have to use may lowest gear, but it came out today.

Once we made it over that hill, we were in Echo Park. But we had one more bit of sightseeing. I’d read an article in Atlas Obscura about Randyland, which is a big art project in front of the artist’s house. And as it turned out, he saw us on the street and came down to tell us about it. That was nice, like the time we got the special tour of the backyard boat in Sun Valley.

Our snack stop was at Chango Coffee. Then we rode around Dodger Stadium to Chinatown, and then back to Pasadena by was of the Arroyo Seco bike path. It was a pretty entertaining ride.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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