Stan’s Obligatory Blog

8/5/2012

Stonehurst

Filed under: — stan @ 2:19 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a sightseeing trip to the Stonehurst Cottages in the northeast San Fernando Valley. Since we went to see the Watts Towers last week, it seemed appropriate to go see yet another local oddity that was built by one man with a vision and a lot of time on his hands.

We’ve done this ride before, and it’s a fairly pleasant one, with just a few hills.

The prop company in Sun Valley still had the pair of giant hands outside their building. I found another hot-rod mailbox for my collection. We toured around the cottages, and marveled some more about the single-minded determination of Dan Montelongo for building them. And of course, we saw the beer-keg mailbox.

Our snack stop was at Goldstein’s Bagels in La Cañada. It was a pleasant ride.

45 miles.

7/29/2012

The Watts Towers

Filed under: — stan @ 2:41 pm

This Sunday’s bike club ride was a sightseeing trip to Watts to see the Watts Towers. I’ve always been fascinated by strange things that are the product of someone’s strange obsession. And since the towers were built by Simon Rodia out of junk he found over a period of more than 30 years.

The route was basically straight south to Whittier Narrows, where we got on the southern portion of the Rio Hondo bike path. That took us down through Pico Rivera and Downey to the Los Angeles river. Then we got off on Imperial Highway and rode across Lynwood. We crossed Alameda Blvd, and I took a moment to look down into the trench to see the railroad tracks that they built to carry the freight that is shipped into the port of Los Angeles.

When we crossed into Watts, we saw “111st St”. I presume that is pronounced, “eleventy-first street”.

Then we got to the towers. There is a small park around them, and there are plaques that tell the story. There are docent-led tours there, and Carla said that they are interesting. Someday I’ll have to go see that.

I rode down to the end of the block to see the Blue Line tracks there. I rode the train to Long Beach once, and I didn’t know that the tracks go right by the towers.

On the way home through Montebello, we saw some emus and llamas by the side of the bike path. That was odd. The sign said “Montebello Barnyard Zoo“.

It was a nice ride, with some cultural interest, and almost no hills at all.

49 miles.

7/15/2012

Mt Washington

Filed under: — stan @ 4:31 pm

This Sunday’s ride was the old Mt Washington route. It’s a slightly shorter route than our usual rides, but it does include a nice hill. We’ve done this ride numerous times, and nothing really remarkable happened along the way. Still, it was a pleasant ride.

38 miles.

7/8/2012

The reluctant icon

Filed under: — stan @ 5:11 pm

Today’s bike club ride was the old Toluca Lake route, with a stop at Forest Lawn to pay respects to an icon of our times. A very reluctant icon, to be sure, but still someone who had a major effect on Los Angeles and its culture. We were going to see Rodney King.

The ride out was pleasant. It was a nice day, and we made good time. Along the L.A. River bike path, I noticed that they’d put up new LED street lights. Maybe that will take care of the problems they were having with homeless people digging up the wires under the old street lights to sell the copper.

When we got to Forest Lawn, we made our way up the hill, almost all the way to the back of the cemetery. The entry in findagrave.com wasn’t very specific about the location, but I was able to figure it out from looking at the pictures. He does not have a marker yet, probably because he died quite suddenly and unexpectedly. The whole Rodney King story is really quite sad. I don’t think he deserved any of the bad things that happened to him, but at the same time, it’s complicated. After all, it was all the bad things that happened to him as a person that led to some real reforms in the LAPD, and that has been a real improvement for the city of Los Angeles. In the end, he will be a footnote in the history books, but on the other hand, that’s more than just about any of the rest of us will ever be.

Continuing on, we rode into Burbank. We passed the Starlet apartments, which had their sign repainted. It looks quite nice now, and not nearly as down-and-out as it used to. Besides the faded colors on the old sign, I always thought the thing that made it was the rough splotch of paint across the pool, almost certainly covering up the word ‘HEATED’ that must have been there before.

Our snack stop was at Priscilla’s, which is a good place to stop on a hot day. The tables outside are shaded, and really quite pleasant.

The route home took us up into La Cañada, and then back across Altadena to the start. It was a nice ride.

45 miles.

7/1/2012

Levitated Mass

Filed under: — stan @ 7:32 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a route out to Hancock Park and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see the new “Levitated Mass” installation outside the museum. We’ve been reading about this for some time, since it was apparently a major undertaking to bring the rock to LACMA from the quarry in Riverside. The rock was too big to fit under a lot of overpasses, and too heavy for some bridges, so it had to take a very circuitous route to get to the museum. And now it’s installed just outside. So we went to see it.

Starting out, right away, Chris got a flat. Then we continued on, into downtown Los Angeles. When we got to Chinatown, we met up with GT, who had ridden in from Burbank. And he promptly got a flat, too.

While GT was fixing his tire, we got to see the guy pushing the cart with the roasted pig on it. That was an odd sight.

There was a big line outside one of the buildings downtown, but with no outward indication of what could be so popular at 9:00 on a Sunday morning.

Passing L.A. Live, we saw the outside of the X Games, as well as some oddly-dressed people who were on their way to the convention center and the Anime Expo.

When we got to the park, the rock was right there. There was a guard posted by it. He insisted that we could only walk under the rock, and we couldn’t ride our bikes through. I’m not really sure what that was supposed to help, but that’s what we did.

After looking at the rock, we left the park, passing the giant chrome Lenin-head at 4th St and La Brea. Then we rode across Hancock Park to the Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont Village. We had snacks there, and then we headed home by way of Benton Way in Silver Lake.

By the time we got back to Pasadena, it was getting a little hot. But all told, it was a nice ride.

43 miles.

6/17/2012

Glendora and enlightenment

Filed under: — stan @ 9:08 pm

This week’s bike club ride was an old favorite with a new twist. We’ve done the ride to Glendora many, many times before. But this time, on the way back, we stopped off at the Dhammakaya University in Azusa to see the giant golden Buddha they have there.

The ride out was pretty uneventful. Lots of straight and flat roads. When we got there, we stopped at Classic Coffee for a bit before heading back. When we were riding through the new Rosedale development, Stewart reminded us of the giant Buddha, so we took a small detour to go see it. The people there we happy to tell us about the place, and to give us some information about meditation there. Seems like a nice place, even if it’s in kind of an odd location.

It was a nice ride.

37 miles.

6/10/2012

Two Entertainers

Filed under: — stan @ 5:43 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another celebrity grave tour. We rode to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills to visit the graves of Lock Martin and Liberace. They are buried in the same section of the cemetery, but they are each remembered for things that could not be more different. Everyone remembers Liberace and his piano. But Lock Martin’s signature role was one where his face could not be seen. He was the seven-foot-seven actor inside the suit, playing Gort the robot in the 1951 film, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.

We rode there by way of Eagle Rock, through Los Feliz, and then up and over Mt Hollywood. On the way there, Stewart got a flat on Eagle Rock Blvd. This marks his second appearance in the Flat Tire Gallery.

After riding over Mt Hollywood, we turned left and rode to Forest Lawn. We stopped there for a bit to admire Liberace’s signature and piano drawing on his monument. Then we continued on to our snack stop at Priscilla’s.

The route home this time was the one that goes up and over the Linda Vista hill in Glendale. When we’re coming home from the Burbank area, there’s really no way to get back to Pasadena that doesn’t involve riding up a pretty big hill. Some are bigger than others, but there’s always a hill. This route is the middling one. The hill is bigger than the easiest way back, but nowhere near the punishing grind that some of the other routes have. So we rode up and over, and down the other side to pass the Rose Bowl. And then home on Orange Grove.

It was a pleasant ride.

45 miles.

5/27/2012

Flyaway

Filed under: — stan @ 4:55 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip out to the Flyaway bus terminal at Van Nuys Airport to see the giant neon sculpture by Lili Lakich there. She was the founder of the Museum of Neon Art, and she is still involved in the art scene in downtown Los Angeles. Since it’s the last Sunday of the month, it’s time for the ‘longer’ ride, and a trip to Van Nuys fit the bill nicely.

It was a good day for riding. We headed out by the most direct route across Eagle Rock and Glendale, and then took Moorpark across the Valley to Sherman Oaks. Then we turned north and picked up the Metro Orange Line bike path out to Van Nuys. Along the way there, we thought we’d found Waldo. A short ride up Woodley brought us to the airport. And yes, the piece is big. It would have looked more impressive in the dark, but it was still a nice piece.

When we were leaving the airport, I got a message from Carla that she’d gotten a flat when she was leaving home, and she was going to meet up with us along the route back. As it turned out, we found her on the Orange Line bike path on the way back. We stopped at Panera in North Hollywood for snacks.

After that, we headed home by the straightest route possible from Burbank back to Pasadena. It was a pleasant ride.

58 miles.

5/20/2012

The Pasadena Marathon

Filed under: — stan @ 1:20 pm

Today’s bike club ride was one that didn’t really go anywhere in particular, aside from up and down a bunch of hills. But we did have a brief sightseeing stop at the 15-mile mark of the Pasadena Marathon. My stair-climbing friend Veronica was running in it, and based on her previous time of 3:44, I figured she’d be passing the 15-mile mark at about 8:40. Which gave us just enough time to ride up there from our 8:00 start at Victory Park. And she was right on schedule, running by us at 8:40:28 on her way to a new personal best of 3:42:49.

After that, we continued on, riding up through La Crescenta, back down to La Cañada, and then up and over the big hills past Sacred Heart school, and also Patrician Way. It’s all one hill, but we rode up and down it twice by two different routes. Then we rode to South Pasadena for cold drinks at Kaldi’s.

By then, it was pretty hot, and the last part of the ride didn’t include any more big hills. We just rode home at a leisurely pace. It was a pleasant ride.

42 miles.

5/13/2012

Stand and Deliver in Turnbull Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 4:01 pm

I got a robo-call from Lucinda’s school a few days ago that said that they were doing AP testing this week. That got me to thinking about Jaime Escalante and his calculus class. I remember reading about them in the summer of 1982, when ETS was challenging their scores and made them retake the test to prove that they really did know calculus. This story was the basis for the film, “Stand and Deliver“. So I planned out a ride to visit Mr. Escalante’s grave at Rose Hills in Whittier.

It was chilly this morning, and GT was cold when we were starting out. A little while later, we had to stop when Stewart got a flat.

When we got to Rose Hills, we were able to find the space pretty easily from the location given at findagrave.com. But sadly, Mr. Escalante’s grave is unmarked. It seems odd for someone who had such an effect on the world.

Continuing on, we rode across Whittier and up Turnbull Canyon. After a brief stop at the top, we headed down the other side and turned for home. Our snack stop was at Merengue in Monrovia. By then, it had cleared up and turned into a very nice day. A good day for riding.

51 miles.

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