Stan’s Obligatory Blog

4/1/2012

Historic Lafayette Square

Filed under: — stan @ 10:12 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a sightseeing trip to Lafayette Square in Los Angeles. This is a little pocket of old mansions just west of downtown, surrounded by much more downscale neighborhoods.

We rode downtown by way of Huntington Drive and Main St. We had to stop for a train by the L.A. River, but it was moving, and we soon got past it and rode through downtown. On the south end of downtown, we saw a test train on the soon-to-be-opened Metro Expo Line.

After a few miles on West Adams, we turned north and got to La Fayette Square. It’s largely closed off to the surrounding area. Most of the streets are blocked, and there are only a couple of ways in and out. We came in through a sidewalk entrance on the back side of the area. We rode around a bit, marveling at all the enormous old houses.

Our snack stop was at Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont Village. After that, we made our way home by way of Silver Lake and Eagle Rock, and up the Colorado hill back into Pasadena.

It was a nice ride.

42 miles.

3/25/2012

Tut tut, it looks like rain

Filed under: — stan @ 5:44 pm

The weather forecast for today was grim. It was supposed to start raining any minute, and when it did start, it was supposed to be hard rain. So of course, I went riding. I pulled out my Metro Rail Tour. That’s the route that travels around Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, but never goes more than about two miles from the nearest Metro Rail station. That way, if it starts raining, we have a bailout plan.

As it turned out, the weather scared everyone else off, but I still went on the ride.

When I got to the L.A. River, the road was blocked by a freight train parked across the road. The train showed no sign of moving any time soon, so I backtracked a bit and went over on a street where the bridge went over the railroad tracks. When I was passing the park where the old railroad yard used to be, I stopped to get a picture of the towers in downtown. Now that I’m intimately acquainted with several of them.

I rode through downtown and west into Hancock Park. Still no rain. I skipped the snack stop in Larchmont, since I didn’t need to stop for anything, and I headed over to Silver Lake for the route home.

I decided to try an experiment to see if I could find a new way to get from Benton Way in Silver Lake to Riverside Drive. So I turned down one of the little streets that led east into Echo Park. I just sort of noodled around and looked for a way through that didn’t involve riding up and truly scary hills. In the end, I found a way, but I’m not sure it’s an improvement over the regular way we go. But I came out on Alessandro St in Echo Park. So while I was there, I figured I’d go see how the Fargo Street Hill Climb was going. The guys riding the Elliptigos up the hill were pretty impressive.

Coming down onto Riverside Drive, I turned and headed for Figueroa St. That basically parallels the Metro Gold Line, and I rode that up into Highland Park before turning off to go to South Pasadena. Going up El Molino, I saw Kiera riding the other way. We stopped to talk for a bit, since I haven’t seen her since before her baby was born.

By now, it was really looking like it wanted to rain. So I made a break for home. But then I got a flat when I was riding across the Caltech campus. So I sat down and fixed it as fast as I could, and then took off for home again. I got to about one mile from home when the rain came. It wasn’t too bad at first, and I was only out in it for about five minutes. But I still hate getting rained on when I’m riding.

Still, it was a nice ride.

42 miles.

2/19/2012

A bit of forgotten history

Filed under: — stan @ 10:52 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a sightseeing trip to Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles to visit the grave of Lincoln Perry. Mr Perry was the first black movie star, and he is remembered for his character, “Stepin Fetchit”. His movies are rarely seen any more, and when they are, most of his performance is edited out. His character embodied all the worst racial stereotypes of the day, and he’s widely regarded as an embarrassing footnote now. But still, he was the first black actor to become a millionaire in the movies. So his is a conflicted legacy.

We rode south through San Marino and San Gabriel, and then west along the 60 freeway to get to East Los Angeles. When we got to the cemetery, there was a guard at the entrance. He said we couldn’t just go riding in there, but we explained why we were there, and he was very accommodating. He led us to the section that findagrave.com had told us was where Stepin Fetchit was buried, and he helped us look for the grave marker. But after about 10 minutes of all of us walking around looking, we couldn’t find it. So there is a distinct possibility that his grave is unmarked. The guard told us that we could call the office during the week and ask them, and they would know.

After the sightseeing stop, we headed west to downtown Los Angeles. We rode across the 4th Street bridge, which gave us a very nice view of all the skyscrapers where I’ve had the incomparable experience of climbing the stairs. Then we turned south, where we saw a test train running on the new Metro Expo Line.

Our snack stop was at Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont Village. And after that, we headed home by way of Benton Way in Silver Lake, and then up Figueroa Street.

It was a nice, if slightly-longer-than-usual ride.

49 miles.

2/12/2012

Playgrounds

Filed under: — stan @ 3:30 pm

Today’s bike club ride was one we’ve only done once before. A while back, I was looking at Roadside America, and they had a bit about a park in West Covina that has a full-sized model of an F-86 Sabre jet in the playground. I thought that this might make for an interesting sightseeing pairing with the sea monster playground at Vincent Lugo Park in San Gabriel.

Sadly, the park in San Gabriel is still under construction. The city parks department says that the sea monsters will not be altered, but the rest of the park is being rebuilt. And so, for the time being, we can only look at the monsters from a distance.

Heading east from there, we rode out to West Covina, where we saw the F-86. Interestingly, the plane is made of solid cast concrete, so I’m not sure it would pass muster for playground equipment safety today. But the F-86 was used in the Korean War, so this model probably dates back to the early 1960s, when we didn’t worry about such things.

Our snack stop was at Panera in West Covina. Then we rode home by way of the Santa Fe Dam Nature Area.

It was a nice ride.

42 miles.

2/5/2012

CVC Section 21453 Circular Red or Red Arrow

Filed under: — stan @ 11:07 pm

This is a rant. California license 4SHZ840, if you ever put your license plate into Google, this is why I was yelling at you.

First off, let’s have a look at a bit of the California Vehicle Code:

Circular Red or Red Arrow

21453. (a) A driver facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown, except as provided in subdivision (b).

(b) Except when a sign is in place prohibiting a turn, a driver, after stopping as required by subdivision (a), facing a steady circular red signal, may turn right, or turn left from a one-way street onto a one-way street. A driver making that turn shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to any vehicle that has approached or is approaching so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard to the driver, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to that vehicle until the driver can proceed with reasonable safety.

(c) A driver facing a steady red arrow signal shall not enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by the arrow and, unless entering the intersection to make a movement permitted by another signal, shall stop at a clearly marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication permitting movement is shown.

(d) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal as provided in Section 21456, a pedestrian facing a steady circular red or red arrow signal shall not enter the roadway.
Amended Sec. 1, Ch. 14, Stats. 2001. Effective January 1, 2002.

So I was out riding on Saturday morning. Coming home, crossing Lake Avenue on Mendocino Street. I had the green light, and I was coming through the intersection. And suddenly, there was a silver-gray Lexus coming across the intersection, right in front of me. If I was in a car, I’d have honked the horn at her. Being that I was on my bike, and had no horn, I yelled at her. She had her window open, so she heard me and stopped, looking a bit surprised. This sort of thing happens from time to time, and it’s generally not a big deal. She made a mistake on the road. I think it was most likely an honest mistake, and that she meant no harm. It happens to everyone. Nothing bad happened, so it’s all right.

So I kept going. Then she pulls up next to me and starts yelling at me from the moving car:

“I stopped at that light before I turned! I didn’t do anything wrong!”

People make mistakes. It’s just part of being human. We all do it from time to time. In this case, the mistake she made was a pretty minor one. No harm was done, so that should have been the end of it. A truly proper and gracious response on her part would have been to say something like, “Oops. I didn’t see you. Sorry about that.” This is very rare. In fact, in nearly 40 years of riding, I can count the number of times I’ve heard this from a motorist on the fingers of one hand. And still have several fingers left to spare. But that’s all right. It’s all part of the gig when you ride a bike. Still, for her to come after me and start yelling at me about how she didn’t do anything wrong and that, by implication, this is all somehow my fault, well, this crossed the line. This is no longer an honest mistake. This is acting like an asshole.

Now, I’m of the opinion that there are two kinds of people in the world:

  1. People who make mistakes, but are willing to own up to them;
  2. Assholes.

So I want to convey this to her, but I can’t give the fully-detailed and nuanced response above, since I’ve got to fit it in eight words or less as she’s driving away from me. So the abbreviated version came out like this:

“Through traffic has the right of way, ASSHOLE!”

By this time, she’s passed me, but she slows down, and I can hear her yelling at me more from inside the car. I can’t make it out. But by this time, I’m feeling more than a little threatened. After all, in any physical altercation between our respective vehicles, I’m the one who stands to end up dead.

So she pulls over a little bit ahead of me and stops. I see her starting to get out of the car, still yelling at me. I just ride past, and I say something to the effect that I don’t want to talk to her any more. I also made a point of showing her that I’d taken pictures of her and her car. Then I turned down the first side street. I put on some speed down the hill, and went down lots of little streets, just to lower the chances that I’d encounter her again.

There’s no good way to wrap this up. Yes, I think I lost my cool, and that didn’t help the situation. It’s just that people who won’t admit they made a mistake is a major peeve of mine. So driver, if you ever read this, this is how you managed to take a not-especially-bad situation, and turn it into something truly horrible and disturbing. And I sincerely hope to never, ever see you again on the road.

Big bougainvillea

Filed under: — stan @ 8:56 pm

This Sunday’s bike club ride was the route out to Glendora to see the Glendora Bougainvillea. The last time we went to see it, it wasn’t blooming that much. I’d read that winter is the time it blooms the most, so I thought we’d go see it again to see how it was doing.

It was a nice day for riding, and the ride out there was pleasant. The bougainvillea had some flowers on it. More than last time, but not as much as others we’ve seen. That may be because this particular plant is over a 100 years old.

In any case, it was a nice ride.

42 miles.

1/29/2012

The Hot Spring

Filed under: — stan @ 4:30 pm

It’s the last Sunday of the month, so it’s time for our ‘longer’ ride. This time, we rode out to Encino to see Los Encinos State Historic Park. This is the one that I discovered some years ago when I was building a web site with a list of all hot springs in California. Looking at the list, I noticed that one of them had a latitude and longitude that put it inside the city of Los Angeles. So I looked it up, and we rode there one time.

The route there was as direct as I could make it, since the park is quite a bit farther away that we usually ride. Not much remarkable happened on the way there, aside from when I got a flat. When I was fixing it, I noticed the cords peeking through the tire tread, so I figured it was time to finally get a new tire.

It turned into a very nice day, and it was quite warm and sunny by the time we got there. We had a look around the park and read the historical markers before heading back. We took the bike path along the Metro Orange Line for the trip back across the Valley. Our snack stop was at Panera in North Hollywood.

When I got home, I had 59 1/2 miles, so I rode around the block once, just to make it a nice round number.

60 miles.

1/22/2012

The Metro Bike Tour

Filed under: — stan @ 11:56 pm

Since it rained on Saturday, and the forecast called for rain on Monday, I thought it was prudent to plan for the possibility of rain on Sunday. So the Sunday bike ride was the route that goes 42 miles through Los Angeles, but never is more than two miles from the nearest Metro Rail station. That way, we have a bailout option if the weather decides to go bad on us.

We rode downtown by way of Huntington Drive and Mission Road, and we passed by the little street that I’d seen a few weeks ago when I was out riding with Carla. We’d noticed that there was a little street called “Supreme Court”, and we thought that was funny. But at the time, we failed to noticed that the next street was “Superior Court”. I suspect that this was not a coincidence.

We rode through downtown Los Angeles, so we stopped off at LAPD headquarters to have a look at the “Three Weeks in January” art installation that we’d seen last week. As we expected, there were more reported rapes plotted on the map.

Continuing through downtown, we saw the crazy guy on the bike we’d seen last week. He was riding down Spring St yelling.

When we got to one of the turns on the route, we came around the corner and found a very large fallen-over tree blocking our way. But that was all right. It meant that the traffic on that street was going to be less than usual, so that’s not a bad thing.

Our stop was at Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont Village. There was a very cute tiny dog on the table next to us.

We rode back through Silver Lake, and then up Figueroa St through Highland Park. It never did rain, but we stayed on the route so that we were never far from a Metro Rail station. All told, it was a good ride.

42 miles.

1/15/2012

Three hours on Sunday morning

Filed under: — stan @ 4:06 pm

On Friday, the L.A. Times had an article about “Three Weeks in January“, which is an art installation on the wall outside LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. It’s the brainchild of Suzanne Lacy, who originally created it in 1977 to raise awareness of rape in Los Angeles. The installation features a map of the city, with reported rape cases plotted, as well as a continuous storytelling soundtrack with people telling their rape stories. It’s all rather disturbing and haunting, which I guess is the point. So of course, when I saw this, I thought it would make for an interesting riding destination for Sunday morning.

It was kind of cold and cloudy, with the forecast saying there was a slight chance of rain. But the route we were taking is one that is never more than about 2 miles from the nearest Metro Rail station, so we had a bailout plan, if it became necessary.

We took the direct way downtown, down Huntington Drive and Main St. We stopped off to look at the art project for a bit before continuing on through downtown. Looking back, we got a good view of all the skyscrapers, and Jeff and I both took a moment to remember all the pain of climbing the stairs in all those buildings. Then we turned on Adams to head west for a bit. It started to rain a bit then, but it was very light, and it only went on for about 10 minutes. So we just kept on going.

I found a little back way from West Adams up to Larchmont. It was a little roundabout, but the streets were quiet, and we had lights to cross all of the major streets, so it worked well. Our snack stop was at Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont.

The route home went up Benton Way in Silver Lake, which is a nice, steep little hill. Always fun. Then we rode across the L.A. River and up Eagle Rock Blvd. That was when Silvio started having trouble with his chain skipping. We stopped to try to adjust it a bit, but in the end, it turned out that one of the pins was coming loose, and the chain was about to break. So he had to ride very carefully the rest of the way. He managed to make it up the Colorado hill, and after that, he turned off to go visit a bike shop.

It was a pleasant ride.

41 miles.

1/8/2012

Big ideas that just never caught on

Filed under: — stan @ 1:45 pm

Today’s bike club ride was an architecture tour of sorts. The L.A. Times had an article last week about Wallace Neff and his ‘bubble houses’. This was an idea for a way to build circular dome buildings quickly and cheaply. The article said that a lot of bubble houses were built in the 1940s and ’50s, but that only one still exists today, and that one is on Los Robles Ave in Pasadena. This got me thinking about a theme for the ride, and I thought of another sort of round house: the geodesic dome. This was another big idea that just never really caught on. And I also knew where there is a dome home, just below the Hollywood sign in Hollywoodland. So, armed with a theme, I made up a route.

We rode out across Eagle Rock and then over the L.A. river into Silver Lake and Hollywood. Then we turned up Beachwood Canyon and the fun started. The road up the ridge on the side of the canyon is very steep and winding. I tell everyone that I guarantee they’ll be seeing stars by the time they get to the top.

After a brief rest and regroup, we rode along the ridge to the geodesic dome home. We looked at it a bit before continuing on to the Hollywood sign. Since we worked so hard to get up there, we figured we should go see it while we’re there. Then it was down the other side to Lake Hollywood, and the other steep hill to get over into Burbank.

We stopped for snacks at Priscilla’s, and then headed back down the L.A. river bike path. The route back took us through Highland Park and South Pasadena until we got to the bubble house on Los Robles Ave. It’s an odd-looking thing, but it’s a little bit of history, so it was interesting to see.

It was a nice day, and all together a nice ride.

47 miles.

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