Stan’s Obligatory Blog

5/16/2010

After the flood

Filed under: — stan @ 2:45 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip up to Tujunga to see if the house on Eby Canyon Road had been washed away last winter. We’d been up to see it last November, so we were curious to see if the deflection wall they were building worked. The house sits in a canyon right below the merging of two higher canyons, so when it rains, the wash there must turn into a raging torrent. It was a perfect day for riding.

We headed out across Eagle Rock, Glendale, and Burbank. I stopped to take a picture at Thirst Quencher Liquor. It’s not as funny as Hammered Liquor, but I thought it was amusing.

We rode through Shadow Hills. There were some steep bits, but it wasn’t too bad. Then we came out on Sunland Blvd and headed west to the mouth of Big Tujunga Canyon. The road into the neighborhood where the house is was under water. But it was only about 4-5 inches deep, so we just rode through it. Then up the hill on the other side and down into the canyon. And the house was still standing. The wash looked like it had been severely scoured by rushing water, and the culvert under the driveway was plugged. It also looked like the driveway had been buried by sand but they had had it plowed clear. So it looks like the wall worked.

Coming back across the wash, we rode through the water again, and then across Tujunga to get back to Montrose and our snack stop at Goldstein’s Bagels. It was a nice day to sit outside in the sun. Then we rode home by way of the trail over Devils Gate Dam and back into Pasadena.

It was a very nice ride.

47 miles.
cycling

5/9/2010

Great moments in speling

Filed under: — stan @ 3:45 pm

This past week, I saw an item in the news about Julia Louis-Dreyfus getting a star on Hollywood Blvd. And how they misspelled her name. So of course I thought that this should be a quick sightseeing trip. It was cool and overcast. A “May Gray” sort of L.A. day.

We rode over to Hollywood and found the star. They’d said that they were going to have it remade, but none of us thought they’d get it done so fast. But it had been replaced by a corrected star. Oh well.

After the sightseeing stop, we headed up the hill by a new route. This went up some steep little streets and brought us out by Wolf’s Lair Castle. From there, we rode up to the Hollywood sign. Along the way, we had to stop for a photo opportunity at the house with the garage door painted with books. Then we headed down the hill, past Lake Hollywood, and up the other side to come down into Burbank.

We stopped for snacks at Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake. And then we headed home by way of the Linda Vista hill in Glendale. It was still kind of cold, so we actually appreciated the warmth of climbing a hill.

It was a nice ride.

40 miles.
cycling

5/2/2010

Touring Downey

Filed under: — stan @ 1:12 pm

Today’s bike ride was a tour of Downey to visit several local sights. We’ve done this ride before, but it’s been over two years, so it was time again.

The first stop was the oldest operating McDonalds, where they had a small topiary hedge in the shape of the old-style McDonald’s logo. Then we moved on to see the two apartment buildings that Karen and Richard Carpenter bought with their earnings from their first two hit songs. Then we went to see their family home, which had been in danger of being demolished a couple years ago, but it was still there. And the final stop was at Dennis the Menace park, which, strangely, was not open at 10:00 on a Sunday morning. So nobody was in there, aside from a bunch of homeless people.

The highlight of our morning easily had to be the guy walking his pet raccoon. A raccoon on a leash is something we’ve never seen before, and the raccoon was very cute. We also saw Herbie in a driveway in Downey.

It was a fun little ride.

40 miles.
cycling

4/25/2010

Three American sex symbols

Filed under: — stan @ 5:45 pm

Today was the last Sunday of the month, and time for our monthly ‘longer ride’. This is to allow us a chance to do some sightseeing that’s beyond our usual 40-45 mile range. And today’s ride was a trip out to the Pierce Brothers cemetery in Westwood to pay respects to three American sex symbols:

  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Bettie Page
  • Farrah Fawcett

Between the three of them, they covered the decades from the ’50s all the way through the ’80s.

It was a perfect spring day for riding. We headed out across Eagle Rock and then down, over the L.A. River, and into Hollywood. That’s where we saw Tinkerbell and some super-hero that I don’t recognize. Riding down Hollywood Boulevard is always an amusing and surreal experience.

Continuing on, we took in a small part of the Sunset Strip, and then crossed into Beverly Hills. We saw the Menendez murder house and the Witch’s House. The Witch’s House was recently renovated and has a nice shark mailbox out front now.

Leaving Beverly Hills, we passed Century City, where Silvio had another of his fancy carbon-fiber spokes break. This happened last month, too. And again, the wheel went so far out of true that it was hitting the frame, rendering the bike unrideable. So he had to call home for help while we continued on our way.

When we got to Westwood, we spent some time browsing around the cemetery. Marilyn’s crypt is easiest to find, since it’s well-marked and always has fresh flowers. Bettie Page is buried in the grass nearby, and she also had some fresh flowers. Farrah is on the other side in the small section with vertical headstones. It’s almost all very-famous people buried in that section.

We looked around a bit more to see who else we could find. We liked the stone for Jeff Morris, although I had to look him up to remember who he was. I also made a point of showing Carla the spot where Frank Zappa is buried, since he has no marker.

Leaving the cemetery, we stopped briefly at the little park in Holmby Hills before heading up Benedict Canyon. We regrouped at the top before going down the other side on Coldwater Canyon into the Valley. Our snack stop was at the little gelato place in Studio City where we’d stopped the day we went to see Michael Jackson’s house.

From there, we headed straight home across Toluca Lake and Glendale. It was a very nice ride.

60 miles.
cycling

4/18/2010

Fern Dell for spring

Filed under: — stan @ 7:26 pm

Today’s bike ride was the route out to Griffith Park to stop at The Trails in Fern Dell. It was a perfect spring day for riding.

We rode out by the direct route, straight down the Colorado hill into Eagle Rock, and then down Eagle Rock Blvd, across the L.A. River and then up Vermont into Griffith Park. When we got to the observatory, we took a few minutes to look at the view. And then my phone started barking. It was Carla calling. She’d been a few minutes late to the park, and she’d been chasing us ever since. So John and I rode back down the hill to find her. Then we regrouped and headed down to the The Trails. The sign outside exhorted us to “STOP Eating Animals”. But they’re made of meat. And oh so tasty.

After our snack, which contained no tasty meat, by the way, we headed back up and over the hill to the Valley side of the park. John took a small shortcut along the way. Sure it was a dirt road, but it was a little bit shorter.

Coming down the other side of the hill, I got some ‘action shots’ on one of the turns. Then we rode down around Travel Town and got on the L.A. River bike path. They’ve been building an extension on this, and we saw some of it a couple weeks ago, so we decided to try it out. The new bike path is quite nice, and it goes all the way down to where the freeways cross the river, just above the Metro Gold Line yards. We got off and took Riverside across to Figueroa St. That was where we found a bunch of lottery ticket dispensers. It looked like someone had robbed a convenience store and stolen a bunch of lottery tickets. Doesn’t seem like a Solid Career Move, but it was still slightly amusing.

We came back by way of Highland Park and South Pasadena. We passed Chicken Boy, and also a car with a bumper sticker that proudly proclaimed, “I Park Like An Idiot”. I guess we all have a special skill.

It was a fun little ride.

45 miles.
cycling

4/11/2010

A chilly spring Sunday

Filed under: — stan @ 5:33 pm

Due to the earthquake this week, I didn’t have much time or inspiration to find some weird sight to go see on the Sunday bike ride. So we just rode out to San Dimas and back. It was chilly and overcast, and not much remarkable happened. Still, it was a pleasant ride.

43 miles.
cycling

4/4/2010

Mt Washington on a spring morning

Filed under: — stan @ 11:46 am

This Sunday’s bike ride was an old favorite. The loop through northeast Los Angeles and over Mt Washington. It was chilly, but a nice day for riding.

We started out going up to La Cañada and then down into Glendale. That was where we saw the topiary dolphins. Sadly, they’re in the wrong direction to add to the Topiary Tour. So I need to find some more topiary out that way to make a second Tour.

Heading across the L.A. River, we went down Riverside Dr. We took a short detour down Oros St to see the tiniest house in Los Angeles. We also took a peek over the fence to see the new part of the L.A. River bike path that they have been building recently. Then we crossed back over the L.A. River and headed up to Mt. Washington. There is a dog partway up the hill who always stands on the roof of the garage and barks at us as we go by. At the top we stopped briefly at the Self-Realization Fellowship gates before heading down the other side.

Our stop was at Kaldi’s in South Pasadena, which is nice and shady for hot summer days, but not so pleasant on chilly ones. After that, we took a direct route home, since I needed to get back a little early to get ready to go to Easter.

It was a nice ride.

38 miles.
cycling

3/28/2010

The Wall

Filed under: — stan @ 5:31 pm

Sunday’s bike ride was a sightseeing trip to see the one of the traveling reproductions of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. I’d been to see one of them before, many years ago, and it was an amazing experience. The Wall has become a sort of cultural touchstone, and visitors leave photos, letters, and other small items in tribute to their friends and family members who were lost in the war.

It was a perfect day for riding. Cool and sunny, and ready to warm up fast. We headed out from Victory Park and rode down to the Rio Hondo bike path, which brought us down to Whittier Narrows. Along the way, Don dropped his water bottle, and it rolled down into the wash. So we stopped while he walked down the slope to retrieve it.

From Whittier Narrows, we took Durfee Ave over to Peck Rd, which took us to Workman Mill, and Rose Hills Cemetery. The Wall was set up on a patch of ground right near the entrance. The had a display of artifacts in a tent in the parking lot. And there were people there doing a marathon reading of all the 58,000 names on the wall. We walked along the Wall and looked at all the items left there. I think it’s just the saddest thing to see those remembrances of lives lost in what I believe was a completely pointless war.

Leaving the cemetery, we continued on down into Whittier, and then up and over Turnbull Canyon. Coming down the far side, Silvio’s front wheel made a loud ‘SNAP’ noise, and it went wobbly. It was rubbing on the fork, which made the bike unrideable. And the wheel had carbon-fiber spokes that require a special tool to true, so he was pretty much SOL. He called home and his wife came to pick him up. The rest of us continued on.

We took Colima Rd through Hacienda Heights all the way to Azusa Ave. Then we turned north to start our way back. Azusa Ave turned out to be a pretty miserable road to ride on. It was late morning by now, and there was a lot of traffic. So I think that road is off my list for the future.

We stopped at Panera in West Covina for snacks. When I’m going in to a place like that, I generally take my bike shoes off, since walking on a tile floor with bike shoes is a lot like walking on ice. It’s very slippery and kind of precarious. But the manager of the place still gave me a hard time about it. Said he didn’t want to be sued if I stepped on something. I told him I didn’t want to sue him if I my plastic cleats slipped on the tile. So he sort of sulked and walked away.

The last drama of the ride was near the end. David got a flat. He picked up a big staple in his tire, and we ended up having to stop to change it just a mile from the finish. Still, even with all that, it was a nice ride.

58 miles.
cycling

3/21/2010

The new and improved Topiary Tour

Filed under: — stan @ 6:24 pm

Today’s bike ride was a new version of the Topiary Tour that I debuted back in November. I’d added one more stop for some topiary animals in a yard in Baldwin Park. It was cool, but basically a very nice day for riding.

The first stop was the Bunny Museum, where they have a giant topiary rabbit on the front lawn. Then on to the Pasadena Elks Lodge and the topiary elks by the front door. The nose of one was brown. There’s a joke in there, I’m pretty sure.

Riding back across Pasadena, we stopped at the Mobil station at Lake and San Pasqual. The topiary Pegasus was kind of overgrown, and didn’t look much like a horse at all.

The next stop was the house in Baldwin Park. They have a giraffe, a bear, a deer, and and an elephant. After that, we continued on to Glendora to the house with the teddy bears and the swan.

Our snack stop was at Classic Coffee in Glendora. Then we took a short detour to see the Glendora Bougainvillea. It wasn’t flowering, so we’re going to have to stop by again next month to see it in bloom.

The route back was pretty straightforward, ending with a final topiary stop in Sierra Madre at the rocking horse. Since it’s spring, the horse had lots of new growth, and it was somewhat in need of a trim.

It was an entertaining little ride.

48 miles.
cycling

3/7/2010

A random ride with almost no hills

Filed under: — stan @ 8:21 pm

Today’s ride was my ‘Random Ride to Whittier’ that I cobbled together last fall. It takes pieces of several other routes and puts them together to make a route that basically doesn’t go anywhere in particular, but it does it without going over any hills. Since I’m going vertical next weekend with the Stratosphere Stair Climb, I thought that staying level today would be a good thing.

It rained overnight, and the forecast called for a 60% chance of rain today, so only four of us showed up. But the clouds moved out and we had sun and blue skies for the whole ride. It was very nice. It waited until we got home, and the the sky opened up. So we were lucky.

This route uses the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel River bike paths. The rain last night dropped a layer of fresh snow on the mountains, which made them a very nice backdrop for photos.

When we were riding through Whittier Narrows, Alex got a phone call. But that’s all right. I know it’s supposed to be illegal to drive while talking on the phone, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t say anything about riding a bike.

On the way back, we went farther up the San Gabriel River bike path, and we came to an underpass that was partially flooded. The guys we saw turning around said it was too deep to ride through. But I tried, and it turned out to be only 3-4 inches deep. So that wasn’t so bad.

Our snack stop was at Merengue in Monrovia. Then we rode straight home by way of Sierra Madre.

We didn’t get rained on, so it was a nice ride.

45 miles.
cycling

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