Stan’s Obligatory Blog


The scene of the crime

Filed under: — stan @ 5:19 pm

Last week, I saw that TMZ had posted the coroner’s report on Michael Jackson’s death. Right on the first page of the report, it gave the address of the house where he had been living, and like Phineas Flynn, my first thought was, “I know what we’re gonna do today.” I mapped out a route for the Sunday bike club ride.

We rode out by the most direct route possible, through South Pasadena and Highland Park, and the across the L.A. River and into Hollywood. We rode down Hollywood Blvd, which is always a bit of a weird place to be riding a bike. Then we cut south to Fountain Ave, where we saw the house with “STOP In the Name of Love” on the roof. Then we rode down part of the Sunset Strip and on into Beverly Hills. We made a short sightseeing stop at the tree where Lindsay Lohan crashed her car a few years ago. Then we stopped at the park where George Michael was arrested in 1998. Then we turned off Sunset Blvd and up the street to Michael Jackson’s house. The gate was covered in flowers and little printed tributes that people had posted online.

Leaving the scene of the crime, we passed what was one of the coolest mailboxes we’ve ever seen. Then we rode up Benedict Canyon and then down the other side into the Valley. We stopped for a snack at a little coffee shop in Studio City, right across from Vitellos, which is the restaurant where Robert Blake and his wife shared their last meal before she was murdered.

On the way home, we also stopped off at the Barris Kustom showroom to peek in the windows at the Batmobile and other cars on display there.

All in all, it was a fun little sightseeing ride.

56 miles.


Lions and boulders and mud – Oh my!

Filed under: — stan @ 8:07 pm

Today’s bike ride was the somewhat notorious “Mountain Lion Ride“. This is the one that goes way up the hill in La Crescenta, where they have signs warning that lions have been seen in the area. And because of that, we always try to maintain a brisk pace, which is difficult when going up a 20% grade. Also, we wanted to tour the mud and debris flows that had come down Ocean View Blvd in La Cañada yesterday.

It was chilly, but clear and sunny today. So it was pretty good for riding. We headed out, up into Altadena and then across to La Cañada. Then we started up the hills. When we got close to Ocean View Blvd, we started to see a lot of mud on the street, and occasional basketball-sized rocks. A lot of the houses had sandbags and K-rails in front of them. When we got to Ocean View, it was obvious that something had happened there. There was mud all around, even though a lot of it had already been cleaned up. There were trucks and earthmoving equipment heading up the hill, and there was a pile of random debris. Tree trunks and rocks piled up.

We headed down the hill and then took a shortcut across the wash on a pedestrian bridge. That brought us out in La Crescenta, where we started back up the hill. There wasn’t much mud there, but there were a lot of small rocks on the road, and it was still obvious that great quantities of water had been flowing down the streets yesterday. We rode all the way to the top of Pine Glen Road, which we refer to as “Mountain Lion Hill”, since that’s where they have the ‘Beware of lion’ sign. Then we came down Pine Cone Road, which ends at the Genofile house, which was the subject of one of the stories in John McPhee’s The Control of Nature.

From there, we rode west some more, into Tujunga. Then turned south, passing the Hobbit House and making a loop through the flat part of Tujunga. That was where I got a flat.

After fixing the flat, we rode down through Montrose and up Hospital Hill to Goldstein’s Bagels. We sat at a table in the sun, and it was very pleasant. Then we rode back to the park. It was a nice ride, although a bit more climbing than we usually do.

41 miles.


The ‘Relatively Flat’ ride

Filed under: — stan @ 8:35 pm

Today’s bike ride was the ‘Relatively Flat’ route. This was the first time we’ve done this route since last May. It was a bit colder today than it was back then, but it was still a nice day for riding.

Not much interesting happened along the way. This ride doesn’t go anywhere in particular. We passed the topiary teddy bears in Glendora, and that was about it for weird sights.

Our snack stop was at Merengue in Monrovia. I got an eclair there. It was good, but still not quite as good as the ones at Paradise Bakery in Glendale. But that’s all right.

It was a nice ride.

43 miles.


A bit of Cold War history

Filed under: — stan @ 8:27 pm

Today’s bike ride was a sightseeing trip in to the Hollywood Hills to see the former Lookout Mountain Air Force Station. This was a small film studio run by the military during the Cold War. Since I like to collect Cold War memorabilia, this looked like an interesting piece of history.

It was chilly in the morning, but clear and sunny. There was snow on the mountains. It was the kind of day when they take postcard pictures.

We took the most direct route out there, riding straight down Hollywood Blvd, which is all right early in the morning. I collected a new entry for my collection of amusing signs. There was a crew filming something right in front of the Chinese Theater. Then we turned up Nichols Canyon for the ride up into the hills. That’s where we saw the teepee up on the hillside. That was strange. Coming down into Laurel Canyon, we passed by the former site of Houdini’s house. Then we headed up Lookout Mountain.

The ride up Wonderland Ave was a slog. Only moderately steep, but the hill seemed to go on forever. We passed the site of the 1981 Wonderland Murders, and then I saw a garage door with a fallout shelter sign above it. That was the back entrance to the former studio, which has been converted into a very large house. They had a fence around it, so we couldn’t see too much inside. Just a little peek over and through the fence. It looked like a 1940s-era military building. And it must make a very funky house.

We rode back down Wonderland and then up to Mulholland Dr. On the way, I saw a mailbox that looked like something straight out of We stopped at the Fryman Canyon overlook for water and to take a group picture. Then we headed back down Mulholland Drive. We took a shortcut down Woodrow Wilson Drive at the end, and that’s where we saw the tile house. That was very strange.

Our snack stop was at Priscilla’s. It was still chilly, but we sat in the sun and it was nice. Then we headed home by the most direct route possible, which meant riding up and over a fairly large hill in Glendale. We were all pretty tired from the slog up Wonderland Ave, but we made it. And yes, it was a nice ride.

48 miles.


La Tuna Canyon and some broken spokes

Filed under: — stan @ 7:32 pm

Today’s bike ride was the classic La Tuna Canyon route. Across Glendale and Burbank, and then up the four-mile hill. Very nice.

It was a chilly morning, but otherwise nice for riding. Right near the start, Pat broke a spoke in his front wheel. The wheel didn’t go too gimpy, so he just continued riding. Then I broke a spoke in my back wheel. The wheel went out of true, but fortunately, I carry spare spokes. And I’m pretty good at the Black Art of wheel truing. So after a few minutes’ stop, we were back on our way.

On the way across Burbank, we took a small side trip to see the backyard pirate ship. Then we took Glenoaks up so Sun Valley and turned off to climb up La Tuna Canyon. As always, it was a nice uphill slog. Just the way I like it.

Coming down the other side of the hill, we rode across Montrose and stopped at Goldstein’s Bagels. We saw a Tesla parked there. That’s something you don’t see every day. By then it was a pretty nice day. We sat in the sun and just enjoyed the pleasant weather. After all, it’s getting ready to rain soon.

It was a nice ride.

40 miles.


Glendale Vistas on a January day

Filed under: — stan @ 7:18 pm

Today’s bike ride was the “Glendale Vistas” route. This has some nice hills, and also a stop at Paradise Bakery in Glendale. I checked the calendar, and we hadn’t done this route for almost a year, so it was time.

It was a perfect day for riding. One of those achingly nice days we get in the winter here. We took a meandering route up through La Cañada and then all the way down Chevy Chase through lower Glendale. Then back up to Glenoaks and Paradise Bakery. One of the guys got the “Chocolate Mouse”. It had a little mouse made of icing on top of it.

When we were leaving the bakery, I noticed a small wire sticking out of my back tire. I tried to pull it out, but it broke off, leaving the rest of it embedded in the tire. The tire seemed not to be losing air, so I just let the proverbial sleeping dog lie.

We headed up into the hills. This ride has some steep ones, including the one where I broke my cassette two years ago. No such drama today, though. Just a nice view of downtown L.A. from the top.

The route home went through Montrose and up Hospital Hill. Then back home across Pasadena. And when I got home, I took a closer look at my tire. It turned out that the wire was just embedded in the wall of the tire, and never punctured all the way through. So I got some pliers and pulled it out. It was a nice ride.

40 miles.


2009 Bike Report

Filed under: — stan @ 6:42 pm

I just added it up, and I rode my bike 5,199 miles this year. This is pretty good compared to the 6,013 miles I did last year. Under the new scheduling regime, I rarely get a chance to ride on Saturdays any more, so I’m pretty happy that I still got in a lot of miles.

Sadly, this year, this total was less than the distance I drove my car. I don’t even have an accurate count of that. I estimate that I drove between 8,000 and 10,000 miles this year. And the curse of my life this past year has been that each girlfriend lives farther away than the one before. But on the other hand, my new car is quite comfy. So I’m not complaining.


The Case Study Houses

Filed under: — stan @ 8:05 pm

From just after World War II until the mid-sixties, Arts and Architecture magazine did a series of articles on the “Case Study Houses“. These were houses that they had designed and built by the top architects of the day. Most of them are in the Los Angeles area, and today we rode to see three of them.

The basic route was our “Toluca Lake” ride. We rode down through Eagle Rock and then up the Los Angeles River bike path. Then past Griffith Park and Forest Lawn to get to Toluca Lake and Case Study House #1. Fortunately, David had read the articles about the houses we were visiting, so he acted as docent, telling us the story of the house and why it was designed the way it was.

Leaving Toluca Lake, we headed up into La Cañada to Case Study House #15. This one was built at a slightly odd angle on the lot in order to take advantage of views of both the mountains behind it, and, on clear days, a view of the ocean off in the distance.

Coming down off the hill, we rode over to Altadena for the final stop on the tour at Case Study House #20B. This one is on the somewhat-famous “Christmas Tree Lane” in Altadena.

Finally, we rode across Altadena and back down the hill to the park. It was a very nice ride.

43 miles.


The Never Open Store

Filed under: — stan @ 4:50 pm

A couple of weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times had an article about the Never Open Store. It’s in Hollywood, just off Melrose Ave, and I immediately thought it would make for an amusing sightseeing bike ride. And as an added attraction, we could go by the House of David to see the Christmas decorations. So today was the day.

It was chilly, but sunny, and basically a nice day for riding. We headed out across Pasadena, passing the preparations for the Rose Parade next week. Then we took a direct route down through Eagle Rock to get to Silver Lake Blvd. We rode across on 1st St and 2nd St to get to Larchmont Village, and then went one block west on 3rd St to the House of David. And it did not disappoint.

Continuing west on 4th St, we turned north on Alta Vista to get up into Hollywood. And then we arrived at the Never Open Store. As we expected, it was closed. We spent a few minutes looking in the windows at the strange things inside, and it was very amusing. Then we headed off to our snack stop at Groundwork Coffee on Sunset Blvd.

By now, it was getting almost warm, and it was perfect for riding. The route back was direct across Hollywood, and then back up through Eagle Rock. We rode through the San Rafael Hills in Pasadena to get back to where we started. When we passed the Rose Parade bleachers again, Jon practiced his ‘parade wave‘.

It was a nice ride.

44 miles.


Christmas morning bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 12:21 pm

On Christmas morning, I went for a bike ride. I didn’t have to be anywhere until afternoon, and it was a nice day. I rode over to Arcadia to meet up with the Foothill Cycle group. The ride was one of those rambling ‘rides to nowhere’. Just a loop around Pasadena to the snack stop in Alhambra. When we got there, I decided to skip the stop, since I had to get back to get ready to go out. So I rode directly home from Alhambra, pausing only briefly to admire the view of Mt Baldy covered with snow in the distance over Alhambra Road.

It was a nice ride.

33 miles.

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