Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Down for the Count – Again

Filed under: — stan @ 7:10 pm

Today’s bike club ride was my “Down for the Count” route out to Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City to visit the grave of Bela Lugosi. The last time we did this ride was two years ago. And with everything that has happened in my life since then, it seems like it was another life. So it was time to do this ride again.

It was cool in the morning, and there was a slight mist around the towers in downtown Los Angeles. This combined with the morning sun reflecting off the windows of the new Ritz Carlton to make a very striking sight.

When we got to Holy Cross, we first went to the Grotto to see Bela Lugosi. Then we wandered around a bit near there, where we found Sharon Tate, Rita Hayworth, and Jack Haley. They have all been added to the Graves Gallery.

On the way back, we stopped at Noah’s Bagels on Venice Blvd. Then we rode Venice almost all the way into downtown, and then north to Silver Lake for the trip home. Once we got to Fletcher Drive, we were back on familiar territory. From there, we took the most direct route home, through Eagle Rock and up the Colorado hill into Pasadena.

It was a very nice ride.

53 miles.


Pre-disaster sightseeing

Filed under: — stan @ 3:46 pm

Last Friday, I went to a talk at Caltech about debris flows, and how they are almost certainly going to happen this winter because of the Station Fire. The speaker made mention of one particular house in Sunland. She said that the house had been destroyed by debris flows in 1978, and that it was then rebuilt in exactly the same place. Because of this, it is expected to be destroyed again when the rains come. So of course, I immediately looked up the address and worked out a bike route to get there and see it.

I took the direct route there, since I didn’t feel like riding through Burbank and Sun Valley on a weekday. And riding up Foothill Blvd through La Crescenta and Tujunga was no picnic, either. But I made it to the mouth of Big Tujunga Canyon and got to take in the charred mountain vista. It was impressive. Then I rode up into the little private neighborhood on the north side of the canyon. The fire had come down to within about 100 feet of the houses there, and the burned area looked pretty devastated. And when I found the house, I could see why it had been destroyed. There is a large drainage area above it, and it’s situated in a narrow part of the canyon. And there is no debris basin above it. Anything that comes down from that drainage gets funneled through the canyon where the house is. I suppose the owners know this. Aside from mud and rocks destroying the house every 30 years, it looks like a very pretty and idyllic place to live.

On the way out, I saw two news trucks parked at the mouth of Big Tujunga Canyon. The first rain of the season is predicted for tonight, so they may be setting up to see the first mudflows.

It was an interesting little sightseeing ride.

38 miles.

Addendum: Here’s the Google Maps view of the terrain there, and you can see that there are two big canyons north and northwest of the house, and both those merge into the narrow canyon where the house is. Check it out.



Griffith Park on a gloomy day

Filed under: — stan @ 3:02 pm

Sunday’s bike ride was over to Griffith Park. It’s a nice route with not a lot of hills. It was cool and overcast, and it never really warmed up.

As you can guess from the pictures, there wasn’t much interesting or amusing along the route today. The two girls riding horses in the park were cute, but aside from that, there wasn’t much else to see.

43 miles.


Off to watch the races again

Filed under: — stan @ 9:20 pm

On Sunday, Lucinda and I went down to Carson to watch the final day of racing at the Elite National Track Championships. We’ve been going to this for the last few years, and it’s always a fun afternoon.

When we got there, we saw my old racing friend Cleve at the video camera by the finish line. He and I used to ride races in the New York area, and particularly, the Tuesday and Thursday evening races they used to have at SUNY Old Westbury on Long Island.

The first races we saw were the men’s team sprint finals. And then it was the highlight of the day: The men’s Madison final. This is always a fun race to watch. It’s very hard to keep track of what’s happening, but there’s so much action that it’s just fun to watch anyway. The race is 200 laps, so it lasts a while, which is different from most other track events. So it’s good all around.

The last event of the day was a women’s Madison. This is the first time I’ve ever seen women riding one of these races, and they did very well. In the end, Team Vanderkitten gained a lap on the pack. They rode very well and clinched the victory. I hope they make the Madison an official women’s event in the future. These women showed that they were up to it.

It was a fun afternoon. It was about as much fun as it’s possible for me to have when someone else is riding the bike.


A random ride to Whittier

Filed under: — stan @ 7:16 pm

Today’s ride was a new route that I made up, cobbled together out of pieces of other rides we’ve done in the past. The intention was to make a nearly-flat route that went mostly south from Pasadena.

We started out from Victory Park and headed south into Temple City, and then we got on the Rio Hondo bike path down to Whittier Narrows. There we went over to the San Gabriel River bike path to go south some more. We got off in Pico Rivera, where we took a short detour for a group picture at Dork St. Then we headed east into Whittier.

We got back on the San Gabriel River bike path to head back. We went straight north past Whittier Narrows and up to Lower Azusa Road. The path is slightly uphill the whole way, since it’s following the river. That was when I looked back and saw Scott helping Sage out with a little push to keep her going as fast as the rest of us. It was her first time riding with our group, and she said she was a little out of practice. I also got in the act to give Scott a rest. I practiced my Madison throws to keep Sage going, and together, we got her all the way up the hill to our snack stop at Merengue in Monrovia.

While we were sitting outside, a car drove up, and Vikki got out. This is the second time I’ve run into her in a weirdly unexpected way. Our snacks were quite good as usual. David really enjoyed his sandwich and plantain chips.

The ride home was pretty low-key. Mostly flat, except for the slight hill up through Sierra Madre. I stayed back, chatting with Sage and doing Madison throws to keep her going.

It was a fun ride.

45 miles.


5/7 of the Right Stuff

Filed under: — stan @ 1:05 pm

Today’s bike ride was the old route out to San Dimas for a bagel, but reversed. The plan was to ride out there, get a bagel, and then stop off for minor sightseeing on the way back. A few weeks ago, I’d see a trailer park on Covina Blvd where the streets were named for the original Mercury astronauts. Or at least five of the seven original Mercury astronauts. There was no clue why Gordon Cooper and Wally Schirra didn’t get streets. I looked it up, and there’s a Cooper Court in San Dimas, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t a Schirra St.

On the way back, I got a laugh out of the Chinese billboard for the Venitian in Las Vegas. I guess they’d heard about all those stereotypes about how much Chinese people like to gamble. Being Chinese, I can feel free to poke fun at the stereotypes, like when I see a Chinese restaurant with a health department grade of “B”.

Aside from that, there wasn’t much memorable about the ride. It was pleasant, but not remarkable.

42 miles.


A quick afternoon bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 7:16 pm

On Saturday afternoon, I suddenly found myself with a couple free hours, so I went riding. I did my usual route down to South Pasadena, over the water tower hill, and then up to the Rose Bowl. I noticed today that they’d put up signs making it more explicit which way the pedestrians are supposed to walk there. And that despite there being a clear sign about every 50 yards, people were still ignoring them and walking the wrong direction. Makes me want to carry my riding crop when I’m riding there.

More local bike sightseeing

Filed under: — stan @ 12:09 pm

On Saturday morning, Lucinda and I went for a bike ride. This time we went a bit farther than we’ve done before, and we rode down to see the weird palm tree near Caltech. She thought it was pretty entertaining, so we had a nice time.


Riding away from the brushfire smoke

Filed under: — stan @ 12:25 pm

Sunday’s bike ride was a route I made up that took us as far away as we could go from the smoke of the Station Fire, which has been burning in the Angeles National Forest for the last 10 days. We rode down into Downtown Los Angeles, and then out on Wilshire for a bit before turning north to get to Larchmont Village. Then home through Hollywood and Eagle Rock.

It was a nearly-perfect day for riding. There was just a hint of smoke smell in the air when we left Pasadena, and we quickly left that behind as we rode down Huntington Drive toward downtown L.A.

In downtown, we rode down Grand Ave, past the skyscrapers on Bunker Hill. I got a good look at the U.S. Bank Tower, which was nice. I’ve signed up to do the “Stair Climb to the Top” there in a few weeks, so I will be getting more acquainted with it then.

In Larchmont, we usually go to Noah’s Bagels, but this time we did something different. There is a farmer’s market there on Sundays, so we went and got snacks there instead. It was pretty nice. Then we headed up into Hollywood, passing the stage for “Divorce Court“, and also the Suicide Girls office.

As we rode back into Pasadena, we could faintly smell the smoke from the fire again, but it wasn’t bad. So overall, it was a nice ride.

40 miles.


Carbon Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 10:26 pm

This morning, I’d planned on doing a bike ride to the south, away from the mountains and the smoke from the Station Fire. But when I went outside, the smoke was so thick I could barely see to the end of my block. So riding around here seemed like a really Bad Idea. So I hatched a plan to go riding somewhere else. I called Newton, who lives out in West Covina, and I asked him what the air was like there. He said it was fine, but that he could see that Pasadena was completely invisible under a blanket of smoke. So I figured out a route to start in Covina and go over Carbon Canyon into Brea. It was 41 miles, and would be nowhere near the smoke.

I went down to the park just to see if anyone else would show up. I figured we could all go in my car and go riding out there. But nobody else was there, so I just headed out by myself. The first picture shows the view from the park, looking towards the mountains. And there are mountains there, even if you can’t see them. They are only about 2 miles away, which gives you an idea how thick the smoke was. As soon as I got a few miles east, the smoke cleared, and it was a pretty nice day. I parked at Covina Park and mounted up to ride.

I passed Alpha Omega Burgers, which I thought was funny, since that was the name of the doomsday bomb in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes“. Perhaps they should have a slogan, “Our Burgers are the Bomb”.

When I got to Chino Hills, I saw some people playing rollerblade hockey. That was kind of novel, since I’ve only ever seen hockey played on ice before.

I found a hot-rod mailbox on Carbon Canyon Road. At the top of the hill, I balanced the camera on a fence post for a picture. Then I headed down the other side into Brea. When I saw the oil wells, I knew I was there. I rode around to Brea Blvd and turned right. This brought me into Brea Canyon, where I saw the historical marker for Don Gaspar de Portola’s 1769 campsite. I also saw the small forest of oil derricks in the canyon.

On the way back on Grand Ave, there was a speed sensor sign. It said I was going 11mph. It was uphill. At least it didn’t tell me to slow down.

Back in Covina, I saw a warning sign to watch for deaf children. That was an unusual sight, but I guess there must be a reason for it.

It was a nice ride. Clear air, even if it was pretty hot.

41 miles.

Powered by WordPress