Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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4/24/2016

Update on the Glendora Bougainvillea

Filed under: — stan @ 3:18 pm

Riding around L.A. recently, we’ve been noticing that the bougainvilleas seem to be blooming more than usual this spring. So it seemed that it might be time to ride to Glendora to see the Glendora Bougainvillea. It’s the single largest bougainvillea in the U.S., but in the past when we’ve gone to see it, it never had many flowers on it. So we were hoping it might have perked up a bit now.

The ride out was straightforward, and when we got there, we saw that it did indeed have a lot more flowers on it. Compare the photos with the previous best flower display we ever saw on it, in 2013. So we looked at the flowers for a few minutes, and then we headed over to downtown Glendora and our snack stop at Classic Coffee. Apparently, this weekend was also the chalk festival in Glendora, so we saw some chalk artwork on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop.

The route back took us down Cypress St, which one of the many streets out that way that have a slight downhill grade when going west. Not really enough to see, but enough that we end up riding pretty fast along there. Looking at the elevation data from my GPS, it looks like it drops something like 200 feet over about four miles, which means it’s just a little bit under a 1% grade.

When we got back to Duarte, we stopped for a quick photo-op with the suit of armor we’ve seen standing outside one of the houses we pass there. Getting up close, I realized that the whole suit is just made of duct tape. Still, it’s a funny thing to have standing outside the house. And the last odd thing we saw on the ride was the guy who passed us riding a recumbent with a partial fairing. I guess the fairing worked, since I had to work fairly hard to catch up to him to take his picture.

42 miles

Route map and elevation profile

4/17/2016

Yet Another “We Gotta Go See This…”

Filed under: — stan @ 1:38 pm

Last week, I saw an article in the L.A. Times about how people have discovered that Donald Drumpf has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and that some are visiting in order to deface it. So of course, I thought we should go see this. It’s on the north side of Hollywood Boulevard, just about 50 feet west of the entrance to the Hollywood and Highland Metro subway station. As the Walk of Fame goes, that’s prime real estate. Sadly (I guess), the star did not appear to have been recently defaced when we visited. Still, it was entertaining to see.

We took our standard route through South Pasadena and Highland Park to get to Hollywood. After seeing the star, we turned south and went to Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont Village. The route home took us through downtown L.A. and back up the Arroyo Seco bike trail. It was a warm day, and in fact, it was my first ride of the year where I didn’t need to start out with a Hoover Blanket under my jersey to keep warm in the morning.

42 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

4/3/2016

More antique streetlights

Filed under: — stan @ 2:30 pm

A few weeks ago, we saw some antique street lights in Glendale that were decorated with swastikas around the base. This past week, I’d heard that there were also lights like that in downtown Whittier, so that was the sightseeing for today.

We rode down to the Rio Hondo bike path and took that down to Whittier Narrows. Then we crossed over the river and the freeway to get to Pioneer Blvd, which took us into Whittier, where we picked up the Whittier Greenway Trail. This is a former railroad right-of-way that took us all the way into downtown Whittier. And there we saw the old streetlights with the swastikas around the base. Then we stopped for snacks at Mimo’s Cafe before heading over to the San Gabriel River bike path for the trip back.

In the end, the ride turned out to be a bit longer than I’d anticipated, but it was a flat route, so it was all right. And it was a nice day, so we had a nice time.

50 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

3/20/2016

Hogwart’s

Filed under: — stan @ 1:21 pm

This weekend, Kathleen was going to get a haircut, and she said she could see the towers of Hogwart’s at Universal Studios from the road. So I thought that this should be the Sunday Morning Ride’s sightseeing for this weekend. The route was our old “Toluca Lake” ride, with a brief stop at the intersection of Forest Lawn Drive and Barham Boulevard to look up and see the back side of Hogwart’s. As it turned out, it was kind of foggy this morning, and when we got there, it was still kind of misty, but then again, Hogwart’s is the sort of place that is perhaps best viewed through the mist.

On the way out, Carla got a flat. I volunteered to help fix it, since my years of working in bike shops, although being almost 40 years ago, still make me one of the fastest tire-changers in our Sunday morning group. So after just a few minutes, we continued on our way. We crossed over into Highland Park, where we saw a billboard advertising a street fair celebrating Figueroa Street, complete with Chicken Boy. And the billboard was right next to the actual Chicken Boy, so I had to stop and get a photo.

The plan had been to take the LA River bike path, but the city had closed most of it in anticipation of big El Niño rains that have not yet come. So we ended up taking Riverside Drive all the way up to Griffith Park, and then through the park to Forest Lawn Drive. We were still pretty far from Barham when I first saw the towers of the castle. And when we got to Barham, it was pretty plainly visible, even with the mist. I took a quick picture before continuing on to our snack stop at Priscilla’s.

The route home went across Glendale and then up Verdugo all the way to Hospital Hill, and then home by way of La Cañada. When we got back to Pasadena, Silvio, Carla, and I took a short side trip to see a fault scarp in Altadena. I’d read about trenching studies that were done there in the lat ’90s, and I was thinking about possibly including it on the next version of the Earthquake Tour for Atlas Obscura. The scarp was fairly big and obvious, but I’m not sure it’s quite worth making the side trip with the big group. Still, it was a nice ride.

44 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

3/13/2016

The Little Brown Church of the Valley

Filed under: — stan @ 2:31 pm

With all the talk about Nancy Reagan dying this week, the L.A. Times ran a short article about the Little Brown Church of the Valley in Studio City. This is where Ron and Nancy Reagan were married in 1952. So I thought this might make a good bit of sightseeing for the Sunday Morning Ride.

The route was basically the same as our Studio City for Gelato ride. Pretty much a straight shot west across Glendale and Burbank into the Valley,and west on Moorpark St to Coldwater Canyon. The church is just a few hundred feet north of Moorpark St. And it’s little all right. It’s a quaint little church.

Heading back, we stopped at the Gelato Bar in Studio City. I don’t remember how we found that place, but we stop there whenever we’re out that way.

To get home, we rode back across Glendale and up and over Chevy Chase and Linda Vista back into Pasadena. In the middle of Glendale, I noticed a street with some 1920s-vintage antique street lights. It was pretty obvious that they dated to before the ’30s, since the bases of the poles were decorated with a band of swastikas. So they clearly had to date from a time before the swastika was co-opted into a symbol of evil. The final bit of weirdness we saw was when we got back to Pasadena. There was a house on Orange Grove that had two little chihuahuas in the yard. The odd bit was they both had no front legs. But this didn’t slow them down much. They were both hopping around the yard like little kangaroos, guarding their yard just like dogs do. That was a very strange sight. But even though it was a bit weird, it was a pleasant ride.

43 miles.

2/7/2016

An Empty Freeway in Los Angeles is a Surreal Sight

Filed under: — stan @ 2:30 pm

Back in November, we took a ride downtown to see the 6th St bridge close-up. At the time, it had been announced that it was going to be torn down and rebuilt, but the work had not started yet. But this weekend was when the actual work got underway. The plan was to demolish the section of the bridge where it passed over the 101 freeway, just east of downtown Los Angeles. As with the famous “Carmageddon” on the 405 freeway a few years ago, this was going to require closing a section of the 101 freeway for about a day and a half. The closure was supposed to start on Friday night, and run until afternoon on Sunday. So of course, I figured the Sunday morning Foothill Cycle bike club ride should go and see it. A closed and empty freeway is extremely rare in Los Angeles. In 30 years living here, I’d never seen one before.

I’ve only been on a freeway on my bike two times. Once was when I was about 12, and there was about a two-mile stretch of the then-future Mt Nittany Expressway that was built but not opened yet. My friends and I rode our bikes there just for the novelty of riding on it. The other time I was in 1977, when I was a bike racer. One day when I was out riding, I caught a flat-bed truck carrying a bulldozer on an uphill stretch. Somehow, that truck made the perfect draft*, and I was able to draft off it for a good 10 miles, doing 40-45mph the whole way. I knew that the road we were on turned into a freeway up ahead, and I wanted to see if I could keep up with it when it hit full freeway speed. When it got going, I was able to keep up, spinning as fast as I could in my top gear. We didn’t have bike computers then, so I don’t know how fast I was actually going, but it was fast. Fast enough that, even though I was 17, I somehow realized that this was probably Not a Good Idea. I figured I’d made my point and I should probably get off the freeway at the first exit. Still, that was an experience.

Our route took us straight south to Rosemead, and then west through Monterey Park to East L.A. and Boyle Heights. We got to where 1st St crossed under the 101 freeway. There was an on-ramp to the northbound 101 which did not say it was closed. Cars were getting on the northbound freeway there, but it was pretty obvious that there was none of the usual freeway sound coming over the sound wall. So we headed south a few blocks to 4th St, which crosses the 101 on an overpass. From there, it was easy to see the completely empty freeway. There was an off-ramp from the freeway up to 4th St, so I rode down it to see it close-up and ride a quick circle on the empty freeway. Wow, that felt weird.

Continuing on, we took the 4th St bridge across the L.A. River to downtown. Then we rode the bike lanes down Spring St and 7th St before turning north and heading up to Echo Park. We stopped for snacks at Chango Coffee. Our route home went up the Arroyo Seco bike path back to South Pasadena, and then home from there.

40 miles.

* Drafting a truck on a bike was tested by the Mythbusters, and they deemed it “Plausible”, but I can personally attest that it is “Confirmed”.

Route map and elevation profile

1/17/2016

Visting the point of impact

Filed under: — stan @ 1:40 pm

I’ve recently been binge-watching the airplane disaster series “Mayday“. One of the episodes told the story of Hughes Airwest Flight 706 which crashed in the mountains just north of Duarte in 1971, after colliding with a Marine Corps fighter jet. In the process of reading more about that incident, I fell down the Wikipedia Rabbit Hole, and discovered that there had been another crash involving a mid-air collision near here, and it occurred just a few blocks off of one of our regular bike ride routes. Since it happened 41 years ago, I knew that there would be no trace of it now, but I still thought it might be interesting to visit the site.

The accident in question was Golden West Airlines Flight 261, which was a short hop from Ontario to LAX. They were heading west toward LAX, directly into the setting sun, when they were hit from the side by the second airplane, and the debris fell in Whittier.

We took our usual route down the Rio Hondo bike path to Whittier Narrows. Then we tried a little experiment, taking Durfee Rd to Peck, and then Rooks Rd down the west side of the 605 freeway. Then we resumed our regular route into Whittier. A second experiment was to take the Whittier Greenway Trail, which is an old railroad right-of-way that has been converted into a bike path and walking trail. That turned out to be very pleasant, and I think we will have to go back and see some more of it another day.

A short side trip brought us to Katherine Edwards Middle School, where the fuselage of Flight 261 fell on the playing field behind the school. Other parts fell on the neighborhood surrounding the school.

Leaving the crash site, we headed back up the San Gabriel River bike path to Whittier Narrows. Then we took a short side trip to Legg Lake to see a bit of a cyclocross race that was being held there. We also ran across a small military museum just on the north side of the 60 freeway. Then we continued north on Tyler Ave, heading for Arcadia.

We stopped briefly at the El Monte Metrolink station to see the station artwork, which recalled the days when El Monte was known as the home of Gay’s Lion Farm. Continuing north, we got to Arcadia, and then headed home from there. It was very cold when we started out this morning, but it warmed up nicely, and in the end it was a very pleasant ride.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

12/13/2015

More Urban Archaeology

Filed under: — stan @ 2:28 pm

Two weeks ago, we rode into downtown Los Angeles to see the 6th Street bridge, and also to see some fossilized tracks from the former Pacific Electric Air Line. The same web site where I found out about those tracks also had a note about the old bridge over Ballona Creek in Culver City. Apparently, the bridge and old tracks are still there, and Metro just built the new Expo Line elevated tracks above it. So today’s ride was a trip out there to see the old bridge.

We started out heading into downtown L.A. bu our usual route. There was some sort of lowrider car show going on in front of City Hall. Continuing south, we picked up West Adams Blvd and took that out to just past Crenshaw. Then we went south a few blocks and got on the bike lane that parallels the new Metro Expo Line. That brought us to just past the La Cienega station, where the bike lane becomes a bike path, and crosses Ballona Creek right next to the old Air Line bridge. It’s kind of remarkable that the bridge is still there, and still in pretty good condition.

After looking at the bridge a bit, we continued west on the bike path, and then turned off on Helms Ave to go up to the old Helms Bakery complex, which has been turned into stores and restaurants. We went to a little cafe there called La Dijonnaise. The food was pretty good, and it was pleasant sitting out on the patio there.

The route home took us back into downtown by way of Venice Blvd, 9th St, and 7th St. Then we took the Arroyo Seco bike path from just east of downtown all the way to South Pasadena. It was a good way to come home, since the Arroyo bike path is essentially flat all the way.

47 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

11/29/2015

The 6th Street Bridge

Filed under: — stan @ 5:40 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip through downtown Los Angeles to see the soon-to-be-demolished 6th Street bridge, and also to see some remnants of the former Pacific Electric Air Line tracks.

We rode into downtown Los Angeles by our regular route down Huntington Drive. But just before Alameda St, we turned left and made our way south parallel to the river and railroad tracks. At 4th St, we took a side trip up onto the bridge there to get a view of the 6th St bridge from the north. Then we continued south a bit more, passing under the 6th St bridge. I never knew there was a ramp under the bridge leading to a tunnel under the railroad tracks and out to the river. So that’s how they got cars down the riverbed for all the movies that had car chases and races in the L.A. River.

From just south of 6th St, we got a good view of the arches on the bridge. Then we continued south on Santa Fe St to see the building that Robert’s great-grandfather built to house their family business in 1910. And the business is still there, 105 years later.

Turning west, we crossed over to Grand Ave going south. At about 35th St, there were some rails embedded in the sidewalk. They are remains of the old Pacific Electric Air Line to Santa Monica. Most of the Air Line right-of-way is now being occupied by the Metro Expo Line. But the part east of Flower St is not. We rode around to the DMV office at 37th St. There were some more rails embedded in the parking lot there. Then we headed north on Figueroa to continue our ride.

The rest of the ride was a loop through Hancock Park, and then home by way of Silverlake. And we got to see the Silverlake reservoir drained. Then we crossed the river and headed north. That was where I got a flat. But even with that, it was a pleasant ride.

49 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

11/22/2015

Atlas Still Survives

Filed under: — stan @ 2:07 pm

A few years ago, we took a ride to see Atlas Survival Shelters in Montebello. There had been an article about them in the L.A. Times, and we wanted to see the model shelter they had parked out in front of the building. With all the new angst about terrorism in the wake of what happened last week in Paris, I was curious to see how the survival shelter business was doing, so we rode back there to see today.

On the way through San Gabriel, we came across a road closure at the railroad tracks. We’d seen this before, and I remembered that there was a makeshift sidewalk to get across, so we took that, and we got a good look at the trench they are building to put the railroad tracks below grade.

After a short trip down the Rio Hondo bike path, we off in Montebello. We took a wrong turn there, and ended up having to carry our bikes down a short flight of stairs to get back on track. I’d forgotten about that, but back when I was in college, I learned to ride my bike down steps like that. And that made for my favorite college yearbook photo ever.

When we got there, we saw that they don’t have a model shelter on display in front of the factory any more. They still have one banner on the side of the building advertising the survival shelter business. But everything else was just about their regular ironworking business. And while we were there, Michael sat down to fix his leaking tire.

The ride back was pleasant enough. It was a very nice day, although we had a headwind all the way up the bike path, and all the way to Merengue in Monrovia. We had some snacks and then headed for home.

39 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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