Stan’s Obligatory Blog

12/13/2007

More stuff I see when riding my bike

Filed under: — stan @ 8:21 pm

More things I see while riding my bike instead of driving:

Signs in a posh neighborhood in Pasadena, warning of roving wild animals. Keep your cats, dogs, and small children indoors.

I can go to the mall right before Christmas and get Doris Day Parking. They have a bike rack right by the door. And almost nobody uses it. Who knew?

And there are feral peafowl in Arcadia.

12/9/2007

Bagelry

Filed under: — stan @ 8:59 pm

Route slip

The rain has moved on, and today was a gloriously clear day. A bit chilly by SoCal standards, but still quite nice. The mountains had a good dusting of fresh snow, and it was very much the type of day when they take postcard pictures.

After riding up Mt Hollywood last week, and Mountain Lion Hill the week before, we decided it was time for a flat ride. And we also wanted to go someplace where the outside tables are in the sun, rather than the shade. So the Bagelry ‘fit the suit‘.

The ride out there was nice and flat. Not much to say about it. And when we got to the Bagelry, it was indeed very sunny at the tables. So our plan worked. And we were all very amused by Rachele’s sushi-hat.

And on the way back I made sure to get a picture of the house with Jack Skellington on the front lawn.

It was a nice ride.

45 miles.
cycling

12/8/2007

La Verne on a very chilly day

Filed under: — stan @ 8:36 pm

Today’s bike club ride was out to La Verne. This is the same ride we did back in August. The main difference this time was that, instead of being insufferably hot, it was really quite chilly. We’d had a winter rain storm come through on Friday, and Saturday morning was cold and still slightly threatening.

We met at Library Park in Monrovia. On the way out there, I saw a house with a large Grinch on the front lawn. I like that.

Leaving the park, we headed straight east to Duarte, where we picked up the Santa Fe Dam bike path for a short distance. Then we got off and rode across Azusa to Glendora. We had to take a detour, because Sierra Madre Blvd in Glendora is closed for construction. It’s been closed for ages. And it’s all because they are building yet another much-needed subdivision. The sign proclaims “Opening Summer 2006“. Yeah, right.

Passing through Glendora, we got to San Dimas, where we turned and rode up San Dimas Canyon. Passing the park there reminded my of the time we went to the Hawaiian Festival there. Mmmm. Spam…

At the top of the hill, we regrouped and headed back down. The road passes by Live Oak Reservoir, which was where we used to do nighttime training sessions when I rode with the Claremont cycling team back in 1978. It still looks the same. And Rachele, one of our new riders who just graduated from Pomona College, tells me that they still train up there all these years later. So I had her take a souvenir picture for me in front of the gate.

Coming down the very steep hill, we rode into La Verne and stopped at the bakery at Bonita and D St. It was still chilly, so sitting around wasn’t all that nice.

The route back was pretty straightforward. We took Gladstone St most of the way. That’s the street that’s about 1% downhill. Not enough to see. But it’s enough that we always end of going really fast on it. At the end, we did the run around the back of the Irwindale brewery and into the Santa Fe Dam nature center.

Just as we got to the nature center, we heard a very loud POP! Rashied’s back tire had blown off the rim. So I grabbed my camera and took a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. This is Rashied’s first appearance in the gallery.

While Rashied was fixing his tire, the rest of us went inside to get some water and look at the exhibits and such. We saw the stuffed Snow Goose I’d seen last time. But this time it was hanging from the ceiling in a reasonably realistic-looking flight pose. Which was better than the last time we saw it.

When it was all over, we’d had a nice ride, even though it never really did warm up.

55 miles.
cycling

12/2/2007

Mt Hollywood

Filed under: — stan @ 7:34 pm

Route to Griffith Observatory
Route back from Griffith Park

Today’s ride was a new variation on the route over Mt Hollywood. In the past, we’ve done it from north to south, but today we went the other way. This was largely so we could stop for bagels at Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake. We had 12 people on the ride today, which is a fairly big group for us.

We rode down through South Pasadena to Highland Park. And our first sightseeing stop was to see Chicken Boy. Truly a cultural landmark.

Continuing down Figueroa, we crossed the L.A. River and got on Riverside Dr. We took a short side trip on Oros St. to see the tiniest house in Los Angeles.

When we turned on Fletcher to head over to Griffith Park, we came to a roadblock. It was the City of Angels Half Marathon. Who knew? Fortunately, the people at the barricades were very nice, and they let us ride through as long as we stayed out of the way of the runners.

At Hillhurst, we turned north and started up the hill. We rode past the Greek Theater and up to Griffith Observatory. The climb up to the observatory is reasonably steep, and Om set a pace where I had to really work hard to keep up. We regrouped at the top and I took a souvenir picture of the group there. Then we headed down the other side to Mt Hollywood Drive.

The road over Mt Hollywood has been closed to cars for years. So it’s nice and quiet for riding, but the road surface is sometimes pretty bad. Still, it’s a nice ride up to the top. The road was closed to bikes for several months after the recent fires, and it was only recently reopened. On the way up, we saw that the fire had come very close to the road in some places.

We regrouped again at the top before doing the winding downhill into the Valley. I stopped a couple of times to take some ‘action shots’ of riders rounding the turns. When we got to the bottom, we headed off to Priscilla’s.

Sadly, the outdoor tables at Priscilla’s are pretty much all on the north side of the building. The shade is nice in the summer, but it’s cold sitting outside in winter. We had our bagels and such, and then we headed for home.

We took the mid-route home, taking Glenoaks to Chevy Chase, and then up to Linda Vista to go over one more hill. Then down Lida to the Rose Bowl. From there, we went down to Orange Grove and headed straight back to the park.

It was a pretty fun ride, and we got to see Chicken Boy.

45 miles.
cycling

12/1/2007

Riding on Easy St

Filed under: — stan @ 3:07 pm

Today’s club ride was the “Crown City Trainer“, which is a nice little route that goes up and down and all around the hills just west of the Rose Bowl. It was a chilly morning, but the rain stopped, and we were all ready to ride.

Starting out from Story Park in Alhambra, we headed west, and then turned north into South Pasadena. We climbed up the hill to the water tower. Then, it was the steep downhill back to Monterey Road.

Next, we headed down into the arroyo and turned south into Highland Park. We looped around to go back north on Ave 66, which led us into Easy St.

We did one totally gratuitous hill on Romney St. This hill is completely optional, since there is a street that goes around it. But we all did it anyway. But it’s steeper and harder going the other direction.

Crossing the San Rafael Hills, we crossed the 210 freeway and headed up Patrician Way. This is a nice climb. It’s only steep at the beginning, and it’s broken up with some flat stretches along the way. We regrouped at the top, and then enjoyed the downhill side, complete with several hairpin turns. Going down that hill always reminds me of the race I rode in Pittsburgh back in 1977.

At the bottom, we rode north just a little bit on Linda Vista, before turning up Inverness to climb back up the hill again. This is a nice long climb, and it gets steeper near the top. We regrouped again at the top, but we didn’t want to stay there long, because it was kind of cold and windy there.

Coming back down the hill, we headed back into Pasadena to our snack stop at the Corner Bakery on Lake Ave. We found a table in the sun and enjoyed the warmth.

It didn’t really warm up like we all thought it would. But even though we were all cold, it was still a fun time.

40 miles.
cycling

11/25/2007

The Mountain Lion Ride

Filed under: — stan @ 9:06 pm

Route to Oven Fresh
Route back to Victory Park

Today’s ride was number 8 in Gene’s “Noodling” series. This is the one that we test-rode last summer. The high point of the ride is the steep hill on Pinecrest Drive in La Crescenta. There is a sign there warning us that mountain lions have been seen in the area. So ever since then, we’ve always referred to this route as the “Mountain Lion Ride”.

Since Gene is out of commission for a while, I agreed to lead the ride today. I went down to the park to meet the group, and we set out.

The first part of the ride was to climb up into Altadena, and then across before dropping back down to Woodbury Road to get to La Cañada. Then we started the real climbing.

We rode up and across La Cañada before going down all the way to Foothill Blvd. Then we went west for one block and rode back up the same hill on Briggs St. At the top of that hill was where we got on Pineglen Road and rode up Mountain Lion Hill. That was as much fun as the first time. I even said ‘uncle’ and shifted all the way down to my 39×22 for the steep part. I still reserve the 39×24 for the really steep hills.

After climbing Mountain Lion Hill, we headed down into Tujunga. We rode through there until we got to the Viking House. I’d put horns on my helmet today in honor of this house. So James took my picture in front of it. Then we continued on. We took Apperson all the way down to the end. Then we came back on Day St and McGroarty, which basically parallel it. We stopped for water at a park along the way, and we also stopped to take pictures of some peafowl and an abandoned couch. Finally, we came out on Tujunga Canyon Road and took the long downhill back into Montrose and our snack stop at Oven Fresh bakery.

After the snack stop, we headed straight back to Pasadena and the park.

42 miles
cycling

11/24/2007

Bad Day at West Covina

Filed under: — stan @ 9:41 pm

Today’s ride was a bit of a debacle. But it started out quite nicely.

It was a chilly November morning. It was clear, and promising to warm up nicely. I rode over to Arcadia to meet the club for a ride out to San Dimas.

Right away, I noticed that my back tire had a leak. So I had to change it right in the parking lot in Arcadia, before the ride even started.

The ride out was very pleasant. We passed a traveling carnival, and we were all amused by the “Kamikaze” ride. A bit later, we saw the Montrose Ride group go flying past us in the opposite direction. Then we got to San Dimas and started back. Then things sort of went bad.

At the corner of Barranca and Cortez in West Covina, Gene and Charlie ran into each other while making the left turn. There were no cars around, and nobody else was involved. The rest of us were about 50 yards ahead, so we didn’t see what happened. But we heard the yelling. We looked back and saw the two of them lying in the road. Gene was in a lot of pain. He said that he’d fallen hard on his hip. The same hip he’d broken once before. So we took up positions to wave traffic around, and I called for help.

Emergency calls on cell phones are a bit of a crapshoot, at least here in California. They are all sent to the California Highway Patrol, and their call center is almost always overloaded. But I had the Pasadena Police number in my phone. I’d made sure to program it into the phone after the last time I had to call for help after an accident. So I called the Pasadena Police, and they got me the number for the West Covina Fire Department. I called them, and within about a minute there was a police car and paramedics there. They checked Gene out and then took him off to the hospital. Before they left, he gave me his phone number so I could call home and tell his wife what had happened. Ben offered to stay at the scene with Gene’s bike until she could get there to pick it up. Ben also knew where the hospital was, so he could give her directions to it. And the rest of us headed off for home.

The remainder of the ride home was reminiscent of the Napoleon’s Retreat from Moscow. Except we didn’t have any horses to kill and eat.

48 miles
cycling

This evening, I spoke with Gene’s wife. She said that Gene has a broken femur. He was being transferred tonight from the hospital in West Covina to Verdugo Hills. (This is the hospital at the top of “Hospital Hill” that I’m always talking about here.) He will be having surgery to put a plate and screws in his leg, and he should be home in a few days.

11/18/2007

A loop around Griffith Park

Filed under: — stan @ 8:59 pm

Today’s ride was out to Glendale for a stop at Paradise Bakery, and then a loop through Griffith Park. It was chilly this morning, but forecast to get warm later. When I was pumping up my tires this morning, the tube ripped at the valve stem when I pulled the pump off. So I got a flat before I even left the house.

Heading out from Pasadena, we went up to La Cañada, which was good. Going uphill warmed us up, and the fog thinned out in that direction. Then we went down Hospital Hill and down the long hill into Glendale.

We took Mountain and Kenneth across Glendale to get to Paradise Bakery. I had my usual chocolate éclairs. I still think they have the best éclairs there.

As we were leaving Paradise, some fire trucks came racing by, so we took a one-block detour to see where they went. There wasn’t any obvious fire, but they were setting up a big ventilator fan in the door of a house, so maybe it was a gas leak or something like that.

After the stop, we headed into Griffith Park. The sign said that the fire danger was “LOW”. I had to take a picture, since I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen one of those signs say anything other than ‘HIGH’ or ‘VERY HIGH’ or ‘EXTREME’. Maybe it’s low now because everything flammable already burned up last May.

After passing the Los Angeles Zoo, we rode through the DWP Festival of Lights area. Of course, being daytime, there wasn’t much to see there.

On the way back across Eagle Rock and Highland Park, I saw an abandoned couch underneath a tree, and another one that looked like it had been overturned in a riot.

It never did get particularly warm today, though.

43 miles.
cycling

11/17/2007

Mulholland Drive

Filed under: — stan @ 8:27 pm

Today’s ride was down the length of Mulholland Drive from Cahuenga Pass to the hills above Encino, and then back to Pasadena by way of the San Fernando Valley. It was kind of chilly this morning, but promising to warm up nicely. We met at the Elks Lodge in Pasadena, where they already have bleachers up for the Rose Parade. From there, we rode over to Griffith Park to meet the rest of the group.

On the way, we passed T&A Grocery in Glendale. This makes the third “T&A” shop we’ve seen. There’s also T&A Seafood and T&A Hobby.

When we left Griffith Park, the route said to go up Barham and then on Cahuenga to get to the beginning of Mulholland Drive. I hate that section of Cahuenga, since there’s a lot of traffic, the road is narrow, and it’s rough. So I took a detour up Lake Hollywood and then down Wonder View. This cuts through a quiet residential area to bypass Cahuenga. The only downside to it is that taking the ’shortcut’ involves going up and over a steep hill. So nobody else joined me for this part of the excursion.

Once we got on Mulholland, we just rode west all the way until the road ends above Encino. Along the way, I pointed out some of the local sights, including the Chemosphere House, another house with some nice glass-block walls, and one with a tennis court on stilts hanging off the hillside. I missed it, but a couple of the guys saw Jay Leno out road-testing an antique steam car that he’s restoring.

At the end of Mulholland, the road just drops off a cliff down into the Valley. It was a very steep descent, and I didn’t think we were high enough for that much downhill. When we finally got to the bottom, we headed for home.

The trip home was pretty easy. It was flat all the way across the Valley. We stopped for a snack at Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake. Then we rode straight across Glendale and back to Pasadena, going back up the Colorado hill. By that time, it had warmed up very nicely.

64 miles.
cycling

11/11/2007

Beating Newton

Filed under: — stan @ 6:01 pm

Today’s ride was up and over Turnbull Canyon, which is a nice hill between Whittier and Hacienda Heights. To ride up it is to challenge Newton and beat the force of gravity. And today, I also beat Newton, who is the star hill-climber of our group. This is one of the very few times I’ve beaten him to the top of a big hill. So it was an exciting day.

It was cool and threatening to rain today, so I thought the ride might get cut short. So I left a few minutes early and took the long way down to the park. Along the way, I saw the first abandoned couch of the day, on Orange Grove Blvd. Then I headed over to Victory Park to meet the group.

We had a small group today. I suppose the weather may have scared some away. We headed out to Arcadia and then directly south through El Monte, where I saw the second abandoned couch. Then we crossed into Whittier and headed up to Turnbull Canyon.

The road up Turnbull Canyon is a nice bit of the country in the middle of the city. It’s a steady, winding climb. Jon, Newton, and I led the way. I made sure to stay with Newton, even when he put on some bursts of speed to try to shake me. I knew that no matter how much it hurt, I had to stay close. If I lost contact, it would hurt twice as much to try and catch up later. It also helped that it’s been a while since we did this ride, and I’d forgotten just how long the climb is. Several times I thought we were almost at the top, only to go around a bend and see yet another switchback. But in the end, I managed to hang on to the top, which was a remarkable thing. I usually can’t hang with Newton on a tough climb. So maybe all this riding is actually making me stronger. Or maybe I’m just learning how to hurt and make more effort. Whatever. And being first to the top made up for the fact that I’d said ‘uncle’ and shifted on the way up. To commemorate the occasion, I got a souvenir picture at the top.

The ride down is nice. It reminds me of riding a steel roller coaster. For some reason, the road gives the feeling of flying, even though we stay firmly on the ground. It’s a fun downhill, and I don’t even find it terrifying for some reason.

At the bottom, we headed back by way of La Puente and Industry. Amid all the warehouses in Industry, we saw some people riding horses, which looked kind of strange. We also saw a Metrolink commuter train go by, which is a rare sight on a weekend.

Our snack stop was at Planet Cookies in Monrovia. The whole Old Town Monrovia area has already been decorated for the holidays. It seems a bit soon, but that’s not unusual these days.

By this time, it was getting colder again, and starting to look more like rain. So we headed straight home.

It was a fun, if slightly chilly ride.

53 miles.
cycling

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