Stan’s Obligatory Blog


A nice ride with no hills

Filed under: — stan @ 8:10 pm

Today’s ride was the “Molly’s Souper” route out to Upland. We started at Arcadia Park and headed east.

Right away, the group split up, and Steve, Susan, Silvio, Garett and I went ahead. We took a short detour through the Santa Fe Dam bike path to avoid the rough stretch of road on Foothill Blvd. We thought that would give the rest of the group a chance to catch up, but when we got to Gladstone St, they were still behind us. So we carried on. We rode all the way out to the border of Claremont. By that time, it was 10:30. Susan had to be back by noon, so she needed to head back. I’d offered to keep her company for the ride back, so the two of us turned around there. We stopped at the park in La Verne to refill our water bottles. Then, when we were leaving the park, we saw the rest of the group still on their way out. We waved and said hi. They asked if we’d done the whole route. Susan was about to tell them “yes” but I beat her to it and said “no”. I’m no fun that way.

The ride back was about 10 minutes faster than the ride out, largely due to that 1% grade on Gladstone. Heading west on the street is always a joy. Our average for the ride was just over 16mph, which is not bad. And the round trip from Arcadia Park was about 44 miles. Since I always ride to the start of the ride, I got a little extra. So it was a good distance and a nice ride.

56 miles.


Ridin’ bikes in the hot sun, I sought a rhyme then I saw one

Filed under: — stan @ 7:38 pm

Today was the infamous “Mountain Lion” ride. We did this ride back in November, so I thought it was time to go back and do it again. Of course, I hadn’t counted on it being an early-spring L.A. heat wave. So it was hot like summer, and we were dripping sweat on the climbs.

The ride goes up into La Cañada, La Crescenta, and Tujunga, going up and down the front face of the San Gabriel Mountains. There’s a fair bit of climbing, and some terrifying descents as well. The high point, both symbolic and literal, is the hill on Pineglen Road that we refer to as “Mountain Lion Hill”. There is a sign part-way up that warns us that mountain lions have been seen in the area. So we try to maintain a brisk pace through there, which can be difficult when you’re riding a bike up an 18% grade. I was expending maximum effort just to go 3mph. That’s why the picture of the sign is blurry. It’s hard to have a steady hand with the camera while riding up a hill like that. I even had to shift. I ended up in my next-to-lowest gear for the final steep pitch to the top.

Coming down into Tujunga, we were on somewhat more level ground. We passed the Viking House, and then continued on down to cross Foothill Blvd. That’s where I saw the Roe Zee Market, which I found amusing for some reason. Maybe it was just the heat.

We stopped for water at a little park in Tujunga, and then rode down Tujunga Canyon Road into Montrose. Our snack stop was at Oven Fresh bakery. I always get orange juice there, since it’s fresh-squeezed and very tasty. And it also means I get to watch the Zummo orange juice machine doing its little mechanical dance, cutting each orange in half and simultaneously squeezing both halves, while more oranges roll down the feeder track. It’s entertaining to watch. Especially when you’re dazed from riding up Mountain Lion Hill.

After the snack stop, I got some couches for the Abandoned Couches Blog. Then we headed straight for home across Pasadena. Don’s fancy bike computer said we’d done a total of 3,600 feet of climbing. It was a nice ride, even with the heat.

42 miles.


La Tuna Canyon the Right Way

Filed under: — stan @ 12:32 pm

Today’s club ride was “Up La Tuna Canyon“. To my mind, this is the right way to do this road. I like the four or five miles of steady uphill. I enjoy that more than riding down that hill.

We met at the Pasadena Elks Lodge for the 9:00 start. On Green St outside the lodge, I noticed that there were two parking spaces marked in blue paint for the Rose Parade. They were marked, “BLIMP”. But I’ve never seen a blimp parked there. That would be some impressive parallel parking skills. Leaving the Elks lodge, we headed out across Eagle Rock and Glendale. It was a nice day, and promising to be hot like summer by mid-day.

In Sun Valley, we took a right and took some small residential streets to get to La Tuna Canyon Road. And then the fun began. Look at how Susan is smiling in the picture. She and I set the pace, and by the time we were near the top, we’d dropped everyone in our group. We were passed by one guy from another group, but we figured that that didn’t count. She was fading a bit near the top, so I did a few practice Madison throws to give her a little push to the summit. When we got there, we stopped to regroup.

When most of the group was there, we headed down the other side into Montrose. We stopped for a snack at Berolina Bakery. I had an eclair there. It was good, but not quite as good as the ones at Paradise Bakery in Glendale.

After the stop, we headed back up Hospital Hill and then back down into Pasadena and home. It was a fun ride.

40 miles.


San Dimas on a gloomy Sunday

Filed under: — stan @ 9:32 pm

Route map

Today’s ride was the “San Dimas South” route. It’s a ‘flattish’ route. There are a few hills, but nothing really big. This was good, since I was still feeling the effects of the 78 miles yesterday.

The weather forecast said, “June gloom in April”, and that was about it. It was gray and overcast. No drizzle, but just gray and gloomy. But it was cool, so it was all right for riding.

We headed straight east all the way to Covina, and then south in to San Dimas. We went close to Bonelli Park before turning back west. There were a couple of small hills there, but soon we were back on the flat land and heading for our stop at Panera across the street from the mall in West Covina.

After some bagels and such, we mounted up and headed for home. There really wasn’t anything remarkable on this ride, but we had a nice time anyway.

46 miles.


Seal Beach

Filed under: — stan @ 7:07 pm

Today’s club ride was a longer one than usual. We started at Live Oak Park in Temple City and rode to Seal Beach. It was kind of cool and overcast, so it was nice weather for riding. I have a policy of not going on any ride that I can’t ride to the start of, so I rode down there from my house. On the way, I got a flat. Since I was alone at this point, I had to take the picture for the Flat Tire Gallery ‘MySpace-style’, holding the camera at arm’s length.

We started out going down the Rio Hondo bike trail. This brought us to Whittier Narrows. As we rode over the dam, I felt that my tire was going flat again. So I stopped and this time I had to patch the tube. Susan took the picture this time.

Continuing on, we rode straight down the San Gabriel River bike path. For some reason, we were riding very fast. You can see it in the lean of the bikes in the first photo. Along the way, we saw egrets and other birds in the river. We also saw a guy doing like “The Karate Kid” in the river bed. As we got close to the ocean, there was more water in the river, and we even saw a few boats. Then we got to the end of the path, where we turned left and headed into Seal Beach. At this point, my tire was going flat again. So this time, Silvio and I went and found the local bike shop on Main St in Seal Beach. I bought a new tire and tube. As before, Susan took the picture as I put it on. After that, I went down to the beach just to see the ocean, since it’s not every day that I ride my bike all the way to the ocean. Then I went back to the bakery and very quickly ate a honey-bran mini-bundt cake. Yum.

When it was time to head back, we went back the way we came. Since water runs downhill, the way back was a gentle uphill grade the whole way. Susan set the pace, and she pretty much rode the rest of us into the ground. I was able to keep up, but I was working pretty hard. Garett and Andy also kept up, but they were having a harder time. We dropped everyone else. We were all impressed with her riding.

When we got back to the park, Garett, Silvio and I headed back home to Pasadena. They were dragging by then. I was doing all right, but I could still feel that we’d done some miles. Our bike computers all said our average for the ride was just over 17mph. It was a fun little ride.

78 miles.


Another wet bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 8:02 pm

Today’s bike ride has no pictures. And it nearly didn’t happen. Lucinda is with me for Saturday and Sunday, so I had to find a babysitter for Sunday morning in order to be able to ride. I was able to arrange that, but then Sunday dawned, and it was raining. But because I’d already gone to so much trouble to arrange everything, I had to still go riding. I went down to the park, and there was only one other rider. But we went anyway. It rained pretty hard on us for a little while, but then it stopped. We were pretty cold and wet, but we still managed to soldier on. It was actually pretty entertaining, since he was new to the Sunday ride, and he used to race back in the ’70s, too. We both knew a lot of the same people from the races back then. So we had a good time swapping stories. In the end, we only went 35 miles, but that was enough for how cold and wet it was.

35 miles.


Mt Hollywood again

Filed under: — stan @ 2:02 pm

Today’s bike ride was the “Philippe’s for brunch” route. We met at the Elks Lodge in Pasadena for the 9:00AM start. A lot of rides start there, but this was the first time I noticed the topiary elk heads by the door.

We rode across Eagle Rock and into Glendale. That was where we saw both the giant inflatable rubber ducky and the VW Beetle complete with antennae. We took Glenoaks all the way across to Sonora, and then left down to get to Griffith Park.

In the park, we took a right on Zoo Dr and looped around Travel Town and up the hill behind the zoo. Then we turned and rode up Mt Hollywood Drive. This is a nice climb, and the road is closed to cars, so it’s nice and quiet. We saw a couple of coyotes along the road there. One of them is somewhat visible in the fifth photo.

Coming down the hill and leaving the park, we commenced with the Gritty Urban Cycling part of the ride. We took Vermont down to Sunset, and then rode Sunset all the way into downtown L.A. Along the way, we Lovecraft Bio-Fuels, Rough Trade Leather, and the new LAUSD high school that’s been dubbed the “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century High School

We stopped at Philippe’s downtown. I wanted to get some of their biscuits, but they were out. Then we headed for home. The route back was very direct. We took Main St to Mission, and then Mission to Huntington. Finally, we took Collis to Hill and into South Pasadena, and then Grand Ave back to the Elks Lodge.

It was kind of chilly, but aside from that, it was a pleasant ride.

42 miles.


I’m on a low-car diet

Filed under: — stan @ 11:32 pm

Low-carb diets were all the rage not so long ago. But I’m on a low-car diet. For a long time, I’ve wanted to not have to use the car for grocery shopping. But there are a lot of heavy and/or bulky items that I have to buy that just don’t fit in my backpack. So I bought a little bike trailer on craigslist. And now I can do my grocery shopping by bike. The trailer can carry 100 pounds, so that pretty much covers anything I need for a week. It’s slightly uphill to the store, so on the way home, the trailer just pushes me down the hill. I think this is going to work out nicely.

This is a Good Thing, since I’m having to use my car a lot more than I’m used to due to the current unpleasantness at home. So anywhere I can cut down on driving is good. Based on my last three years of car usage, it costs me 58 cents per mile to drive. It’s 1.25 miles to the grocery store, and that’s $1.45 saved on each trip. That will add up over time.


Ride to Whittier

Filed under: — stan @ 5:22 pm

Today’s ride was Ruby’s in Whittier route.

I’d never been on this ride before. By the time I got to the start at Live Oak Park in Temple City, it was already starting to get warm. I took off my bubble wrap. And I messaged my friend Susan in Detroit about it, since she’d sent me a message about being snowed in there.

The ride down was nice. I good bit of it was on the bike path along the San Gabriel river. It was a pleasant ride. The only problem was when I was riding with Chris, and we got to talking, and we missed a turn. We got halfway up the hill on Colima before we realized that we’d missed the turn. So we went back. Chris thought she had a map in her bag, but it turned out she’d given it to Steve. So she asked for directions. The guy she asked didn’t know where the street we were looking for was, but he knew where Ruby’s was, and we were very close. So we just found our way over there.

Everyone was already there by the time we got there. They were all settling down for lunch, but four of us had to get back early, so we started back immediately. The route back was a bit different from the route out, but it was all right.

In Pico Rivera, I got a flat. Fortunately, there was a nice shady spot to sit in to fix it. Then, when we started out, we only got about 50 feet before Garett got a flat. This marks his first appearance in the Flat Tire Gallery, and only his second flat in the year he’s had his bike.

The rest of the ride back was very pleasant. It was a perfect spring day for riding.

55 miles.


Fargo Street 2008

Filed under: — stan @ 9:46 pm

Sunday’s bike ride was down into Echo Park in Los Angeles to see and possibly attempt the Fargo Street Hill Climb. This is an annual event where people attempt to ride up the steepest street in Los Angeles. It’s about 33%, which is terrifying by bicycle standards. Last fall, after I beat Newton up Turnbull Canyon I was thinking I would make another attempt on Fargo Street this spring. But with the unpleasantness at home and such, I pretty much gave up on that. But it was still fun to go watch.

The day was chilly, and rather windy. It felt like we were fighting a headwind all the way there. That made the ride down there a bit of a trial. But when we got there, we got to see the spectacle of people trying to climb that hill. The first picture is one I took of a guy trying the hill. The second picture is the same as the first, but rotated so that it is actually properly oriented. Look at the wall of the garage in the background. That gives an idea of just how steep this hill is.

A couple of guys in our group tried, but neither one made it. I think the farthest the made was about 3/4 of the way up, which is about how far I got when I tried it in 2005. And you can see how that turned out for me in the bike photo album. I was curious about two things: I thought that letting some air out of the tires to make them soft would help with traction on the hill. Gaurav tried this, and he said that it did help, but he still just wasn’t able to make the top. The second was my idea of riding part-way up and then stopping to do a trackstand to rest for a bit. I was curious to see if I could do a trackstand on a hill that steep. I rode one block over to Baxter Street and tried it. But the hill was just too steep, and I couldn’t deal with it. So that was that for any thoughts I had of trying it this year. Maybe next year, when things are better. I’ll practice on Nolden Street in Eagle Rock.

After watching for a while, we headed home. Not surprisingly, it felt like we had a headwind going back, too. Still, it was a fun ride.

39 miles.

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