Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Lida St and a weird house

Filed under: — stan @ 8:33 pm

Route map

Today at lunchtime I did the regular Lida ride again. I like this one on hot days, since it ends with two miles downhill.

There wasn’t much remarkable along the way, aside from the Edison electric car that passed me in Altadena. It was nice and quiet. I wish there were more like it on the road.

On the way home, I had to stop off to do an errand, and so I ended up taking a slightly different route home. That’s where I saw a very odd house. It looked like it wasn’t quite done yet, since the driveway was dirt, and it looked like there was still construction going on. It’s not quite as odd as Rubel’s Castle in Glendora, but it’s easily a match for the Viking house in Tujunga. But no matter what, it was an odd house. I like it.

18 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


Green Olive

Filed under: — stan @ 3:59 pm

Route map

Today’s ride was a new route that Gene calls “Green Olive, but no Martini”. As you can see, we went on Green and Olive, so there you have it.

Before we even got out of Pasadena, JJ got a flat. So I got a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

We headed up into La Cañada, where I saw yet another mailbox with hot-rod flames. This makes five now. Pretty soon, I’ll have to make a special photo album just for them.

A little while later, in La Crescenta, I found yet another abandoned couch. So I got a picture for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

After lots of fun riding up and down the hills in La Crescenta, we headed down the hill into Glendale. Then we turned left and went up Mountain Ave. This street is aptly-named. It’s a good climb, and it just keeps on giving. Every time it looks like you’re at the top, there’s a little more. But there was a nice view of downtown Los Angeles from the top. It made a nice backdrop to the pictures of Ben and Gene cresting the hill.

We came down the hill and headed back into Pasadena. Our snack stop was at the Corner Bakery on Lake Ave. And then we headed home. It was a perfect day and a nice ride.

42 miles.


No Tuna Redux

Filed under: — stan @ 8:37 pm

Route map

Today’s ride was Gene’s “No Tuna for Me” route. This is a ride through Burbank to Sun Valley, and then back by a route that completely avoids La Tuna Canyon. Not that La Tuna Canyon is a bad thing. Some of us like riding up four-mile hills. But Gene’s route is a nice quiet way through the horse territory of Los Angeles, so it’s pretty nice.

We headed out under perfect skies. It was another insufferably nice day in Southern California. We crossed Eagle Rock and into Glendale. That was where I saw the telephone pole that has apparently had a few signs posted on it over the years.

When we got up to Sun Valley, we saw a sight that should strike terror in just about anyone: a bus with “Student Driver” on the back. Apparently, there’s a bus driving school there. Who knew?

Heading up into the hills, we left the garbage dump and auto wrecking yards behind, and entered the place where all the houses have horses. We saw one house with what looked like a sculpture garden in the riding ring.

Coming out on Sunland Blvd, we crossed the 210 freeway and then turned off for the ride through Tujunga. We rode up Apperson, which is a nice quiet street. We thought we’d be able to see the Viking House we saw a few weeks ago. But it was not to be. We turned off on Tujunga Canyon Road to head down to Montrose. That was where we saw a couch apparently abandoned after a hard night of partying.

When we got to Montrose we stopped at Berolina Bakery. The eclair there was quite good, yet not quite as good as the ones at Paradise Bakery in Glendale.

Finally, we headed home by the usual route. When I got back to the park, I had 46 miles, so I rode around for a little bit more just because “50″ looks so nice on the bike computer display.

50 miles.


And here’s what I did with it…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:41 pm

So I’ve been writing down my old bike racing stories, and I told the story of how I got my Category 2, back in 1977. But there’s one more piece to the story. After the race in Maine, I sent my license off to the USCF New Jersey representative. A few days later, it came back with a nice little “2″ sticker next to “Category”. I was immensely pleased. So pleased, in fact, that I wanted to use it immediately. And I had a perfect chance.

On Sunday, September 4th, 1977 there was a race in Harrisburg, PA. This was a criterium around the State Capitol building. The course was four corners, flat, and just under 1 mile around. The first picture is a screenshot showing the location of the course. The feature race that day was 40 miles for Category 2 and 3. This was unusual, since 1 and 2 usually rode together. So of course I decided that that was the race I was going to ride.

The 2+3 pack was pretty big. Probably close to 100 riders at the start. I remember that two guys broke away relatively early, and I missed it. But a little later, I took off to try to start a second breakaway. A guy I knew named Clarence came along. He was from New York, and I knew him from racing at Kissena Velodrome, and I knew he was strong. So we were good to go. A third guy joined us, but I didn’t know him. The photo shows when we were first starting the breakaway. I’m on the right, and Clarence is on the left. We got within sight of the front breakaway, but we weren’t able to catch them. But we still got a good lead on the pack, and we held it to the finish.

Coming out of the last corner, I didn’t even try to contest the sprint. I just rolled across in 5th place. I figured that that was a pretty good showing for a Junior rider’s first outing in Cat 2.


Mad Dogs and Englishmen go to the beach

Filed under: — stan @ 8:07 pm

Route map

Noel Coward said “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun“. and I guess that includes me now, too. Today we all went to Orange County for the day. Cathy was going out for her birthday lunch with her sister. Lucinda was going to spend the afternoon with Grandma and Grandpa. So I brought my bike along to go for a ride. I figured it was bound to be cooler there, near the coast.

When we got there, it was in fact cooler. It was only about 100, rather than the 105 or so in Pasadena. Yup, that helped a lot. But my plan was to ride down to the beach at Dana Point. I figured it would probably be cooler there.

The first part of the ride felt like standing in front of a 15,000,000-watt blow dryer. The heat was searing my eyeballs. I stopped off for a picture at the Federal Building in Laguna Niguel, aka “The Ziggurat”. I went to a bike race there back in 1978. I watched, but didn’t ride, since there was no race for my category that day. But I remembered the building, so I wanted to see it again.

As I got closer to the beach, I could feel a difference as I crested each hill. It got, well, less hot. But it was still hot when I got close enough to see the ocean. It wasn’t until I got on Pacific Coast Highway that it actually started to feel cool.

I stopped at the park by the beach to refill my water bottle. I rode along the beach for a few miles. It was still hot by beach standards, but it felt good. I saw the southbound Amtrak Surfliner go by right before I turned around to head back.

When I turned to head home, I realized that I’d been having a tail wind all the way down there, but it wasn’t bad. It was a cool headwind, so it felt good. I headed back up into Dana Point, stopped at a liquor store to buy a bottle of orange juice, and then I turned north and headed up the hill away from the beach.

It got hot again as soon as I was out of sight of the beach. Then I got a flat. I was alone, so I had to fix the tire and take the picture myself.

The rest of the ride back was pretty uneventful. South Orange County is in many ways a bicycle paradise. Most of the major roads have bike lanes, and the drivers are generally pretty well-mannered. But Orange County is also Master-Planned and Sanitized for Your Protection. This is the part that I don’t care for. But there are aspects of it that are funny. Costco has its own traffic light and street sign.

By the time I got up to Irvine, I was out of water and looking for somewhere to get something more to drink. Then I noticed my bike making a weird noise. I looked and saw that I’d lost one of my front brake pads. I took this as a sign that it was time to stop. So I turned and headed straight for home. I found another liquor store and bought a quart-bottle of Gatorade and chugged it. Then I finished the ride.

It was a fun time, even with the seared eyeballs.

40 miles.


Still hot as *^#$!

Filed under: — stan @ 9:39 am

Route map

It’s still hot as hell here, but that didn’t stop us from riding today. We just didn’t go quite as far as usual, and the route was pretty flat. There really wasn’t much remarkable about it, aside from the heat. Our snack stop was at Noah’s Bagels on South Lake Ave in Pasadena. And the rest of the ride was one of those ‘just noodling around going nowhere in particular’ rides. But it was still a fun time.

38 miles.


Downtown L.A. and Griffith Park

Filed under: — stan @ 6:44 pm

Route map

It’s #$%^&! hot today. Today’s ride was into Downtown Los Angeles, and then up into Griffith Park.

We met at the Elks Lodge in Pasadena, and then headed out by way of Highland Park to get into downtown L.A. Then we headed straight west on Olympic to Western Ave, which took us up to Griffith Park. I found two photo opportunities on Western. The first was Stan’s Adult Superstore. I make a minor hobby of collecting pictures of businesses with my name on them. The second was Pink Elephant Liquor. Not quite as funny as Hammered Liquor, but it’s still pretty good.

Then we got to the park and headed up the hill. We stopped for a snack and drinks at The Trails in Fern Dell. It was very pleasant there in the shade. It couldn’t have been more than 95 degrees.

When we left there, we headed up the hill to see the newly reopened Griffith Observatory. It looks pretty good. You can hardly tell that they dug up the whole hillside to build a big building underground. We also got to see where the fire burned up the park last May.

Coming down the hill, we took Avocado St to get to Rowena so we could take the regular route home through Eagle Rock. When we were riding across the L.A. River, I noticed that my front tire was going soft. So we found a shady spot and I sat down to fix it. I put in the spare tube and pumped it up. Then, when I went to put the wheel back on the bike, I saw that the back tire had gone flat. So I had to take the tube out and patch it. But then we finally got back on the road.

It got hotter and hotter as we headed back to Pasadena. When I got home, the thermometer on my back porch said it was a nice even 106 (42C). But aside from that, it was a very pleasant ride.

41 miles.


Another grave tour? Why I oughtta…

Filed under: — stan @ 5:05 pm

The route there:

The route back:

Today’s ride was a special one. Out to West L.A. to Hillside Memorial Park to visit Moe Howard’s grave.

We met at Victory Park and headed out. The route there was pretty easy, since it’s mostly downhill all the way to downtown L.A. On the way through downtown, we saw the new Caltrans building on 1st St. It looks like it was designed by the same architect as the Death Star.

On the south side of downtown, we saw the Metro Blue Line train heading to Long Beach. The Blue Line is one of the success stories for rail in Los Angeles. It’s about the only rail line that’s used by lots of people.

Next, we headed straight west on Adams. Then we cut south, crossing the old rail line that is going to be the Metro Expo Line someday. The old tracks are still there, but it’s pretty obvious that there hasn’t been a train on them in decades.

At La Cienega, we saw the little piece of freeway that they built back in the 1950s. It was supposed to be the first part of the Laurel Canyon Freeway, and it was supposed to run all the way up to North Hollywood.

We rode through Culver City and passed Fox Hills Mall. Then we were there. The guy at the gate didn’t want to let us in for some reason. I really have no idea what he thought we were going to do. If we’d been in a car he wouldn’t have even noticed us. But I explained that we were there to visit with Moe Howard, and I showed him the map and my handwritten directions. So he finally let us in.

We rode up to the top to look for Ruth Handler’s grave, but we weren’t able to find it. Then we headed over to see Vic Morrow. His death in the “Twilight Zone” movie was the big news story when I first moved to L.A. back in 1982.

Finally, we headed back down to find Moe. The directions I had were not very good. They said he was in the “Court of Love”, but he and his wife Helen were actually in the “Alcove of Love” right next to it. Anyway, we found Moe and took a moment to reflect on The Three Stooges. We’d visited Curly Howard’s grave, which makes no reference to his time with the Stooges. But we noticed that Moe’s was marked with his stage name. He lived long enough to see the Stooges become legend.

Leaving the cemetery, we headed back the way we came, turning north to get to Venice Blvd. We stopped at a Noah’s Bagels there, and then we headed for home. There was a big billboard at La Brea advertising “L.A. Ink“. There just aren’t enough ads that feature heavily tattooed women, so I enjoyed seeing this. We took Venice almost all the way back to downtown, and then turned north on Hoover. Then we got on Benton Way to go to Silver Lake. Along the street there, I saw no fewer than five abandoned couches: 1 2 3 4 5

Benton Way ends in a steep uphill pitch. Then we take a couple of small streets and come out on Silver Lake Blvd at the top of the hill by the dog park. From there, we took the regular route home on Eagle Rock, Ave 50 and Monterey Road.

It was a nice ride.

58 miles.


Crown City Trainer

Filed under: — stan @ 7:51 pm

I did the Foothill Cycle Saturday ride today. The route was the “Crown City Trainer”, which was basically a ride to nowhere in particular, but going up and down every hill around. It was fun.

And I just learned that Google Maps has a nice new feature. In plotting a route, you can now grab the route line with the mouse to enter intermediate destinations. This has the effect of being able to force the route to go particular ways. So I did this to plot the route we took today:

The route as rendered in the new Google Maps

There wasn’t really anything remarkable on the ride, aside from two sets of abandoned couches just a short distance apart on Ave 66: 1 2

45 miles.


The day I got my Category 2

Filed under: — stan @ 6:01 pm

August 21, 1977 was the day that I finally made Category 2. The race was in Waterville, Maine. It was the finish line the Maine International Bicycle Race, which was a rarity in that it was a true point-to-point road race. It began near the Canadian border and traveled south for 100-mumble miles to the finish in Waterville. But because just watching a pack of sweaty bike riders roll into town and sprint for the finish isn’t terribly exciting for the locals, the organizers also held a Junior race in town for the spectators. The race was a criterium around downtown Waterville, and it was 25 miles, which was long for a Junior race. Most were 10-15 miles. So I wanted to ride it, since I usually did better in longer races.

I got the use of the car for the weekend and set out looking for some other riders to come along. My friend Cary wanted to go. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a driver’s license. It was about a seven-hour drive from New Jersey in those days with the 55mph speed limit, and I wanted to find someone who could share the driving. So my other friend Gene came in. He had his learner’s permit, which meant he could drive if another licensed driver (me) was in the car. So this was good enough for us. And it’s probably best that we never stopped to think whether or not this was also going to be legal in the five other states we would be passing through to get there.

So Gene and Cary came to my house and we loaded up the car. Two bikes went on the roof rack, and the third was stuffed under the hatchback. With all our stuff, there was barely room for the three of us in the car.

The ride up to Maine was pretty uneventful. When we got there, it was night, and we went looking for a place to stay. We picked a motel and Gene and I went in to see about getting a room. The manager was suspicious, and kept asking us if we had any girls with us. We told him we were there for the bike race, and pointed to the car outside with the bikes on the roof. So he let us have a room.

We unloaded the car and started getting our bikes ready for the race when there was a knock on the door. The manager had decided to come and check again to see if we had any girls with us. Since we’d told him that there were just two of us, Cary grabbed his bike and went to stand in the shower with it while the manager came in. He looked at the bikes, wheels, and racing clothes strewn around the room and he was satisfied.

Our next priority was finding something to eat. Cary wanted to have something good, and not fast food. So we ended up at the only ‘nice’ restaurant in sight. The Silent Woman was the place, and we looked pretty out-of-place in there. It was all adults and families, and a trio of teenage boys looked pretty odd there. But the food was good, so we were happy.

The last priority was deciding how to divvy up the two beds. As you might imagine, this was a gravely important task for teenage boys. We drew lots, and I won. So I got a bed to myself while the other guys had to share.

In the morning, we headed over to the race. The course was pretty nice. It was basically triangular, with two long straights and a wide hairpin turn at one end. There was a slight grade, but nothing worth getting excited about. There was also a tremendous hole in the road that was marked off with sawhorses and cones. The race had a pretty good turnout, and the pack stayed together for about half the race. Then a breakaway formed. I don’t remember how it started, but I managed to get in it. There were three of us, and we got a good lead on the pack. We managed to stay away to the finish, and I didn’t even contest the final sprint. So I came in third, which was the finish that put me over the top for my Category 2 upgrade.

My goal for the year had been to make Category 2. I had one first-place finish, a fourth-place finish, sixth place in Rahway in July, and sixth place in Pittsburgh. So with this third place finish I met the requirements for my upgrade. That was the thing I was most excited about. My actual prize for the day was a pair of pedals and a little silver-plate trophy bowl.

I used the pedals for many years until they broke from metal fatigue. But I still have the little bowl. And the memories of that day. It was a fun time.

Powered by WordPress