Stan’s Obligatory Blog

8/19/2007

Toluca Lake

Filed under: — stan @ 8:53 pm

Today’s ride was the Toluca Lake Inverse route, which is basically the same as the regular route, but done backwards. Things always look different when you’re going the other way.

We started out going south into San Marino, and then across South Pasadena and into Highland Park. I saw a pair of abandoned couches on Ave 50.

The Los Angeles River had a lot of water in it today. Especially for August in the driest recorded year ever. It’s not clear where the water is coming from, but it may be runoff from lawn watering. Whatever it was, it looked weird to see that much water going down the river.

When we got to Priscilla’s, we got our usual snacks and drinks. It was nice in the shade there.

Coming home, we did the route across Glendale on Glenoaks, and then up Verdugo to Hospital Hill. Then home by the usual route on Woodbury and New York Drive.

45 miles.
cycling

8/18/2007

La Verne

Filed under: — stan @ 8:40 pm

I got a chance to do two rides this weekend, so the Saturday ride was out to La Verne and back.

We met at Library Park in Monrovia and headed east from there. In Duarte, we were treated to the sight of a helicopter being used as a crane. It was lifting a series of large boxes from the parking lot up to the roof of the building.

We rode pretty much straight east, all the way across Glendora and San Dimas, where we turned and rode up San Dimas Canyon Road. Then we made a loop up in the hills, coming out right next to Live Oak Reservoir. I’d never seen it in daylight before, but I recognized it immediately. Back in 1978, when I raced with the Claremont cycling team, we used to to evening workouts on the road around that reservoir. We rode our track bikes, and we did intervals, time trials, and practice races. The thing I always remember about those times was how our coach, Steve, used to ride with us. When we got going fast, he always looked like he was going to die. His face was red, and he was sweating hard. But he always beat us in the final sprint. He had ridden on the 1968 Olympic team, so he was actually a very good rider.

After passing the reservoir, we dropped down a very steep hill. Gene said that he got up to just over 48mph on it. Then we rode into La Verne and stopped in the nicely shaded patio at Coffeeberry.

On the way back, we took the direct way. It was very hot by then, so we stopped for water several times. At the Santa Fe Dam Nature Center, we saw a number of oddly-placed stuffed birds. There was also a stuffed bobcat. Outside, we saw a roadrunner go by, so not all the birds there were dead and stuffed.

The last funny thing we saw was the car in Duarte with the two Hello Kitty dolls strapped to the front like so many dead deer.

It was an amusing and fun ride.

55 miles.
cycling

8/17/2007

Kissena Velodrome

Filed under: — stan @ 8:23 pm

Here’s a picture from last week when we visited:

Now here’s a picture of me riding on about the same spot on the track, back in 1979:

Those trees next to the track are a lot bigger now, nearly 30 years later.

In one respect this is a good thing, since now the backstretch is shaded, and riders are not blinded by the setting sun. But on the other hand, that used to be my favorite place to attack, since everyone was blinded by the setting sun…

8/15/2007

Wednesday lunchtime ride

Filed under: — stan @ 7:52 pm

Route map

Since I was back in the office on Wednesday, I went for a bike ride with Vikki at lunchtime. She was decked out in her new pink Fat Cyclist jersey. It was hot, and we did the Arcadia loop, since that’s a relatively flat and easy ride. Nothing remarkable happened, aside from seeing a pair of deer on the road in Sierra Madre, and the fact that I got a flat right after that.

8/7/2007

A day in Pittsburgh

Filed under: — stan @ 9:24 pm

It was August 7, 1977, and I rode a race in Pittsburgh, PA. The race was in Schenley Park, across the street from Carnegie-Mellon University. The course had a straight uphill stretch along the edge of the campus. There was a right turn at the top and short level stretch. Then a long downhill with big, sweeping switchback turns. At the bottom it met up with the uphill back to the finish line. I was riding in Juniors at the time, so the race would have been something like 15 miles.

The course was nice. I particularly remember the downhill as being very exciting. The road was a bit rough, and going around the turns at high speed was great fun for a 17-year-old.

Somewhere along the way, two guys broke away. I missed that, but I managed to make it into the second breakaway. There were four of us, and we got a good gap on the pack. The downhill was faster for the four of us than it was for the pack, since we didn’t have to slow down for the turns.

At the finish, I just coasted across the line. I figured I couldn’t do worse than 6th place, and that was good enough for points toward my Category 2 upgrade.

This race meant that I had one first-place finish, a fourth-place finish, and with sixth place in Rahway in July, I had two sixth-place finishes. So now I just needed one more top-six finish to get Category 2.

I have no pictures from that day, and I don’t even remember what my prize was. But I do remember it as a very fun day.

8/5/2007

Noodling #7

Filed under: — stan @ 8:21 pm

Route map

Today’s ride was number 7 in the “Noodling” series. It was a ride involving lots of hills and riding around to nowhere in particular. It was fun.

We started off going up into Altadena. That was where we saw the guy with the big fox-shaped sign advertising breakfast at Fox’s restaurant. Then we went across into La Cañada, and up and over the big hill by a roundabout route to come out on Chevy Chase. Then back up the hill to pass the school at the top. On the way down, we saw some deer on the side of the road, including a young buck.

Coming out on Linda Vista down by the Rose Bowl, we rode south a bit, and then headed up the big hill on Glenoaks. At the top, we continued on and came down on Patrician Way. This was novel, since we usually do this hill the other direction.

At the bottom, we were at Ave 64. One of the guys made an offhand comment about how he would have enjoyed riding up the hills more if he were 15 years younger. I think we all felt that way, and that was when I noticed the ‘Anti-Aging Institute’ across the street.

We went south on Ave 64 and then turned on La Loma to go up and over another hill. Then we went down the other side and turned to go over yet another hill. There was a part of the route marked ‘Extra Credit’ that involved going up Romney, which was a very steep hill. Then we rode Fortune Way, which took us to Easy St, which seemed entirely appropriate.

In Highland Park, I found a two-piece sectional couch abandoned on the side of the road. Then we rode down through the arroyo and across the freeway to come out on Monterey Road. From there, we headed straight across South Pasadena and San Marino, and then back into Pasadena for our snack stop at the Corner Bakery on South Lake Ave. The pigeons there are quite brazen, and walked right under our chairs to scavenge crumbs.

After the snack stop, we rode straight across the Caltech campus and then back to the park. When we got there, I had 34 miles, so I rode out to Arcadia with Newton just to add a little bit more.

It was a very nice ride.

44 miles.
cycling

8/4/2007

Noodling – 8

Filed under: — stan @ 7:14 pm

Today’s bike ride was an unusual one. Gene has made up a series of “Noodling” routes for the Sunday morning rides, and today I went along on a test-ride of #8 in the series. This one went up through La Cañada, La Crescenta, and Tujunga.

We started out from Victory Park in Pasadena and headed north into Altadena. We passed the Zane Grey estate along the way. Then we rode into La Cañada.

Heading up Crown Ave, we were passed by several L.A. County fire trucks, so we rode a bit farther up the hill to see if we could see the fire. But there was nothing obvious, so we just continued on. We rode across La Cañada on Journey’s End Drive, which seemed like an odd name for a street. Then we went down to Foothill Blvd to cross over into La Crescenta.

The ride up Briggs was pretty grueling. It’s a long, straight street that goes right up the hill. At the top, we turned left and rode over to Rosemont and then up Pinecrest. This was yet another steep and long hill. And to top it off, near the top was a warning sign about mountain lion sightings in the area. We attempted to maintain a brisk pace, but it was hard to do on the 15% grade.

Pinecrest ended at Pine Cone Road, which we took back down the hill. It’s something like a 20-25% grade, which makes for an exciting downhill ride. This is the road that figures prominently in the first story in “Los Angeles Against the Mountains” in John McPhee’s book, The Control of Nature.

Coming back down the hill, we headed north into Tujunga. Since this is part of the City of Los Angeles, the road immediately became more rough and wretched. But we did see a mailbox with hot-rod flames and a very amusing house that looked like something the Vikings might have built.

Crossing Foothill Blvd, we headed down the hill some more. I saw a couch on the side of the road. This one looked like its former owner really like the right-hand end of the couch. It looked like Homer Simpson’s “ass groove”.

The street we’d planned on taking turned out to be an unpaved road, so we ended up having to improvise a different route. It worked out all right, and I even found another hot-rod mailbox along the way. We finally came out on Tujunga Canyon Road, where we turned right and coasted down the long downhill back into La Crescenta.

We didn’t stop at the bakery, since this was just a test ride. Instead, we just continued on towards home. Then I got a flat. The hole in the tube looked like a big thorn or something like that. I patched it and pumped it up. I gave the camera to Gene to take the picture, but it didn’t turn out, so I have no official record of this flat tire.

Finally, when we got back into Pasadena, we saw the roadside vendor selling bonsai trees at “STUPID PRICES”.

It was a fun little ride.

42 miles.
cycling

7/29/2007

San Dimas and the Bagelry

Filed under: — stan @ 9:03 pm

Today’s ride was to San Dimas for a bagel at the Bagelry. It was a typical summer day. Cool in the morning, but promising to get very hot later on.

The route out there is very straightforward. This ride involves lots of long, straight roads. Along the way, I found one abandoned couch. It was sitting on the sidewalk in front of Inflictions Tattoo on Cypress St in Covina.

When we got to the Bagelry, we were glad to see that the tables in the shade were available. So we sat down and had our bagels there.

Coming back, we headed west on Gladstone, which is always fast, since it’s very slightly downhill. We were cruising along pretty fast when Newton hit a small sharp rock and got an instant flat tire. I whipped out the camera to take the obligatory picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. The rock made a pretty big hole in the tire, so he had to put some electrical tape on the inside to cover the hole. Then we were back on the road.

At the end, the group split up in Arcadia. Some wanted to take the less-hill route up Orange Grove, while a few of us opted for the more-hill route on Grand View. But in the end we made it back to the park. I took a somewhat roundabout way home from the park, and I got a flat on Los Robles. Since I was alone, I had to do the picture Myspace-style, with the camera held at arms-length.

Even with the flats, it was a nice ride.

50 miles.
cycling

7/22/2007

Sunday ride

Filed under: — stan @ 7:53 pm

Today’s ride was one that didn’t really go anywhere in particular. We just went in a big circle around the San Gabriel Valley. There wasn’t much notable about it. Andre showed up and got a flat before we even left the park. Other than that, there wasn’t much to take pictures of. Still, it was a fun time.

Here’s the route, as recorded by Gaurav’s bike computer: www.allsportgps.com/Data/ActivityDisplay.aspx?tripId=76717

50 miles.
cycling

7/18/2007

Lida lunchtime

Filed under: — stan @ 7:31 pm

Route map

Today’s lunchtime ride was the Lida loop again. We like the two-mile downhill at the end. That’s great on a hot summer day.

The only funny thing I saw was the house for sale with the big banner advertising “LOW PAYMENTS/PAGOS BAJOS”. You don’t see that often around here.

Right after that, I got a flat. So I sat down in the shade of a building and fixed it, while Eric took the picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

Finally, it was time for the nice, long downhill back to the office. Along the way, I picked up two more abandoned couches.

It was a very nice ride, even with the flat tire.

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