Stan’s Obligatory Blog


A simple ride

Filed under: — stan @ 7:54 pm

Tomorrow is the last day of the Tour of California, and I’m going to be taking Lucinda down to Long Beach to see the race. So I went riding today.

The ride was Gene’s “Corner Bakery” ride, which just sort of noodles around the San Gabriel Valley, with a highlight of going up the nice hill between La Cañada and Glendale.

We rode out to Arcadia, and then south to Temple City. Then back west to San Marino. Along the way, I spotted an abandoned couch on Camino Real. So I got a picture for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

After passing through San Marino and South Pasadena, we turned north and rode through the San Rafael Hills. Then we went down Linda Vista and passed the Rose Bowl and continued on into La Cañada.

We started the climbing with a left on Corona Dr. The route sheet warned: steep. And it was. The guys with the fancy bike computers said it was about 14%. It was a steep couple of blocks, but I made it up in my 39×17, which I continue to insist is a fine hill-climbing gear.

At Inverness we went left, passing by the place where the road washed out two years ago. It looks like the repairs are almost done. Then we continued on up the hill on St. Katherine to the top. We regrouped at the top, and I marveled at the view. The air was very clear. I could see San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, and Saddleback all at the same time. And I even got all three in one picture.

Coming down the other side, we rode around the Rose Bowl and back into Pasadena. We stopped at The Corner Bakery for our rest and social time. Then we rode back to the park and we were done.

It was a pleasant ride, even though it never really did warm up all that much.

40 miles.


Toluca Lake

Filed under: — stan @ 10:03 pm

Today’s bike ride was out to Toluca Lake and back, with a stop at Priscilla’s for orange juice and a bagel. It was a very nice day for riding. We’ve done this ride many times before, so there’s no need to describe the route. But here are the highlights.

In Glendale, we saw an unusual car on the road. So Steve was talking to the driver at a light to find out more about it.

Right next to Priscilla’s I saw a poster for “Rocket Men“, which sounds like it could be fun.

On the L.A. River bike path, there was a Call Box. This was odd. I’ve never seen one anywhere but on a freeway. The bike path runs between the river and the 5 freeway, and right across from the Autrey Museum I saw a couch on the side of the freeway. It looked like it had fallen off a truck and been abandoned there. So of course I had to stop for a photo for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

In Highland Park, I came across another couch on Ave 50. It didn’t have the same sense of drama as the other one, but I collected it just the same.

At the end of the ride, I took a little trip out to Arcadia and back, since it was a very nice day for riding. That was where I saw the pickup with the pinup girls on the back.

As I said, it was a perfect day for riding.

50 miles.


Why do birds suddenly appear…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:49 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today I took a sightseeing bike ride to go visit some Americana. There were three targets for the day: The 1953 McDonald’s, the “Close to You” and “Only Just Begun” apartments, and Johnie’s Broiler, all in beautiful Downey, California. It was a cool day, but forecast to warm up nicely. A perfect winter’s day in SoCal.

I started out heading south, through San Marino and San Gabriel. I rode down through Whittier Narrows and then turned south again on Rosemead. Then I just went straight, all the way to Downey.

At one light, there was a very shiny tanker truck in front of me, so I took my picture reflected in it. Then I continued on to the where Rosemead turned in to Lakewood, and the 1953 McDonald’s. We’d visited there before, so I didn’t go inside to see the Ray Kroc museum this time.

Continuing on down Lakewood, I took a right on 5th St. That was where I saw a house undergoing a fairly drastic remodel. Only the front wall was still standing. Then I rode a short distance farther and found the “Close to You” and “Only Just Begun” apartment buildings. They are a pair, right across the street from each other, and they were bought by Karen and Richard Carpenter with their earnings from their first big hit songs, back in 1970.

I went a bit farther on 5th St to get to Firestone Blvd and Johnie’s Broiler. This is a 1950s Googie-style coffee shop that was being used as a used-car lot promising “BAJO MILLAGE” cars. It was also being considered for historic status. Apparently, the owners weren’t too happy about this, because they hired a bulldozer to start knocking it down without a permit. So the building is still half-standing, but in ruins.

Leaving Johnie’s, I backtracked to get to Paramount Blvd and headed north. At Mines Ave, I went right and went back to Rosemead. That was where I saw it. Shangri-L… Oh. It said Shangri Lodge. Never mind. The place was kind of scary, with bars and bulletproof glass around the manager’s office.

I took a left on Beverly to take the scenic route back up through Montebello. That was where I saw yet another abandoned couch for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

At San Gabriel Blvd, I turned left, and immediately heard that telltale hissing sound. I had a flat. Since I was riding alone, I had to take the obligatory picture Myspace-style, with the camera held at arm’s length. I put on a spare tire, and continued on.

I went up Walnut Grove to get back up to San Gabriel, and then went west a bit on Longden to get back to Del Mar. Then it was straight up through San Marino and back to the park.

It was a pleasant ride.

Addendum: I fixed my flat tire this evening. I was riding my old racing bike today. So I was riding Old School. This is the first time in three years that I’ve fixed a sew-up tire. I’m out of practice. I used to do this all the time and didn’t think anything of it. But it was hard.

42 miles


Bubbles – almost

Filed under: — stan @ 9:51 pm

Today’s bike ride was a sightseeing trip to see the “Bubbles” art installation in Silver Lake. Sadly, we managed to miss it. I wasn’t paying attention at the right moment, and we rode right by it. When I realized we’d ridden past it, I looked at my clock, and it was still before 10:00, so it wasn’t open anyway. So we missed it. D’oh!

We started out from Victory Park under gloomy skies. It was damp and threatening to rain. Gene decided not to do the ride today because he thought we’d get rained on. But the rest of us soldiered on. We headed west and north, up to La Cañada, and then took Chevy Chase up and over the hill in to Glendale. Along the way, I saw a storefront for a soon-to-be-opened cafe. The sign was kind of funny, since I’d never seen graffiti-style Armenian writing before. But I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s in Glendale.

Then something happened that nobody quite understood, and we found ourselves on San Fernando Road. But that was all right. We just took a right on Fletcher and got back on track. Crossing the L.A. River, we entered Silver Lake. We took Silver Lake Blvd past the reservoir and down the hill, passing by the Bubbles installation. And when I realized we’d passed it, I also realized we were too early for it anyway, so we just continued on.

Riding through Koreatown and Hancock Park, we came out at 2nd and Larchmont, right across from Snow White’s Wishing Well. Then we turned and rode up Larchmont to Noah’s Bagels.

While we were having our bagels, someone said, “Where’s Ben?” That was when I noticed that he was sitting on the sidewalk behind the table next to ours. He was fixing a flat. So I leapt up and grabbed my camera to get a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

After the snack stop, we rode east a bit on Melrose, passing the big front gate at Paramount Pictures. Then we turned and rode up Wilton. Along the way, we passed a bunch of abandoned couches, but I wasn’t fast enough with the camera to capture them. Then we turned right on Franklin to start the ride home.

On Franklin, there was an airstream trailer that was covered in graffiti. It looked pretty odd, so I took a picture of it. Then we rode across the Shakespeare Bridge and then over to Rowena Ave to get back to Fletcher.

Going through Atwater Village, I noticed that the muffler man had been redecorated. The took the Santa hat off him, and he was repainted with hearts. I’ll try and get a picture the next time we go by there.

The route home was up Eagle Rock Blvd and then east across Highland Park. I saw a couch there, and this time I was able to get a picture, so at least I didn’t come home empty-handed. Then we turned left on Ave 64 for a final climb up Burleigh to La Loma. That was where I saw the house that looked like a giant pagoda. It was pretty funny, so I took a picture of it.

After all that, we just took Orange Grove home across Pasadena. When we got back to the park, it was pretty early, so I rode out to Sierra Madre and back for no particular reason. Then, when I got home, my odometer said 49.3, so I rode around the block just to put it over 50. We didn’t get rained on, so it was a nice ride.

50 miles


A ride in the Hollywood Hills

Filed under: — stan @ 8:14 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s bike ride was a nice jaunt through the Hollywood Hills to stalk Lindsay Lohan. I’d read yesterday in the gossip column that Lindsay Lohan had checked into rehab. The article mentioned Wonderland Center. So I looked it up. They have a web site and everything. But when I saw the address, I thought, “I’ve been by there on my bike a hundred times, and I’ve never even noticed that there was anything there.” So I figured a ride out there was in order, just to see how they have the place hidden.

I started out across Pasadena on Orange Grove. Then I went down the Colorado Hill, but I took the ’shortcut’. I’d never been down Brixton before. It’s steep, so going down was a whole lot easier than going up. Then I took Yosemite and Eagle Rock Blvd down through Glassell Park.

The church on Eagle Rock Blvd had a new sign up today, so I got a picture. Then I took Fletcher down to the river, pausing to take a couple of pictures of the Muffler Men in Atwater Village.

Crossing the river, I rode through Silver Lake and over the Shakespeare Bridge into Hollywood. I rode straight down Hollywood Blvd, which is always kind of a surreal experience early in the morning. At the Chinese Theater I saw a big crowd of tourists looking at the footprints and getting their pictures taken with someone dressed as Charlie Chaplin.

Leaving the tourist-trap Hollywood, I continued on to Nichols Canyon Road. I took a right there and headed up the canyon. Nichols Canyon is easily my favorite road in the Hollywood Hills. It’s nice and quiet, it was recently repaved, and it’s not too steep. I stopped for a picture in someone’s driveway mirror, and also for a picture of the Keith Haring mailbox.

At the top of Nichols Canyon, I took a left on Woodrow Wilson to get to Mulholland. Along the way, I passed number 7734. Our house number is ‘1134′, and I tell people it’s easy to remember because you can put it in a calculator and turn it upside-down to spell ‘hEll’. But 7734 is even better. It spells ‘hELL’. So there.

Woodrow Wilson comes out on the crest of the hill right at the intersection of Mulholland and Laurel Canyon. I went left on Mulholland to pass by the rehab center gate at 8207 Mulholland. When I got to the gate, I could see why I’d never noticed it before. It’s just a little driveway, and you can’t see the gate unless you turn and go up to the bend in the driveway. Of course, there’s no sign. There was just one lone paparazzo staked out in a Land Rover with blacked-out windows parked across the street. I snapped a quick picture of the gate and then continued on Mulholland to go refill my water bottle at Fryman Canyon Park. For some reason, I felt like I needed a drink.

I filled my water bottle up at the park and then headed back down Mulholland. At the second intersection with Woodrow Wilson, I took a left to take the shortcut down to Cahuenga Pass. I also wanted to pass by for a look at Harrison Ford’s old house, which is for sale. They’re even having an open house there on Sunday if you want to see it. It’s “Reduced!” to only $1,299,000.

Coming out down in Cahuenga Pass, I took the bridge across the freeway and then went up Wonder View to avoid riding on Cahuenga Blvd. Usually, I have trouble convincing other people to go this way, since it’s a pretty steep hill. But since I was riding alone, I was free to go up any hill I wanted. And this one was it. Then, at the top, I went down Lake Hollywood and came out on Barham for the ride down to Burbank.

I rode down through Griffith Park to Riverside, and then into Glendale. I took the direct route across Glendale to get to Colorado in Eagle Rock. Then back across Eagle Rock on Yosemite, up the Colorado Hill, and back home.

It was a pleasant ride.

47 miles.


Very chilly bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 9:31 pm

Today’s bike ride was held on what will probably be the coldest day of the year. It’s the coldest day I’ve ever seen here in L.A. since I moved here in 1982. It was 28 degrees on my back porch this morning. I wore almost everything I own to try to be warm, including my bagfoot. When I rode down to the park to meet the group, I slipped on some ice. That was shocking. I’ve never seen actual ice on the ground in L.A. before. It’s something that just Does Not Happen.

We started out from the park and rode over past the Rose Bowl, and then up into La Cañada. Then we went down Hospital Hill into Montrose.

In La Crescenta, we stopped to see the Rock Haven Sanitarium. Marilyn Monroe’s mother reputedly spent some time there, as well as other screen stars of bygone years.

The ride was supposed to be through La Tuna Canyon, but none of us was looking forward to freezing on the four-mile downhill into Sunland. So we decided to do a different ride. We headed down Verdugo and into Glendale. Then we took Mountain and Kenneth over to Paradise Bakery.

At Paradise, I had my usual two chocolate eclairs. They have the best chocolate eclairs there. Then we rode down Sonora to Riverside and got on the L.A. River bike path. We took the path all the way to Fletcher. At the little cul-de-sac at the end of the bike path, I saw another abandoned couch for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

The way home went up Eagle Rock Blvd and then across on Meridian St. It was there that I noticed the Vikki and Newton were twinsies today, so I took a picture of them in their nearly-matching yellow helmets and jackets. Then we rode across South Pasadena and San Marino, and finally up Sierra Madre Blvd and back to Victory Park. When I rode home across the park, I saw that the ice had melted, so guess it warmed up a little bit today.

41 miles.


The shortest street in L.A.

Filed under: — stan @ 5:56 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a sightseeing trip to see Powers Place. This is reputed to be the shortest named street in Los Angeles. It is 13 feet long.

Setting out from Victory Park, we rode down Sierra Madre Blvd to Huntington Drive. Then we went right and rode almost all the way to downtown L.A. Forking off on Mission Road, we skirted the east side of downtown, passing through the warehouse district. I saw my first abandoned couch of the day there. Then we turned right on 4th St and rode across the bridge. We got a nice view of the downtown towers, as well as the Metro Red Line yards.

Coming in to Little Tokyo, we went left on Central Ave and headed down into the industrial underbelly of downtown. There was a strong smell of food processing there. Then, at Pico, we went right, and I took a picture of the Coca-Cola building there. This is a famous building that was built to resemble a ship.

Riding west on Pico, we went through the garment district, and also passed the site of the oozing oil last year. Then we rode through the convention center and on to Powers Place.

At Powers Place, I stopped for a couple of pictures. It really was that short. Then we headed north on Hoover to 11th and over to Vermont.

Vermont Ave was really wretched to ride on, but the whole point of it was to get a picture of the “Porno Mania” sign at Olympic. It’s not every day that you see a store with such a straightforward name.

Turning on Wilshire, we got off of Vermont and then took some smaller side streets to get up to 2nd St, which we rode all the way over to Larchmont. Along the way, we saw the second abandoned couch of the day, as well as the Harbin Deer Antler Trading Company. We were happy to see that the health department gave them an “A”, so they are handling the deer antlers in a sanitary manner.

At Larchmont, we stopped for a bagel at Noah’s. Then we continued north, passing by Paramount Studios on Gower. Then we heard a tremendous “POP!”. I looked back and saw Jon stopping and looking at his back tire. The tire had come off the rim and blown out the tube. There was a rip about four inches long in the tube. So I took out my camera and took a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. Jon replaced the tube, and we were on our way again.

The rest of the ride home was the standard route back from Hollywood. Across the Shakespeare Bridge and then home by way of Fletcher, Eagle Rock, and Yosemite. That was the site of the third and final abandoned couch of the day. Then we got to the Colorado Hill. We climbed the hill and then rode back across Pasadena to the park.

Aside from the traffic on Vermont Ave, it was a very pleasant ride.

43 miles.


Newton’s Nemesis

Filed under: — stan @ 10:06 pm

Route map

Update: Here is the ride profile

Today’s ride was Gene’s “Newton’s Nemesis” ride, which is a ride up and down the canyons above Sierra Madre, Arcadia, and Monrovia. It’s not a super-long ride, but it’s hard. Newton is the hillclimber in our group, so Gene made this route just so that he would have a chance to show us just how good he is at it.

We started out from Victory Park. Only one guy drove his car there, but then he realized that he couldn’t park there today because of the preparations for the Rose Parade. So he had to move his car, and Gene brought his bike along. Then we started the ride, heading east up Sierra Madre Blvd. We passed the area set up for the post-parade float viewing. Then we turned left at Michillinda and headed up the hill.

The first canyon climb was up above Sierra Madre. It went up a steep hill in a canyon, making a loop and coming out on the same street where we started. Then we rode down Mountain Trail almost to the freeway before heading east a little more to get to Santa Anita. Then we turned left, up the hill again.

Climbing up Santa Anita, we rode up another steep canyon road there. This was probably the hardest climb on the ride. I had to say ‘uncle’ and shift there. Then, when we got to the top, we came back down, ending up on Highland Oaks and Foothill.

Going left on Foothill, we crossed into Monrovia. Usually we ride across on Hillcrest, but this time, we rode up yet another steep canyon. Here, we saw three deer snoozing on someone’s front lawn. They were ignoring us until I stopped to take pictures. Then they got up and left.

On the last canyon climb I had a little laugh about the cars I saw parked in front of one of the houses. When you put a cover on a car, nobody can see what kind of car it is, so it no longer functions as a status symbol. Unless you’re this guy and you get car covers with “BMW” printed on them. Then you can prevent sun damage and still make sure everyone knows you have a BMW. Of course, I didn’t peek under the cover to see if maybe it was really a Hyundai or something under there…

After the last canyon, we rode out through Duarte and took the San Gabriel River bike path up to the mouth of the canyon above Azusa. Then we went south through Azusa and back west to Monrovia, where we stopped for a snack at Planet Cookies. It was pretty good. Then we rode home.

I rode part-way across Pasadena with Vikki just to see the masses of people who were already camping out along the Rose Parade route. I think they’re nuts. But that’s just me.

47 miles.



Filed under: — stan @ 10:16 pm

Today’s bike ride was my old ‘Lake Hollywood’ route. Gene convinced the club to do it as a regular Saturday ride. So I had to go along, if for no other reason than to see the looks on everyone’s faces when they saw the hill up to the Hollywood Sign.

It was a sunny day. A bit chilly by SoCal standards, but nice.

We started out from Victory Park in Pasadena and headed west. On Yosemite Dr in Eagle Rock, we had to stop because Sandy got a flat. I whipped out my camera and took a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. Then we continued on down to the L.A. River and across into Los Feliz and Silver Lake.

The Shakespeare Bridge was decorated for the holidays. Then from there we rode Franklin Ave across Hollywood. At Beachwood, we turned right and headed up the hill. This is the street that goes almost directly up toward the Hollywood sign. We rode up to the stone gate that marks the entrance to the old Hollywoodland development, and then we turned left on Belden Dr. At this point I told everyone, “You may or may not spot any celebrities around here, but by the time you get to the top of this hill you’ll be seeing stars.”

Belden Dr climbs up the west side of Beachwood Canyon, and it’s pretty steep in places. Probably around 15% or so. Then we turned on Flagmoor and it got even steeper. When we crested the hill we were all panting with the exertion. Somehow, I managed to make the hill without having to shift out of my Stupid Gear that I usually ride up hills. It’s a 39×17, and I stubbornly insist that it’s a fine hillclimbing gear.

Passing Wolf’s Lair Castle at the top of the hill, we rode up to Mulholland Dr. We stopped there to regroup, and I took the little side trip up Mulholland to just below the Hollywood Sign. Then we all headed down the hill, past Lake Hollywood, and then up one more groaner of a hill to get to Wonder View. I took out my camera to get a picture of the view of the Hollywood Reservoir and downtown Los Angeles. Then we headed down the hill into Burbank.

The snack stop was at Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake. I had the requisite bagel and orange juice. Then we headed back by way of Griffith Park and into Glendale. I snapped a couple of pictures as we passed by the Dreamworks offices. Then we took Glenoaks across all the way to Chevy Chase, including the short but steep hill at the end.

Turning left on Chevy Chase, we headed up the hill. We went right on Linda Vista and up to the crest of the hill. That was where Figueroa St crosses, and I noticed that the sign was misspelled. It said ‘Figueora’. Heh.

We rode down Lida into Pasadena, riding around the Rose Bowl and stopping to peek into the big tent where the are building the floats for next week’s parade. Then we took Orange Grove back to the park.

It was a very pleasant ride.

43 miles.

My old hunting dog

Filed under: — stan @ 12:12 am

This is the story of the resurrection of my old racing bike. The frame broke from metal fatigue about two years ago. When it broke, it was like losing my old hunting dog. I wanted to get it fixed because this bike and I have a great history together.

I rode this bike for 29 years. I made Category 2 on it. I rode up Mt Washington on it. I even rode it through Death Valley. And I was on it for my greatest ride ever.

So here is the story of my old bike.

Back in 1977, I was a USCF Junior racer, and I rode with the North Jersey Bicycle Club. We had the good fortune to be coached for a year by Eddie Borysewicz. He had just moved to the U.S. the previous fall after coaching the Polish Olympic team in the ‘76 Montreal Olympics. He was missing being involved in bike racing, so he asked a local bike shop where he could find a racing club, and he showed up at one of our meetings. He agreed to coach us for a year to get back into it, and it was a great experience for all of us.

In our early-season training camps, he noticed that I was sitting kind of strangely on my bike. He decided that because of my build, I should have a frame with a special geometry, and he sketched it out for our club’s framebuilder. At the time, most of the riders in our club rode frames built by Pepe Limongi, but I couldn’t afford his work. But he had an understudy who was learning framebuilding, and he fit my budget. His name was Cuevas, and he later went on to great acclaim as a framebuilder.

So I wanted to get my bike fixed. After some searching, I found Bill Rider, who is a framebuilder here in the L.A. area. I contacted him and inquired about fixing my frame. He said that he could do it, and he came and picked it up. The first photo shows the frame after I stripped it down. The second shows a closeup of the fatigue crack. Bill had to replace both the top and down tubes. The top tube was pitted with rust. The last photo shows the bike after I reassembled it. We tried to duplicate the original color. Overall, he did a very nice job.

So now I can ride Old School again.

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