Stan’s Obligatory Blog


A very nice ride to nowhere

Filed under: — stan @ 2:47 pm

Today’s ride was a very pleasant ride to nowhere in particular.

We started out from Victory Park and headed east. We rode through Sierra Madre and Arcadia to Duarte. Then we took the San Gabriel River bike path up to the mouth of the canyon before turning south again and riding down through Azusa.

Next, we turned east again and rode out to Covina, and then south a bit before heading back west. We took Badillo St all the way back through Baldwin Park to get to Peck Road. Then we turned north and took Myrtle Ave into Monrovia.

When we got to Old Town Monrovia, we stopped for a snack at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf there.

The last part of the ride was straight back through Arcadia and Sierra Madre. When we got back to the park, I had 42 miles, so Ben and I rode down to Caltech. We stopped for a drink at my office, and then headed back.

It was a very pleasant ride, even if we didn’t go anywhere in particular.

50 miles.

Of course, the real fun began when I got home. I noticed that my back tire was going flat. So I took it off and found that I’d run over a tiny thorn. I looked in my patch kit, and all I had was one of those long oval patches. So I cut it in half to make two patches. I patched the tube and put the tire back on. Then, while I was pumping up the tire, the valve broke off. In over 30 years using presta valves, this is the first time I’ve had a valve break off. But the really irritating thing about it was that I’d just used my next-to-last patch fixing that tube. So I got my spare tube and put that in. But while I was levering the tire onto the rim, I suddenly heard that little exhale sound from inside, and I knew I’d just pinched the tube. Crap. I pulled out that section of tube, and there was a little rip in it. Good thing I’d cut that last patch in half. I patched the hole with the second half of my last patch, and then I carefully finished putting the tire on. It’s holding air, but I think a trip to the bike shop is on my schedule for tomorrow.


Lida and a story about a bear

Filed under: — stan @ 6:27 pm

No, we didn’t see a bear on today’s ride. But a bear figured in it anyway.

I met Vikki at lunchtime and we headed out to do the Lida Loop again. There was some filming going on up the street from our office today. The crew sign said “ANONYMOUS”, which wasn’t much of a clue. But they had about the nicest portable bathroom I’ve ever seen.

We did the usual route through Old Town to the Rose Bowl, and then up and over the hill. We came down and back into Pasadena, passing JPL. It was near there that we started talking about the relative danger of different careers, and Vikki mentioned that geology is one of the most dangerous ‘white collar’ careers. I’d heard this before, and the danger is usually attributed to geologists having to spend time doing field work in remote areas.

This led to Vikki telling a very long story about a field trip she took years ago that involved helicopters, forest fires, pointed sticks, and a large bear. I can’t even begin to do the story justice here, but it was alternately inspiring and hilariously funny. So this is a reason to come along on the Foothill Cycle Sunday Morning Ride. If you come on the ride and Vikki is there, be sure to have her tell the story about the bear.

When we crossed Lake Ave and the bear story reached the part involving the pointy sticks, Vikki’s chain came off. It wedged itself between the chainring and frame. It was pretty firmly stuck, and it took us several minutes of pulling and twisting to get it unwedged. After it was all over, we realized that this would have been a picture-worthy moment, but by then it was too late.

After the chain incident, we headed back down the hill to the office, and the bear story was wrapped up. When we got back to campus, they were still filming, and there was also a news crew there. It’s unusual for news crews to show up there when there hasn’t been an earthquake. We never did find out what they were doing there.

It was a fun ride, bear and all.

18 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


A trip to Westwood

Filed under: — stan @ 7:53 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a special one. I met Gene and Jon at the park and we rode out to Westwood to do some sightseeing.

We took the standard route through South Pasadena and Highland Park. Then we crossed the L.A. River into Silver Lake, and then on into Hollywood. We rode down Hollywood Boulevard, which is always a kind of surreal experience. Then we took some back streets through West Hollywood to get to the Sunset Strip.

A couple blocks on the Strip brought us to Doheny, were we took a little side trip to see the Garagemajal. Indeed, it was big. I had a hard time fitting it all into one picture.

Next, we rode some more on Sunset and crossed into Beverly Hills. Our first sightseeing stop was at 722 Elm, which was the Menendez murder house. Then we continued on a bit to see the Witch’s house on Walden. Then we came out on Santa Monica Blvd and rode through Century City into Westwood.

The main attraction there was the Pierce Brothers cemetery. We had been there last November to visit Marilyn Monroe’s grave, and today we were there to see Rodney Dangerfield. We also stopped to see a number of others, including:

Pictures are in my Graves Gallery.

When I first came to California in 1978, I spent the spring racing my bike with the Claremont Colleges cycling team. Eric Douglas was a student at Pitzer College at the time, and I remember that everyone there regarded him as being somewhat strange. I thought that this was kind of novel, as I was usually the one the other kids thought strange, so it was odd for it to be someone else.

Dorothy Stratten was the 1980 Playmate of the Year, and I remember her just because she was the first Playmate I ever saw who was younger that I was. At the time I felt that that was something of a milestone. Of course, now I’m old enough to be the typical Playmate’s father, which I guess is also a sort of milestone. But let’s not dwell on that…

Leaving the cemetery, we rode through Holmby Hills to the park so we could get some water. While we were there, Jon bought a burrito from a catering truck. Then we headed up the hill.

The main climb was through Benedict Canyon, which is generally a pretty nice street for riding. This brought us up onto Mulholland Drive at the top of the ridge. Then we rode Mulholland all the way down to the 101 freeway in Cahuenga Pass. This was a small part of the ride that wasn’t so pleasant. Riding 20 feet away from a freeway is not very nice. But it was only for a short distance. Then we headed down the hill into Burbank and Forest Lawn.

At the entrance to Forest Lawn, there was a huge funeral procession. The main road into the cemetery was completely filled, and the line of cars waiting to get in was backed up down the road for about a half-mile. And, since we are in California, about half of the cars had only one person in them.

The last part of the ride was across Glendale and Eagle Rock. I broke a spoke in Glendale, but it turned out to be on the left side, so I was able to replace it right there. Then we took Colorado across Eagle Rock, stopping at Trader Joe’s for some orange juice.

The homestretch was up the Colorado hill and back into Pasadena. It was a nice ride.

65 miles.


Lunchtime bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 8:30 pm

Route map

Today we gave Lida St. a rest. For the first time in a month, we went somewhere else.

We started out across campus and down San Pasqual St to Sierra Madre Blvd. Then we went south, almost to Huntington Drive to get on Monterey Road. Then we rode west across San Marino and South Pasadena.

Just after crossing the Gold Line tracks, we turned north on Arroyo and rode back into Pasadena. We went left on La Loma and up the hill there, then north on San Rafael to Colorado. Then we went left and then right on Patrician Way to go up the hill behind Eagle Rock. We had just ridden down the hill there on the Sunday ride a couple weeks ago, but I’d never been up that way before. It was nice. On the way up, I took a couple of pictures, and I gave the camera to Vikki to take a picture, since I’m almost never in the pictures from my bike rides.

At the top, we went down the winding road down to Linda Vista. When we got to Lida St, we paused to wave at the hill. Then we went down into the arroyo and past the Rose Bowl. We rode up the other side on Washington and back across Pasadena by way of Mountain and finally down Wilson and back to the office.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


La Tuna Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 1:27 pm

Today’s ride was “La Tuna Canyon East to West”. This is the ‘easy’ way through there, since the climb up is broken up in short stages, and we go down the four-mile hill into Sunland. (I actually prefer to do it the other direction, since I like going up the four-mile hill, but I’m just funny that way.)

It was a perfect day. We headed across Pasadena and past the Rose Bowl before riding up into La Cañada. Then it was down Hospital Hill into Montrose for the gradual climb up to La Tuna Canyon.

We stopped for a minute at the top of the canyon, and then headed down the hill. This was the first time I’ve gone down that hill and not been the last guy to the bottom. That was novel. I also used the top gear on my bike for the first time in the two years that I’ve had it.

At the bottom, we got on Glenoaks and rode back into Glendale to our snack stop at Paradise Bakery. As always, I had two chocolate eclairs. Not exactly the Breakfast of Champions, but the eclairs are very good there.

After the stop, we took a slightly different route back across Glendale to get to Verdugo Blvd. Then it was back up the hill to Montrose and the obligatory trip up Hospital Hill. At the top, I noticed that I was dripping and had made a little puddle on the ground, so I took a picture of it. And I had one of those ‘what the hell happened to my life’ moments. I used to see a hill like that and think, “Hey, here’s my chance to break away”, but now I just think, “I hope I can keep up with Newton.”

Coming down the hill, we crossed back into Pasadena. Then Newton and I rode out to Arcadia before I turned around and headed back across Sierra Madre to home.

52 miles.


Lida Lunch, and side trip to see Richter

Filed under: — stan @ 9:44 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s lunchtime ride was the Lida Loop again. This makes something like four weeks in a row, but today we had directions to visit Charles Richter’s old house and his grave site. He is the Richter of the “Richter Scale”, which is familiar to anyone who lives in earthquake country.

We started out and rode through Old Town and down to the Rose Bowl. Then it was up Lida to the top of the hill. When we crossed into Glendale on Figueroa, we saw a deer. It was standing on the side of the road, but when it saw us coming it ran away.

Coming down the hill into La Cañada, we turned and headed back into Pasadena. Passing by JPL and the arroyo, we went up Casitas St. to Altadena Drive. Then we took a left on Lincoln to get to Villa Zanita, which is on the map as a street, but it was really just a dirt driveway that led back to several houses. We stopped and saw Richter’s old house. He and his wife moved there in the mid ’60s, after their old house was bought and bulldozed to make way for a freeway. The story I was told about this house was that when the realtor found it, Charles was out hiking in the mountains and could not be reached. But Lillian saw the house and decided that he would like it, at least in part because there was a counter that was just the right size for laying out paper seismograms. So they bought the house and he lived there for the rest of his life.

Leaving Villa Zanita, we headed down Lincoln to Ventura, and then left to Fair Oaks. There, we went into the Mountain View Cemetery. The directions I had gotten were not right, so Vikki ended up walking into the office to get a map. You know how it is. The woman always has to ask for directions. But they were very helpful. She got detailed instructions and a map, and we were able to find Richter’s grave very easily.

By this time, it was time to get back to the office. So we took the most direct way back, on Woodbury to Lake and then down Catalina and Wilson back to Caltech.

It was a fun ride.

And on the way home, I saw a house with some very large flowerpots in the front yard. The sign said that they were theatrical props and that they were trying to sell them. I don’t know if they will get any takers, but it was still a wonderfully weird sight.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.



Atonement, but for what?

Filed under: — stan @ 3:16 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today was a cool and overcast morning, which is a very nice change from the withering heat we’ve been having lately. The ride was Gene’s “Atonement Ride”, which he’s been talking about since spring. It has some big and steep hills, so it wasn’t really an appropriate ride for a hot day. So today was the day. I asked him what we were atoning for, but he said it was nothing in particular.

We started out heading west across Pasadena, skirting the Rose Bowl and then heading up past JPL in to La Cañada. Then we took a right and headed up the hill. There were several steep stretches with short flats in between. Just enough to recover a bit before the next climb. By the time we got to the top, we were up high enough on the mountain that we were inside the low clouds. We came out by the golf course on Angeles Crest and then headed down.

About halfway down the mountain, we turned off and did some more climbing. At the top, I noticed that James was making a puddle of sweat every time we stopped, so I had to take a picture. Then we headed down a very steep hill, which was kind of scary, since the road was wet.

At one of the wet turns, there was a little patch of mud, and Jon slipped and fell. Fortunately, we were going pretty slowly at the time, so he just got a little elbow scrape. After a little cleanup, we continued on, crossing into La Crescenta and then down Ocean View into Montrose.

We took a left in downtown Montrose and headed up Hospital Hill. Then we went right on Descanso and went down the hill for a bit before turning up Hampstead and up the hill again. At the top, we crossed over Chevy Chase and rode into Glendale, going up and over the hill to come out at Lida. It was here that I noticed that my bike computer had crapped out. It said I was going 0 down the hill, and I was pretty sure that wasn’t right.

Going down the hill on Lida we came out on Linda Vista by the Rose Bowl and headed south to get to Glenoaks. Then it was time to climb the hill again. That was where I saw the little squashed lizard on the road. Then it was up and over, coming down on the other side just above Eagle Rock. A left on Colorado brought us back into Pasadena.

Our snack stop was at the Corner Bakery on Lake. We all were pretty tired by that point, even though the ride wasn’t actually all that long. Still, it was nice to stop.

The last part of the ride was straight back to the park. Vikki and I took off at that point and did one of our lunchtime routes out to Arcadia. We went up Highland Oaks and back across Sierra Madre on Grand View. After that, I said ‘uncle’ and decided I’d had enough.

It was a fun ride. And I made it up all the hills in my 39×17.

About 49 miles.

Addendum: Newton has the ride profile up on his blog.


Lida at Lunchtime, yet again

Filed under: — stan @ 6:15 pm

Today’s ride was the Lida Loop again. I rather like that route for a mid-day ride. It was another hot and humid day today. Yick.

On the way up the hill on Lida, I saw the discarded packaging for a “Flexidong”. I guess someone was in a hurry to get it out of the package. This was sort of reminiscent of my days riding in the Hollywood Hills, when I used to find lots of women’s clothing scattered along the road on Sunday mornings.

Coming down the other side of the hill, I rode past JPL and back into Pasadena. I saw Shannon outside her house, sweeping the sidewalk. So I stopped and we chatted for a bit.

Continuing on, I took a side trip to Mountain View Cemetery again, this time to look for Charles Richter’s grave. But all I had was the area and not a curb number, so I couldn’t find him. I’ve asked some people at the Seismo Lab, but nobody knows exactly where he is.

The last part of the ride was down Holliston and back to the office. That two miles downhill is always nice on a hot day.

On the way home from work, I saw some more filming going on. They had the street blocked off, but they said it was all right to ride through, so I didn’t have to detour.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


No celebrities, but a roast none the less…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:39 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today I met Gene for a ride out to Encino to the velodrome. I had heard that they were going to be doing 1/10-scale radio-controlled model car racing there. I thought that this would be something interesting and different to see.

On the way out, we stopped off at the tiny house we’d seen back in April. We wanted to see if it had sold, and indeed it had. It had a new coat of paint and an owner out tending the garden. We chatted with her a bit and we were glad to see that the tiny house had found some love.

When we got to the velodrome, some of the racers were doing practice laps. The cars were going quite fast. Oddly enough, there was a rather attractive young woman with a camera crew there. Given that radio-controlled race cars are kind of a geeky hobby, her presence seemed a bit odd. So we asked them about it. They were from The Outdoor Channel, which has a show called Inside R/C. So they asked if we wanted to be in the sign-off for the show. We stood on either side of the host, Anna Curtis, while she recited her spiel. She finished with, “and now it’s time for us to go, because these guys want their track back”, while we just smiled stupidly. It was fun. They said that the show would probably air in the fall, so if anyone has cable and can get me a screen-capture, that would be great.

We left the velodrome and headed back across the park. We stopped to refill our water bottles at the water fountain right below the sign warning that ‘lewd conduct’ would be prosecuted. I’m not sure I want to know what goes on in that park after the soccer games are over.

We took Burbank Blvd to Van Nuys and then went down to Chandler, which is a nice, tree-lined street. The shade was a good thing, because I got a flat there. So we stopped in the shade of a big tree and I fixed the tire. The eastern part of Chandler is where the Orange Line busway is, and we got a look at the big articulated bus. It was very quiet, which is maybe why when it first opened it broadsided lots of cars on the cross streets.

On Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake we saw the Barris Custom shop. He is perhaps best known for building the 1966 Batmobile, but his shop makes a lot of weird vehicles for the movies.

In Glendale we stopped at a Carl’s Jr. and got some cold drinks. I filled my water bottle up with ice and water and then drank the whole thing twice. We sat in the air conditioning for a little while before braving the heat again.

In Eagle Rock I hit the proverbial wall. There was no shade and it was well over 100 degrees. I just started riding slower and slower. On the Colorado hill I actually shifted down to my lowest gear and just crawled up the hill. Fortunately, after that there were no more hills. But we had to stop at Memorial Park in Pasadena so I could lie down in the shade and pour water on my head. I think I had heat exhaustion. It was so bad that for the rest of the ride home, I put my foot down at every light, rather than doing my usual track stand. And at the end, Gene rode with me all the way to my street just to be sure that I wasn’t going to keel over.

When I got home, the thermometer on the back porch said 110 degrees. That’s about 44C for non-USAnians. I drank my water bottle four times on the ride, which is over 3 liters of water, but I was still 7 pounds (3.2kg) lighter when I got home. Yikes.

59 miles, one flat tire, and heat exhaustion.


Lida at Lunchtime, yet again

Filed under: — stan @ 6:04 pm

Today’s ride was a solo effort. I’d forgotten that Vikki was going on vacation, or “on holiday”, as she says in her Canadian parlance. But it was a nice day, so I went anyway.

Leaving campus, I saw a car with a couple of “Wizard of Oz” murals painted on it. “Don’t make me get my flying monkeys!” Then I rode through Old Town and past the Rose Bowl to the hill on Lida.

On the way up Lida, I saw a makeshift memorial on the side of the road for “Blue Boy”, which I gathered was someone’s bike, destroyed in a collision with a car. I guess that means that his owner wasn’t too seriously hurt, which is a good thing.

At the top of the hill, I saw another “Lost Pet” sign. This time it was for a desert tortise. Last week it was a lost snake. There are people who think that lost dogs and cats can predict earthquakes. So what could a rash of lost pet reptiles foretell? Global warming?

Heading down the hill, I made the loop back into Pasadena. I took Ventura across to Fair Oaks and then took a small side trip to Mountain View Cemetery. I’d read recently that this cemetery is used a lot for filming, and apparently today was no exception. There were two separate productions going on there. I rode past both of them to find the grave of Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist from Caltech. When I was a physics major in college, Feynman was a legend. Reading his book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman was entertaining, inspirational, and it also taught me how to pick locks. Truly a lasting legacy.

Leaving the cemetery, I rode the rest of the way across Pasadena and then down the long hill back to the office. When I got there, I took a Myspace-style portrait in the reflective glass of the back door.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.

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