Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Tuesday lunchtime ride

Filed under: — stan @ 7:57 pm

Route map

This week we did the lunchtime ride on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. The route was the flat one out to Monrovia and back.

We headed out east on San Pasqual, and then took California around the bend into Temple City Blvd. Left on Camino Real, and then left again on 5th St in Arcadia.

5th St is a nice quiet street, mainly because it doesn’t go through. It stops at the railroad tracks. But there is a little pedestrian tunnel under the tracks, so we just rode through that and continued on into Monrovia.

The last part of the ride was up the hill to Grand View and then back across Sierra Madre. There were a couple of deer on the street there, but they ran away before I could get a good picture. Then we headed down the hill and back to the office.

It was a very nice ride, and there were no killer hills this time.

19 miles at lunch, 28 for the day.


7000 feet

Filed under: — stan @ 3:51 pm

Route map and photo locations

Did I just call Crown Ave a “killer hill“? What was I thinking? Today we rode up the mountain that starts at the top of Crown Ave.

The plan was a sightseeing trip to see the remains of the old Nike Ajax antiaircraft missile site at Barley Flats. This involved climbing the mountains.

I met up with James in front of his house, and we headed up. We rode across Pasadena and La Cañada to get to Angeles Crest Highway. Right away, we passed Starlight Crest, which is the top of the big hill on the Wednesday lunchtime ride. Then we started climbing in earnest.

Angeles Crest is nice. It’s not steep, but it’s a consistent climb. Probably about 5% or so. This went on for about 9 miles until we got to the ranger station at Clear Creek. At this point, we stopped to refill water bottles, and then continued on. The road drops down a few hundred feet before starting a steeper climb up to the turnoff for Mt. Wilson at Red Box.

Then, we continued on to get to Barley Flats Road. This is a little turnoff that goes to the old missile launch site. As Gene says, “but it looked flat on the map!” This road was a steep hill, and it just went on and on. It was about half-way up this hill when I said ‘uncle’ and shifted to a lower gear. And to make matters worse, there were flies buzzing around our heads the whole way up. And because it was steep uphill, there was no way to go fast enough to outrun them. Finally, about two miles and 1000 vertical feet later, we came to the Flats and a locked gate with a big “NO TRESPASSING” sign on it. So this was the closest we got to the missile launch pads.

Next, it was time to go back down the big hill we’d just ridden up. Ordinarily, this would be the fun part, but the road was very rough, and littered with rocks and giant pine cones. So it was kind of a harrowing descent. Then, when we got to the bottom, we took Angeles Crest back to Red Box.

At Red Box, the sign said it was 5,600 feet, but I don’t believe that. If that were so, then it would only be about 400 feet of climbing to get to the top of Mt. Disappointment from there. And that road was two miles of uphill hell. First, we had to climb under a gate to get on the road. Then it was steep and littered with rocks. It was about two miles to get up the mountain, and I used my lowest gear the whole way.

Mt Disappointment was the radar and command post for the Barley Flats missile site. There are the foundations of some buildings just below the summit, and some large concrete pads at the top where the radars were. But the whole thing is used for radio relay equipment now.

There is a small flat spot just before the final pitch to the summit. When I got there, James was sitting down and resting. I said something like, “we’re almost there and we can’t have come this far and not make the summit”. And I headed up the final steep hill. About half-way up, I had to stop and lie down. I was just fried. We rested a bit before tackling the final hundred yards to the top. When we got there, I finished my water and James gave me the last of his Gatorade. It wasn’t a hot day, but I was getting dehydration cramps on the last part of the hill.

After a brief rest and sightseeing at the top of the mountain, we headed back down. Again, it was a tricky descent, with big rocks all over the road. When we got back to Red Box, I refilled my water bottle. Then we headed for home.

After the long descent down to Colby Canyon, we had to do a short climb up to Clear Creek. This was hell. My legs were cramping the whole way, so I had to go slowly. But when we got to the Clear Creek ranger station, we knew it was literally downhill all the way home.

The descent on Angeles Crest is nice. The road is pretty good, and it’s enough of a grade that it’s a pleasant downhill without being scary. It’s 9 miles down to Foothill Blvd, and we didn’t have to pedal at all for that whole distance.

The last part of the ride was back home across Pasadena. James said that his bike computer estimated that he’d burned something like 5,000 calories. When I got home, I immediately ate all the leftovers in the refrigerator.

It was a nice ride, but it turned out to be much harder than I’d expected.

66 miles and about 7,000 feet of climbing.


Twins! And a killer hill

Filed under: — stan @ 6:10 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s lunchtime ride was the same as last week’s. We rode up Crown Ave in La Cañada so Vikki could get some more hill practice in preparation for the Furnace Creek 508.

We started out from the office, pausing briefly for a picture, since we were twinsies in our matching Caltech jerseys. Then we headed up Wilson to Mountain and then west to Arroyo.

We took a left at Woodbury and rode out toward JPL and Foothill Blvd. Then we went left and then right to head up the hill. This time I said ‘uncle’ and shifted before we got to the steepest part of the hill. Not that that helped a whole lot. It was still a killer hill.

At the top of Crown Ave, we got a nice view of the mountains, as well as about 100 feet of flat road to rest on before it went up some more. On the second steep pitch on Starlight Crest I heard that telltale sound: “SSSSSSSSSSSSSsssssssssssssssssssss…..” I had a flat. Fortunately, there was a nice shady spot by a water tank to sit and fix the tire. And we appreciated the brief rest. Vikki took the obligatory picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

After the flat fix, we finished climbing the hill and headed back down on Angeles Crest Highway. At the bottom, we got on Chevy Chase and then Berkshire through La Cañada to get on Linda Vista and pass the Rose Bowl. Then we took Holly and Green back across Pasadena to the office.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


Toluca Lake and some sightseeing

Filed under: — stan @ 2:15 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a sightseeing trip out to Toluca Lake. The stops were an elaborate homeless camp on an island in the Los Angeles River, and also F*art in Eagle Rock.

We started out doing the usual route across Pasadena, down the Colorado hill into Eagle Rock, and then across on Hill Dr. That was where my phone rang. It was Vikki. She had brought two of her Furnace Creek 508 teammates out for the ride, but due to some confusion, they had thought the ride started at 8:30. So I gave them directions so they could catch up to us, and we continued on.

In Glendale, I spotted a pair of abandonded couches, so I snapped a photo for the Abandoned Couches Blog. Then we continued on to Sonora, where we went left to get to Riverside Dr and the L.A. Equestrian Center. We rode through Burbank to Toluca Lake and our snack stop at Priscilla’s.

We had some bagels, juice, and such at Priscilla’s. When we were ready to leave, I called Vikki and found out that they were almost there. So I rode back down Riverside to find them, stopping to get a picture of the “Not a Through Alley” sign, which I thought was funny. After all, alleys are almost by definition not intended for through traffic. So I don’t know why they felt the need to actually put a sign up to that effect.

Once we were all together again, we headed back on Forest Lawn Dr into Griffith Park. Then at Riverside we got on the Los Angeles River bike path. We took the bike path all the way down to Fletcher, stopping briefly to see the very elaborate homeless camp in the riverbed. I guess it’s not a bad place to camp when it’s not the rainy season here.

Turning left on Fletcher, we headed back north to Eagle Rock Blvd, which we took all the way to the end at Colorado. Then we stopped to see the sign and window displays at F*art. Looks like an interesting place. Love the knife block. Then we went right to Yosemite for the trip across Eagle Rock. At Townsend, we took another right and rode up and over a short but steep hill. Gene said, “but it looked flat on the map!” Coming down the other side, we got on Meridian and took that to Ave 64.

A quick right on 64 and left on York brought us into South Pasadena and Monterey Rd. We took that across San Marino and then up Sierra Madre Blvd back to the park. At this point, I had 42 miles, and it was still early. So I rode with Vikki and her teammates out to Arcadia and back. On the way back through Sierra Madre, we paused to collect one more abandoned couch. Then we finished up the ride and came home.

It was a very pleasant ride.

52 miles.


Crown Avenue

Filed under: — stan @ 7:28 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s lunchtime ride was something different. Vikki wanted to do a hill, but we didn’t have time to go out to Chantry Flat, so we decided to do Crown Ave in La Cañada.

We started out from the office and went straight up Wilson to Mountain. Then we turned left and rode out to the 210 freeway. Going up Forest Ave, I saw two abandoned couches, so I collected them for the Abandoned Couch Blog.

At Woodbury, we turned left and took Oak Grove across the arroyo into La Cañada, where we turned on Foothill. Then it was time for Crown Ave. This is a very nice and very steep hill. It was so steep that I actually had to say ‘uncle’ and shift to a lower gear. Then, when we got to the top we turned left on Starlight Crest. And yes, by then I was seeing stars.

There was a little flat spot at the top before we had to climb some more. One of the houses had a little patch of grass fenced off with ‘Private Property’ signs. It wasn’t clear just exactly what was so special about that patch of grass.

Finally, we came out on Angeles Crest and headed down the mountain. The view from up there was pretty commanding. It was just another reminder of why Los Angeles is special. The city comes right up to the mountains, and it’s still amazing that we can ride our bikes right to the edge of the wilderness and be back all on our lunch hour.

The ride down was predictably fast. When we got to the bottom, we rode down past the Rose Bowl on Linda Vista. Then we took Green St. back across Pasadena to the office.

18 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


La Tuna Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 8:44 pm

Today’s ride was “La Tuna Canyon Inverse”, which is my favorite way to do La Tuna Canyon. It’s the way with the four-mile hill. I like long hills, when the climb lasts long enough to really savor.

We took the direct route out of Pasadena, going across the Colorado Bridge and then straight across Eagle Rock, Glendale, and Burbank to get to Sunland. There, we turned and got on La Tuna Canyon Road. Almost immediately, a big group of riders blasted by us. It was the regular Hollywood ride that starts from Griffith Park and goes up La Tuna Canyon. After they left us, a second group caught up. This time, we tried to stay with them. I managed to sort of keep up, but they were going pretty fast.

At the top, we all regrouped and headed down the other side into La Crescenta. We rode with the big group until we got to Montrose, where we stopped at the Oven Fresh Bakery. I got an apple-spice muffin and a chocolate eclair. I wanted to see how their eclair compared to the ones at Paradise Bakery.

While we were sitting there, I noticed a magazine there with a teaser on the cover: “Avoid Getting Old”. I’ve been given that advice many times, but nobody has ever told me just how to do it.

When it was time to actually eat the eclair, I had to pause to savor the aroma, like a fine Cuban cigar. Then I ate it. It was good. The white stripes on top were mint, which was a nice little addition. The chocolate frosting was a bit darker and stronger flavor than the ones at Paradise, and it was very good.

From there, we headed up Hospital Hill and then back into Pasadena. When we got back to the park, it was very early. So Gene suggested we ride down to the new Performance Bicycle store. So we headed over there. We stopped off at my office to visit the water cooler, and then rode to the store. Gene bought a new chain. Then we rode home across Pasadena. At Lake Ave, there was a guy twirling a big arrow advertising a new condominium complex. He was pretty acrobatic, so I got out my camera and caught him in mid-air.

It was a very nice ride, and a nearly perfect day.

50 miles.


Stuck in the Lida Rut

Filed under: — stan @ 7:56 pm

Vikki is back from traveling, so we went out at lunchtime for ‘the usual’, which means the Lida Loop.

It was just about a perfect day today. We did the usual route. Vikki told me about her experience of Ironman Canada, followed by a trip to Italy, followed by a trip to Palm Springs. It all sounded quite grueling, but she was in pretty good spirits. In particular, she seemed quite pleased with her Ironman experience, with a time of 12:24:17.

The last part of the ride was straight down the hill and back to the office. It was a very pleasant ride.

18 miles at lunch, 26 for the day.


A ride through Montrose

Filed under: — stan @ 1:14 pm

Since I can’t ride on Sunday, and nobody felt like doing the sightseeing trip up the mountains to see the old Nike missile site at Barley Flats, I went on the regular Foothill Cycle Saturday ride today. This was a pleasant little ride to nowhere in particular, with some nice hills.

We started out at Michillinda Park in Arcadia and rode back up through Pasadena. I stopped for a photo at B&D Auto in Altadena. This makes a nice companion for S&M Liquor. Then we went past JPL to get to La Cañada. Passing Descanso Gardens, we turned and went down Hospital Hill in to Montrose. Then we went west a bit more and then south into Glendale.

The fun part of the ride was back up and over the big hill on Chevy Chase. This is a nice hill, either up or down. Then we went back down into La Cañada and back home into Pasadena.

At this point, everyone split off to go home. I had only 35 miles, so I continued east, back to Arcadia. I made a loop down 1st and back up 2nd and then came home by way of Grand View in Sierra Madre.

It was a nice little ride on a very pleasant day.

50 miles.


Still stuck in the Lida rut

Filed under: — stan @ 5:23 pm

I went for the lunchtime bike ride again today. Vikki is out of town on a trip, so it was just me. I did the Lida Loop yet again. I got a new pair of wheels for my bike last night, since the old rims were pretty worn. So I wanted to try them out.

On the way in to the office in the morning, I saw a tree crew working down the street. Apparently, a very big oak tree branch fell on somebody’s garage last night. Have I mentioned lately that the city services in Pasadena are great?

Lunchtime came, and it was very hot. I did the usual route past the Rose Bowl and up and over the hill into La Cañada. On the way down Chevy Chase, I hit 37mph, which was pretty good on the winding downhill. I’m not as fearless as I used to be, but I’m getting better.

On the road near JPL, I had one of those “what’s wrong with this picture” moments.

As always, the last part of the ride was across Pasadena on Mendocino and then the long downhill back to the office.

18 miles at lunch, 28 for the day.


Another very pleasant ride to nowhere

Filed under: — stan @ 5:04 pm

Today’s bike ride was another of those ‘noodling around not going anywhere in particular’ rides that we do so much. It was fun. It also marked Tommy’s return to riding with the group after being off the bike for a couple of months after crashing in Turnbull Canyon.

We headed east into Arcadia, and then up into the foothills in Monrovia for a bit. Then east some more on flat land out to Duarte and the Santa Fe Dam bike path. We rode the path down past the dam and down the San Gabriel River to Lower Azusa Road.

Crossing the Rio Hondo, I saw a funny sign. Sadly, I wasn’t quick enough on the draw to get a picture. In giant letters it said, “PAINLESS DENTISTRY”, but when I got close, I could see that above that, in tiny letters, it said, “Our goal is”. Heh.

We took El Monte Ave and the giant bike lane back up into Arcadia. Then we rode Huntington Drive west to San Marino. That was where we saw the “Auto Grooming” place. Then we went north on El Molino back into Pasadena. Our snack stop was at the corner bakery on Lake Ave. I got a bagel. I asked for it to be warmed up, not toasted. Then we sat outside for what seemed like forever before they brought me the bagel, and it was toasted. Sheesh.

After the stop, the group fragmented. Everyone went their separate ways. I stopped by my office to water my plants, since I realized that I’d forgotten to ask someone to water them while I was gone. They were all pretty wilted.

The last part of the ride was to go through Old Town and past the Rose Bowl and then back across Altadena on Mendocino. That was where I saw the big sign announcing “Free Pot”. No, not that kind of pot. It was a basket full of ceramic pots. Some of them were quite nice, and I would have taken a couple if I’d had a way to carry them.

It was a very nice ride.

47 miles.

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