Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Around the world by gimpy bike

Filed under: — stan @ 9:02 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride went all over the world, and we were just riding around L.A.

The first part of the ride was down Huntington Drive and then across Ave 60 to Figueroa. Then we took Figueroa down to the river and into Riverside Dr. Then we went north a couple of miles to Alessandro St and took a left. That brought us to the first sightseeing stop of the day. The Fargo Street Hill Climb.

Fargo Street is reputed to be the steepest street in Los Angeles. In fact, it’s the steepest street I’ve ever seen anywhere. It’s funny, but in real life it looks about twice as steep as it does in the picture. I don’t know why that is. I tried to ride it last year but was defeated. This time I didn’t try. I’d pulled a muscle last week fighting with a stuck gas pipe fitting, and I didn’t think it wise to risk aggravating that further by trying to ride up a 33% grade.

Still, it was an entertaining thing to watch. And while we were there, I ran into an old friend who I know from somewhere else entirely. Lisa is someone I know from tattoo conventions, but it turns out that she has bike-riding friends, and she now lives just a few blocks from Fargo St. So I got to visit with her for a bit, which was fun, even if it was one of those ‘when worlds collide’ kind of things.

Leaving Fargo St, we headed south on Glendale Blvd, and then go on Sunset to head into downtown. At Broadway we passed the dragons that mark the gateway to Chinatown. Then we took a left on Alameda and passed Union Station. At Ord St we took another left and I once again heard that unmistakable “PANG!” sound that meant I’d broken another spoke. My bike went gimpy again, but I was able to make it the last couple blocks into Chinatown. After my experience last week, I had put a spoke wrench in my bag, so I was able to get the wheel straight enough to limp the rest of the ride.

In Chinatown we stopped at a bakery, right by the statue of Sun Yat-sen. Gene was looking around and he pointed out the sign for “Ooga Booga” around the corner. That was definitely worth a photo.

Leaving Chinatown, we went up Main to Daly and then turned south. The street turned into Marengo when we passed Mission and the L.A. County Coroner’s Office. I always say that Los Angeles is a unique place. How many cities have a gift shop at the Coroner?

Heading into East L.A., we came to the Evergreen Cemetery, and then the excavation next to it where they discovered the bones of 108 Chinese who had been buried in a potter’s field dating from the 1800s.

Continuing on, we went deeper into East Los Angeles. Newton is from El Salvador, and he remarked that the houses looked just like the ones he remembered from back home.

Coming out on Whittier Blvd, we came to the Home of Peace cemetery. We went in the gate and followed the streets back to Curly Howard’s grave.

The last part of the ride was north a bit to get to 3rd St, which we took east until it turned into Pomona Ave and then Potrero Grande. We took a left on Del Mar, which brought us all the way back up to San Marino. Then we got on Sierra Madre Blvd and then Altadena Dr for the last bit home.

It was a fun ride.

43 miles.


San Dimas and a Gimpy Bike

Filed under: — stan @ 6:09 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was out to San Dimas to see the third stage of the San Dimas Stage Race. This is a three-day affair, and today’s race was a short-course criterium around downtown San Dimas.

We started out from Victory Park and rode out through Arcadia and Irwindale to get to San Dimas. We had hoped to get there in time to see the Masters 45+ race, since they are my age, and some of them are even people I raced against back in my racing days. But when we got there they were running late, so we ended up seeing the finish of the Category 5 race and the beginning of Category 4.

As I usually do when we go to see a race, I’d brought along an extra $20 bill to donate as a prime for one of the races. So I went up to the stand and gave it to them for the Category 4 riders. They did a good sprint for it, but I missed out on getting a picture, since the batteries in my camera decided to go dead right at that moment. But it was a good sprint, and I hope the winning rider got some satisfaction from it.

After that, we rode up to Gladstone and took that back west to go home. While we were riding through Glendora, suddenly I heard that unmistakable “PANG!” sound that meant that I’d broken a spoke. My bike immediately went gimpy, with the back wheel wobbling and rubbing on the frame. Vikki had the presence of mind to grab my camera and take a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. It’s not technically a flat, but it’s a mechanical failure, so that’s close enough. Fortunately, Makoto had a spoke wrench, and I was able to call upon my old bike-mechanic experience and managed to get the wheel straight enough to limp home. It wasn’t rubbing on the frame, but it still was hitting the brake pads. That meant that I had some extra drag, and that made it impossible to do my usual track stands at the red lights. But my Gimpy Bike and I made it home just the same.

43 miles.


San Dimas on a chilly day

Filed under: — stan @ 1:26 pm

This morning was cold, but it wasn’t raining. The front range of the San Gabriels had a light dusting of snow on the peaks, which made for a nice visual reminder of just how cold it was. I headed down to Victory Park for the regular Sunday club ride. When I got there, I was the only one. So I went riding by myself.

I headed down Sierra Madre to California, then left and on down into Temple City. I took a left on Las Tunas and took that out to Live Oak. Another left got me on Arrow Highway, which I took all the way out to San Dimas. There was a little headwind all the way out, but aside from that and the cold, it wasn’t bad.

At Lone Hill, I took a left. I stopped briefly at the Bagelry, where we might have stopped for a bagel, had there been a group. Then I continued on up to Gladstone and took another left for the trip home.

The stretch of Gladstone through Glendora is where we usually go pretty fast, and today I figured out why. It’s slightly downhill there. Not really enough to see, but just enough that you can ride really fast and feel good doing it. And today I had a tailwind, too. So it was just like old times in my racing days when I could cruise down the street at 23mph and feel good. I thought about how fast I used to ride back then, and how I think I could have beat Lance Armstrong when I was in full racing form. He was only six years old at the time, so I’m pretty sure I could have beaten him. Yeah.

At Cerritos, I took a right and took that up to Foothill. Then I went left and took Foothill across the San Gabriel River and into Duarte. A right on Encanto and a left on Royal Oaks and then I was on the bike path into Monrovia.

When I got into downtown Monrovia, I took a little side trip to see Homer’s Auto Service. This is the repair shop that doubles as the headquarters of the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority and its police department. This had come out in the news stories following the crash of the Ferrari Enzo in Malibu. So in the spirit of ‘ripped from the headlines’ sightseeing, I had to stop and snap a picture.

From there I took Colorado back into Arcadia, and then Highland Oaks up to Sierra Madre. Then it was straight down Sierra Madre Blvd back home, with just a short detour to get around the annual Wisteria Vine Festival there.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad day for riding. Just a bit chilly. But I had my Bagfoot on, and my feet were toasty the whole way.

42 miles.


Toluca Lake and the Last Stooge

Filed under: — stan @ 10:21 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was out to Toluca Lake. It was kind of chilly this morning, but it looked like it was going to be a nice day.

We started out going west from Victory Park. We took Orange Grove to Colorado, and then went down the hill into Eagle Rock. We took the ’scenic route’ across Eagle Rock on Eagle Vista Drive, which is a lot quieter than riding on Colorado. Then we took Broadway and Wilson into Glendale, and then got on Glenoaks.

Glenoaks took us all the way across Glendale, and then a left on Sonora brought us into Toluca Lake. We passed the Bette Davis Picnic Area, and then Bob Hope Drive. Then we were into Burbank. Riverside Drive took us through the towers of the Burbank Media Center, and then we got to Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake. We stopped for a snack there. The bagels and fresh-squeezed orange juice there are very good.

After the stop, we decided to take a little side trip. Vikki wanted to know where the Bicycle John’s shop is on Hollywood Way in Burbank. So we rode up there. On the way, we passed the Warner Bros “Ranch“, where they have their big outdoor sets. A few of the big false-front buildings are visible from the gate. When we got to Bicycle John’s, the sign said, “Closed Sunday”, so Vikki could only window-shop.

Since we were all the way up in Burbank, we decided to take one more side trip. We took a left on Chandler and took the very nice bike path there over to Whitnall. Then a right turn brought us up to Clybourn Ave, and then we came out on Victory Blvd at Pierce Bros Valhalla Cemetery. We rode in through the gate and found the grave site of “Curly-Joe” DeRita, “The Last Stooge”.

Leaving the cemetery, we took Victory east to Burbank Blvd, and then followed the signs for “Downtown Burbank” We passed the big Media City mall and then ended up back on Glenoaks again.

We took Glenoaks back across Burbank and then up Verdugo to Hospital Hill. From there, it was all downhill back into Pasadena.

42 miles.


Tour of California

Filed under: — stan @ 7:46 pm

On Sunday afternoon, I took Lucinda down to Redondo Beach to see the last stage of the Tour of California bicycle race. It was a perfect winter beach day, warm and sunny.

This was actually the first time I’ve ever been to an actual professional bicycle race. It was nice. The crowd it drew and the riders in the race were all impressive. The race itself was pretty exciting, with an early breakaway that lasted nearly the whole distance before being caught on the last lap. Lucinda liked watching it, and I got to tell her stories about my bike racing days while we were watching. We also got to see a BMX stunt show, and wander around near the beach. It was a very fun afternoon.

And on a related note, I had found out recently that my old bike racing friend Ray is the founder and manager of the Navigators Insurance Pro Cycling Team and that he was going to be at the race. Lucinda and I had spent a good bit of the afternoon looking for the team camps without luck, but at the end of the race, we saw the Navigators team car go by and we just followed it to their camp. After the prizes were awarded, we found Ray. It was fun to visit with him and reminisce about the days when we were young, strong, and fearless. And Lucinda got an official Navigators cycling cap. So this was a special treat to top off a very nice afternoon.


Tour de Oozing Oil

Filed under: — stan @ 11:48 am

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was one that I came up with earlier this week. There was an article in the Los Angeles Times about how oil had come oozing up out the middle of Olive St in downtown L.A. My immediate thought was to make a bike ride to go and see it. So that’s what we did today.

We started out from Victory Park in Pasadena and headed down Sierra Madre Blvd in to San Marino. Then we turned on Huntington Drive and took that all the way to Mission Blvd on the edge of downtown L.A. There we took a right and rode a bit to Main St, which took us into downtown.

A quick right turn on Ord St brought us into Chinatown, and then a left on New High St sent us south, past City Hall. We rode south all the way past Pico Blvd. Then we took a right on 14th Pl and took that over to Broadway. That brought us to our first sightseeing stop, which was the St. James Oil Company site at 1325 S. Broadway. This is the set of oil wells that is most likely the cause of the seepage. I took a couple of pictures and then we moved on.

At Olive St, we turned north and quickly came to the 1200 block, which was closed to traffic. We hopped up on the sidewalk and went in to see. There were some cleanup tanker trucks parked there, and there was a backhoe digging up oil-soaked dirt from the middle of the street. I took some more pictures.

From there, we continued north on Olive St, up Bunker Hill, where we saw the sign for General Thaddeus Kosciuszko Way. I’d hate to have to give directions involving that street.

At 1st St, we took a left and headed out of downtown. We passed the Department of Water and Power building with the solar-powered parking lot. We also passed the entrance to the old Pacific Electric Subway at 1st and Glendale Blvd.

Continuing on Beverly, we passed the original Tommy’s hamburger stand, and then took a right on Benton Way. This is a small street that goes through Silver Lake and is a nice quiet alternative to riding on Silver Lake Blvd. The downside, so to speak, is that it goes up and over a steep hill. But that’s all right. I like riding up hills. At the top, we stopped to regroup, and that’s where I saw the ‘Ask Me About My Vow of Silence‘ bumper sticker.

From the top of the hill, we went down the other side, coming out on Silver Lake Blvd right by the reservoir and dog park. Then we continued on down the hill to Glendale Blvd. At Fletcher, we took a right and went across the river. We took Eagle Rock Blvd north to Yosemite, which took us across Eagle Rock. Then it was up the Colorado St hill and back into Pasadena.

On this ride, Spencer and I were racing up every hill. This was fun, but something seemed to be not quite right. On the way back into Pasadena I realized what it was. We passed Michael going the other way and I realized that that was what was missing. If Michael had come on the ride today, he would have been the King of the Hill, and Spencer and I would have been left in the dust. Still, we had some fun.

34 miles.


I still got to go riding a little today

Filed under: — stan @ 3:50 pm

Today started out cold and rainy, and it rained out the regular Sunday club ride. But then, almost miraculously, it stopped raining and cleared up. But 10:00, the sky was blue and the streets were (almost) dry. So I went for a little ride by myself.

I headed east through Sierra Madre to Arcadia, then east some more into Monrovia. When I got there, I went up Norumbega Drive, which goes up a nice hill and makes a loop back down to where it started. It was a nice gratuitous hill.

Then I went down Mountain Ave, and it was there that I spotted a thong in the street. When I used to live in Hollywood, I rode every weekend on Mulholland Drive, up in the hills. And every Sunday morning, I would see lots of women’s clothing, particularly shoes and underwear on the side of the road. That was just a normal thing in the hills above Hollywood, but this is the first time I’ve seen anything like that here in the suburbs.

I rode through a little bit of Bradbury and then into Duarte. I took the bike path along Royal Oaks to its end, and then went up Melcanyon just to add another gratuitous hill. I made a loop up there and came out on Encanto by the park there, and then headed back towards home.

I took Santa Clara St back into Arcadia just so I could stop for a photo at the Young Dong Restaurant. Its name probably means something like “Mom’s” in Korean, but the sign looks funny to American eyes. And it’s right around the corner from the Turf Analist, so there is an ongoing tradition of Engrish in that area.

Next, I headed back up 1st St to get to Highland Oaks and Sierra Madre for the trip home. I stopped for one more photo of the “Reclamation Center” sign, right by the cemetery. I guess it makes sense in some way.

From there, it was downhill all the way home. It was a pleasant ride, even if it was chilly and kind of windy.

27 miles.


Turnbull Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 5:25 pm

Today’s ride was down to Whittier and then up Turnbull Canyon. We were supposed to continue on down the other side, but several of us had to get home early, so we turned around there and cut the ride short.

I started out meeting Gene at Victory Park for the ride down to Live Oak Park, which was the official start of the ride. It was a nice morning, bright and sunny, but on the way down there, we rode into a fog bank. It got cold. By the time we got to the park we were chilled.

From the park, we went east a bit and then south to Lower Azusa Road, then east again to Santa Anita, where we turned south again. After a bit, Santa Anita turned into Workman Mill Road, which took us down to Beverly Blvd in Whittier.

While we were on Beverly Blvd, we had the first flat of the day. It was Bob, who had picked up a big piece of glass in his tire. Sandy stopped to help him change the tube, and I stopped to get a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

From there, we continued on up Beverly Blvd until it turned into Turnbull Canyon Rd. The climb up the canyon was nice except for two things:

  • It was cold in the shade;
  • The road was wet with dew in the shade, and we all found our back wheels slipping.

On the way up, I got another picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. This time it was Carl, who had taken a shortcut to get ahead of the group, but then got a flat.

At the top, we regrouped. Then Gene, Philippe, Rick, Maria, and I all headed back down. We all needed to get home relatively early for one reason or another, so we all headed back together. At the bottom of the canyon, we took Beverly Blvd west into Pico Rivera. This was for a short side trip to see Dork St. We’ve been there before, but every other time it’s been cloudy, so I never got a good picture of the sign. So today was the day.

After the photo op at Dork St., we headed north on the San Gabriel River bike path. We went over Whittier Narrows Dam and then went west a bit to get on the Rio Hondo bike path. We took that bike path all the way back to Lower Azusa Road.

From there, we got on El Monte Ave, which has the biggest bike lane in the world. That brought us up into Arcadia. Then we took Fairview back to Sunset and then back into Pasadena.

45 miles.


Sunset Strip and Hollywood Hills

Filed under: — stan @ 10:31 pm

Today’s ride was yet another tour of Hollywood and the Sunset Strip, and then a little jaunt up into the hills.

I met Gene at the park at 8:00 and we set out. We took Orange Grove west and then went down through the arroyo, past the stables in South Pasadena. The road there is kind of rough, and I always seem to end up losing my water bottle on the bumps there. But after I went back and picked it up, we went up the little hill and got on York Ave for the trip across Highland Park.

Heading south on Eagle Rock Blvd, we took a right on Fletcher and took that across the L.A. River and into Silver Lake. Then we crossed the Shakespeare Bridge and then turned south to Prospect Ave, which merges into Hollywood Blvd. Riding down Hollywood Blvd in the morning is always a somewhat surreal experience. The street crazies are all still asleep in the doorways, so it’s quite a bit different from how it is later in the day.

A bit west of La Brea, we turned south and took Hawthorn Ave to where it ended, and then went down to Sunset Blvd for the last bit out to the Strip. We passed a car lot that specialized in old Cadillacs. We also passed the Laugh Factory. Back in 1990, I took a class at UCLA Extension called “How to perform stand-up comedy”, and we had our ‘mid-term exam’ at the Laugh Factory. That was an interesting experience.

Continuing on, we got to the famous Sunset Strip. We rode for just a bit there and then decided to try an experiment on one of the side streets. We took a right on Miller Drive. But it was not ‘Miller Time’. It was 15% grade time. Yikes. We took that up for a while until it wound down to Queens Road, where we took a left. Then the road got steep. I had to say ‘uncle’ and shift there. It felt like close to 20%. But it brought us up to Hollywood Blvd, where we took a left.

Continuing on up Hollywood Blvd, we passed a house that had a waterfall over the driveway. Then we merged into Sunset Plaza and took that the rest of the way to the top of the hill. We stopped for a bit to take in the view, but there wasn’t much of a view today, since it was still kind of foggy. Then we went over the crest and down the other side into Laurel Canyon.

At Wonderland, we took a left and then headed up Laurel Pass Road and then Allenwood. On the way up I picked up a real-estate flyer for a ‘Dramatic private gated mini-estate’. $1,995,000. Yow. The house was pretty, though.

We came out on Mulholland Drive at the top of Fryman Canyon at the little park. We stopped for water and then headed back east down the spine of the Hollywood Hills. At the bottom in Cahuenga Pass we took some little side streets to come out on Barham Blvd. A right turn there took us down the hill to Burbank.

At the bottom of the hill, we headed east into Griffith Park. We rode all the way through the park and out the other side, passing the Mulholland Fountain at Los Feliz. Then we kept going back to Fletcher.

Turning left on Fletcher, we headed back across the river and into Atwater Village. Then on up into Highland Park. We took a little side trip to ride along the Gold Line tracks where they go down the middle of the street. Then we took Ave 60 across the arroyo and got on Monterey Road for the trip across South Pasadena and San Marino.

The last part of the ride was up Sierra Madre Blvd back into Pasadena and back to the park where we had started.

It was a nice ride, even with the 20% grade part.

53 miles.


Big Tujunga Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 7:51 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s club ride was up Big Tujunga Canyon in the Angeles National Forest. Most people don’t realize just how close Los Angeles is to actual wilderness, and it’s a nice place to ride.

The ride started from Descanso Gardens in La Cañada, but I started out meeting Gene, Philippe and Rick at Victory Park. We headed west and up the hill to get to the ride start.

When we got there, we got our route slips and and we all headed out up Foothill Blvd through La Crescenta. I tried to take another picture of the “Poo Ping” restaurant sign, but the sun was at the wrong angle, so it didn’t come out.

We took a right on Tujunga Canyon Blvd and headed up the hill. At Hillrose, Gene and I took a little side trip up a steep hill to see Elliott’s house from “E.T.”. The view from up there was pretty spectacular.

Coming back down, we got back on the route and took Mt. Gleason Road north a bit and then got onto Big Tujunga Canyon Road. This was where we left the Los Angeles city limits and headed up into the mountains.

We couldn’t do this ride last year because a section of the road had washed out during the winter rains. So today we got to see the washed-out road and the little temporary detour they’d built around it.

Because of our little side trip, the rest of the group was now ahead of us. The group was pretty strung-out from riding up an 11-mile hill, and we caught up to several of them on the way up.

At one point, the road went across the canyon on a high bridge, which was quite spectacular. A bit above that, I stopped at an overlook to see the dam that was built in 1931 for flood control.

Continuing on up the canyon, we finally came out on the Angeles Forest Highway, where we turned right. The route slip said that this was ‘the top’, but it sure felt like we were still going uphill for the next four miles to the Angeles Crest Highway and Clear Creek Ranger Station.

When we got to the Ranger Station, we stopped for water. Then we headed down the Crest Highway, back to civilization. The road down was 10 miles, all downhill. Ordinarily, this would be cause for great rejoicing, but it was cold. So it was not an unalloyed pleasure.

At the bottom of the hill, Gene and I took a left on Foothill and headed back to Pasadena. We passed JPL and then took Woodbury east and then some small streets back to the park.

It was a fun ride. And when I got home, I realized that I had done the whole thing without shifting even once. It was 39×17 the whole way.

52 miles.

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