Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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There’s probably a closer bagel place…

Filed under: — stan @ 12:58 pm

Today’s ride was out to San Dimas to have a bagel at the Bagelry there.

It was a perfect day. The sun was shining at 8:00 in the morning when we set out. The ride out there is pretty straightforward. It’s just straight east. Across Arcadia and Temple City. Then through the Irwindale gravel pits. Straight across the auto-shop ghettos in Azusa and the endless shopping centers in Covina.

The only real excitement of the ride out there was when we discovered an error in Gene’s route slip. Several of us took a wrong turn and ended up going a few extra miles. Darn.

When we got to the Bagelry, we sat down and had bagels. The bagels there are pretty good, and they taste especially good after riding twenty-something miles to get there.

After the bagel break, I was talking with the couple on the tandem (I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your names. If you read this, mail me and refresh my memory.) and I saw how they do their navigation. She clips the route slip to his back pocket and reads it while they are riding. It reminded me of reading about the Long March where the soldiers would pin little inspirational notes from Mao on the cap of the soldier in front of them so they could march and be indoctrinated at the same time. (Not that I’m comparing Gene’s route slips with Communist propaganda or anything. I just thought it was a funny mental image.)

When we got back on the road, for some inexplicable reason everyone started riding really fast. These rides usually move along at a pretty good pace, but this was beyond our usual speed. In fact, we were going so fast that I almost had to break down and shift to a higher gear. My bike has 18 gears, and I use all one of them. I go on 50 and 60 mile rides up and down mountains, and I never shift. It’s kind of silly, but it’s a holdover from my racing days. In the East Coast racing culture, the theory of training was to ride everywhere in one gear, usually a 42×18 or equivalent. The idea was that riding that gear up hills will make you strong, and riding it fast on flat land or downhill will teach you to spin the pedals smoothly. So it’s been 25 years since I last raced, but I grew so used to just riding everywhere in one gear that I still do it to this day.

The rest of the ride back was pretty uneventful. We came back across Azusa, Duarte and Monrovia. Then we went up Highland Oaks in Arcadia to Grand View. We took Grand View across Sierra Madre. This was our hill for the day. As usual, Matt was first to the top.

When we got back to the park, it was only 11:00, so Vikki, Matt, and I decided to do a little après-ride up across Altadena. We went up Altadena Drive, and then took some little residential streets across the upper part of Altadena. We passed the big landslide on the Mt Wilson Toll Road, and also passed the Mt Lowe Railway historical marker at the bottom of Rubio Canyon. Then we came out at the top of Lake Avenue. We took Loma Alta down the hill to Lincoln Ave, and then went past JPL on Windsor Road. From there, Vikki headed off for home, and Matt and I came back on Woodbury Road. It was a very pleasant ride.

54 miles.


Beverly Hills and the June Gloom

Filed under: — stan @ 2:57 pm
detail of above
detail of above

Since I can’t go on the regular club ride tomorrow, I went for a ride by myself today.

It’s June, and one thing that the tourist books never talk about is the “June Gloom”. Gray, overcast, cool days are all part of it, and today was a textbook example. The sun struggled mightily to break through, but it never really did.

I decided to ride out to Beverly Hills and up Benedict Canyon. This is one of my sentimental favorite Hollywood Hills rides, another being Nichols Canyon.

It’s springtime, and the jacaranda trees are in full bloom, so the streets are just covered with little purple flowers.

I went across Pasadena and down through the arroyo, and then took La Loma up and over the hill into Eagle Rock. I started to ride up Nolden Street, which is the ridiculously steep hill there, but I thought better of it. For some reason, I was feeling kind of tired and dragging today, so I thought that perhaps I shouldn’t push my luck by trying to ride up a 32% grade hill. So instead, I took Yosemite Dr across to Eagle Rock Blvd.

After the ride south on Eagle Rock Blvd, I crossed over the L.A. River into Silver Lake. That was where I saw the art project with television sets arranged on the hillside, each with a short message written on the screen.

After crossing the Franklin Hills and the Shakespeare Bridge, I entered Hollywood. I saw one building with an interesting sort of bas-relief design on the fire escape. So of course I stopped to snap a picture.

Riding a bike down Hollywood Boulevard is always kind of an odd experience. Early in the morning there are very few tourists out, and the street crazies who live there are mostly still asleep.

I took a little side trip down to Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood to see the old Pussycat Theater. This was the flagship of the former porn chain, done in by the invention of the VCR. It’s now the ‘Tom Kat’ and shows gay porn. But the front of the theater still has the old ‘porn walk of fame’ from the ’70s. I got a picture of Linda Lovelace’s signature and hand prints in the concrete there.

Continuing west, I got on the famed Sunset Strip. I passed my favorite book store, Book Soup, and also passed the Viper Room, which I always remember as the place where River Phoenix died back in 1993.

Then I crossed the city limits into Beverly Hills. The street got wider, the pavement got smoother, and everything was fine and dandy. I passed houses with separately marked Service and Guest entrances. Then I got to Benedict Canyon. I took the right turn off Sunset and started up the canyon. It’s a nice, quiet street, and the first couple of miles are pretty flat. I passed Cielo Drive, which is the street where Sharon Tate lived before she was brutally murdered by the Manson Family in 1969. The original house was torn down years ago, so there really isn’t anything to see there any more.

Next came the actual climb up out of the canyon. The road got a bit steeper and switchbacked up the ridge to the crest of the mountains. There I turned right on Mulholland Drive. Back in the days when we lived in Hollywood, I used to ride up there all the time. I always remember seeing lots of women’s clothing lying on the side of the road on weekends. A shoe here, a skirt there, and underwear all around. I didn’t see any of that today, but I’m sure that sort of thing still goes on up there.

At Coldwater Canyon, I saw an odd street sign. It said that the road ends at night, but that implies that it doesn’t during the day. I thought it was funny, so I took a picture.

I continued on Mulholland all the way down into Cahuenga Pass. There I took Wonder View up the hill on the other side of the freeway to the top above the Hollywood Reservior. Then I went down Lake Hollywood Dr to Barham Blvd and on down the hill into Burbank. I took Zoo Drive back into Griffith Park before turning north into Glendale. That was where I saw the funny ‘falling softballs’ warning sign.

After that, I went up Verdugo Blvd to Hospital Hill. At the top of the hill, I turned and went down the hill past Descanso Gardens. From there, it was the regular route home across La Cañada and Pasadena.

60 miles.


La Tuna Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 2:55 pm

Today’s ride was Gene’s “La Tuna Canyon Inverse”. This is basically the same route for La Tuna Canyon, but traveling over the hill from west to east.

We had a small group, perhaps because today was the first day where the ride began at 8:00 instead of 8:30. We began by heading west across Pasadena, crossing the Colorado Street bridge, and then going down the hill into Eagle Rock. There, we passed the offramp that is another remnant of the old Colorado Freeway that was built in the 1950s.

We crossed Glendale and Burbank on Glenoaks Blvd. That was where we passed the church sign about “religious nuts”. We all got a good laugh from that.

Next, we crossed over into Sun Valley, and then went though a little residential area to get to La Tuna Canyon Road. That was where we saw the sheep. They looked at home, even though one doesn’t normally think of sheep within the Los Angeles city limits.

The climb up La Tuna Canyon wasn’t bad. The sky was overcast, and it was still cool. The climb to the top is about four miles, and Matt and Newton left the rest of us in the dust. I managed to catch up to Jason at the top, but Karen was left way behind. She had warned us that she was going to be slow up the hill. At the top, I turned and went back down to be sure she was all right, and then we rode back up to the top.

Cresting the hill in the canyon, we had a nice downhill ride through Tujunga into La Crescenta. There, we found ourselves riding through the Montrose Arts & Crafts Fair. That made for a slow couple of blocks, but we saw some cute dogs along the way. Coming out the other side of the fair, we headed straight up Hospital Hill to our snack stop at Goldstein’s Bagels. I thought it was funny that they had a drive-through. We briefly considered riding through it, but decided that it was probably simpler to just go inside. So we got our bagels and sat down at one of the tables outside. That was where Matt was tremendously amused by my case of helmet hair, so he had to take a picture for posterity.

After that, we headed home through La Cañada and Pasadena. It was a very pleasant ride.

44 miles.


Bike ride on a dreary day

Filed under: — stan @ 5:00 pm

Today is kind of gray, overcast, and it was drizzling a bit. So we went for a bike ride.

The ride was mostly flat. We started out going east and south into Temple City. We picked up the Rio Hondo bike path at Peck Park. From there, we went down towards Whittier Narrows.

Next, we headed back north, passing the hospital where Curly Howard died. Then it was north through San Gabriel’s Chinatown.

We passed the old Spanish mission in the middle of San Gabriel. It was near there that we had a little mishap. Brian bumped into John at a stop sign, and they both fell down. They weren’t hurt, but it was still an unpleasant thing. Afterwards, everyone was asking why I didn’t take a picture of it, but nobody had gotten a flat tire.

After straightening out the bikes, we continued on north, going up the scarp of the Raymond Fault just north of Lacy Park in San Marino. We stopped for a snack at Noah’s Bagels on south Lake Ave.

The final part of the ride was out to Duarte and back. Newton had started from Encanto park there, so I rode back there with him. It was a completely pleasant ride, even if it did start actually raining on the way back through Sierra Madre.

50 miles.



Filed under: — stan @ 8:04 pm

Today’s ride was through the Mount Washington section of Los Angeles. This is a little hill neighborhood just outside downtown.

We started off going west across Altadena. We rode into and through La Cañada, and then down Hospital Hill into La Crescenta. Then it was a long downhill all the way down through Eagle Rock and Glassell Park. That was where we saw the market with the big fiberglass cow on top of the sign.

Next, we headed into Mount Washington. We passed Flor y Canto, where the Perpetual Motion Roadshow will be stopping next Wednesday. Cathy and I have been to one of their shows before, and we enjoyed it tremendously. After that, we rode along the Gold Line tracks for a short way before heading up the big hill. The hill was nice. It was quiet and winding, and at the top we stopped in the shade by a very imposing gate. Vikki noticed that the gate was the front of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship. So this made it picture-worthy.

After that, we headed down the hill into Highland Park. We went north and crossed over into South Pasadena. Our snack stop was at a little bakery there.

The final part of the ride was across South Pasadena and San Marino, where we found ourselves riding five abreast down the road. (What do you mean, “single file”? We were all in a line.) Then we turned north back to Victory Park.

When we got back to the park, I only had 38 miles, and it was still early. So I rode out to Monrovia with Newton. I stopped at the Pavilions store there, since I knew that they had a refrigerated water fountain. Then I headed back, with just a brief stop to look at the hot rod car show they were having there.

53 miles.


Earthquake Tourist

Filed under: — stan @ 4:58 pm

Since I promised Lucinda I’d take her to the JPL Open House tomorrow, I can’t do the regular Sunday ride. So I went for a ride today.

I decided to do La Tuna Canyon with a little side trip from Sue Hough’s book Finding Fault in California.

I started out going across Altadena on Woodbury Road. Then that turned into Oak Grove. That section of Oak Grove is part of the old Foothill Freeway that was built back in the early ’50s. When the present freeway was built, it was demoted to a regular street.

For the last few months, I’ve been hearing geese flying over our house. Southern California is a desert, and there is usually no water for waterfowl to enjoy. But there is apparently a nice big lake backed up behind Devil’s Gate Dam now. So I think this probably accounts for the recent presence of waterfowl.

From there, I went up the hill, through La Cañada, and then down Hospital Hill into Montrose. Then I took Verdugo down into Glendale.

I took Glenoaks across Glendale and into Burbank. There, I saw a sign in front of Bubank High School. Their prom is tonight, and it’s being held at the Skirball Museum. I think that sounds like a great place for a prom. If my high school had had its prom at a place like that, I might have even gone.

The north part of Burbank is a bit more industrial. It’s under the flight path for Burbank Airport. But I like watching airplanes, so it was all right.

Continuing on up Glenoaks, I crossed the border from Burbank into Sun Valley. At this point, the area started to look distinctly more downscale. It became an industrial area with lots of auto wrecking yards and used car lots with big signs promising “CREDITO FACIL”. The low point was probably passing the landfill. They had a big pipe stuck in the ground with gas flaring off of it. It was giving off a very strange smell. Not really the smell of putrefaction, but not a pleasant odor by any means.

Finally, I got up to San Fernando and the McDonald’s at 1955 Glenoaks. There is a small fault scarp caused by surface rupture in the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. They just landscaped the scarp and made it look pretty.

Next, I headed back down Glenoaks, back the way I came. San Fernando really had the feeling of having taken a wrong turn and ended up in Mexico. There were lots of street vendors with carts selling pieces of fruit and grilled corn and such. That was also where I saw one of the “Los Angeles, CAMexico” billboards that people have been getting all riled up about. It was kind of strange. But that’s part of what I love about L.A. I can be a world traveler without going far from home.

At one point in Sun Valley, I happened on a street lunatic. He was standing on a corner yelling at nobody in particular. The light was red, so I pulled up and stopped. He looked at me and said, “Hello, sir” in a very pleasant voice. I smiled and said hello back. Then he turned back to facing nobody in particular and started screaming, “L.A. LAW!!! I’M A LAWYER!!!” Then the light turned green and I left. Have I mentioned lately that I love living in L.A.?

Also, I happened to notice KAOS Auto Parts. I had to stop for a picture, even though Siegfried wasn’t there. Agent 13 was probably hidden in the mailbox in front of the building.

After all this fun and frolic, it was time for the trip over La Tuna Canyon. This is a nice four-mile uphill ride through a part of Los Angeles that feels more like rural Nevada. Near the top, I passed a few other bike riders. I said something like, “Ain’t we got fun?” and they just laughed. It was also about here that I ran out of water. It was hot, so this was a problem.

Cresting the hill in La Tuna Canyon, I went down Honolulu Ave into La Crescenta. That was where I saw a sign for “Lauren’s Party” at a park entrance. I thought, “if they are having a kid’s party in this park, they must have a drinking fountain.” So I stopped and refilled my water bottle. Now all was right again for the rest of the trip home.

I went back up Hospital Hill and down past Descanso Gardens and back into Pasadena. It was a very nice ride.

53 miles.


Today’s bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 3:47 pm

Today’s bike ride was Gene’s ‘Horizontal Bomp’ ride. Mostly flat, with just a few little hills.

We started out east through Arcadia and into Monrovia. Then we turned south and went down to Temple City. From there, we went west back across San Gabriel and San Marino and then up Los Robles back into Pasadena.

We stopped for a snack at Il Fornaio in Old Town. I had a mozzarella, tomato, and basil sandwich, which is my favorite thing there. While I was eating my sandwich and Steve was drinking his coffee, everyone else was working on Spencer’s bike. He just got a new bike, and he wanted to raise the handlebars up a bit. So of course, everyone had to get in the act.

After that, we went west a bit more, down into the arroyo. We passed Idealab. I’m always a bit surprised to see that it’s still there. We crossed under the famous Colorado Street Bridge and down past the Rose Bowl. They were having the swap meet there today, and there was a sign pointing the way to the valet parking. Now maybe it’s just me, but ’swap meet’ and ‘valet parking’ are two phrases that, unlike a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, just don’t go together.

Anyway, from there, we went up the hill out of the arroyo, up to Windsor Road. There, we passed the house with the plastic cows in the yard. Then we continued on up the hill all the way to Loma Alta. We took Loma Alta up to the top of the hill on Lake Ave, and then we took some of the side streets across Altadena. We passed a classic example of a debris basin at the mouth of Rubio Canyon. We also had a look at the big landslide on the Mt. Wilson toll road. It appears that people have made a little foot trail across it now, but aside from that, there hasn’t been any substantial work done on clearing it yet.

We then headed down the hill on Altadena Drive back to the park. It was still pretty early, so I noodled around Pasadena a bit just to get in a few more miles. That was where I passed the corner of Summit and Mountain. Then I finished up by taking Mountain back across town.

50 miles.


A Somewhat-Hilly Ride

Filed under: — stan @ 3:29 pm

Gene said that today’s ride would be hilly. And it was. It was fun.

Back in my racing days, when I was out riding it was always a point of honor that I had to be the first one to the top of every hill. And no matter how much it hurt, I almost always did it. That urge has never left me, even though now that I’m 45, I don’t always have the strength to do it. But I still want to.

Today’s ride started out up Altadena Drive. We went up the hill to the mountain front, and then west over to the arroyo, just across from JPL. Then we went down Windsor, passing the house with the two plastic cows in the yard. We took Woodbury across into La Cañada. Then we started climbing. It was about this time that Jon got into the Flat Tire Gallery. This was his second flat of the day, but since the first one was in the parking lot at the start of the ride, I only took pictures of the second one. While we were waiting for John to fix his flat, we met up with another rider. Dan is new to the area, so he decided to join us for the rest of the ride.

A bit farther up the hill, we passed a house that looked like it must belong to a firefighter. The gate was decorated in a very ornate flame motif, and it had a fire extinguisher in the middle of it.

We went up a bunch of different streets to end up at the top of the hill between La Cañada and Glendale. The road up there was closed to traffic, due to a small landslide, but that wasn’t a problem for us. We crested the hill and then went down Mountain Ave into Glendale. At the bottom, we crossed Verdugo and then went up into the Verdugo hills.

We cruised along through the hills for quite a while. We passed one rather interesting-looking house up there before coming down into Burbank and Glenoaks Blvd. Then we went left and headed back into Glendale, where we stopped for a snack at the Paradise Bakery. They have the best chocolate eclairs there. Jon and I both had two each. We also all ate some homemade olive bread that I’d brought along.

After the stop, we headed back across Glendale. We passed by the Harp Center, and then headed up Chevy Chase. After a bit of uphill, we turned on Linda Vista to cross over the hill into Pasadena. At the top, we paused briefly for a souvenier picture, and then headed down the hill to the Rose Bowl.

From the Rose Bowl, we went east across Pasadena on Orange Grove and back to the park.

45 miles.



On this day in history…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:52 pm

It was April 23, 1978. It was the Acton Road Race. I was excited, because they had separate races for categories 1 and 2. Usually in those days, 1 and 2 were combined, and if you were a Cat 2 like me, it meant that it was harder to place in the top ten. So the prospect of a separate Category 2 race was very nice. On the other hand, it was in the mountains, and there were some climbs on the course. I was generally pretty good at hills, but being from New Jersey, I wasn’t used to the size of the hills here.

The course was a nice 24-mile loop through the hills north of the Antelope Valley Freeway, about half-way from Los Angeles to Palmdale. The race was three laps, or 72 miles.

The course was very nice. The roads were smooth, and it was a perfect spring day. The pack was about 50-60 riders. I was hoping just to stay in the pack and finish with the group, since I’d had some bad experiences in the last two road races in the mountains.

The pack stayed together for the whole race. On the last lap, when we were going up the last big climb, I lost contact with the pack. I was feeling discouraged, and I was having trouble going up the hill. But then, about half-way up the hill, I suddenly started thinking:

“I am not going to let this happen again. I got dropped at Pyramid Lake. I got dropped at Bouquet Canyon. I am not getting dropped again!”

And suddenly, I was suffused with the strength of ten Grinches. I caught up with the pack at the crest of the hill. At that point, I was going so fast, that I ended up at the front. We crested the hill and went flying down the other side. We crossed the freeway and took the right turn that meant we were almost at the finish. I was so excited that I’d caught the pack that I was able to stay at the front all the way to the end. The finish was an uphill sprint, and I managed to reach the proper mental state of Zen Hulk-dom to do the sprint.

I came in 8th, which was pretty good, considering that I recovered from getting dropped. In fact, that was the only race I ever rode where I was able to catch the pack after being dropped. So overall, it was a remarkable and perfect day.

And sadly, as with most of my favorite racing stories, I have no pictures to go along with it. Just my own memories.

Dork Street

Filed under: — stan @ 12:45 pm

Last Monday, I saw an item on about a street in Pico Rivera named Dork St. Of course, my first thought was to look it up on the map and see if it was close enough to ride to. It turns out to be just below Whittier Narrows Dam, so I wrote to Gene and we made plans for a ride.

We met at Victory Park here in Pasadena and headed south. We went through San Gabriel, passing by the convalescent hospital where Curly Howard died. Then we turned south through Whittier Narrows and into Pico Rivera.

When we got to Dork St., I had to take some pictures. Sadly, my photo-op with the sign didn’t come out very well, so I guess we’ll have to go back again some time.

After that, we got on the San Gabriel River bike path and headed north. The path took a kind of strange route around and over the dam, but the rest of it was pretty much straight and slightly uphill. It was along here that Newton met up with us for the ride into Glendora. We also passed the big Irwindale gravel pit, which was also Fred Flintstone’s gravel pit.

Then we headed east and north into Glendora. In Old Town, we saw a store that apparently specializes in Beanie Babies. And I’d thought that Beanie Babies had peaked some years ago.

Next, it was time to see the Castle. Rubel’s Castle is something of a landmark in Glendora. Sadly, like all good castles, it was surrounded by a high wall, so we couldn’t see much. Still, it was interesting.

From there, we headed back by way of the San Gabriel River bike path, and then through Duarte, Monrovia, and Arcadia.

51 miles.


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