Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Last day as the accidental bachelor

Filed under: — stan @ 10:18 pm

A quick wrap-up of the last few days of my accidental-bachelorhood:

Sunday night, I had dinner with my uncle (if you look at the picture, he’s standing second from the right) and his family. We went to NBC Seafood in Monterey Park for a Chinese feast. It was fun. When we were leaving the restaurant, the Moon and Venus were up in the sky and very close together. So I propped my camera up on a pole and took a picture.

There is a church down the street that has a banner up advertising the “Gospel of the Simpsons”. It sounds funny, although not quite funny enough to get me to actually go to a church. But I think it may be significant that this is the same church that staked out their Rose Parade viewing area in front of the local gay bar last New Year’s Day.

And since today was my last family-less day, I went for another bike ride after work. I wore my Mark II homemade jersey to test it out. On the way home from work I remembered something I’d forgotten to do before I left, so I rode back to the office by the long, scenic way. Then I rode down through San Marino, passing Lacy Park. The little hill in the picture is the scarp of the Raymond Fault where it passes through San Marino.

After that, I rode across South Pasadena and then up to the Rose Bowl. I went around the Bowl twice, and then did the usual route home up by JPL. It was a pleasant ride.

26 miles today. The grand total for the week, including riding to work, is 269 miles. That’s pretty good. Back in my racing days there were weeks where I did 450 miles, but my average in those days was around 300. So it was a fun week, but I’m still looking forward to having a family again.


More adventures of the accidental bachelor

Filed under: — stan @ 12:47 pm

Years ago when I was a bike racer and dinosaurs roamed the earth I had a big wardrobe of bike clothes. Wild prints with bright colors, Egyptian temples, airplanes and all manner of things. They were all homemade by my mother, who liked to sew as a hobby. Now, nearly 30 years later, I only have a few of the old things left. Most wore out over the years.

So I decided to try a project for this week while the family is gone. I was going to learn to sew. Bike clothes are expensive. Also, I’d hate to be yet another bike rider wearing some team’s jersey that I have no connection with. Also, I want something that’s unique. So it’s time for a new adventure.

I’m not a total stranger to sewing. Back in 1991 when we first got Cosmo, I made a couple of dog beds for her. I made them myself because the one we bought at Petsmart didn’t fit right in the box I’d made, so I made two pillows and covers to fit exactly.

I have one homemade jersey from 1978 that’s still in good condition and fits correctly, so started there. I went to Jo-Ann Fabric and picked out a bright knit print. It has little planets and arrows that say “Planet Fun” on it. I got a big sheet of paper and laid it out on the floor to make a pattern to copy the basic design. I cut out a pattern and then cut the four main pieces.

I sewed the front and back pieces together and tried it on. It was too small. Crap. Fortunately, I’d anticipated some false starts. So I adjusted the pattern and re-cut the pieces. This time it fit properly. I sewed the sleeves on and then I put the collar and sleeve cuffs on. I made a mental note to sew the sleeve cuffs on first next time, since it was hard to do with the sleeve already attached. I put the zipper in the collar, which turned out to be much harder than it seemed like it should have been. I made another mental note to not sew the sides of the body together first next time. Then I made the pockets for the back. I put some elastic in and attached them to the back of the jersey. At this point I realized again that assembling the front and back parts first was a mistake. But in the end, I had a functional and comfortable, if not perfectly aesthetic, bike jersey. I wore it for the ride to Carbon Canyon last Saturday as my ‘proof of concept’.

So yesterday I set out to make another. I used the same fabric, since I really like the print. I made so many mistakes the first time, I wanted to make one with that fabric that is better-looking. So now my Mark II is almost finished. It came out much nicer than the first one. So I’ll probably be visiting more fabric stores in the future, especially when fall comes and it gets colder.


Glendale hills

Filed under: — stan @ 10:58 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was the hilly Glendale route that Gene came up with a few months ago. It’s a nice ride, but I’m still tired from yesterday’s ride, so the prospect of more hills was not as exciting as it usually is.

We started out going straight up Altadena Drive, which is a pretty good hill in itself. At the top, we came down Windsor Rd across the arroyo from JPL, and then we headed up into La Cañada. We passed the old fire station house and I noticed that there were little flame sculptures along the wall, so I got a picture.

At the top of the hill, we rode through the section where the road is closed due to a small landslide last winter. Then we went down the other side into Glendale.

From there, we went into the hill areas of Glendale on the south face of the Verdugo Hills. This area looks and feels just like the Hollywood Hills, but the roads are better. I guess Glendale has more money than Los Angeles for street repair. It was on one of these little roads back in a canyon where Tommy got a flat and became the latest entry in the Flat Tire Gallery.

Coming down out of the hills, we rode a bit along the base of the hills, and then down to Glenoaks Blvd. We took Glenoaks back to Paradise Bakery, where we stopped for a snack.

While we were sitting there, we noticed that Steve and Tommy were missing. They had been with us at the last turn, which was just a couple of miles back. We were just about to go look for them when they rode up and said that Tommy had had a second flat. Of course I was mortified that I’d missed being there to take a picture.

After the stop, we headed back across Glendale and up Chevy Chase. Then we turned off on Linda Vista and rode up over the hill. We stopped briefly at the top, since there was a bit of shade there. Then we rode down the hill to the Rose Bowl. At the Bowl, we took Washington and Lincoln back to Orange Grove, and then back to the park.

42 miles


Carbon Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 4:14 pm

Route map and links to the photos

Back in my racing days at Claremont, Carbon Canyon was one of my favorite rides. From Claremont, it was a 42 mile loop with a nice hill on the Chino side of the canyon. So for old times’ sake, I wanted to do it again. I made up a route from Pasadena and Gene and I went and did it today.

We started out going east and south through Temple City and Azusa, and then went south through Covina. We passed by the spot where I got a flat tire last Sunday. Then we turned on Grand Ave to head south through Diamond Bar to Chino Hills. Now it turns out that Chino Hills is called that for a reason. Who knew? There were three big hills we had to go over to get to Carbon Canyon. At Valley Blvd they were doing construction, so it was bit of a challenge to get through. When we crossed the line into Chino Hills, I thought we were on Mars. Or at least the place where JPL tests its Mars Rovers. It was quite bleak-looking. We stopped at a park for some water, since it was already hot, and I’d finished all the water I started with.

Finally, we got to Carbon Canyon Road. The hill was nice, just like I remembered it. We rode up to the crest. At the top, we stopped for a minute to marvel at one apparently paranoid homeowner’s sign and take in the view.

When we started down, I saw what looked very much like a rattlesnake on the side of the road. I’d never seen a rattlesnake outside of the reptile house at the L.A. Zoo, so I doubled back to take a picture. It wasn’t moving, but it wasn’t obviously run over, so it may have been alive. I don’t know, and I didn’t poke it with a stick to find out.

Continuing down the canyon, we passed The Party House. Then we crossed the county line into The O.C. Coming back out into civilization in Brea, we saw two girls on horseback and oil wells.

After a quick ride through Brea, we turned on to Brea Canyon Road to start back. We stopped at an oil company and looked at the historical marker where Gaspar de Portolà camped in 1769. We also saw some oil derricks up on the canyon walls. We continued on through the canyon.

We climbed up out of the canyon and back into West Covina. We stopped again at another park to refill our water bottles with tepid water from a fountain. Then we got on Amar Road.

At Amar and Hacienda, we stopped at The Donut Hole. This is the big drive-through (or ride through) donut shop. I got one chocolate-frosted raised donut in honor of the occasion. Then we stopped at a 7-11 so Gene could get a drink and we could put ice in our water bottles.

Heading north from there, we stopped off in Baldwin Park we saw a Metrolink track inspection truck, and also the archway with the somewhat controversial writing on it.

Then, we continued on up to Lower Azusa Road and over the El Monte Ave and its nice big bike lane.

We stopped one more time in Arcadia to get water at the high school. Then we rode the last bit back home. It was a very nice ride.

75 miles


More adventures of the accidental bachelor

Filed under: — stan @ 8:20 pm

While most men in my position would playing poker or watching football, I went for another bike ride after work today. Vikki and Matt at my office are both triathlon enthusiasts, and they told me about an informal practice time trial on Friday evenings at the Rose Bowl.

When I first got down to the Rose Bowl, there was a nice big thunderhead over the mountains. It was pretty impressive, so I took a picture of it. Then I rode around a bit and did some sightseeing. There was some filming going on underneath the Colorado St. bridge. The thing that caught my eye was the big fan. I guess they were filming something that was supposed to be happening on a windy day.

Heading back to the Rose Bowl, I found Matt, and we rode around for a bit. I was telling him that I felt a lot of resistance to doing the time trial, and I finally realized that I was just feeling embarassed about how slow I was going to be. And even if I wasn’t slow, there is basically no chance that I could go as fast as I did back in my racing days. So no matter what, I was going to be disappointed. Such are the trials of aging former athletes.

So we finally did it. We did four laps around the Rose Bowl, which my bike computer said was 12.3 miles. It took me 37 minutes to do this, which works out to 19.95 miles per hour. On the face of it, that seems pathetic. I once did a 10 mile time trial in 23:19, which is 25.73 miles per hour. At that pace, this would have taken me only 28:41. But that was in 1978. Oh well. Anyway, once I got over feeling sheepish about the whole thing, it was actually pretty fun.

39 miles


More adventures of the reluctant bachelor

Filed under: — stan @ 10:17 pm

Route map and photo locations

I went for another ride today after work. This time I went west to the Rose Bowl. There is a big semi-organized group ride there every Tuesday and Thursday. It’s sort of a practice race, and it’s quite the sort of thing I would have done back in my racing days. But I’m no longer young, strong, and fearless, so I’m not interested in doing it any more. When we first moved to Pasadena in 1995, I did it a few times just to see what it felt like to be riding fast in a racing pack again, but after some guy who didn’t know what he was doing knocked me down and sent me to the hospital, I decided not to do it again.

I rode down to the Rose Bowl on Orange Grove, passing the Pasadena Fish Market. “U Buy, We Fry”. When I got there, I did one lap around the Bowl. Then I went up the little hill to Linda Vista and took that up to the bridge over the freeway below JPL. Then I took Woodbury Rd. back across Pasadena. That was where I passed the “Apartments for Rent” sign. Nothing says “home” like concertina wire.

16 miles


Adventures of the reluctant bachelor

Filed under: — stan @ 9:18 pm

Route map and photo locations

Cathy and Lucinda went on a trip to visit Cathy’s friends in Austin, Texas. Being that I hate Texas, I elected not to go along. So I’m at home playing bachelor for a week.

After work, I went for a bike ride. I went out through Sierra Madre to Arcadia. Right near Santa Anita racetrack I snapped a picture of the oddly named “Analist Turf” sign. Perhaps it’s just me, but I think they really meant ‘Analyst’. The way they spelled it, it sounds more like an XRCO award category.

While I was taking the picture of the sign, a Boom Car pulled up the light, so I got serenaded by a very loud “Boomp Ba-Boomp! Boomp Boomp Ba-Boomp!” It was a catchy riff, so I ended up humming it for a good bit of the rest of the ride.

Continuing east through Monrovia, I got on the bike path along Royal Oaks. That was where I saw the ‘nun crossing‘ sign. I’ve been by there many times before, but this was the first time I noticed that sign, so I had to take a picture.

At the end of the bike path in Duarte, I turned around and headed back. I was heading into the setting sun, which made me feel like I was back in New York, racing at Kissena Velodrome. The back stretch of that track faced directly into setting sun, and it was my favorite place to attack. Sort of like the old WWI flying ace trick of diving out of the sun.

The last part of the ride was through the Monrovia foothills to get back to Arcadia and Sierra Madre Blvd. Then it was (mostly) downhill all the way home.

22 miles


San Dimas and points south

Filed under: — stan @ 6:38 pm

See the route and photo locations

Today’s ride was out to San Dimas, passing next to Bonelli Regional Park there.

We started out heading south and east through Arcadia and Temple City and finally Covina. Along the way, we passed the 99-cent burger place, and also Inflictions Tattoo, which I’ve heard good things about in tattoo circles. Then we went south, passing by the edge of Bonelli Regional Park to Via Verde.

When we got to Grand Ave in Covina I noticed that my tire was going flat. Newton asked if I could make it another five minutes. We made it up a little hill and around the corner onto Cortez St. There was a nice shady spot to sit and fix the flat. John took the obligatory picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. I also managed to get a nice macro-focus shot showing the little wire that had punctured my tire.

Leaving the nice shady spot, we headed west until we got to Citrus. Then we went north past the freeway and stopped for a snack at a Starbucks there.

Next, we went west on Workman Ave until it ended, then we went north to Badillo St and took that west into Ramona Blvd and finally Lower Azusa Road. At El Monte Blvd, we turned north back up to Duarte and then west to Holly, right by Santa Anita racetrack. We took Fairview west some more to Golden West and rode up the western edge of the Los Angeles County Arboretum. We didn’t see any peacocks roaming the streets, though.

Coming out back on Michillinda, we went north, passed behind Sears, and then took Orange Grove back to the park.

50 miles.



Filed under: — stan @ 3:23 pm

Addendum: Here’s a map with the route plotted and photo locations marked.

Today’s ride was out to Glendora, with a stop at a little bakery there.

We started out heading east and south to get to Longden Ave. We took that all the way out to where it merged into Live Oak, and then that turned into Arrow Highway. We passed Arrow Radiator (aka “a damn good place to take a leak“) and also the hot rod mailbox.

When we got to Glendora, we sat down and had some pastries. Philippe spent some time chatting with the baker, who was also from France.

After the snack stop, we took a quick side trip to Rubel’s Castle to marvel at the sight of an actual castle sitting in the middle of a suburban housing tract. Then we came back down the hill a bit and took Sierra Madre west. That was where I saw the Fatboy Ice Cream truck. Is that an example of truth in advertising?

We crossed the San Gabriel River on the bike path and headed into Duarte. We took the standard route home, straight across Duarte, Monrovia, and Arcadia. Then we headed north a bit and took Sierra Madre Blvd back to the park.

At the park, Philippe, Spencer, Vikki, and I all kept going. I took them on my somewhat convoluted route to Caltech so that they could see the funky palm tree. Then Vikki turned off and headed for home.

We then went south into San Marino. We went all the way across San Marino and into South Pasadena, where Spencer turned off for home. Then Philippe and I took Fair Oaks Blvd south to Huntington Drive for the trip home. Fair Oaks and Huntington used to be a big junction for the Pacific Electric, and the modern street intersection still shows this.

It was a hot and humid day today, which is unusual for Southern California. We do hot all the time here, but humid is not common. So we did one more short stop so that Philippe could get a new, cold bottle of Gatorade. I snapped a picture of the store sign, since it looks like a throwback to a bygone era.

Continuing west on Huntington, we passed Twohey’s in Alhambra. They have a very nice neon sign outside, although I don’t know why the guy on the sign has a clothespin on his nose.

The last bit of the ride was back up Sierra Madre Blvd, and then I was home.

53 miles.


More Google Maps geekery

Filed under: — stan @ 12:47 pm

I’ve been playing some more with Google Maps. I made up a little script to create the xml file for listing the photos on a bike ride. So I tested it out with the pictures from the ride to Encino from a few weeks ago.

Here are the pictures

I guess the next step would be to plot the route on the map…

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