Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Trying to make Newton say ‘uncle’

Filed under: — stan @ 11:01 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a new route that Gene made up. Newton had been saying he wanted to do more hills, so today we did hills. Fortunately, I like riding up hills, too.

It was kind of a chilly day by SoCal standards. About 50 degrees, so we were all relatively bundled up.

We started out heading east to Sierra Madre. But where we usually just go through the town to get to Arcadia, we turned and went up into one of the canyons above the town. It was a steep climb. The route made a loop, and we came out of the canyon at the same place where we’d gone in. Then we went east a bit more and then headed down Mountain Trail.

We rode all the way down the hill, almost to the 210 freeway. Then we went east a bit to Santa Anita. A left turn pointed us back up the hill. We rode up the hill and into another canyon. Up near the top we hit a portion with an 18% grade. It was about here that I said ‘uncle’ and shifted to a lower gear. Normally, I never shift, and apparently I have something of a reputation for riding up hills in ridiculous gears. But this time I shifted.

At the top, we got onto Highland Oaks and rode down the long hill all the way to Foothill Blvd. There, we turned left and went just a bit to 5th Ave. Then we turned left and headed back up towards the mountains.

Crossing into Monrovia, we went up yet another canyon. This one was also steep, and I had to shift again near the top. Shifting twice in one ride is nearly unheard-of for me, so I took a picture.

The roads in the canyon made a loop again, and we came down into Hillcrest right by where we’d turned off to go up. Then we turned left and continued on into Monrovia.

We took Hillcrest and Greystone and then turned on Norumbega. This made yet another loop up into a canyon. This time the climb wasn’t quite as hard as the others. I managed to make the whole thing in my 39×17, which is my usual all-purpose gear. And on the way down out of the canyon, we saw three deer grazing near some houses. This was quite novel to see, since the San Gabriel Valley is generally pretty urban, and we don’t see actual wildlife very often aside from the occasional coyote early in the morning. So I took some pictures of the deer as we rode by.

At the bottom of the hill, we turned left on Mountain and then headed east a bit more through Bradbury to Duarte. Doug got a flat on the bike path in Duarte, and so became the latest entry in the Flat Tire Gallery. We rode all the way out to the edge of the San Gabriel River wash. Then we went south on Encanto to Foothill Blvd. Turning right, we made our way back to Monrovia. We stopped for a snack at the Coffee Bean at Myrtle and Foothill.

After the snack stop, the group sort of split up. Some people had to head directly home. The rest of us went south a bit to Colorado and took that back to Pasadena. I rode with Vikki all the way to her street near Old Town.

Passing through Old Town, I took Prospect to get to Arroyo and Windsor Road. At the trailhead across the arroyo from JPL, I saw some people with horses. This is also a bit novel, although it’s still more common than seeing deer.

Heading east on Ventura, I started for home. I went up to Mendocino St. At Fair Oaks I had to go north a couple of blocks to get to Mariposa. That was where I passed the Little Red Hen CoFFee Shop.

After crossing Lake Ave, I went down to Mendocino and headed west across Altadena. At the country club they were having a snow day. They’d brought in a huge amount of shaved ice to make an ersatz snow slope for the kids to sled on.

The final part of the ride was to head down the hill and back to Victory Park.

It’s a good thing I like riding up hills. This was a fun ride.

46 miles


Bike Riding on Dicks Street

Filed under: — stan @ 11:30 pm
playing tourist
my bike decorated for the holidays
Dicks St
a plea for quiet
the view from Sunset Plaza
steel giraffe
an imposing gate
the flying saucer house
The Void: For Sale By Owner

Route map and photo locations

A couple of weeks ago, I read an item in the paper about Dicks Street in West Hollywood, and how the neighbors are lobbying to have the name changed. It turns out that Dicks St. is just off the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd which is commonly known as “Boys’ Town”, due to the large number of gay bars there. And of course, just like when I heard about Dork St., I started planning a ride to go and see it. I figured it would be a nice 50-mumble mile ride from Pasadena.

I met Matt at Victory Park at 7:30 and we set out on our pilgrimage. We went west on Orange Grove, intending to go across the Colorado Street Bridge. But when we got there, the bridge was closed off and a sheriff’s deputy indicated that we should take the other fork, which was the freeway entrance. We decided that we didn’t really want to try riding on the 134 freeway, so we took Grand Ave down into the Arroyo. A right turn on La Loma and a couple of hills later, we were in Eagle Rock.

After a turn on Fletcher, we crossed the L.A. River and headed into Silver Lake. A few turns and one small hill later, we were on Hollywood Boulevard. At this point, Matt pulled out his camera and played tourist a bit.

We rode down Hollywood Blvd all the way to the Chinese Theater. Then we headed south a bit to get on Fountain Ave. We took this all the way to its end at La Cienega.

A few quick turns later, we were at Dicks Street. I took a picture of the sign for my collection. Then we headed up the hill on Doheny up to the Sunset Strip.

Riding on the Sunset Strip is always a strange experience. We rode just a few blocks east to get to Sunset Plaza, then we turned left and headed up the hill.

On the way up the hill, we stopped to look at a sign that pleaded for quiet on the streets. We also stopped at the top to admire the view of Century City and West L.A., as well as to look at the steel giraffes and ostrich in front of one house. Also, we saw a house that had what has to be the single most imposing-looking front gate I’ve ever seen on a private residence.

Continuing down the other side, we went down towards Laurel Canyon. Then we turned left and headed up Laurel Pass Rd and Allenwood, coming out on Mulholland Drive at Fryman Canyon Park.

After a brief stop to refill our water bottles, we headed east on Mulholland. We stopped again for some more sightseeing at the Universal City overlook. I snapped a picture of the flying saucer house up on the hill above us. A little bit farther down the road, we saw a sign offering us the void, For Sale By Owner.

At the bottom of the hill in Cahuenga Pass, we crossed the freeway and headed up Wonder View toward Lake Hollywood. Coming down off the hill, we got on Barham Blvd and cruised down into Burbank. A quick right took us past Forest Lawn and into Griffith Park.

After the park, we went into Glendale, going up Sonora and Graynold to get to Kenneth and Mountain. We took Mountain over to Verdugo and headed up to Hospital Hill. From there, it was all downhill back to Pasadena and home.

56 miles


Sunday ride with one hill

Filed under: — stan @ 8:07 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was one we haven’t done since last year. One of the roads on the route washed out in the rains last winter, so we’ve been avoiding it. But Gene recently heard that the road was closed to cars but passable by bike, so we went to do it today.

We started out going east to Arcadia and then south to Temple City. This was just to pad the ride out a bit, since it would have been very short if we just went and rode up the hill.

We made a loop back through San Marino and South Pasadena and then headed up into the San Rafael Hills. We rode past the burned-out mansion there. The mansion that burned is next door to the house that was used as “Bruce Wayne’s house” in the old “Batman” TV series. Original reports said that the Batman house had burned, but it later turned out to be the house next door.

Next, we headed down Linda Vista and passed the Rose Bowl. Then we turned up Inverness and started climbing. Right about here, we met up with Ben Bertiger, who was out riding with his parents. The decided to join us for the hill portion of the ride. Ben is the Southern California Junior 10-12 Track Omnium Champion. Track racers are not generally known for being good hill climbers, but he gave us all a run for our money. He may have been the first to the top, but I don’t know. He was well ahead of me.

On the way up the hill, we had to stop to portage the bikes past the fence where the road was closed. Then we stopped to admire the washed-out road. It was impressive. After that, there was one more fence to cross, and the the rest of the climb to the top.

At the top of the hill, we went down the other side and took Lida back down to the Rose Bowl. We passed the Bowl and then went into Old Town for a snack at Il Fornaio.

After the snack stop, we went past the Rose Bowl yet again, this time on Prospect St. Then we took Arroyo and Windsor Road up to Altadena Drive. From there it was a nice three-mile downhill back to the park.

46 miles


A Sunday bike ride and some racing nostalgia

Filed under: — stan @ 3:44 pm

Today’s ride was just over to Glendale to see the Turkey Trot cyclocross race. I had suggested this to Gene a few weeks ago because I thought I might see Jonathan Livesay there. I used to race on the east coast back in the late ’70s, and Jonathan was one of the good racers in New York at the time. We didn’t really know each other then, but we were in lots of breakaways together at the Tuesday and Thursday evening races at Westbury on Long Island. Also, my mom was friends with his girlfriend’s mom, and our two moms would bring their bikes out to the races and just ride around the campus there and talk about mom stuff. So I thought it was quite remarkable that Jonathan is not only living near here now, but is still racing and doing quite well at it.

We started out heading west across Pasadena. Then we turned and went up through La Cañada, passing Descanso Gardens. Then we went down Hospital Hill and into Montrose. We rode around through there, up and down the hills a bit before coming down a very steep hill and arriving at Verdugo Park on Cañada Blvd.

When we got there, the Masters 50+ race was almost over. Jonathan was there, and he won the race with a commanding lead of at least a minute over the next rider. It was impressive. When he went by, I immediately recognized his ‘race face’. I’d seen it many times before, and even though it’s been 25 years, he still had the same look of concentration.

After the race I went and found him. He didn’t remember me, which wasn’t all that surprising, since it’s been so long and I only raced for about five years. Still, we talked about the old days there and some of the ‘cast of characters’ who used to race around New York in those days. It was fun.

Continuing on from the park, we rode a bit through Glendale to a bakery in Kenneth Village. We had pastries and such. I had a chocolate eclair, which was quite good.

After the snack stop, we continued on a bit and then got on Glenoaks Blvd to come back. We took Glenoaks all the way to Chevy Chase, climbing up and over a small, but steep hill at the end. Then we had the long climb up Chevy Chase.

The route was to go up Chevy Chase to Figueroa, but Gene decided to take a ’shortcut’ up Linda Vista. I put quotes around ’shortcut’, since it’s not like it was substantially easier. We still had to climb the same hill. At the top, we regrouped and then headed down Lida towards the Rose Bowl. When we got to the bottom, someone said, “Hey, what happened to Scott?” So Gene and I headed back up the hill to look for him.

At the top of the hill, there was still no sign of Scott. So I volunteered to go down the other side to look for him. I rode all the way back down to the last place we’d seen him. But he had vanished. So I figured he must have taken a different way back. So I started for home, which involved riding back up and over the hill that I’d ridden over twice already.

When I got back down on the Pasadena side, a truck pulled up next to me. It was Scott. He said that he’d taken a wrong turn, so he just rode back to the park where we started. So the mystery was solved, and I’d gotten to ride up two extra hills in the deal. Yay.

From the bottom of the hill, I rode around the south end of the Rose Bowl and then back across Pasadena to home.

47 miles.


Goodbye Norma Jeane

Filed under: — stan @ 10:51 pm

Route map and photo locations

Since I can’t do the regular Sunday ride this week, I contacted Gene and we arranged to do a ride today. The plan was to ride out to Westwood to visit Marilyn Monroe’s grave.

Today was another achingly beautiful Southern California day. It was clear. It was the kind of day when they take postcard pictures. It was amazing.

We started out going west and down through the arroyo, past the stables, and then up to York Ave. We took York to Eagle Rock Blvd, and then took that south. We crossed the L.A. River on Fletcher, then took Glendale Blvd and Rowena Ave into the Franklin Hills.

After crossing the Shakespeare Bridge we turned south and picked up Hollywood Boulevard. Riding a bike down Hollywood Blvd is always a unique experience. We passed the Thai hot dog. Then we got to the main tourist area and the Walk of Fame. Workers were putting up the holiday decorations over the street. We stopped where Marilyn’s star is, but they were digging up the sidewalk there and several of the stars were buried under a big pile of dirt. So we didn’t get to see her star.

Turning south, we took Hawthorn Ave for a bit and then went south some more to get to Fountain Ave. We took Fountain to its end and then went south one block to Holloway. Then we went up a little hill and got on the Sunset Strip. We passed all the usual landmarks there, and then crossed into Beverly Hills.

We rode halfway across Beverly Hills on Sunset, and then turned south a bit and took Elevado the rest of the way. Due to a miscalculation, we ended up on Wilshire, but we only had to ride on it for a block or so to get to Santa Monica Blvd.

Sadly, Santa Monica Blvd through Century City is being rebuilt. So it was kind of miserable to ride on. I immediately remembered why I used to always take Olympic instead. Fortunately, we only had to ride on it for about a mile. We passed the Los Angeles Mormon Temple with the nicely landscaped fault scarp in front of it. Then we turned off and went to visit my friend Kathleen at her house in Westwood.

We got some water and visited with Kathleen for a little bit and then got back on the road. We went north to the Westwood cemetery. It took us a while to find the entrance. We finally went down an alley between two high-rises and found a little gate that went in to the cemetery. Then it was pretty easy to find the crypt where Marilyn is buried.

Leaving the cemetery, we crossed Wilshire and went north into Holmby Hills. We passed Aaron Spelling’s modest little 56,000 square foot house. Then we crossed Sunset and took some small streets through the hills there to get to Benedict Canyon.

Benedict Canyon Road is one of the nicest roads in the Hollywood Hills. It has been repaved, and it has less traffic than most of the other roads. We took it all the way up to Mulholland Drive, and then we turned east for the trip home.

Mulholland is nice to ride from west to east, because it tends downhill in that direction. And the views today were fabulous. We saw some filming going on on one of the side streets. We also stopped for water at a park and had to admire the view of the Valley and also the view of Downtown L.A.

When we came out by the freeway in Cahuenga Pass, we took Cahuenga for just one short block and turned off onto one of the small streets to cut through the neighborhood there to get to Barham Blvd. Then it was the nice downhill and a turn on Forest Lawn to get to Griffith Park.

We rode through part of Griffith Park and then turned off to get to San Fernando Road. Then we took a route that Gene knew to take small streets across Glendale and Eagle Rock. Then the final test was to ride up the Colorado hill. That brought us back into Pasadena. We crossed the Colorado Bridge and then took Orange Grove back to the park.

65 miles


Sunday bike ride on a perfect day

Filed under: — stan @ 3:52 pm

Yesterday, the club did a mountain ride. They rode up Glendora Mountain Road and along the ridge to Mt. Baldy Village. Gene said it was nearly 75 miles, and lots of big hills. So today’s ride was flat one.

Today was a perfect Southern California fall day. It was sunny and clear, and after a little morning chill it warmed up to about 75 degrees. It’s days like this that make dealing with urban congestion, smog and high housing prices worthwhile.

We started out east to Arcadia and Monrovia, and then turned south to Temple City. We made a big loop back through San Gabriel and San Marino to end up in Old Town Pasadena.

Our snack stop was at Il Forniao. The last time we were there, a security guard gave us a hard time about leaning our bikes up against the wall, so a bunch of the guys just leaned their bikes together to make a big free-standing bike sculpture. Then we sat down and ate.

After that, we rode down into the Arroyo, passing by the Rose Bowl and then going up Windsor Road up to Altadena Drive. That was where I saw the house with “Jesus Saves” spelled out in paving stones on the front yard. They also had “J S” in bricks in the driveway.

Coming down the hill, we ended up back at the park. Since it was still early, I rode out to Arcadia again just to pad the ride a bit.

47 miles.


Turnbull Canyon both ways

Filed under: — stan @ 11:09 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was down to Whittier and then over Turnbull Canyon both ways. We were able to fully appreciate the climb in both directions.

I started out meeting Gene at Victory Park in Pasadena. We rode down to Temple City to Live Oak Park to meet the rest of the group. Starting out from Live Oak Park, we rode over to the Rio Hondo bike path, and then went south to San Gabriel Blvd, just above Whittier Narrows.

Getting on the San Gabriel River bike path, we went south some more to Pico Rivera. There we got off the bike path and took a small detour to Dork St. After that, we went west on Beverly Blvd to see the bridge over Rio Hondo that had caught fire earlier this week. Crews were busy tearing the bridge down in preparation for fixing it. We all found it amazing that a bridge for a major road was built of wood in this day and age.

Turning around, we headed east on Beverly Blvd into Whittier. We passed London Calling, which looked like a punk rock outfitter and seemed especially out of place in suburban Whittier.

Soon, the road turned up Turnbull Canyon and we started climbing in earnest. We saw lots of mountain bike riders on the fire roads in the canyon. At the top we stopped to regroup and take in the view.

Continuing down the other side, the road felt a lot like riding a steel roller coaster. It felt at times like the road was just suspended in the air, with sheer drops on both sides.

At the bottom, we took Los Altos and Vallecito to Camino del Sur and Colima Road. Our official snack stop was at McDonald’s at Colima and Hacienda. Most of us chose not actually eat anything there. I decided to tempt fate and have an Egg McMuffin. I thought about my old riding friend Tim who used to like to eat one of these in the middle of a 50-mile ride.

After that, we continued a bit on Colima and then took Stimson, Halliburton, Newton, and Joan streets to make a loop and get back to Turnbull Canyon Road. Then we started back up.

At the fire station there we saw a sign that said “Positively NO SMOKING” with a picture of a joint. I thought it was a bit funny that they would be so specific about it.

Near the stop, I stopped to pick up a flyer for a house for sale. The asking price was a cool $1.3 million. We stopped for one more regroup at the top. While we were waiting, I rode about halfway back down the hill to pick up the stragglers and then rode back up again. Remember, I like riding up hills. After everyone was at the top, we headed back down the west side of the hill.

At the bottom, we took Beverly to Workman Mill. At Peck we took a left and took that up to Rush St. That was where we passed through the sheet-metal-shop ghetto and saw the rocket sign at Kenny’s Sandblasting. We also saw Mike’s Liquors and Bait Shop, which seemed a bit out of place given that Southern California is not usually renowned for its fishing opportunities.

Getting back on the Rio Hondo bike path, we went back the way we came. Then we took El Monte Ave and its enormous bike lane up to Duarte Rd in Arcadia. At Holly we took a right to get up to Huntington and took that back to Sunset.

Turning north on Madre St we crossed back into Pasadena and took some small streets back to Sierra Madre Blvd and Victory Park.

62 miles


I still like riding up hills…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:07 pm

Today’s ride was a hilly one. Just the way I like it. In my racing days, I liked riding up hills because it gave me a chance to spank the other riders and show them who’s boss. In those days, it was a Point of Honor to be the first to the top of every hill. Now, I’m no longer the fastest hill climber, but I still like riding up hills anyway. So whenever there’s a hilly ride, I go on it.

Today’s ride was just a big loop through La Cañda and Glendale with some big hills both coming and going. We met at the park in Alhambra.

We started out going north, passing the Rose Bowl and JPL before the first hill, up to Verdugo Blvd. Then we went down into Montrose and Glendale. At the bottom of that hill, we took a left and headed up Mountain Ave. This is a nice, steep climb. The top part has been closed to cars for almost a year, but the sign today said it was open again. Still, it was a nice ride, since there isn’t much traffic up there.

Coming down the other side, we took some side streets to get back to Chevy Chase at the top of the hill between La Cañda and Glendale. Then we went up and over again to come down off the hill back in Pasadena and the Rose Bowl. From there, we went south and then turned up Glenoaks, which was another nice climb up, and then we turned and came down San Rafael, passing the old Seismology Lab that Charles Richter set up back in the 1930s.

At the bottom of the hill, we went south a bit and came back into South Pasadena. We stopped for a snack at Busters, right next to the train station. Then it was time for the ride home. We went back up past the Rose Bowl and then took Windsor Road up to Altadena Drive. Then we went across Altadena and down back to Victory Park and we were done.

47 miles


Hollywood Hills and The T. Marvin Hatley Estate

Filed under: — stan @ 4:16 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today I got to play ride leader for the Sunday bike ride. I made up a route to go to the Hollywood Hills and pass by the former T. Marvin Hatley Estate. T. Marvin Hatley was a composer, and he did the music for a lot of movies from about 1930 to about 1950, and he wrote the Laurel and Hardy theme song. His house had a very large sign painted on the front wall that said, “The T. Marvin Hatley Estate”.

We started out taking the direct route west on Orange Grove, Colorado, and Yosemite across Eagle Rock. Then we turned and went down Eagle Rock Blvd. That was where we saw the church sign asking if we wanted to spend eternity “smoking or non-smoking”.

Turning off on Fletcher, we crossed the L.A. River into Los Feliz. A quick bit on Rowena and St. George brought us to Franklin Ave and the Shakespeare Bridge.

Continuing west on Franklin, we passed the über-creepy Scientology Celebrity Center and moved on into the center of Hollywood. There, we took a right on Cahuenga and headed up into the pass. The road was right next to the Hollywood Freeway, and it was loud, but there was very little traffic on the road with us, so it was all right.

At the top of the pass, we turned off and crossed the bridge to get to Mulholland Drive. From there, there are two ways to climb the hill. Mulholland is a long and gradual climb, and Woodrow Wilson is two steep sections with a flat bit in between. The general consenus is that Mulholland is the easier way to go. So we took a right there and headed up Woodrow Wilson.

When we got to the top of the hill, we stopped to catch our breath, and I had a look to see if I could remember which house was the former T. Marvin Hatley Estate. Since Mr. Hatley died in 1986, I figured that the new owners of the house would have probably removed the painted sign on the wall. In the end, I think I identified the house, but being that this was the first time I’d been up there in 15 years, my memory was a bit fuzzy. And being cross-eyed and seeing stars from the hill climb probably didn’t help.

A left turn on Mulholland took us back down to Cahuenga Pass. Along the way, we passed the Hollywood Bowl overlook, and we also got to dimly see the Hollywood sign through the fog. Then we crossed the bridge over the freeway. That was where I saw the signal-box graffiti about “So many things, too little poetry”.

Next, we headed up Wonder View toward Lake Hollywood. This is another stiff climb, but it’s worth it to avoid having to ride any more on Cahuenga. It’s quiet, and there is very little traffic. Also, at the top of the hill we got to see the bright-orange house. You don’t see one of those every day.

Heading down into Burbank, we passed Warner Bros and the somewhat shabby-looking Starlet Apartments. Then we stopped at Priscilla’s for a bagel and orange juice. They have very good fresh-squeezed orange juice there. And it’s definitely worth the extra $0.25 to get the large size. If they offered a “Super Size” I’d even get that.

After our snack stop, we came home by the standard route across Glenoaks and up Verdugo to La Cañada. Then down Descanso and Chevy Chase and back into Pasadena on Woodbury Road. Finally, we went down New York Drive and came back to the park.

49 miles.


T. Marvin Hatley, or Another Mystery of the Ages Falls

Filed under: — stan @ 12:42 pm

Since we went on the Tour of Laurel and Hardy last weekend, I was reading a bit about them today, and I ran across this:

“Trivia: The composer of the famous Laurel and Hardy theme song was T. Marvin Hatley.”

Years ago, I used to ride a lot in the Hollywood Hills. I would go down Mulholland Drive to Cahuenga Pass and then make a loop by going up Woodrow Wilson Drive. This was a steep hill, and by the time I got to the top, I was usually seeing stars. And at the top, there was a house with a wall in front with large letters spelling out “The T. Marvin Hatley Estate”. For fifteen years, I’ve wondered who T. Marvin Hatley was, and now I know. Here is his biography from

Of course this means another bike ride. I need to go back there and do the climb up Woodrow Wilson to see his house again, even though it probably doesn’t have the letters on the wall any more.

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