Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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6/11/2017

Spoke

Filed under: — stan @ 2:22 pm

Spoke Bicycle Cafe in Frogtown has been busy lately. They recently opened a new kitchen and expanded their menu. When we’ve been there before, it was a pretty minimalist operation. But now they have regular food, a wider selection of drinks, and even indoor bathrooms. So today’s ride was a visit to Spoke to see all the new parts that have recently opened.

We rode out our usual route across Eagle Rock and Glendale. When we got to Burbank, we saw a train nosing its way across Victory Blvd. The tracks only go a short distance beyond there, since that route has been converted into the Chandler Bikeway. But the fact that the crossing signals at Victory are still there I guess implied that trains still sometimes go there. And today was the first time we’ve ever seen one there. From the map, it looks like the little bit of track remaining there is part of a wye off the main line in Burbank.

After looking at the train, we continiuued on the Chandler Bikeway over to Pass Ave. Then south to Riverside to make a loop back to pick up the L.A. River bike path down to Frogtown. We stopped in at Spoke and had some snacks. I had some artisanal hipster-style bacon, just because it was there.

Coming home, we went up Figueroa St to Ave 43, and then the Arroyo Seco bike path to South Pasadena.

42 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

6/4/2017

McDonald’s

Filed under: — stan @ 2:44 pm

Last week, I was watching the movie, “The Founder”, about Ray Kroc. So it seemed appropriate that this Sunday’s bike club ride should be a visit to the oldest operating McDonald’s in the U.S. It’s a nice, flat ride to Downey and, we’ve been there before.

When we got there, I’d been hoping to take a quick look at the Ray Kroc museum they have there. But it was closed for renovation. So we continued on to our snack stop at 3rd St Coffee.

We passed by the Rives Mansion on the way back. Apparently, it’s something of a landmark in Downey. Then we got on the Rio Hondo bike path for the ride home.

43 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

5/28/2017

Nick Metropolis

Filed under: — stan @ 4:16 pm

This past week, the Los Angeles Times had an article about Nick Metropolis. This is an odd little place on La Brea, filled with all sorts of weird junk. So of course, we had to go see it.

The ride out was our regular route through downtown L.A. We stopped briefly at 7th and Figueroa to see the Corporate Head sculpture. Then we continued on out through Koreatown and Hancock Park. We went all the way to Fairfax so we could see the construction site for the new Metro Purple Line station there. We also had a look at the “Urban Light” installation at LACMA. I noticed for the first time that some of the streetlights in it are the antique ones with swastikas around the base.

Heading back east, we got to Nick Metropolis, where we had a chance to look around. It is one weird collection of stuff there.

Our snack stop was at Noah’s Bagels on Larchmont. While we were there, we took a look at the little bakery that just opened up next door. I think we’re going to try going there next time we’re out this way.

The route home was the usual way across Silver Lake and home by way of York Blvd.

46 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

5/27/2017

Return to the George Harrison Tree

Filed under: — stan @ 1:44 pm

I don’t usually ride with the Foothill Cycle Saturday morning group, but today they were doing a ride that started from the park by my house, and they were doing one of my routes. The ride to Griffith Park to see the George Harrison Tree.

The route out was our standard route across Pasadena and through Eagle Rock to get to Hollywood. Then we turned and made our way up the hill to Griffith Observatory. They’ve changed the traffic pattern there since the last time we were there, and the two road leading up to the observatory are now designated as one-way, with one leading up, and the other leading down. So we had to ride through the tunnel to Toontown to get to the road up to the observatory. When we got up to the top, I went for the photo-op with the bust of James Dean, and also had a look at the orbits of the planets in the sidewalks in front of the observatory. I’d thought they didn’t have the orbit of Pluto plotted on there, but it turned out they did.

Leaving the observatory, we headed up Mt Hollywood Drive. We took a short side trip to an overlook that had a nice all-directions view of the park and the city. And after we rolled over the crest of the hill, we started down the Valley side, with a short stop at “Cathy’s Corner”, which was the location for the “What a Waste of a Lovely Night” scene from “La La Land”. I’m in the process of making up a theme ride to visit some of the “La La Land” shooting locations, and this is one of the more important ones on the list.

Continuing on down the mountain, we got to the bottom, where we turned left to head over the our snack stop at Priscilla’s in Burbank. We had drinks and snacks there, before starting for home. We rode back to the L.A. River bike path, which we took all the way to its south end at the bridge to Figueroa St. We took Figueroa north to Ave 57, and then turned off to get to Monterey Rd back to South Pasadena.

All told, it was a nice ride.

47 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

5/21/2017

The old NoHo train station

Filed under: — stan @ 2:56 pm

A few weeks ago, we did a ride to see the TV Hall of Fame in North Hollywood. That day, we stopped for snacks at Panera at Chandler and Lankershim, and while we were there, I saw a sign on the old North Hollywood Pacific Electric Depot that said that they had finished renovating the old building, and that a new Groundwork Coffee was now open inside. So today’s ride was a trip out there to see the old station.

It’s become something of a tradition to renovate old train stations for retail and restaurant use. The former Pasadena stations has several restaurants in it. The old Monrovia station is being renovated with an eye towards that sort of use. So the NoHo station is just the latest in a long line of these sorts of projects.

We took a bit of a roundabout route to get to NoHo, going down almost to downtown, and then up the L.A. River bike path. And also a bit out into Studio City. But it was a nice day for riding, so it was all right. When we got to NoHo, we turned in to the old train station. The Groundwork Coffee shop there is pretty nice, and they have a large shaded outdoor seating area, which was just the thing today. We had some drinks and snacks before heading back.

The route back was a bit more direct. Straight across Glendale and then over the hill to get to the Rose Bowl. The Bowl was on virtual lockdown, since they’d had a big U2 concert last night, and were preparing for another tonight.

In the end, it was a nice ride, although it did get pretty hot today. When I got home, my little weather station thingy said it was 99 degrees, which is a bit much for this early in the season.

47 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

5/14/2017

Where the Streets Have No Name

Filed under: — stan @ 2:01 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a visit to see a little piece of rock history. In 1987, U2 made a video for their song, “Where the Streets Have No Name” where they played a small show on the roof of a building in downtown Los Angeles:

beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/music/u2s-where-the-streets-have-no-name-30-yearslater/article34932271/

Today’s bike ride was a trip to downtown L.A. to see the building and the corner where they did this.

We rode down through South Pasadena and Highland Park to get to the L.A. River and the new bridge there. We stopped for a minute to look at the “Faces of Elysian Valley” art installation in the traffic circle just before the bridge. Then we headed up the river trail to Fletcher, where we got off and headed into Hollywood. We had take a short detour between Bronson and Gower where there was something happening and Hollywood Boulevard was blocked off with fire trucks and police cars.

We rode across Hollywood, and I was slightly surprised to find that not only did U2 not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but they don’t have a presence at the Rock Walk at Guitar Center on Sunset.

Our snack stop was at Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont. Then we headed back into downtown L.A. via 7th St. When we got to Main, we stopped and looked at the building. It was a liquor store back in 1987, and it’s a Mexican restaurant now, but the building looks essentially the same now as it did then.

From there, we headed back up Main St, stopping to take a photo of the Car Freshener painted on the side of a building at 3rd St. As they say, “[you'll] find one in every car…“. We also saw the signpost pointing to all of the sister cities that Los Angeles has around the world. Just in case you were wondering.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

5/7/2017

The Metro Tour East

Filed under: — stan @ 1:12 pm

The weather forecast for today was for it to be chilly, with a small chance of rain. So the ride for today was the Metro Rail Tour East. This is a ride to Glendora and back, never more than two miles or so from the nearest Metro Rail station.

I went down to the park, but in the end nobody else showed up. So I set out on my own. It sprinkled just a little bit for the first few minutes, but then that stopped, and the sun came out. So I did the whole ride, and it was fine. Fine, except for the stiff headwind all the way to Glendora. But coming back was nice. Gladstone St is about 1% downhill, and with the tailwind, I was pretty much able to glide a good bit of the way back.

37 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

4/30/2017

666

Filed under: — stan @ 3:51 pm

When we ride through Westlake and up to Echo Park, we usually go up Bonnie Brae St. And we always pass 666 Bonnie Brae, which is a building that seems completely appropriate to wear the number 666. And this week, we’d heard that the building next to it had burned down, so we went back to see how badly 666 had been damaged.

We started out riding into downtown L.A. We made one short stop to see how they are coming along with building the tunnel entrance for the Metro Regional Connector on 1st St. And that’s where we saw yet another classic ’stick-man-in-peril’ sign. Then we continued on down through the Arts District until we got to 7th St. We rode across downtown and out to Westlake on 7th, which is where we saw the formerly-24-hour laundromat. Then we turned up Bonnie Brae and got a good look at number 666. As we’d heard, the building next door was burned to the ground. But number 666 was actually pretty badly damaged as well.

Continuing north, we rode up to Echo Park, where we made one more short side trip to see Randyland. Then we stopped off for snacks at Chango Coffee.

The route home took us through Echo Park to the L.A. River, and then back down the bike path to the bridge and Figeuroa St.

40 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

4/23/2017

Off to the Races

Filed under: — stan @ 3:27 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another special one-way ride. Out to Westchester, next to LAX, to see the L.A. Circuit Race. I knew that my old racing friend Cleave from the ’70s was going to be there. Remarkably, 40 years later, he’s still racing.

The route out there was almost the same as the route we took when we rode to Santa Monica last year. Through downtown, and then out to the west side by way of the Expo Line bike lane. At La Cienega and the old Air Line bridge, we picked up the Ballona Creek bike path and rode that down to the ocean by Marina Del Rey. Then we turned left and headed up the hill to Westchester.

When we got to the race I took a moment to ask around to see if the young girl racer we’d met on the Metro last fall was racing there. Sadly, the people from her club said she’d crashed, and her arm was in a cast. So I continued on until I found the group from Lightning Velo in Long Beach. And Cleave was there, having just finished racing. We talked a bit about racing in the old days in New York, and the races they used to have on Tuesday and Thursday evenings on Long Island. The one instruction we were all given at the start of each of those races was from the race master, Mr. Ando. He would tell us, “Don’t-a cross-a da double line-a!”

I hung around and watched the mens’ Category 3 and Category 4 races for a bit. I talked to a woman who turned out to be my age whose son was racing in the Category 4 race. She said he was going off to college in New York in the fall, so I told her what I knew about the racing scene there. NYC had a very good racing scene back in the ’70s, and it seems to be still going strong. The last time I saw it was in 2007, when I was there and made a point to go see the Wednesday evening races at the velodrome in Queens.

Leaving the race, it was time for the 10 or so miles back to the La Cienega Metro station. Which turned out to go by very quickly. There was a stiff tailwind coming off the ocean, and I was able to pretty much go top speed all the way there. Then I got on the train and rode it back to Pasadena.

45 miles, including riding home from the Allen Metro station

Route map and elevation profile

4/22/2017

Revisiting a bit of history

Filed under: — stan @ 3:09 pm

Today was a special short ride to go back and see the roads that were the course for the Acton Road Race, which was one that I rode in 1978. I wrote up the story of that day some years ago, but I’d never been back there until today. I’d only had a vague idea where the race was until last year when Kathleen and I went to Animal Tracks in Agua Dulce. That was when I realized that the start and finish line for the race was on Escondido Canyon Road, just north of the overpass over the 14 freeway.

I had a look at the map and mapped out the course. There aren’t that many roads up there that go through, so there really was only one way for it to go. And as it turns out, the loop was only 22 miles, rather than the 24 they told us it was on race day. And my recollection of it was that it had some climbs, but I don’t recall any major scary downhills. But today, seeing it in person for the first time since 1978, I find it amazing that I rode those descents in a full-speed racing pack and really didn’t think anything of it. It really was fun to be young and fearless.

The part of the course I really wanted to see what the big climb on Sierra Highway. That was where I lost contact with the pack on the last lap, but managed to catch up. This was the only race where I ever lost contact but was able to catch it again. And certainly the only race where I caught the pack after being dropped and went on to place in the top ten. So it was fun to see the site again. And since Jen was along for the ride, I got to tell the story again, even if telling a 39-year-old bike racing story made me feel a bit like Grandpa Simpson. But the important thing was that I had an onion on my belt…

Since there wasn’t really any place to leave the car near the starting line of the race, we parked at Vasquez Rocks and rode from there. And after riding the loop, along with a quick trip through Agua Dulce to get some cold water and see the sights, we went back in to Vasquez Rocks. I wanted to find the place where Captain Kirk faced off against the Gorn in the “Star Trek” first-season episode, “Arena”.

27 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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