Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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10/14/2007

Glendale hills and a pirate ship, too

Filed under: — stan @ 8:01 pm

Route map

Last week, I saw an item on Curbed L.A. about a house in Burbank with a pirate ship in the back yard. So I mailed Gene and said we should go see it. So today we did the Glendale hills route, which goes right by there. We’ve done this ride before, and it’s always great fun.

It was a bit chilly when we started out in the morning, but it turned into a very nice day. And there was a lot of climbing on this route, so we warmed up pretty fast. And the sheet of bubble wrap I was wearing helped, too. I recently read that it’s the 50th anniversary of the invention of bubble wrap. It’s an amazing thing. Besides cushioning, it’s also a great insulator, and it even has other (Not Safe For Work) uses.

We had to pass through the part of Altadena Drive where they have the road closed for sewer repairs, so it was a bit of a bushwhack. But then we got past that and headed up the hill. Then Ben got a flat. I circled back to get a picture, but some moisture had gotten in the camera, and the picture was just a purple smear. So he missed his chance to be in the Flat Tire Gallery this time.

On the way up the hill, Om led the charge. I recently have been remembering my racing days, and I’ve been trying to again be King of the Hill. So we had some fun racing up the hill. Then we regrouped at the top and headed down the big hill on Mountain Ave. I find this downhill to be frankly terrifying. I guess I’m getting old.

At the bottom, we crossed Verdugo Wash and headed up the hills on the other side. More nice climbing, with some pitches up to 12%. We rambled through the hills and looked at the views before coming down into Glendale.

We rode out into Burbank a bit and then doubled back on Kenneth. Then we turned off on Angeleno to see the pirate ship. And it was impressive. Sort of like a playhouse gone mad.

Our stop was at Paradise Bakery. I had my usual chocolate éclair. And when we left, I saw two different abandoned couches right around the corner.

The route back went up and over the Lida hill back to Pasadena. By this time, I was pretty tired. Newton beat all of us to the top. Then we rode down to the Rose Bowl and up Washington to Arroyo.

We took a small detour to see the house with the cone in front. There is a house on Arroyo where the owner has apparently decided that he doesn’t like bikes riding in the bike lane. The city has gone to the trouble of painting and signing a bike lane on that street, and this particular homeowner places a traffic cone out at the bike lane line and wants us to go around it. It is unclear why he thinks we should not be riding in the space that the city has provided for us. The man in front of the house claimed to know nothing about the cone, but it was pretty obvious that it was his. So perhaps a letter to the city street department is in order.

By the time I got home, I was pretty tired and moving slowly. But it was a fun time.

42 miles.
cycling

10/13/2007

San Dimas and Bonelli Park

Filed under: — stan @ 8:58 pm

The route out

The route back

Today’s ride was out to San Dimas, with a loop around Bonelli Park, and then straight home. It rained last night, so it was cool and still kind of wet in the morning.

On the way out to Arcadia to meet the group, I saw something going on at a church along the way. I don’t know what that character in the costume was supposed to be.

The route out was pretty straightforward. When we got to San Dimas, the crossing gates were down at the railroad crossing. But there was no train. So I went to the tracks to see, and I saw that it was just a maintenance crew working. So we went across and kept going.

We did the circuit around Brackett Field and into Bonelli Park by the back way. That was where we saw the airplane boneyard. Then we headed up the hill and out the main entrance to the park.

Whenever it’s wet, my bike computer gets flakey. And today was no exception. When we went down the big hill on Via Verde, I looked at it, and it said we were going 12.9. I know we were going faster than that. Susan said hers read 36, and I know I’ve seen 40 on that hill before.

On the way back, I ran over something that got stuck in my tire. I could feel it thumping on the ground, so I stopped. I figured I’d have to fix a flat, but when I pulled it out, it hadn’t gone through. I even dunked the tire in a nearby puddle to check, but it was fine. So we continued on.

Our stop was at Panera in West Covina. I had a blueberry muffin and some orange juice. I’m looking for a good recipe for blueberry muffins, so I wanted to sample theirs just to see what it was like. It was pretty good.

After the stop, we headed home by the most efficient route. I had to be home by 12:30 to take Lucinda to Science Saturday at Caltech at 2:00.

It was a very pleasant ride.

56 miles.
cycling

9/30/2007

Newton’s Nemesis

Filed under: — stan @ 7:19 pm

Route map

Today’s ride was the “Newton’s Nemesis” route. This is the one that travels from Pasadena to Duarte, going up each steep canyon hill along the way. It’s got something like 3,200 feet of climbing. We’ve done this ride before. And it never fails to please. Or to hurt, for that matter.

We headed out from Victory Park and rode up the first canyon in Sierra Madre. Then we went down the hill all the way to Foothill, and then back up Santa Anita to get to the canyon in Arcadia. This is the steepest hill on the route, and it’s the only one where I had to say ‘uncle’ and shift. We were pretty high up. When I got to the top, I saw a house for sale with a sign promising “View! View! View!” And yes, there was a view.

Gene and Karen had skipped the Arcadia canyon hill, and when we came down, we found them fixing a flat on Karen’s bike. So I took the requisite picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

When we got to Monrovia, we rode up a couple more steep canyons. We saw some deer munching on someone’s front-yard garden. Then we came back down and started the flat portion of the ride.

We rode out to Duarte and then got on the San Gabriel River bike path and rode down to Santa Fe Dam. Randy and Newton took off and decided that they wanted to go fast. So I just got behind them and drafted all the way around the top of the Dam. I told them I wasn’t going to pull, but I just stayed on their wheels and enjoyed a nice fast ride.

Our snack stop was at Planet Cookies in Monrovia. They had run out of orange juice, so I got an enormous piece of carrot cake instead. For some reason, it seemed like the thing to do at the time.

On the way home, we passed a little drive-in dairy in Monrovia. It has new owners, and they now have a big fiberglass cow wearing a lei out front. So of course I had to get a picture of it. Maybe next time I’ll get my picture taken with it, too.

It was a fun ride.

42 miles.
cycling

9/23/2007

The Cone Release Ride

Filed under: — stan @ 9:43 pm

Route map

Last weekend we went to the “Cone Migration” art show at Bandini Art in Culver City. This was a show of art made by Lana Shuttleworth, using orange traffic cones that she released on city streets and later collected. It was also sort of an interactive art show in that visitors were encouraged to take a cone to “release into the wild”. Of course I thought this would make for an interesting and amusing bike ride with the regular Sunday group.

I strapped the 8-pound cone on my back, using a Jansport pack, a belt, and some packing tape. The trick was to get it to stay point-down. Once I figured that out, it was fine. I rode down to Victory Park to meet the group.

As it turned out, there were a lot of people on the ride this week who had not been there last week when I had suggested this activity. So I had to tell them the story of the the cone migration and art and all that. They all thought it sounded funny, so we were off.

Riding with the cone wasn’t too bad, aside from the weight of it. It was attached pretty close to my center of gravity, so it didn’t throw my balance off. I was even able to trackstand normally at traffic lights. I also could not feel any difference in wind resistance, even though it certainly looked like it had to be adding a lot of drag.

We rode out of Pasadena, across Eagle Rock and into Glendale. At one point, a guy who wasn’t with our group passed us. I couldn’t resist chasing him, and I was able to settle into a fast pace line with no problem. The cone didn’t cause any problems with drafting.

We rode into Griffith Park and then down to Los Feliz. We had to stop for a bit to fix a flat, but that gave me some time to take a sightseeing picture with the cone in front of the Mulholland Fountain.

Next, we headed up into Elysian Park. We were going to make a sightseeing stop and release the cone at the Los Angeles Fire Department training center and the World Trade Center memorial there. When we got there, the gate was closed, but then some of the other riders found another gate that was open. So we all went in and looked at the steel column and plaque there. Then we placed the cone just outside the gate, recording the location and date on the cone label, and also taking a picture of the GPS unit to show the actual coordinates of the release.

After the release, I felt much lighter. We continued down the hill into Chinatown. We stopped for a shack at Philippe’s on Alameda. Then we headed home by the direct route. Up Main to Mission, and then Huntington all the way back to San Marino. Then straight up Sierra Madre Blvd back to the park.

It was a perfect day for riding, and it was a fun ride and fun to participate in an art project.

Because this was a special ride, I made a separate gallery for the photos. They are here:

www.1134.org/gallery/index.php/stan/bike/conerelease

42 miles.
cycling

9/16/2007

Riding through and to Monrovia

Filed under: — stan @ 8:07 pm

Route map

Today’s ride was a flat one. Out to the east through Monrovia, then out to Gendora and Covina. And then back to Monrovia for a stop at Planet Cookies. The route map above is accurate, except for the part where we took the bike path from Duarte to Azusa. Google Maps doesn’t know about bike paths.

When I was on my way down to the park to meet the group, I saw a bunch of Marines running down the road. I’d heard them going by my house and chanting earlier.

The ride was very flat and we went pretty fast. One odd thing that happened was when Don got his chain wedged in the front derailleur, and the cage got bent a little bit. So we stopped and he used the hook on the end of his prosthetic arm to bend it back into place. We were wondering if he had a vise-grip attachment for it.

When we got to Planet Cookies, we managed to get Vikki to tell her story about the geology field trip to the Yukon and the bear. And once again, it was a good story, complete with pointy sticks, guns, and trying to make a bear carcass ‘disappear’ Mob-style.

After the stop, we headed home. It was a nice ride, and we did it quite fast. I was home quite a bit earlier than normal. But this was good, since I had to get cleaned up so we could go see “In the Shadow of the Moon” today. And yes, the movie was very good.

46 miles.
cycling

9/14/2007

Arcadia at lunchtime

Filed under: — stan @ 8:27 pm

Route map

Since Vikki is going to be moving back to Canada soon, we’re not going to get to go on our lunchtime rides for much longer. So we did one today. It was the usual ‘flat’ route out to Monrovia and back.

On 5th Ave in Arcadia I got a flat. So of course, we had to get a picture.

There is a little mouse-hole of a tunnel under the railroad tracks in Arcadia, and we take that to continue north on 5th Ave. Today, there was an actual train on the tracks there. In 12 years living in this area, this is first time I’ve seen a train on those tracks. It wasn’t much of a train. Three locomotives and no cars. But it was still interesting, since I like trains, and I didn’t even know they still ran on those tracks.

And that was it. It was a nice ride.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.
cycling

9/12/2007

Lida St and a weird house

Filed under: — stan @ 8:33 pm

Route map

Today at lunchtime I did the regular Lida ride again. I like this one on hot days, since it ends with two miles downhill.

There wasn’t much remarkable along the way, aside from the Edison electric car that passed me in Altadena. It was nice and quiet. I wish there were more like it on the road.

On the way home, I had to stop off to do an errand, and so I ended up taking a slightly different route home. That’s where I saw a very odd house. It looked like it wasn’t quite done yet, since the driveway was dirt, and it looked like there was still construction going on. It’s not quite as odd as Rubel’s Castle in Glendora, but it’s easily a match for the Viking house in Tujunga. But no matter what, it was an odd house. I like it.

18 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.
cycling

9/9/2007

Green Olive

Filed under: — stan @ 3:59 pm

Route map

Today’s ride was a new route that Gene calls “Green Olive, but no Martini”. As you can see, we went on Green and Olive, so there you have it.

Before we even got out of Pasadena, JJ got a flat. So I got a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

We headed up into La Cañada, where I saw yet another mailbox with hot-rod flames. This makes five now. Pretty soon, I’ll have to make a special photo album just for them.

A little while later, in La Crescenta, I found yet another abandoned couch. So I got a picture for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

After lots of fun riding up and down the hills in La Crescenta, we headed down the hill into Glendale. Then we turned left and went up Mountain Ave. This street is aptly-named. It’s a good climb, and it just keeps on giving. Every time it looks like you’re at the top, there’s a little more. But there was a nice view of downtown Los Angeles from the top. It made a nice backdrop to the pictures of Ben and Gene cresting the hill.

We came down the hill and headed back into Pasadena. Our snack stop was at the Corner Bakery on Lake Ave. And then we headed home. It was a perfect day and a nice ride.

42 miles.
cycling

9/8/2007

No Tuna Redux

Filed under: — stan @ 8:37 pm

Route map

Today’s ride was Gene’s “No Tuna for Me” route. This is a ride through Burbank to Sun Valley, and then back by a route that completely avoids La Tuna Canyon. Not that La Tuna Canyon is a bad thing. Some of us like riding up four-mile hills. But Gene’s route is a nice quiet way through the horse territory of Los Angeles, so it’s pretty nice.

We headed out under perfect skies. It was another insufferably nice day in Southern California. We crossed Eagle Rock and into Glendale. That was where I saw the telephone pole that has apparently had a few signs posted on it over the years.

When we got up to Sun Valley, we saw a sight that should strike terror in just about anyone: a bus with “Student Driver” on the back. Apparently, there’s a bus driving school there. Who knew?

Heading up into the hills, we left the garbage dump and auto wrecking yards behind, and entered the place where all the houses have horses. We saw one house with what looked like a sculpture garden in the riding ring.

Coming out on Sunland Blvd, we crossed the 210 freeway and then turned off for the ride through Tujunga. We rode up Apperson, which is a nice quiet street. We thought we’d be able to see the Viking House we saw a few weeks ago. But it was not to be. We turned off on Tujunga Canyon Road to head down to Montrose. That was where we saw a couch apparently abandoned after a hard night of partying.

When we got to Montrose we stopped at Berolina Bakery. The eclair there was quite good, yet not quite as good as the ones at Paradise Bakery in Glendale.

Finally, we headed home by the usual route. When I got back to the park, I had 46 miles, so I rode around for a little bit more just because “50″ looks so nice on the bike computer display.

50 miles.
cycling

9/3/2007

Mad Dogs and Englishmen go to the beach

Filed under: — stan @ 8:07 pm

Route map

Noel Coward said “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun“. and I guess that includes me now, too. Today we all went to Orange County for the day. Cathy was going out for her birthday lunch with her sister. Lucinda was going to spend the afternoon with Grandma and Grandpa. So I brought my bike along to go for a ride. I figured it was bound to be cooler there, near the coast.

When we got there, it was in fact cooler. It was only about 100, rather than the 105 or so in Pasadena. Yup, that helped a lot. But my plan was to ride down to the beach at Dana Point. I figured it would probably be cooler there.

The first part of the ride felt like standing in front of a 15,000,000-watt blow dryer. The heat was searing my eyeballs. I stopped off for a picture at the Federal Building in Laguna Niguel, aka “The Ziggurat”. I went to a bike race there back in 1978. I watched, but didn’t ride, since there was no race for my category that day. But I remembered the building, so I wanted to see it again.

As I got closer to the beach, I could feel a difference as I crested each hill. It got, well, less hot. But it was still hot when I got close enough to see the ocean. It wasn’t until I got on Pacific Coast Highway that it actually started to feel cool.

I stopped at the park by the beach to refill my water bottle. I rode along the beach for a few miles. It was still hot by beach standards, but it felt good. I saw the southbound Amtrak Surfliner go by right before I turned around to head back.

When I turned to head home, I realized that I’d been having a tail wind all the way down there, but it wasn’t bad. It was a cool headwind, so it felt good. I headed back up into Dana Point, stopped at a liquor store to buy a bottle of orange juice, and then I turned north and headed up the hill away from the beach.

It got hot again as soon as I was out of sight of the beach. Then I got a flat. I was alone, so I had to fix the tire and take the picture myself.

The rest of the ride back was pretty uneventful. South Orange County is in many ways a bicycle paradise. Most of the major roads have bike lanes, and the drivers are generally pretty well-mannered. But Orange County is also Master-Planned and Sanitized for Your Protection. This is the part that I don’t care for. But there are aspects of it that are funny. Costco has its own traffic light and street sign.

By the time I got up to Irvine, I was out of water and looking for somewhere to get something more to drink. Then I noticed my bike making a weird noise. I looked and saw that I’d lost one of my front brake pads. I took this as a sign that it was time to stop. So I turned and headed straight for home. I found another liquor store and bought a quart-bottle of Gatorade and chugged it. Then I finished the ride.

It was a fun time, even with the seared eyeballs.

40 miles.
cycling

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