Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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12/10/2006

Five flat tires

Filed under: — stan @ 10:18 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was through Turnbull Canyon to Whittier. It was kind of a chilly day, and still wet from the rain last night.

We started out from the park, heading south and east. In El Monte, Jon got a flat. Of course, I took the obligatory picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. While he was fixing it, I had a look at the Army recruiting office there. They had a big rack outside the door with brochures in English, Spanish, and Korean. I’d never seen Army recruiting literature in Korean before.

After fixing the flat, we continued on, turning onto the San Gabriel River bike path. We rode that for a short distance to Ramona. Newton had ridden in from West Covina to meet us there. At that point, James, Jon, and Grant all missed the turn. So Newton took off after them. We figured if anyone could catch them, it was him. A few minutes later, my phone rang. It was Newton. He said that James and Jon had disappeared off into the distance and Grant had gotten a flat. So we rode down a mile or so to watch him fix it and so I could get a picture. Then we went back up to Ramona and continued on the ride.

In Baldwin Park, we passed In-N-Out Burger and their big “In-N-Out University”. Then we rode down to the north side of Turnbull Canyon Road.

Up to this point, the ride had been fairly flat, but Turnbull Canyon is a nice little hill. We rode up and regrouped at the top. I took a picture of the view of downtown L.A. from up there. Then we rode down the south side into Whittier.

Just before the bottom, Philippe got a flat. So we stopped while he fixed it. Then, when he was pumping up the tire, the valve stem snapped off. I’ve seen this happen before. I consider this to be a second flat, even though we hadn’t actually moved since the first one, so I took another picture.

When Philippe was finally inflated again, we continued on down into Whittier. We stopped at a little bakery downtown. It was pretty good, but it was kind of cold to be sitting outside.

Leaving Whittier, we rode back along Workman Mill Road to Durfee and then over to Whittier Narrows. At this point, Philippe got his third flat tire. We cheered, because this broke the old record of four flats on one ride.

From there, we took the direct route home, straight north through San Gabriel and San Marino. For some reason, this ride seemed much longer than it really was. Perhaps it was something to do with fixing all those flats. In any event, we were all ready to be done.

46 miles.
cycling

12/3/2006

Another one of those ‘noodling around’ rides

Filed under: — stan @ 5:46 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was Gene’s “Wild Oats” route, named for the fact that the snack stop is at Noah’s Bagels, right next to the big Wild Oats store on South Lake Avenue.

It was chilly in the morning, but it was sunny and clear, so it promised to warm up later on. Yesterday was the big USC-UCLA football game, and UCLA won. So Vikki showed up in her full UCLA team kit. Not that she cares about football. But she said that she knew it would annoy any USC fans who saw it.

We started out going east on Sierra Madre, all the way out to Santa Anita. Then we turned south and rode all the way down to South El Monte. There, just before Whittier Narrows, we took a small side trip. There used to be a Nike anti-aircraft missile site in South El Monte. The radar site was on top of a hill a bit to the east, and the missile launch pads were on Potrero Road. Today, it’s an army reserve site and part of Whittier Narrows Park.

Continuing on, we got on Lincoln Ave, going south into Montebello. That was where I saw another couch for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

We rode through Montebello and then back north into Monterey Park. There were a couple of nice hills, including one steep pitch that was something like 15-18%. Then we headed up into Alhambra.

Along the way, some of us missed a turn, and we ended up shortcutting about a mile off the route by mistake. But that was all right. We headed north through San Marino and up to Wild Oats and Noah’s Bagels.

We got a table outside and had our bagels, while the local pigeons pecked up crumbs around our feet. They seemed to have no fear of people.

The last part of the ride was back to the park, but by a roundabout way. We went south, and then took a small detour to pass the mansion we’d read about in the paper recently. It’s for sale for a mere $52 million. Oddly enough, they didn’t have any “Take One” flyers outside.

From there, we rode back across San Marino, up into Pasadena, and back to the park.

40 miles
cycling

11/26/2006

Rambling through Glendale

Filed under: — stan @ 9:09 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s bike ride was Gene’s “Verdugo Park” route. It was a slightly chilly day, but not bad for riding. The holidays are a-comin’ as evidenced by the Christmas Tree lot going up on Sierra Madre Blvd by Victory Park.

We started out with an easy ride up through La Cañada, then down Hospital Hill into Montrose. That was where the fun began. We took a detour up through the hills there, which added some steep climbing to the route. After that fun, we came down by the park at Cañada Blvd. The Pasadena Athletic Association was having a cyclocross race there today. We stopped to watch for a little while.

Continuing on, we took Mountain and Kenneth across Glendale, coming out on Glenoaks and Paradise Bakery. As always, I got two chocolate eclairs, since they have the best eclairs around.

After the stop, we headed back across Glendale on Glenoaks all the way to Chevy Chase. Then we took a left and headed up the hill. At the top, we turned right and took Regent Park and Inverness around the hill and down to Highland and Linda Vista.

We rode on Linda Vista around the Rose Bowl and then took Holly St up to Orange Grove. Then a left turn sent us back across Pasadena on Orange Grove to the park where we had started.

It was a nice ride.

43 miles.
cycling

11/19/2006

Fern Dell

Filed under: — stan @ 7:23 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a new route. Some months ago, Gene and I had ridden down Western Canyon in Griffith Park. There is a little snack shop there, and we thought it looked interesting. Recently, Vikki was on a ride that stopped there, and she said it was quite good. So it was the destination for today’s ride. It was a perfect November day in Southern California. Blue skies, sunny, and warm.

We started out going directly west on Orange Grove, and then down into the arroyo to get to La Loma. Then we rode up and over the hills to get to Figueroa in Eagle Rock. We took Figueroa all the way down to the L.A. River and Riverside Drive.

We took a short side trip on Oros St to see if the tiniest house in L.A. had sold. The sign was gone, and it looked like someone was living there. We all marveled at how small the house was.

Continuing on, we rode into Griffith Park. We saw the beginnings of the Festival of Lights before turning and heading up the hill by the golf course. Then we got on Mt Hollywood Drive for the trip up and over the hill.

At the crest, we regrouped and then headed down the other side. A right turn on Western Canyon brought us down the hill into Fern Dell and The Trails. The menu is kind of limited, but everything was good.

After the stop, we split into two groups. Several people didn’t feel like climbing the hill back up to the observatory, so they continued down the hill to take a flatter route home. The rest of us headed back up Western Canyon. There’s not much traffic on that road, but right now, a good bit of it consists of the shuttle buses taking people up to the observatory. At the top, we rode through the tunnel and then down the hill, passing the Greek Theater.

We missed a turn and ended up on Hillhurst, but we took a left on Avocado to get back on the route. Then we took Griffith Park Blvd down into Silver Lake.

The streets in Silver Lake were most likely laid out on a map by people who had no idea of the actual terrain there. So when we got to Effie St, we turned and were suddenly faced with a hill that looked like a wall. I immediately said ‘uncle’ and shifted to my lowest gear. Newton said that the grade was around 20% according to his fancy bike computer. Gene was off with the other group, but if he’d been there, I’m sure he would have said, “but it looked flat on the map!”

We continued on, taking some more little streets though Silver Lake, finally coming out on the west side of the reservoir. Then we went left and that brought us back to Rowena and Glendale Blvd.

Taking Glendale north, it turned into Brand, and we rode into Glendale. Then we went right on Chevy Chase and right again on Adams, which brought us to another steep hill. At this point we were all wondering what posessed Gene to make up this route.

Coming down the other side, we found ourselves on York, which we took for a while before going left on Ellenwood. This brought us up through Eagle Rock to Yosemite. There we went right and rode back across Eagle Rock to get to La Loma and back into Pasadena. Along the way, I picked up a new couch for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

At La Loma, we rode back up and over the same hill we’d started out on, coming out down in the arroyo. Then we got on Orange Grove for the ride back to the park. Along the way, I saw the first bleachers for the Rose Parade, which means that the holidays are a-comin’.

It was a nice, ride, even if it turned out to be much harder than we’d expected.

50 miles
cycling

11/12/2006

Santiago Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 10:18 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today was Aunt Maggi’s “Girls’ Party”. Cathy usually takes Lucinda down there for the day, but because she is out of town, I had to do it. I was left with the afternoon to find something to do. So I brought my bike along and went for a ride.

I got the route from Hugo, who lives in the area and used to work at my office. I modified his route a bit to shave off a couple of miles, and I did it backwards. I thought this would work out better, since I knew I’d be finishing up near sunset, and I didn’t want to be riding down Jeffrey in Irvine into the setting sun.

I started out going east on Jeffrey, towards the mountains. There was a good view of Saddleback from the start. Along the way, I saw strawberry fields, which still looks kind of odd. I’m not used to the idea that there is still farming going on in the depths of suburbia.

A little bit farther along, I saw a campaign sign for Kang, who was running for City Council. Of course, my first thought was, “don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos!

On Jamboree Road, I saw a tumbleweed. We don’t see them much up this way, but it shows just how close the suburbs come to wilderness.

Turning up Santiago Canyon Road, there was a sign warning of fire danger. The canyon is quite scenic, and the road was pretty nice, even if there is a fair amount of traffic on it. There is a big bike lane the whole way, so it was pretty good.

A bit farther into the canyon, I saw a sign of the Nanny State at work. There was a sign that said “Concrete Barrier Ahead”. The barrier was in plain sight about 50 feet behind it. Duh. Glad they told me that.

I rode for a bit with a guy named Mike, who told me about how his job requires him to travel a lot, and how he has a bike stashed with friends in every city he goes to.

At the end of the canyon, I came out in Lake Forest. The bike lane split off onto a separate path, which was pretty nice. I got a view of Saddleback Church, which certainly deserves the ‘mega-church’ label. This is Rick “Purpose-Driven Life” Warren’s place. It had its own traffic light, and the entrance looked like the entrance to a stadium.

I followed the path a while longer, until it started wandering away from El Toro Road. Then I got off and took El Toro down into Lake Forest.

A right on Muirlands got me going north again. There were some more fields, complete with a ‘Tractor Crossing’ sign, which I collected for the Animal Crossing Signs gallery.

Muirlands turned into Barranca and brought me back into Irvine. By now, the shadows were getting long, and it was time to be done.

It was a very pleasant ride.

37 miles.
cycling

11/1/2006

Lunchtime bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 6:39 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today at lunchtime we did the Lida ride again. It was a perfect fall day. The sun was warm, the air was cool. Perfect for riding.

When we passed the Rose Bowl, we found Parkview St closed. I had thought that when they closed it last weekend it was just for the game, but it looked like they were doing some actual work on the street, and it was completely blocked off. So we had to take Salvia Canyon up the hill instead.

On the way Lida, I saw that the coyote paw that we’d seen before was still there. It looked like something had been chewing on it since last time, but the end of the paw was still intact.

Aside from that, there really wasn’t anything remarkable about this ride. But it was fun anyway.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.
cycling

10/29/2006

Grave Tour for Halloween

Filed under: — stan @ 9:56 pm

Route map and photo locations

Since this is the weekend before Halloween, I thought it might be fun to do a theme ride today. My first idea was to ride out to visit Bela Lugosi’s grave, but that turned out to be about a 60-mile round trip from Pasadena, so that was too long for a Sunday ride. So instead, we visited Hollywood Forever and Forest Lawn to visit a few music legends.

We rode west from Victory Park, taking Orange Grove, Colorado, and Yosemite to get to Eagle Rock Blvd. Then we took a left and headed south, turning right on Ave 36 to get across the L.A. River and into Silver Lake. Then we crossed the Shakespeare Bridge and took Franklin Ave into Hollywood.

Just before we got to the turn at Bronson, we saw a couch on the side of the road. So I stopped and collected it for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

At Bronson, there was a cutout bird hanging from the wires overhead. I’d read recently that there is someone going around hanging up these little cutout birds above streets in Hollywood. Then we turned and took Bronson south to get to Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

The guard at the gate was very unpleasant, and he insisted that we were not allowed to ride our bikes into the cemetery. This seemed a bit odd, since we’ve been there many times before and never had a problem. Normally, the people at the gate are very pleasant and helpful. But they were having some special events there this weekend, so maybe that was why they had a guard there.

So we agreed to walk our bikes into the cemetery. John, Jon and I all walked in. The rest of the group decided to just continue the ride. We walked in, going back to the pond to find Bianca Halstead’s grave. She was the singer and bass player for Betty Blowtorch. They were just on the verge of making it big in 2001 when Bianca died in a car accident after a show in New Orleans. It’s a sad story, but it’s pretty clear from her grave that she still has a lot of fans who miss her.

Just a few feet away was Dee Dee Ramone’s grave. We’d been there to see it before, but this was the first time I’d noticed lipstick kisses on his stone. Again, it’s plain that he still has fans who miss him.

Leaving Hollywood Forever, we retraced our steps back up to Franklin, and then headed up Beachwood toward the Hollywood sign. The route took us up a very steep hill to just below the sign, and then down the other side and past Lake Hollywood. Then we rode down into Burbank to Priscilla’s for a bagel. And after riding up that hill, we really appreciated the bagel.

After the snack stop, we rode to Forest Lawn. We entered the cemetery and rode to the Courts of Remembrance. There, we saw the graves of Bette Davis and Liberace. Not at the same time, though. Bette is at the front of the building, and Liberace is buried with his mother and brother near the back.

Leaving Forest Lawn, we rode back across Glendale, going up the big hill on Chevy Chase and Linda Vista. There was about a 50-foot stretch of road that was closed for no immediately apparent reason. So we portaged the bikes over the barricades and kept riding. Then we rode down Lida and went around the Rose Bowl. Then we took Orange Grove back to the park, picking up a couch near Fair Oaks and another near Lake.

It was a very pleasant ride.

50 miles.
cycling

10/26/2006

Water Tower Redux

Filed under: — stan @ 8:04 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s lunchtime ride was the last before the time change. Not that this matters for riding at mid-day, but the early sunsets may make it impossible for me to ride my road bike to work for a while. So we made the best of it today. And there were even three of us along for the ride.

It was a perfect fall day. Erik, Vikki and I met outside and we decided to do the Water Tower ride again. So we headed south, through San Marino.

The climb up to the water tower was nice as always. Erik kind of left us behind on the bigger hills. But that was all right.

When we got to Colorado, we saw a hawk flying circles over the freeway. This was a bit odd, but still interesting. Then we turned and rode up the big hill on Patrician Way.

Coming down the other side of the hill, we rode down to the Rose Bowl. It looked like they were getting ready for some big event. There was a truck parked there with rolls of temporary fencing ready to be put up.

After passing the Rose Bowl, we rode up to Orange Grove and then back to the office on Green St. Along the way, I was trying to explain to Vikki and Erik how to do a track stand on a road bike, but I don’t think I was explaining it all that well. Still, it was a very pleasant ride.

18 miles at lunch, 26 for the day.
cycling

10/24/2006

Water Tower

Filed under: — stan @ 7:50 pm

Route map

Today’s lunchtime ride was a new route. Down to South Pasadena, up the hill, and around the water tower. Seemed like a nice change.

We rode straight south from the office, through San Marino. We passed Lacy Park, going down the scarp of the Raymond Fault. Then we turned right and took Monterey Road through South Pasadena. At Via Del Rey, we turned left and rode up the hill, passing by the water tower at the top. Then we rode back down the hill and up to Mission to get to Arroyo.

A left turn on La Loma crossed the arroyo and went up a nice short hill. Then we took some small streets through the hills there to get to Colorado and Patrician Way. This was a very nice climb, followed by a winding descent down to Linda Vista. Then we rode around the Rose Bowl and took Green St back across Pasadena to the office.

It was a very nice ride, even if there were no sights remarkable enough for pictures.

18 miles at lunch, 26 for the day.

10/21/2006

I’d like to call this ‘a cautionary tale’…

Filed under: — stan @ 1:18 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride began badly and never really recovered. I’d like to call it ‘a cautionary tale’, but sadly, there really was no message of caution to be taken from the experience. About the best thing that you could say was that nobody died. Still, it’s disturbing how fleeting life is. You can be just going along, minding your own business, and you can suddenly be taken out by someone else who does something egregiously stupid.

I rode down the Victory Park to meet up with the Foothill Cycle Saturday ride. From there, we rode south into San Marino. And that was where our troubles began. We were riding down San Marino Blvd when we were passed by a silver Mercedes driven by a teenage girl. She immediately put on her brakes and turned into a driveway. Tom and Ben were in the lead, and they both crashed into her car. The rest of us managed to stop in time. I got out my camera and started taking pictures just to document the scene in case there was any dispute about what happened.

It appeared that what she did was an honest mistake, albeit an extremely stupid one. A lot of motorists seem to regard bicycles as stationary objects, and they don’t understand that you can’t just stop and turn right after passing them.

After taking a few pictures of the scene, I took out my phone and called 911. That connected me to the California Highway Patrol, which wasn’t much use, since we were nowhere near a freeway. So I hung up and tried to call the Pasadena Police. As is the case with these sorts of things, I suddenly drew a blank on the number. So perhaps one lesson of this is to program the phone number of the police into the cell phone.

When I remembered the number, I called and told the dispatcher what had happened. She was very helpful, and connected me through to the San Marino Police. Have I mentioned lately that Pasadena has great city services? They said that they would send a car and the paramedics out. Within two minutes, they were there. San Marino also has great city services.

The police took reports from all of us, and I gave them my card in case they want the pictures. By then, the girl’s father had shown up. They offered to take Ben’s broken bike down to Temple City Bikes. It appeared that they were really making a good-faith effort to help out, which was a good thing.

The paramedics put Ben in the ambulance to take him to the hospital to be checked out. He said that he didn’t think he was badly hurt, but it seemed the prudent thing to do. Tom’s house was nearby, and he felt good enough to ride home, so he said he would call Ben’s family and tell them what had happened.

After all of this. a few of us decided to keep on riding. If you dwell too much on all the bad things that can happen to you, you’d never leave the house. So we soldiered on.

In South Pasadena, we rode up a very steep and generally nice hill. Then we rode slowly down the other side. We were all still a bit spooked.

We rode down past the stables on San Pasqual and then up the west side of the arroyo. I was slightly amused when we found ourselves riding on Easy St. Then we went up Patrician Way and down Glenoaks to just above the Rose Bowl. From there, the ride went back to the park. It was still early, so I went left on Lida and rode up and over the hill there.

I finished off the ride by going back across Pasadena to home.

I’d like to say it was a nice ride, but that’s not really possible, given what happened.

39 miles.
cycling

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