Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Thursday noontime ride

Filed under: — stan @ 8:31 pm

Route map

In honor of nothing in particular, Vikki and I did a second lunchtime bike ride today. We did the same route as on Tuesday. It was a pleasant enough day, and it was a pleasant ride, except for the jerk in the blue pickup (CA license 7B21502) who harassed us on Temple City Blvd. So if you see him, he’s a jerk.

The last part of the ride was across Sierra Madre and Pasadena, back to the office. By then, we’d just about forgotten about the jerk. So it was a nice ride after all.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


Tuesday lunchtime ride

Filed under: — stan @ 7:57 pm

Route map

This week we did the lunchtime ride on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. The route was the flat one out to Monrovia and back.

We headed out east on San Pasqual, and then took California around the bend into Temple City Blvd. Left on Camino Real, and then left again on 5th St in Arcadia.

5th St is a nice quiet street, mainly because it doesn’t go through. It stops at the railroad tracks. But there is a little pedestrian tunnel under the tracks, so we just rode through that and continued on into Monrovia.

The last part of the ride was up the hill to Grand View and then back across Sierra Madre. There were a couple of deer on the street there, but they ran away before I could get a good picture. Then we headed down the hill and back to the office.

It was a very nice ride, and there were no killer hills this time.

19 miles at lunch, 28 for the day.


7000 feet

Filed under: — stan @ 3:51 pm

Route map and photo locations

Did I just call Crown Ave a “killer hill“? What was I thinking? Today we rode up the mountain that starts at the top of Crown Ave.

The plan was a sightseeing trip to see the remains of the old Nike Ajax antiaircraft missile site at Barley Flats. This involved climbing the mountains.

I met up with James in front of his house, and we headed up. We rode across Pasadena and La Cañada to get to Angeles Crest Highway. Right away, we passed Starlight Crest, which is the top of the big hill on the Wednesday lunchtime ride. Then we started climbing in earnest.

Angeles Crest is nice. It’s not steep, but it’s a consistent climb. Probably about 5% or so. This went on for about 9 miles until we got to the ranger station at Clear Creek. At this point, we stopped to refill water bottles, and then continued on. The road drops down a few hundred feet before starting a steeper climb up to the turnoff for Mt. Wilson at Red Box.

Then, we continued on to get to Barley Flats Road. This is a little turnoff that goes to the old missile launch site. As Gene says, “but it looked flat on the map!” This road was a steep hill, and it just went on and on. It was about half-way up this hill when I said ‘uncle’ and shifted to a lower gear. And to make matters worse, there were flies buzzing around our heads the whole way up. And because it was steep uphill, there was no way to go fast enough to outrun them. Finally, about two miles and 1000 vertical feet later, we came to the Flats and a locked gate with a big “NO TRESPASSING” sign on it. So this was the closest we got to the missile launch pads.

Next, it was time to go back down the big hill we’d just ridden up. Ordinarily, this would be the fun part, but the road was very rough, and littered with rocks and giant pine cones. So it was kind of a harrowing descent. Then, when we got to the bottom, we took Angeles Crest back to Red Box.

At Red Box, the sign said it was 5,600 feet, but I don’t believe that. If that were so, then it would only be about 400 feet of climbing to get to the top of Mt. Disappointment from there. And that road was two miles of uphill hell. First, we had to climb under a gate to get on the road. Then it was steep and littered with rocks. It was about two miles to get up the mountain, and I used my lowest gear the whole way.

Mt Disappointment was the radar and command post for the Barley Flats missile site. There are the foundations of some buildings just below the summit, and some large concrete pads at the top where the radars were. But the whole thing is used for radio relay equipment now.

There is a small flat spot just before the final pitch to the summit. When I got there, James was sitting down and resting. I said something like, “we’re almost there and we can’t have come this far and not make the summit”. And I headed up the final steep hill. About half-way up, I had to stop and lie down. I was just fried. We rested a bit before tackling the final hundred yards to the top. When we got there, I finished my water and James gave me the last of his Gatorade. It wasn’t a hot day, but I was getting dehydration cramps on the last part of the hill.

After a brief rest and sightseeing at the top of the mountain, we headed back down. Again, it was a tricky descent, with big rocks all over the road. When we got back to Red Box, I refilled my water bottle. Then we headed for home.

After the long descent down to Colby Canyon, we had to do a short climb up to Clear Creek. This was hell. My legs were cramping the whole way, so I had to go slowly. But when we got to the Clear Creek ranger station, we knew it was literally downhill all the way home.

The descent on Angeles Crest is nice. The road is pretty good, and it’s enough of a grade that it’s a pleasant downhill without being scary. It’s 9 miles down to Foothill Blvd, and we didn’t have to pedal at all for that whole distance.

The last part of the ride was back home across Pasadena. James said that his bike computer estimated that he’d burned something like 5,000 calories. When I got home, I immediately ate all the leftovers in the refrigerator.

It was a nice ride, but it turned out to be much harder than I’d expected.

66 miles and about 7,000 feet of climbing.


Twins! And a killer hill

Filed under: — stan @ 6:10 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s lunchtime ride was the same as last week’s. We rode up Crown Ave in La Cañada so Vikki could get some more hill practice in preparation for the Furnace Creek 508.

We started out from the office, pausing briefly for a picture, since we were twinsies in our matching Caltech jerseys. Then we headed up Wilson to Mountain and then west to Arroyo.

We took a left at Woodbury and rode out toward JPL and Foothill Blvd. Then we went left and then right to head up the hill. This time I said ‘uncle’ and shifted before we got to the steepest part of the hill. Not that that helped a whole lot. It was still a killer hill.

At the top of Crown Ave, we got a nice view of the mountains, as well as about 100 feet of flat road to rest on before it went up some more. On the second steep pitch on Starlight Crest I heard that telltale sound: “SSSSSSSSSSSSSsssssssssssssssssssss…..” I had a flat. Fortunately, there was a nice shady spot by a water tank to sit and fix the tire. And we appreciated the brief rest. Vikki took the obligatory picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

After the flat fix, we finished climbing the hill and headed back down on Angeles Crest Highway. At the bottom, we got on Chevy Chase and then Berkshire through La Cañada to get on Linda Vista and pass the Rose Bowl. Then we took Holly and Green back across Pasadena to the office.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


Toluca Lake and some sightseeing

Filed under: — stan @ 2:15 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a sightseeing trip out to Toluca Lake. The stops were an elaborate homeless camp on an island in the Los Angeles River, and also F*art in Eagle Rock.

We started out doing the usual route across Pasadena, down the Colorado hill into Eagle Rock, and then across on Hill Dr. That was where my phone rang. It was Vikki. She had brought two of her Furnace Creek 508 teammates out for the ride, but due to some confusion, they had thought the ride started at 8:30. So I gave them directions so they could catch up to us, and we continued on.

In Glendale, I spotted a pair of abandonded couches, so I snapped a photo for the Abandoned Couches Blog. Then we continued on to Sonora, where we went left to get to Riverside Dr and the L.A. Equestrian Center. We rode through Burbank to Toluca Lake and our snack stop at Priscilla’s.

We had some bagels, juice, and such at Priscilla’s. When we were ready to leave, I called Vikki and found out that they were almost there. So I rode back down Riverside to find them, stopping to get a picture of the “Not a Through Alley” sign, which I thought was funny. After all, alleys are almost by definition not intended for through traffic. So I don’t know why they felt the need to actually put a sign up to that effect.

Once we were all together again, we headed back on Forest Lawn Dr into Griffith Park. Then at Riverside we got on the Los Angeles River bike path. We took the bike path all the way down to Fletcher, stopping briefly to see the very elaborate homeless camp in the riverbed. I guess it’s not a bad place to camp when it’s not the rainy season here.

Turning left on Fletcher, we headed back north to Eagle Rock Blvd, which we took all the way to the end at Colorado. Then we stopped to see the sign and window displays at F*art. Looks like an interesting place. Love the knife block. Then we went right to Yosemite for the trip across Eagle Rock. At Townsend, we took another right and rode up and over a short but steep hill. Gene said, “but it looked flat on the map!” Coming down the other side, we got on Meridian and took that to Ave 64.

A quick right on 64 and left on York brought us into South Pasadena and Monterey Rd. We took that across San Marino and then up Sierra Madre Blvd back to the park. At this point, I had 42 miles, and it was still early. So I rode with Vikki and her teammates out to Arcadia and back. On the way back through Sierra Madre, we paused to collect one more abandoned couch. Then we finished up the ride and came home.

It was a very pleasant ride.

52 miles.


Crown Avenue

Filed under: — stan @ 7:28 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s lunchtime ride was something different. Vikki wanted to do a hill, but we didn’t have time to go out to Chantry Flat, so we decided to do Crown Ave in La Cañada.

We started out from the office and went straight up Wilson to Mountain. Then we turned left and rode out to the 210 freeway. Going up Forest Ave, I saw two abandoned couches, so I collected them for the Abandoned Couch Blog.

At Woodbury, we turned left and took Oak Grove across the arroyo into La Cañada, where we turned on Foothill. Then it was time for Crown Ave. This is a very nice and very steep hill. It was so steep that I actually had to say ‘uncle’ and shift to a lower gear. Then, when we got to the top we turned left on Starlight Crest. And yes, by then I was seeing stars.

There was a little flat spot at the top before we had to climb some more. One of the houses had a little patch of grass fenced off with ‘Private Property’ signs. It wasn’t clear just exactly what was so special about that patch of grass.

Finally, we came out on Angeles Crest and headed down the mountain. The view from up there was pretty commanding. It was just another reminder of why Los Angeles is special. The city comes right up to the mountains, and it’s still amazing that we can ride our bikes right to the edge of the wilderness and be back all on our lunch hour.

The ride down was predictably fast. When we got to the bottom, we rode down past the Rose Bowl on Linda Vista. Then we took Green St. back across Pasadena to the office.

18 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


A trip to Westwood

Filed under: — stan @ 7:53 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a special one. I met Gene and Jon at the park and we rode out to Westwood to do some sightseeing.

We took the standard route through South Pasadena and Highland Park. Then we crossed the L.A. River into Silver Lake, and then on into Hollywood. We rode down Hollywood Boulevard, which is always a kind of surreal experience. Then we took some back streets through West Hollywood to get to the Sunset Strip.

A couple blocks on the Strip brought us to Doheny, were we took a little side trip to see the Garagemajal. Indeed, it was big. I had a hard time fitting it all into one picture.

Next, we rode some more on Sunset and crossed into Beverly Hills. Our first sightseeing stop was at 722 Elm, which was the Menendez murder house. Then we continued on a bit to see the Witch’s house on Walden. Then we came out on Santa Monica Blvd and rode through Century City into Westwood.

The main attraction there was the Pierce Brothers cemetery. We had been there last November to visit Marilyn Monroe’s grave, and today we were there to see Rodney Dangerfield. We also stopped to see a number of others, including:

Pictures are in my Graves Gallery.

When I first came to California in 1978, I spent the spring racing my bike with the Claremont Colleges cycling team. Eric Douglas was a student at Pitzer College at the time, and I remember that everyone there regarded him as being somewhat strange. I thought that this was kind of novel, as I was usually the one the other kids thought strange, so it was odd for it to be someone else.

Dorothy Stratten was the 1980 Playmate of the Year, and I remember her just because she was the first Playmate I ever saw who was younger that I was. At the time I felt that that was something of a milestone. Of course, now I’m old enough to be the typical Playmate’s father, which I guess is also a sort of milestone. But let’s not dwell on that…

Leaving the cemetery, we rode through Holmby Hills to the park so we could get some water. While we were there, Jon bought a burrito from a catering truck. Then we headed up the hill.

The main climb was through Benedict Canyon, which is generally a pretty nice street for riding. This brought us up onto Mulholland Drive at the top of the ridge. Then we rode Mulholland all the way down to the 101 freeway in Cahuenga Pass. This was a small part of the ride that wasn’t so pleasant. Riding 20 feet away from a freeway is not very nice. But it was only for a short distance. Then we headed down the hill into Burbank and Forest Lawn.

At the entrance to Forest Lawn, there was a huge funeral procession. The main road into the cemetery was completely filled, and the line of cars waiting to get in was backed up down the road for about a half-mile. And, since we are in California, about half of the cars had only one person in them.

The last part of the ride was across Glendale and Eagle Rock. I broke a spoke in Glendale, but it turned out to be on the left side, so I was able to replace it right there. Then we took Colorado across Eagle Rock, stopping at Trader Joe’s for some orange juice.

The homestretch was up the Colorado hill and back into Pasadena. It was a nice ride.

65 miles.


Lunchtime bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 8:30 pm

Route map

Today we gave Lida St. a rest. For the first time in a month, we went somewhere else.

We started out across campus and down San Pasqual St to Sierra Madre Blvd. Then we went south, almost to Huntington Drive to get on Monterey Road. Then we rode west across San Marino and South Pasadena.

Just after crossing the Gold Line tracks, we turned north on Arroyo and rode back into Pasadena. We went left on La Loma and up the hill there, then north on San Rafael to Colorado. Then we went left and then right on Patrician Way to go up the hill behind Eagle Rock. We had just ridden down the hill there on the Sunday ride a couple weeks ago, but I’d never been up that way before. It was nice. On the way up, I took a couple of pictures, and I gave the camera to Vikki to take a picture, since I’m almost never in the pictures from my bike rides.

At the top, we went down the winding road down to Linda Vista. When we got to Lida St, we paused to wave at the hill. Then we went down into the arroyo and past the Rose Bowl. We rode up the other side on Washington and back across Pasadena by way of Mountain and finally down Wilson and back to the office.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


Lida Lunch, and side trip to see Richter

Filed under: — stan @ 9:44 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s lunchtime ride was the Lida Loop again. This makes something like four weeks in a row, but today we had directions to visit Charles Richter’s old house and his grave site. He is the Richter of the “Richter Scale”, which is familiar to anyone who lives in earthquake country.

We started out and rode through Old Town and down to the Rose Bowl. Then it was up Lida to the top of the hill. When we crossed into Glendale on Figueroa, we saw a deer. It was standing on the side of the road, but when it saw us coming it ran away.

Coming down the hill into La Cañada, we turned and headed back into Pasadena. Passing by JPL and the arroyo, we went up Casitas St. to Altadena Drive. Then we took a left on Lincoln to get to Villa Zanita, which is on the map as a street, but it was really just a dirt driveway that led back to several houses. We stopped and saw Richter’s old house. He and his wife moved there in the mid ’60s, after their old house was bought and bulldozed to make way for a freeway. The story I was told about this house was that when the realtor found it, Charles was out hiking in the mountains and could not be reached. But Lillian saw the house and decided that he would like it, at least in part because there was a counter that was just the right size for laying out paper seismograms. So they bought the house and he lived there for the rest of his life.

Leaving Villa Zanita, we headed down Lincoln to Ventura, and then left to Fair Oaks. There, we went into the Mountain View Cemetery. The directions I had gotten were not right, so Vikki ended up walking into the office to get a map. You know how it is. The woman always has to ask for directions. But they were very helpful. She got detailed instructions and a map, and we were able to find Richter’s grave very easily.

By this time, it was time to get back to the office. So we took the most direct way back, on Woodbury to Lake and then down Catalina and Wilson back to Caltech.

It was a fun ride.

And on the way home, I saw a house with some very large flowerpots in the front yard. The sign said that they were theatrical props and that they were trying to sell them. I don’t know if they will get any takers, but it was still a wonderfully weird sight.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.



Atonement, but for what?

Filed under: — stan @ 3:16 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today was a cool and overcast morning, which is a very nice change from the withering heat we’ve been having lately. The ride was Gene’s “Atonement Ride”, which he’s been talking about since spring. It has some big and steep hills, so it wasn’t really an appropriate ride for a hot day. So today was the day. I asked him what we were atoning for, but he said it was nothing in particular.

We started out heading west across Pasadena, skirting the Rose Bowl and then heading up past JPL in to La Cañada. Then we took a right and headed up the hill. There were several steep stretches with short flats in between. Just enough to recover a bit before the next climb. By the time we got to the top, we were up high enough on the mountain that we were inside the low clouds. We came out by the golf course on Angeles Crest and then headed down.

About halfway down the mountain, we turned off and did some more climbing. At the top, I noticed that James was making a puddle of sweat every time we stopped, so I had to take a picture. Then we headed down a very steep hill, which was kind of scary, since the road was wet.

At one of the wet turns, there was a little patch of mud, and Jon slipped and fell. Fortunately, we were going pretty slowly at the time, so he just got a little elbow scrape. After a little cleanup, we continued on, crossing into La Crescenta and then down Ocean View into Montrose.

We took a left in downtown Montrose and headed up Hospital Hill. Then we went right on Descanso and went down the hill for a bit before turning up Hampstead and up the hill again. At the top, we crossed over Chevy Chase and rode into Glendale, going up and over the hill to come out at Lida. It was here that I noticed that my bike computer had crapped out. It said I was going 0 down the hill, and I was pretty sure that wasn’t right.

Going down the hill on Lida we came out on Linda Vista by the Rose Bowl and headed south to get to Glenoaks. Then it was time to climb the hill again. That was where I saw the little squashed lizard on the road. Then it was up and over, coming down on the other side just above Eagle Rock. A left on Colorado brought us back into Pasadena.

Our snack stop was at the Corner Bakery on Lake. We all were pretty tired by that point, even though the ride wasn’t actually all that long. Still, it was nice to stop.

The last part of the ride was straight back to the park. Vikki and I took off at that point and did one of our lunchtime routes out to Arcadia. We went up Highland Oaks and back across Sierra Madre on Grand View. After that, I said ‘uncle’ and decided I’d had enough.

It was a fun ride. And I made it up all the hills in my 39×17.

About 49 miles.

Addendum: Newton has the ride profile up on his blog.

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