Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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No celebrities, but a roast none the less…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:39 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today I met Gene for a ride out to Encino to the velodrome. I had heard that they were going to be doing 1/10-scale radio-controlled model car racing there. I thought that this would be something interesting and different to see.

On the way out, we stopped off at the tiny house we’d seen back in April. We wanted to see if it had sold, and indeed it had. It had a new coat of paint and an owner out tending the garden. We chatted with her a bit and we were glad to see that the tiny house had found some love.

When we got to the velodrome, some of the racers were doing practice laps. The cars were going quite fast. Oddly enough, there was a rather attractive young woman with a camera crew there. Given that radio-controlled race cars are kind of a geeky hobby, her presence seemed a bit odd. So we asked them about it. They were from The Outdoor Channel, which has a show called Inside R/C. So they asked if we wanted to be in the sign-off for the show. We stood on either side of the host, Anna Curtis, while she recited her spiel. She finished with, “and now it’s time for us to go, because these guys want their track back”, while we just smiled stupidly. It was fun. They said that the show would probably air in the fall, so if anyone has cable and can get me a screen-capture, that would be great.

We left the velodrome and headed back across the park. We stopped to refill our water bottles at the water fountain right below the sign warning that ‘lewd conduct’ would be prosecuted. I’m not sure I want to know what goes on in that park after the soccer games are over.

We took Burbank Blvd to Van Nuys and then went down to Chandler, which is a nice, tree-lined street. The shade was a good thing, because I got a flat there. So we stopped in the shade of a big tree and I fixed the tire. The eastern part of Chandler is where the Orange Line busway is, and we got a look at the big articulated bus. It was very quiet, which is maybe why when it first opened it broadsided lots of cars on the cross streets.

On Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake we saw the Barris Custom shop. He is perhaps best known for building the 1966 Batmobile, but his shop makes a lot of weird vehicles for the movies.

In Glendale we stopped at a Carl’s Jr. and got some cold drinks. I filled my water bottle up with ice and water and then drank the whole thing twice. We sat in the air conditioning for a little while before braving the heat again.

In Eagle Rock I hit the proverbial wall. There was no shade and it was well over 100 degrees. I just started riding slower and slower. On the Colorado hill I actually shifted down to my lowest gear and just crawled up the hill. Fortunately, after that there were no more hills. But we had to stop at Memorial Park in Pasadena so I could lie down in the shade and pour water on my head. I think I had heat exhaustion. It was so bad that for the rest of the ride home, I put my foot down at every light, rather than doing my usual track stand. And at the end, Gene rode with me all the way to my street just to be sure that I wasn’t going to keel over.

When I got home, the thermometer on the back porch said 110 degrees. That’s about 44C for non-USAnians. I drank my water bottle four times on the ride, which is over 3 liters of water, but I was still 7 pounds (3.2kg) lighter when I got home. Yikes.

59 miles, one flat tire, and heat exhaustion.


Mercury in retrograde…

Filed under: — stan @ 5:37 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a sightseeing trip to see two castles in the Hollywood Hills.

We started out on Paloma, and we hadn’t gone more than a few blocks when Michael had to stop. His pedal was coming off. I had a look at it, and it appeared that the last mechanic who worked on it had cross-threaded it. The crank threads were stripped out, and it was a total loss. So he pulled out his phone to call home for help, while the rest of us continued on.

The church in Eagle Rock didn’t have a witty sign up today. Just a hand-lettered paper saying that the sign was being rebuilt. Maybe they need to use the Church Sign Generator.

When we started up the little hill on St. George, Matt and Newton blasted by me. I got out of the saddle to chase them and PANG!!! It was a tremendous spoke-breaking noise. But when I looked down, my wheel wasn’t wobbling too badly. So I rode up the hill and we found a shady spot to stop and have a look. I’d broken two spokes, right next to each other. So that explained why the wheel was still mostly straight, but just hopping a little. There really was nothing to do but go on.

We turned off Franklin and headed up the hill. The streets up there are narrow and rough. But they are also very quiet. We rode up Hollyridge to the first castle. On the way up, we passed another house with a castle-like stone wall in front. But it wasn’t the real castle. When we reached the real castle, it was quite obvious.

From there, we rode down into the canyon below the Hollywood sign. Then we rode up the other side, coming out at the top of the ridge by Wolf’s Lair Castle. I took a couple of pictures there before we saw Gene walking up the street, holding his broken chain like a dead snake. We were all astounded by this, since we’d had a very bad run of mechanical problems today. Doug mentioned that someone he knows always says that when Mercury is in retrograde, it’s bad for mechanical things. Not that any of us believes in astrology, but that’s about as good an explanation as any for what happened.

Someone had a chain tool, and Gene had a quick-fix link, so they pieced it back together. While they were doing that, a very attractive young woman on a bike stopped to chat for a few minutes. She said that she lives close by there in the hills. Sadly, that probably means she won’t ever come out to Pasadena to ride with us.

When the chain was fixed, we started out again, heading toward the Hollywood sign. When we got to the junction at Mulholland, we’d lost most of the group. I rode part way back and didn’t find them. So I pulled out my phone and called Newton. He said that Gene’s chain had broken again and that they were still back at Wolf’s Lair. So they ended up having to take several links out of the chain to get it to go back together.

While we were waiting for them, Doug and I rode the short distance up Mulholland to get a close-up view of the Hollywood Sign. Then when we were re-grouped, we headed down the hill to Lake Hollywood. From there, we rode up one more steep hill and then down to Barham for the long downhill into Burbank. When we got there, we stopped at Priscilla’s for snacks.

On the way down the last hill, I had noticed that my handlebar tape was unraveling. I had lost my handlebar plug, so the tape was coming undone and flapping in the wind. Is there no end to the torment? I ended up stuffing it with a paper napkin for the ride home.

After the stop, we headed back home by the most direct route possible. Being on gimpy bikes tends not to encourage taking the Long Way Home. Fortunately, we managed to make it back to Pasadena without further incident.

43 miles, one stripped pedal, two broken spokes, one broken chain, and unraveling handlebar tape.


Noodle Lunch

Filed under: — stan @ 10:23 pm

Route map

Today’s lunchtime ride was just a noodling-around-going-nowhere-in-particular ride.

Vikki and I started out from the office and headed east across the Caltech campus to San Pasqual. We took that to Madre and then went south to California and took that until it turned south and turned into Sunset. Then we went left on Camino Real.

Continuing on east on Camino Real, we rode to Second Avenue, where we went north. We took that all the way up past Foothill and then went west a bit to get on Highland Oaks. We took that all the way up to Grand View, which was a big climb when I first did it, but this time it was just a little hill. Anyway, we took a left there and rode that all the way to Michillinda.

Going down the hill on Michillinda, we went right at Sierra Madre and rode down past Pasadena High to Paloma, where we went right. We took that west a bit to Sinaloa and from there it was my standard route to work, which was fitting, since we were going back to work. Since this was just a ride for the sake of riding, I didn’t take any sightseeing pictures, but it was still fun.

18 miles at lunch, 23 for the day.
And no flat tires this time.


Noodling around for real this time

Filed under: — stan @ 6:01 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was titled “Just Noodling – 1″. Apparently it’s the first in a series.

We started out going east for a bit to Michillinda, and then south to Huntington. Then we rode all the way into El Sereno before turning off onto a little side street. Then we went up a steep hill. On the way down the other side, that was where I saw “The Bowman”. At the bottom, we took a right and rode up an even steeper hill. I almost said ‘uncle’ and shifted to a lower gear, but Gene said that there was an even steeper hill coming up later, so I didn’t want to spoil the fun.

At the top, we stopped to catch our breath for a minute before taking in a nice long, winding downhill that came out at the bottom right by the Pasadena Freeway and the Audubon center at Debs Park. Then we took a little side trip up the street there to see a giant dragonfly sculpture before doubling back and getting on the Arroyo Seco bike path.

The bike path entrances are blocked by metal pipe hurdles. I guess that keeps people with motorcycles out, but it meant that we had to do a bike portage. They were a little too tall to bunny-hop over. Then when we got on the path, it was very pleasant, although it was a bit weird to be riding bikes in a river bed. We rode for a bit and then portaged off the path at Hermon Park.

There was a dog park there, and adding an Only-in-L.A. touch, there were posters for a dog film festival. “Sit. Stay. Roll Film.” We also were amused by the separate ‘Small/Shy Dog’ area of the dog park.

Leaving the park, we rode over a series of the nastiest speed bumps ever before coming out at Monterey Road. We went right, up a hill. That was where Makoto and I got lost. We missed a turn and ended up back down on Huntington. So we had to turn around and go back, and then ride up Via Marisol up and over the hill, only to end up back at Monterey Road again.

Then we went right again and went up another nice, steep hill. Again, I almost said ‘uncle’ and shifted, but Gene still said the worst was yet to come. At the top, we crossed into South Pasadena and went down a big hill. At the bottom, we started up another hill, and Gene said that this was the hill we’d been waiting for. But it wasn’t steeper than the others. The only bad thing about it was that there was no shade, and it was pretty hot by this time. But aside from that, it was fine. At the top, we saw some funny lawn sculptures and the South Pasadena water tower. Then we headed down the hill.

At the bottom we came out on Monterey Road again. I think there was probably an easier way to get there, but hey. We do this because it’s fun.

We went on Monterey a bit to get into South Pasadena, were we stopped at the little coffee shop that has the Twinkies on the counter. Today they had bothTwinkies andDing Dongs there. I got a bagel. While we were sitting there, another couple rode in and we were looking at the woman’s bike. It was a little bike. She said she is 4′ 11″ and the bike has an extra-small frame with 650 wheels instead of the usual 700. It looked correctly proportioned, but the chainrings looked kind of big on it.

The rest of the ride home was Gene’s route across San Marino. When we got to Huntington, I took off and rode out to Monrovia just to add a little more distance. When I got to Shamrock Ave I stopped and got a picture of the antique gas station there. The pump price was 33 1/2 cents per gallon, which is about a 1970 price.

The rest of the ride home was the standard route across Sierra Madre. When I got home, I had 49.3 miles, so I rode around the block a couple of times just to get to 50. It was a nice ride.

50 miles.

Addendum: Here’s a profile of the route, as recorded by Newton’s very fancy bike computer.


Lida at Lunchtime

Filed under: — stan @ 8:12 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride at lunchtime was a short jaunt up into La Cañada by way of the Rose Bowl and Lida St.

We started out taking Union St west through Old Town. Then we went down Rosemont to the Rose Bowl and rode half of the route around it. On the far side, we went up the hill and got on Lida St, which we took all the way up the hill to Figueroa, where we went right. That was where we saw the sign for “Rock Slide Ahead”. That added a nice wild touch to a ride in the city.

Coming out on Chevy Chase, we went down the hill to Berkshire, and then went right to head back by JPL. We took a left at Windsor, where we stopped briefly to admire the fiberglass cow and the goose decoys. Then we took Ventura, Harriet, and Mendocino back across Pasadena.

At this point we were pretty high up on the alluvial fan of the San Gabriels, and so it was downhill all the way back to the office. We took Holliston down to Mountain, and then Wilson the rest of the way back. It was a very pleasant ride.

On the way home from work, I got a flat. It was a stupid flat, and very likely the stupidest flat I’ve ever gotten in over 30 years of cycling. There was a broken toilet in the underpass under the freeway, and my back tire just bumped into a small piece of it. Toilets are made from vitreous china, where vitreous is a $10 word that means glass-like. But I’d never stopped to think of the implications of that. That shards of broken toilet on the road could slice my tire open like a gutted bass.

Since I was by myself, I had to perch the camera on top of my backpack to take the required picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. Then I fixed the tire and finished riding home. I still can’t believe I got a flat from hitting a piece of a broken toilet. Sheesh.

18 miles at lunch, 26 for the day.
And one flat tire.



Filed under: — stan @ 9:00 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s lunchtime ride was a sightseeing trip over to Glendale. I saw a picture on Franklin Avenue of what has to be the best liquor-store-name ever: Hammered Liquor. So this was our destination for today.

We started out going up to Union St and taking that through Old Town, and then Colorado across the bridge and down into Eagle Rock. A right on Figueroa brought us up the hill, where we took the quiet way across Eagle Rock.

Coming back down onto the busy streets, we took Wilson over to Chevy Chase, and then right on Maple. And then, at the corner of Maple and Glendale, there it was:

Hammered Liquor

Hammered Liquor Store. I got out my camera and snapped a couple of pictures.

Continuing on, we made a little loop through Glendale and headed back towards Eagle Rock. We had to ride on Colorado for a few blocks to get across the 2 freeway, but then we took Yosemite across to Figueroa.

On the way back, we tried a new route variation. Instead of going up the long hill on Colorado, or up the steep hill on La Loma, we took a left on Brixton. The map showed that this came out at the top of the Colorado hill, but gave no indication of what the trip would be like. It turned out to be a nice quiet residential street. But the Law of Conservation of Hills required that we climb a bit. Instead of the long Colorado hill, we had two short, but very steep pitches. I don’t know how steep they were, but I almost had to shift out of my 39×17. But it was nice to come out at the top of the big hill.

When we crossed back over the bridge, I took a couple more pictures. Then the last part of the ride was back across Pasadena on Green St and then back to the office.

18 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


A ride to Bonelli Park

Filed under: — stan @ 8:29 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was out to Bonelli Park in San Dimas. There was a big women’s triathlon going on there, and we thought we might get to see Vikki racing in it. It was a very hot and sunny day, so I brought along my big water bottle.

I wore my new Navigators team kit. I’m not generally one for wearing the jerseys of major professional teams, but I feel a slight connection to the Navigators. Their founder and team manager is an old friend. We were junior racers together back in 1977. He’s in this picture on the far left in the light blue jersey. And here’s a picture from when I saw him at the Tour of California. I told him I’d get one of his team jerseys just so I could tell the story on rides.

We started out going east through Arcadia. We took Sierra Madre out to Santa Anita and then went down to Longden and took that all the way out to where it put us on Arrow Highway. Then we turned right on Azusa Canyon. Well, some of us did. The others missed the turn and just kept going. I pulled out my phone and called Newton to tell him that they’d missed the turn, but I guess he didn’t hear it ringing. So I left voicemail and we just kept on going.

We took Cypress St east all the way to Reeder, which then turned into Puente St. We took that until we got to Via Verde, where we took a left and headed up a nice hill. Jon was the first to the top, and when I got to the top he was waiting for me. And he made me promise that I’d mention that he was the first to the top. And yes, Jon was the first to the top of the hill.

Continuing on Via Verde, we rode into Bonelli Park. This was the site of the Danskin Women’s Triathlon. They had started at 6:45 in the morning, so we figured that most of them would be done by the time we got there, but there were still a few people finishing. We looked around, but we couldn’t find Vikki and her team. I tried calling her, but I guess she wasn’t near her phone, so I left voicemail. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

When we were getting ready to leave, I saw a woman holding a big blue mylar shark balloon. So I had to ask her about it. She said it was so her friends could find her. Maybe we should have tied one of those to Vikki. Anyway, I snapped a couple of pictures of the shark before we left.

On the way out of the park, we took a somewhat creative route that took us through the maintenance yard and then past Raging Waters and Puddingstone Lake before we came out in San Dimas. Then we stopped at the Bagelry, where we had a bagel.

After the snack stop, we got on Gladstone and headed west. This is the nice street with the very slight downhill slant, so we all feel like a million bucks when we’re riding on it. Except for Jon, who got a flat. We found a small bit of shade to stop in while he fixed his tire. And did I mention that Jon was the first one to the top of the hill?

After the flat, we continued on Gladstone. That was where we saw the “Day Laborer Site” spot and also passed behind the Miller brewery. Years ago I remember reading about how there was an idea to put an NFL team in a new stadium in Irwindale. I thought that this would be perfect synergy. The brewery is already there, so they could just run a pipe directly into the stadium.

After we passed the brewery, we turned and went into the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area. We stopped for water at the nature center. Then we rode up the bike path to the bridge into Duarte and got back on the streets for the last part of the ride home.

We took Royal Oaks for a bit before going up a small hill into Bradbury to get on Lemon Ave. Then we took that into Monrovia and got on Colorado. Then we took a right on Michillinda and rode up to the little street behind Sears and cut over to Rosemead and Orange Grove to get back to the park. At that point I had 49.3 miles, so I rode a few blocks extra on my way home to get to a nice round number.

50 miles.


Another ride at lunchtime

Filed under: — stan @ 6:55 pm

Route map and photo location

I went for a short ride with Vikki today at lunchtime. This time we went west, just for something different. It was a warm day, but gloriously clear and generally very nice for riding.

We rode down into San Marino, taking El Molino down to Mission. Then we went right and rode across San Marino and South Pasadena. At Arroyo, we went north towards the Rose Bowl. A left on La Loma brought us across the arroyo and up a nice little hill.

At the top of the hill we went right on San Rafael and took that up to Colorado. Then we got on San Rafael going north into the hills. We rode up the hill, passing by the old Kresge Seismological Lab before cresting the hill and coming down the other side to Linda Vista, above the Rose Bowl.

We took Linda Vista up into where it turned into Highland in La Cañada. Then we went up a bit before looping back by JPL and heading back into Pasadena. The last part of the ride was straight down Wilson Ave and back to the office.

19 miles at lunchtime, 27 for the day.


Not for the faint of heart…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:34 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was over to Hollywood to get a peek at a real estate listing I’d seen on L.A. Curbed. Realtors are notorious for always making every house sound like the best thing ever, so I was a bit shocked when this listing said that the house is “not for the faint of heart”. That seemed remarkable enough to warrant a look.

We started out heading west on Paloma and then got on Orange Grove to get to the Colorado Bridge. Then we took Colorado across the arroyo and down the hill into Eagle Rock.

Yosemite Drive brought us across to Eagle Rock Blvd, which we rode down to Glassell Park and Ave 36. A right turn put us on Fletcher to cross the L.A. River and into Silver Lake. Then we took Rowena and St. George to the Franklin Hills and Franklin Ave.

Crossing the Shakespeare Bridge, we came in to Hollywood, and we took Franklin all the way across to Highland, where we stopped to see the house that is ‘not for the faint of heart’. There was just a small walkway between two buildings with a few mailboxes. The house itself is behind the buildings and up the hill. 65 steps up the hill, to be exact. Since the mailbox is down by the street, the mailman won’t hate you, but I’d bet the pizza guy would. The house also has no parking, which is unheard-of here in Los Angeles. And all this can be yours for only $795,000.

Continuing down Highland, we got back on Franklin, passing by the Magic Castle, as well as the motel where Janis Joplin died. Then we turned right on Outpost. I’d ridden up this hill once before, when we first moved to Hollywood in 1988. I never rode up it again. And today I remembered why. It is a hill that is also not for the faint of heart. It starts out steep and just gets steeper at the top. And the road is rough. So it’s a tough climb.

At the top, we went right on Mulholland for the cruise down into Cahuenga Pass. Then we went over the freeway and rode through a little residential area to get to Barham Blvd, which brought us down into Burbank. We passed by Warner Bros and the somewhat shabby-looking Starlet Apartments. Then we stopped for a snack at Priscilla’s. I had a bagel and a large orange juice.

After the stop, we headed east through the equestrian neighborhood, where I got a flat. I picked up a staple in my tire, and it went flat almost instantly. I gave the camera to Tommy to take the necessary picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

Continuing on, we took Sonora, Grandview, and Graynold up to Kenneth in Glendale. Then we went right and rode across Glendale to Verdugo Blvd. That was where Doug got a flat. His tire leaked more slowly, since it was caused by just a tiny sliver of glass. But it was flat none the less, so he got another entry in the gallery.

After the second flat fix, we headed up Verdugo to Hospital Hill, and then it was the standard route home acrosss La Cañada and Pasadena. When we got back to the park, I had 43 miles, so I took a quick ride out to Arcadia and back just to get to a nice round number.

50 miles.


Three American icons

Filed under: — stan @ 2:31 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was another cemetery sightseeing tour. We rode up to Mission Hills to Eden Memorial Park to see Lenny Bruce and Groucho Marx, and then to the San Fernando Mission cemetery across the street to see Ritchie Valens.

It was cool, overcast, and the forecast called for rain later in the day. We started out from Victory park, heading west on Paloma. At Hill we turned right and went up the hill. Then we went left to get on Woodbury to get out of Pasadena and pass by JPL.

In La Cañada we took Berkshire, Chevy Chase and Descanso to get up to Foothill Blvd. Then we took a left and rode Foothill all the way across La Crescenta and Tujunga, passing by Hanson Dam and into Sylmar, where we passed the “Best Live Poultry” place.

At Maclay we went left and rode through San Fernando. We went right a few blocks to get on Workman, which turned into Rinaldi and brought us to Eden Memorial Park. The guy at the front gate looked at us kind of funny and asked why we were there. We told him we were there to see Groucho Marx. He gave us a map and sent us up the hill. At the top of the hill it became clear that he had misunderstood and given us the map to the memorial service that was being held there that day. So we turned around and went back down the hill. We stopped about half-way down and found Lenny Bruce’s grave. Years ago I took a class at UCLA Extension called “How to Perform Stand-Up Comedy”, and we talked a lot about how Lenny was in many ways the father of modern stand-up. He was one of the first to break the old ‘two guys walk into a bar’ joke-telling mold. And he was rewarded with obscenity prosecutions.

Next, we went down to the big outdoor mausoleum and followed the directions that I’d brought along. We found the door to a small room, where we found Groucho Marx. Each niche has a small holder for flowers. Groucho’s had a cigar in it, which seemed entirely appropriate.

Leaving Eden Memorial, we took a quick left on Sepulveda and went into the San Fernando Mission cemetery. Just inside the front gate between curb numbers 235 and 247 we found Ritchie Valens. I’m not quite old enough to remember the Day the Music Died, but I heard about it when I was growing up.

Next, we got on San Fernando Mission Road and rode back into San Fernando, passing by the mission. (Who’d have guessed it would be there?) Then we went back through downtown San Fernando, pausing briefly at the bike shop for a picture of the “S&M Bicycles” sign in the window. Then we took a right on Glenoaks and headed for home. There was a billboard on a bus shelter there for the San Fernando Criterium, which is coming up in two weeks. Mabye we will have to ride up there again to see it. Continuing south on Glenoaks, I saw the sign for “Stan’s U.S. Guys”. I always take pictures of signs that have my name on them.

We rode through the auto-wrecking ghetto in Sunland, and passed the stinky landfill. Then we turned left on Tuxford, which brought us to La Tuna Canyon Road. Then it was time for that nice four-mile climb up the canyon. As usual, Matt was the first to the top. Jon brought up the rear, saying something about how he needed to do more riding. I was just a bit ahead of Jon. It’s a nice climb, but no matter how you slice it, it’s still uphill.

From the top, we rode down into Montrose and then up Hospital Hill. Then it was downhill the rest of the way home. We rode for a bit with a couple of triathlon people who were preparing for their first Ironman next weekend. I told them about our regular Sunday ride, so maybe they will join us in a few weeks after they’ve recovered.

It was a nice ride.

55 miles.

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