Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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L.A. Noir Bike Ride

Filed under: — stan @ 10:12 pm

Route map

“Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to read is true. Only the names haven’t been changed to protect the innocent.”

Today’s ride was through Griffith Park to Chinatown. It was a gray, damp, and drizzly day. It looked a lot like classic L.A. film noir.

Saturday, April 7. I rode to the Pasadena Elks Lodge. I was supposed to meet the others there for the trip to Chinatown. I figured there had to be dame involved. Probably one wearing spandex and carbon-fiber shoes.

We headed out across Eagle Rock and into Glendale. Then we went down Sonora to Griffith Park. There, we took a right and passed Travel Town before heading up the hill.

Coming out of Griffith Park, we took Riverside Drive down to Stadium Way. As Frank said, “you can’t miss it.” And it was obvious. So we took a right and headed up into Elysian Park.

At the gate to Dodger Stadium, we took a left and rode past the Police Academy. Then down the hill into Chinatown.

Turning the corner, I got my first look at the City. Los Angeles, California. Millions of ordinary law-abiding people live here. Sometimes, the bike ride route goes through here. That’s where I come in.

The plan was to stop at Philippe’s, but there was a long line there, so we decided to go up the street to the Wonder Bakery in Chinatown.

I talked to the lady at the bakery. She didn’t know nothin’ about our case, but she sold me a very nice barbecued pork bun.

After the stop at the bakery, we passed some sort of police activity on Ord St. There were more police cars there than I’d ever seen in one place before, and even a helicopter overhead.

That kinda thing happens all the time in L.A. And it’s probably not a good idea to be riding past it on a bike. But at least we were wearing helmets.

Leaving Chinatown, we headed out of downtown. In Lincoln Heights, I spotted three abandoned couches for the Abandoned Couches Blog. Count ‘em: 1 2 3

Next, we went up Collis to the South Pasadena border. There, we turned and headed up a steep hill.

The road suddenly pitched up hard. Then, behind me, I head a telltale click. Gene had shifted to his low gear. I knew I was in trouble. But when it comes to riding up hills, I don’t even know the word “shift”.

Coming down off the hill, we headed up Grand Ave, back into Pasadena, and back to the Elks Lodge, where it had all started. It was a pretty fun ride, even if it was kind of cold and wet.

44 miles.


Lida at lunchtime

Filed under: — stan @ 7:24 pm

Route map

Today was my first lunchtime bike ride of the new year. I went with Vikki and Eric from the Seismo Lab, and we did the Lida Loop.

We rode through Old Town and down past the Rose Bowl. Then, up Lida into Glendale and down Chevy Chase into La Cañada. Then back into Pasadena, passing by JPL and back across on Mendocino St. Finally, we had the nice two-mile downhill back to the office.

It was a perfect day for riding.

18 miles at lunch, 26 for the day.


Sunday Ride

Filed under: — stan @ 10:20 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a route that Gene made up that went all around, but never got very far from home. We’ve done this ride before.

We started out going east a bit, and then south into San Gabriel. Then we went west and back across San Marino and back into Pasadena. Then we rode past the Rose Bowl and up to Inverness to go up the hill. And that was a very nice hill. We even got to see the new road where they had to rebuild it after it washed out two winters ago.

At the top, we headed down the other side into La Cañada. That was where Jon caught up to us. He had been a few minutes late to the park in the morning, and he’d missed the start. So he rode for something like 20 miles before he caught us. Then we went up past Descanso Gardens and down Hospital Hill.

We stopped at the little bakery on Ocean View. I’ve mentioned before that their eclairs are quite good. Several of us ordered them, and they quickly ran out. But the one I got was good.

Leaving the bakery, we headed up the hill towards the mountains, and then back down through La Cañada to get back to Pasadena. Along the way, Gene remembered that Michael owed him a few bucks, so they stopped to settle up.

After that, we headed up Windsor Rd and up to Altadena Dr. That was where we saw the horse. There are stables near there, but still it’s not every day we see a horse walking down the street.

After that, we rode across Pasadena and back to the park.

42 miles.


Glendora Mountain

Filed under: — stan @ 9:32 pm

Route map

Today’s bike ride was planned to go up Glendora Mountain Road, and then down to East Fork and back out by way of Highway 39. The route map above is from the last time I went there. Today’s route was almost the same, except that we didn’t make it all the way up the mountain.

We met at Arcadia Park and headed east to Glendora. It was cool and overcast, but we thought the sun was going to come out.

In Glendora, we turned and headed up the mountain. Right away, we met up with some other riders coming down who said that the road was closed for construction about halfway up. So we just continued on, planning on going as high as we could.

Going up the mountain was nice. Kept us nice and warm. Everyone was smiles at the start, but then the group broke up. When we got to the closure, we just stopped for a minute to look at the view, and then we headed back down. For some reason, it had gotten colder since we started, and we all got kind of chilled on the way down. I had to put my Hoover Blanket back in for the descent.

When we got to the bottom, we went to the little French bakery that Gene knows in downtown Glendora. We had some snacks and sat for a bit before heading back.

The route back was straight west into Azusa, and then up Azusa Ave to the mouth of San Gabriel Canyon, where we got on the bike path and rode back down to the bridge into Duarte. Then we took the regular route home across Duarte, Monrovia, and Arcadia. When we got back to Pasadena, it was warming up a bit, and we even saw the beginnings of shadows. Of course, the sun came out right after I got home. Sheesh. Still, it was a fun ride.

50 miles.


San Dimas South

Filed under: — stan @ 9:59 pm

Route map

Today’s bike ride was Gene’s “San Dimas South” route. This is a ride through the east San Gabriel Valley, and over just a little bit of the hills by Bonelli Park. It was a perfect day for riding. Warm and sunny.

We headed east from Victory Park, out to Arcadia. When we turned right on Holly St, I suddenly started channeling Bing Crosby, singing:

“Oh by gosh by golly
It’s time to take a right on Holly”

This was kind of silly.

Continuing on, we went east into Duarte and Azusa, and then headed south a bit into Covina. Then we got into the hills in San Dimas. We rode up Via Verde and down the other side into West Covina. This time we did the ‘extra credit’ section of the ride, which involved riding up some small streets with big houses on big hills. One of the houses even had a goat pen outside, which was kind of odd.

At the end of the ‘extra credit’ we regrouped at Grand Ave. Then we noticed that Jon was missing. I went back to look for him so I could take a picture if he’d gotten a flat. But it turned out he had just taken a wrong turn. So with the group reassembled, we headed for home.

In West Covina, we stopped at Panera for a snack. There was a long line there the last time we were there, but this time it was empty. That was kind of weird, but we got quick service this time, so it was all right.

From West Covina, we headed back through Baldwin Park and El Monte. Along the way, I saw one abandoned couch, but I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to get a picture. I also saw the liquor store with a big bottle-shaped sign. That was pretty funny.

We went through Arcadia and past the back side of the L.A. County Arboretum. There are always peacocks roaming around the houses there, but I didn’t get any pictures of them this time.

Finally, we rode back into Pasadena and back to the park. It was a very pleasant ride.

50 miles.


Turnbull Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 10:57 pm

Route map

Today’s bike ride was down to Whittier and over Turnbull Canyon. This is a nice little piece of wilderness in the middle of the city. It was a bit chilly in the morning, so I left a few minutes early to warm up a bit and make sure I was dressed properly. I rode up to Lake and Woodbury and back. Along the way, I found a pair of abandoned couches for the Abandoned Couches Blog. And I also saw an Edison substation that I’d never noticed before. It was in a building that was made to resemble the houses around it. The only real clue was the little sign saying “Edison Substation” and the very thick bundle of wires going into it.

I rode down to Victory Park to meet the group. We rode east from the park, into Arcadia, and then south, passing through El Monte and Industry to get to Whittier. Then we went left on Beverly and rode up to Turnbull Canyon.

The climb up from the west side is perhaps a bit steeper than on the east side, and we’ve done it both ways in the past. Today, we all just rode up to the top. The group broke up on the way up, but we regrouped at the top. Then we headed down the other side. As always, I got the ’steel rollercoaster’ feeling on the down side. It was kind of fun.

At the bottom, we turned left and started for home. That was when I heard a phone ringing, and I was relieved that it wasn’t mine. Instead, it was another guy who had the pleasure of trying to ride and talk on the phone at the same time.

A bit farther along, we realized that we were missing a person. They had been with us when we started down Turnbull Canyon, but they were gone when we got to the bottom. So Gene and Philippe went back to find her. It turned out that one of her cleats had come loose, so they had to stop and try to tighten it before they could come back to rejoin the group.

Coming up Peck Rd, we went through Arcadia and into Monrovia, where we stopped for a snack social at Planet Cookies. And that was also where I saw Stan’s Vac and Sew. I always stop for a photo when I see places that have my name on them.

After the stop, we rode home through Arcadia and back to the park. The ride was a tiny bit longer than the usual Sunday rides, and with the little warmup I did beforehand, I had my Magic 50.

53 miles.


Why do birds suddenly appear…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:49 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today I took a sightseeing bike ride to go visit some Americana. There were three targets for the day: The 1953 McDonald’s, the “Close to You” and “Only Just Begun” apartments, and Johnie’s Broiler, all in beautiful Downey, California. It was a cool day, but forecast to warm up nicely. A perfect winter’s day in SoCal.

I started out heading south, through San Marino and San Gabriel. I rode down through Whittier Narrows and then turned south again on Rosemead. Then I just went straight, all the way to Downey.

At one light, there was a very shiny tanker truck in front of me, so I took my picture reflected in it. Then I continued on to the where Rosemead turned in to Lakewood, and the 1953 McDonald’s. We’d visited there before, so I didn’t go inside to see the Ray Kroc museum this time.

Continuing on down Lakewood, I took a right on 5th St. That was where I saw a house undergoing a fairly drastic remodel. Only the front wall was still standing. Then I rode a short distance farther and found the “Close to You” and “Only Just Begun” apartment buildings. They are a pair, right across the street from each other, and they were bought by Karen and Richard Carpenter with their earnings from their first big hit songs, back in 1970.

I went a bit farther on 5th St to get to Firestone Blvd and Johnie’s Broiler. This is a 1950s Googie-style coffee shop that was being used as a used-car lot promising “BAJO MILLAGE” cars. It was also being considered for historic status. Apparently, the owners weren’t too happy about this, because they hired a bulldozer to start knocking it down without a permit. So the building is still half-standing, but in ruins.

Leaving Johnie’s, I backtracked to get to Paramount Blvd and headed north. At Mines Ave, I went right and went back to Rosemead. That was where I saw it. Shangri-L… Oh. It said Shangri Lodge. Never mind. The place was kind of scary, with bars and bulletproof glass around the manager’s office.

I took a left on Beverly to take the scenic route back up through Montebello. That was where I saw yet another abandoned couch for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

At San Gabriel Blvd, I turned left, and immediately heard that telltale hissing sound. I had a flat. Since I was riding alone, I had to take the obligatory picture Myspace-style, with the camera held at arm’s length. I put on a spare tire, and continued on.

I went up Walnut Grove to get back up to San Gabriel, and then went west a bit on Longden to get back to Del Mar. Then it was straight up through San Marino and back to the park.

It was a pleasant ride.

Addendum: I fixed my flat tire this evening. I was riding my old racing bike today. So I was riding Old School. This is the first time in three years that I’ve fixed a sew-up tire. I’m out of practice. I used to do this all the time and didn’t think anything of it. But it was hard.

42 miles


A ride in the Hollywood Hills

Filed under: — stan @ 8:14 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s bike ride was a nice jaunt through the Hollywood Hills to stalk Lindsay Lohan. I’d read yesterday in the gossip column that Lindsay Lohan had checked into rehab. The article mentioned Wonderland Center. So I looked it up. They have a web site and everything. But when I saw the address, I thought, “I’ve been by there on my bike a hundred times, and I’ve never even noticed that there was anything there.” So I figured a ride out there was in order, just to see how they have the place hidden.

I started out across Pasadena on Orange Grove. Then I went down the Colorado Hill, but I took the ’shortcut’. I’d never been down Brixton before. It’s steep, so going down was a whole lot easier than going up. Then I took Yosemite and Eagle Rock Blvd down through Glassell Park.

The church on Eagle Rock Blvd had a new sign up today, so I got a picture. Then I took Fletcher down to the river, pausing to take a couple of pictures of the Muffler Men in Atwater Village.

Crossing the river, I rode through Silver Lake and over the Shakespeare Bridge into Hollywood. I rode straight down Hollywood Blvd, which is always kind of a surreal experience early in the morning. At the Chinese Theater I saw a big crowd of tourists looking at the footprints and getting their pictures taken with someone dressed as Charlie Chaplin.

Leaving the tourist-trap Hollywood, I continued on to Nichols Canyon Road. I took a right there and headed up the canyon. Nichols Canyon is easily my favorite road in the Hollywood Hills. It’s nice and quiet, it was recently repaved, and it’s not too steep. I stopped for a picture in someone’s driveway mirror, and also for a picture of the Keith Haring mailbox.

At the top of Nichols Canyon, I took a left on Woodrow Wilson to get to Mulholland. Along the way, I passed number 7734. Our house number is ‘1134′, and I tell people it’s easy to remember because you can put it in a calculator and turn it upside-down to spell ‘hEll’. But 7734 is even better. It spells ‘hELL’. So there.

Woodrow Wilson comes out on the crest of the hill right at the intersection of Mulholland and Laurel Canyon. I went left on Mulholland to pass by the rehab center gate at 8207 Mulholland. When I got to the gate, I could see why I’d never noticed it before. It’s just a little driveway, and you can’t see the gate unless you turn and go up to the bend in the driveway. Of course, there’s no sign. There was just one lone paparazzo staked out in a Land Rover with blacked-out windows parked across the street. I snapped a quick picture of the gate and then continued on Mulholland to go refill my water bottle at Fryman Canyon Park. For some reason, I felt like I needed a drink.

I filled my water bottle up at the park and then headed back down Mulholland. At the second intersection with Woodrow Wilson, I took a left to take the shortcut down to Cahuenga Pass. I also wanted to pass by for a look at Harrison Ford’s old house, which is for sale. They’re even having an open house there on Sunday if you want to see it. It’s “Reduced!” to only $1,299,000.

Coming out down in Cahuenga Pass, I took the bridge across the freeway and then went up Wonder View to avoid riding on Cahuenga Blvd. Usually, I have trouble convincing other people to go this way, since it’s a pretty steep hill. But since I was riding alone, I was free to go up any hill I wanted. And this one was it. Then, at the top, I went down Lake Hollywood and came out on Barham for the ride down to Burbank.

I rode down through Griffith Park to Riverside, and then into Glendale. I took the direct route across Glendale to get to Colorado in Eagle Rock. Then back across Eagle Rock on Yosemite, up the Colorado Hill, and back home.

It was a pleasant ride.

47 miles.


The shortest street in L.A.

Filed under: — stan @ 5:56 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a sightseeing trip to see Powers Place. This is reputed to be the shortest named street in Los Angeles. It is 13 feet long.

Setting out from Victory Park, we rode down Sierra Madre Blvd to Huntington Drive. Then we went right and rode almost all the way to downtown L.A. Forking off on Mission Road, we skirted the east side of downtown, passing through the warehouse district. I saw my first abandoned couch of the day there. Then we turned right on 4th St and rode across the bridge. We got a nice view of the downtown towers, as well as the Metro Red Line yards.

Coming in to Little Tokyo, we went left on Central Ave and headed down into the industrial underbelly of downtown. There was a strong smell of food processing there. Then, at Pico, we went right, and I took a picture of the Coca-Cola building there. This is a famous building that was built to resemble a ship.

Riding west on Pico, we went through the garment district, and also passed the site of the oozing oil last year. Then we rode through the convention center and on to Powers Place.

At Powers Place, I stopped for a couple of pictures. It really was that short. Then we headed north on Hoover to 11th and over to Vermont.

Vermont Ave was really wretched to ride on, but the whole point of it was to get a picture of the “Porno Mania” sign at Olympic. It’s not every day that you see a store with such a straightforward name.

Turning on Wilshire, we got off of Vermont and then took some smaller side streets to get up to 2nd St, which we rode all the way over to Larchmont. Along the way, we saw the second abandoned couch of the day, as well as the Harbin Deer Antler Trading Company. We were happy to see that the health department gave them an “A”, so they are handling the deer antlers in a sanitary manner.

At Larchmont, we stopped for a bagel at Noah’s. Then we continued north, passing by Paramount Studios on Gower. Then we heard a tremendous “POP!”. I looked back and saw Jon stopping and looking at his back tire. The tire had come off the rim and blown out the tube. There was a rip about four inches long in the tube. So I took out my camera and took a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. Jon replaced the tube, and we were on our way again.

The rest of the ride home was the standard route back from Hollywood. Across the Shakespeare Bridge and then home by way of Fletcher, Eagle Rock, and Yosemite. That was the site of the third and final abandoned couch of the day. Then we got to the Colorado Hill. We climbed the hill and then rode back across Pasadena to the park.

Aside from the traffic on Vermont Ave, it was a very pleasant ride.

43 miles.


Newton’s Nemesis

Filed under: — stan @ 10:06 pm

Route map

Update: Here is the ride profile

Today’s ride was Gene’s “Newton’s Nemesis” ride, which is a ride up and down the canyons above Sierra Madre, Arcadia, and Monrovia. It’s not a super-long ride, but it’s hard. Newton is the hillclimber in our group, so Gene made this route just so that he would have a chance to show us just how good he is at it.

We started out from Victory Park. Only one guy drove his car there, but then he realized that he couldn’t park there today because of the preparations for the Rose Parade. So he had to move his car, and Gene brought his bike along. Then we started the ride, heading east up Sierra Madre Blvd. We passed the area set up for the post-parade float viewing. Then we turned left at Michillinda and headed up the hill.

The first canyon climb was up above Sierra Madre. It went up a steep hill in a canyon, making a loop and coming out on the same street where we started. Then we rode down Mountain Trail almost to the freeway before heading east a little more to get to Santa Anita. Then we turned left, up the hill again.

Climbing up Santa Anita, we rode up another steep canyon road there. This was probably the hardest climb on the ride. I had to say ‘uncle’ and shift there. Then, when we got to the top, we came back down, ending up on Highland Oaks and Foothill.

Going left on Foothill, we crossed into Monrovia. Usually we ride across on Hillcrest, but this time, we rode up yet another steep canyon. Here, we saw three deer snoozing on someone’s front lawn. They were ignoring us until I stopped to take pictures. Then they got up and left.

On the last canyon climb I had a little laugh about the cars I saw parked in front of one of the houses. When you put a cover on a car, nobody can see what kind of car it is, so it no longer functions as a status symbol. Unless you’re this guy and you get car covers with “BMW” printed on them. Then you can prevent sun damage and still make sure everyone knows you have a BMW. Of course, I didn’t peek under the cover to see if maybe it was really a Hyundai or something under there…

After the last canyon, we rode out through Duarte and took the San Gabriel River bike path up to the mouth of the canyon above Azusa. Then we went south through Azusa and back west to Monrovia, where we stopped for a snack at Planet Cookies. It was pretty good. Then we rode home.

I rode part-way across Pasadena with Vikki just to see the masses of people who were already camping out along the Rose Parade route. I think they’re nuts. But that’s just me.

47 miles.

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