Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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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.


Wednesday lunchtime ride up Lida

Filed under: — stan @ 5:36 pm

Route map and photo locations

We have a couple more weeks before the time change, so today I went riding with Vikki at lunchtime again. We did the fast-becoming-classic Lida Loop.

It was a perfect fall day today. The air was cool, the sun was warm, and it was stunningly clear. A perfect day for riding.

We rode from the office, going through Old Town to get to the Rose Bowl. Then we went up the hill on Lida. On the way up, I saw that the coyote paw that I saw last week was still there. I thought some animal or another would have taken it away to gnaw on by now.

When we got to the top, we flew down the other side into La Cañada and then back into Pasadena. The one picture I took was of the view of the mountains from the road just below JPL.

Crossing Pasadena on Mendocino, we rode to just before the Altadena Country Club. Then it was straight down the big hill back to the office.

As I said, it was a perfect day for riding.

18 miles at lunch, 26 for the day.


Playing tourist in Los Angeles

Filed under: — stan @ 7:03 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s Sunday club ride was a sightseeing trip to Downtown Los Angeles. I had read that they had a fake toll plaza built on 4th St as a set for “Live Free or Die Hard“. It was a kind of dreary day, with a slight misting drizzle, so there were only five of us today.

We rode down Sierra Madre and Huntington Drive to get to Downtown. On the way, I picked up another couch for the Abandoned Couches Blog. Then we took Main St into Downtown.

Crossing the 101 Freeway, we passed the old Hall of Justice. This building was ‘home away from home’ for Sirhan Sirhan and Charles Manson, as well as being Control Secret Headquarters in the title sequence from “Get Smart”.

We took a right on Temple and then a left on Grand to ride down through the towers on Bunker Hill. At the overpass where Grand goes over 4th St, we stopped and saw the ‘Toll Plaza’. It certainly looked real. The toll booths looked real, and they’d painted lines on the street so the whole thing looked like it had always been there.

We rode around to Hope St to get a better view. At the top of the ramp, there was a broken NYPD police barricade. The guard there told us they had filmed a stunt there yesterday. He showed us how the barricade was built of balsa wood, and it had cuts in it so that it would break in predetermined places. I got a picture of Vikki lifting it up to see how light it was.

Leaving Downtown, we rode down Grand to Wilshire. This is where we saw the street dressed up as Tokyo last winter. This time it was just plain Los Angeles.

Continuing on, we took Wilshire through MacArthur Park, passing the über-cool American Cement Association building. It’s been converted into lofts, and it’s a very dramatic building.

Turning off Wilshire on Alexandria, we rode up to 2nd St, where I picked up some more couches. Then we turned right on Larchmont and went to Noah’s Bagels for a snack.

At Melrose, we passed Paramount Studios, as well as a big sign for a burlesque show. Looks like fun. Then we took Bronson north all the way to Franklin. Then we turned right and rode over the Shakespeare Bridge to Rowena Ave.

At Fletcher and Riverside, I stopped to get a new picture of the hillside art project. Then we rode up through Eagle Rock to Yosemite Dr. I picked up one more couch there. Then we took the ’shortcut’ up the Colorado Hill. It’s short and sweet. I actually said ‘uncle’ and shifted to a lower gear to get up the hill.

The last bit was to take Orange Grove and Paloma back to the park. At that point, I had 38 miles, so I rode out to Sierra Madre and back just to pad it a bit.

42 miles.


Lida at Lunchtime

Filed under: — stan @ 5:29 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s lunchtime ride was the Lida Loop again. Vikki couldn’t go, since she is still recovering from the Furnace Creek 508 last weekend. Her team did well, though.

I left the office and took the usual route through Old Town and then down to the Rose Bowl. Then I went up the little hill on the other side to get to Lida St. On the way up the hill on Lida, I saw a paw in the road. It looked like it came from a coyote or perhaps a medium-sized dog. There was no evidence of the rest of the animal nearby.

Continuing up over the hill, I rode down Chevy Chase into La Cañada and then back into Pasadena by JPL. I saw Shannon at her house and stopped to chat for a bit. I also took a picture of her little driveway art installation.

From there, I got on Mendocino for the ride across Altadena. At one point, a little tiny dog chased me down the street. I had to outrun him, since I’d forgotten to wear my chain-mail socks today.

A little bit farther down the road I saw some filming going on. No sign of what they were filming, though.

The last part of the ride was down the big hill and back to the office. It was a very pleasant ride.

18 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


Columbus Day

Filed under: — stan @ 8:08 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today is the Columbus Day holiday, which means a day off for government workers. So I went for a bike ride.

The ride was a sightseeing trip up into La Crescenta and Tujunga. In particular, I wanted to see Pine Cone Road, which figures prominently in John McPhee’s book, The Control of Nature. In the opening of the third section of the book, he describes a night of heavy rain and its resulting debris flow. The flow came down Pine Cone Road and buried the house at the bottom of the hill. But the house was no ordinary house. It had reinforced concrete walls and was nicknamed “The Fort”. It filled up with mud and rocks, but was otherwise undamaged. So I figured that this would make for a good sightseeing trip.

I rode up to La Cañada and met up with Erik. He works in my office, and so we both had the holiday off. We rode up to Rosemont and then turned up the hill.

The sides of the Crescenta Valley are pretty steep. And they get steeper up near the top. This road was no exception. We took it all the way to where it ended, and then we turned to go west a bit to La Crescenta Blvd, which then went farther up the slope. Then, at the top, we saw Lower Shields Debris Basin. A quick right turn brought us to the base of Pine Cone Road, and to “The Fort”. The house looks pretty sturdy. In the book, McPhee mentions that when the owners rebuilt, they added a second floor and put the bedrooms upstairs. And the house is still there today.

In the book, McPhee also mentions the steepness of Pine Cone Road. He says it is “steep enough to stiff a Maserati”. Needless to say, I wanted to ride up it. It was steep, but not the steepest hill I’ve ever seen. It was probably about 20-25%. Still, it was a good climb up the top. At the top was Upper Shields Debris Basin, and also a commanding view.

Coming down off the hill, we rode up into Tujunga. This was for a quick side trip to see Elliott’s house from “E.T.” This house is also at the top of steep hill.

From there, it was all downhill. We took Tujunga Canyon down to where it turns into Honolulu. Incidentally, this is also where they had a temporary internment camp for Japanese-Americans in 1941 before they were shipped off to Manzanar.

Continuing on down the hill, we went into Glendale, and then took a left on Chevy Chase to ride back up and over the hill. On the way up Chevy Chase, we saw a bobcat. This was the first time I’d ever seen one in the wild, if a suburban yard in Glendale counts as ‘the wild’. I took a couple of pictures of it to commemorate the occasion.

Continuing on Chevy Chase, we climbed the hill and headed down the other side, back into La Cañada. At the bottom, Erik headed for home, and I headed east, back into Pasadena. I took the ’scenic route’ home, up to Mendocino and then home by way of side streets. Along the way, I came upon a hawk that had just killed a pigeon. It was standing on top of the pigeon carcass in the middle of the street. When it saw me coming, it picked up the pigeon and started to fly. It was apparently a pretty big effort to fly while carrying a dead pigeon, so the hawk just flew up into the first tree, and it just sat on a branch there. So I took a picture of it.

It was a fun ride.

43 miles.


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.

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