Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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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.


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.

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