Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Last practice before Chicago

Filed under: — stan @ 9:11 pm

Once again, I missed Monday stair practice, since we had gone to San Diego on Sunday night to visit my father. But I came out for Wednesday practice, since it’s the last one before next weekend’s trip to Chicago to climb the Sears Willis Tower. Once again, my goal was two climbs at a consistent pace. I did all right on the first, but the second time up, my knee started to hurt, and I kind of fell apart. And when it was over, I didn’t even do a third climb.


Down for the Count – 2014 Edition

Filed under: — stan @ 3:46 pm

It’s the Sunday before Halloween, and time for our annual “Down for the Count” ride, where we ride out to Culver City to visit Bela Lugosi’s grave. Weather was perfect for riding.

We started out heading into downtown L.A. We passed the site of the former state office building that was condemned and torn down after the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. We visited this site a while back, when I read that they were finally going to tear down the foundation and put a park in its place.

A few blocks south of there, we ran across the route of the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon. They have it every year on this weekend, but for some reason, we never can remember about it when we’re planning this ride. This time, we didn’t see anyone we knew running by, unlike in 2012.

I got a flat on West Adams. It turned out to be from a small thorn that got stuck in my tire. That was the first flat I’ve had on the new bike. I fixed it, and we soldiered on. We saw the train at the Farmdale station when we passed there. I was paying attention to it this time, since I needed to get back early, and I was planning on bailing out and taking the train home to save some time.

When we got to the cemetery, we went straight to the Grotto, where Bela Lugosi is buried. As always, someone had stopped by and decorated for Halloween.

On the way back, I only rode as far as the Culver City Metro station. Then I got on the train and rode that back to Pasadena. This saved about an hour or so compared to riding home from there, and I still got in about 34 miles of riding.


I missed Monday…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:05 pm

I missed stair practice on Monday, since I was sore from hiking Mt Baldy last Saturday. But today, I was refreshed and ready to go. I rode the train downtown and headed up the stairs. As before, my goal was to do five floors per minute for two consecutive climbs up the building. The idea being that that’s about the closest I can come to simulating climbing the Sears Willis Tower, which is on the agenda for the weekend after next.

I did my two climbs right about on my target pace. I was pleased with that. After that, I went up one more time slowly, just because there was time. Unfortunately, on the third climb up, my knee started to hurt a bit. This is potentially a very bad thing. We shall see. It was just about this time last year when my back went to hell. Now that that’s better, I’m not in the mood for something else to go to hell.


The Golden Spike on the Gold Line

Filed under: — stan @ 2:58 pm

This past week, I read an article about how they had finished all the track for the Metro Gold Line extension to Azusa, and they were going to be holding a ceremony on Saturday to mark the installation of the final track clip. I guess they use spring clips instead of spikes now, since the crossties are concrete instead of wood. Anyway, It’s been a few months since we did this tour last, so I thought it would make for a nice ride to go see how it’s coming along, and to see the ‘Golden Spike‘, as it were. It’s been a few months since we did this ride the last time.

The only change I made to the route this time was a slight detour to see the maintenance yard and shops under construction in Monrovia. On the way there, we saw the Arcadia station, which looks pretty close to being done, and the Monrovia station, which has made major progress since last June. The Duarte station looks pretty much the same, since it was quite far along last time we were there.

In Azusa, we saw the final track clip. It wasn’t golden, but orange. So that way it stood out. The downtown Azusa station is coming along nicely, and the last station on the line, out near Citrus College and the Glendora border has made good progress since last time.

We stopped for snacks at the Corner Bakery in Glendora, and then on the way back, we stopped to see the Irwindale station. The platforms are built now, so there was a lot of progress since last time. All in all, it’s coming along quite nicely.

45 miles.


Mt Baldy 2014

Filed under: — stan @ 7:33 pm

Last year’s government shutdown involved a good bit of hiking in the local mountains. Since there was no furlough-cation this year, we had to take a weekend day to go climb Mt Baldy. We wanted to do it before November, since it’s going to get cold up there, and there could be snow. So today was the last available day in October.

Like last year, I went with Karina from my office. We went up to Manker Flat to the trailhead. On the way up there, I collected a new animal crossing sign for my collection. When we started up the trail, we got a nice view of San Antonio Falls. Even with the drought, there was still a little bit of water going over the falls. Just hearing running water is such a novelty for us these days. We also heard a woodpecker, and we were lucky enough to see it going at the trunk of a dead tree.

Because it was Saturday instead of a weekday, there were a lot of people on the trail. That was all right. It was just strange, since last year’s hikes left me with the impression that all these trails are deserted. There was a small crowd at the hut about halfway up the mountain. And a very friendly Golden Retriever named Butter, who begged snacks from everyone there.

Leaving the hut, we walked across the bowl to the place where the trail climbs steeply up the ridge to the south of the summit. In the bowl, there is a big field of boulders, and it’s pretty obvious that they all fell from the crags at the top of the ridge. I couldn’t help but wonder what that must have sounded like.

The last part of the climb to the summit was hard. Just as hard as it was last year. But we made it, and we settled in for lunch on top of the mountain. Just us and about fifty other people. At least with that many people up there, there were lots of people for the bees to bother, so they didn’t bother us so much as when we were the only ones there.

On the way down, I stopped to take a picture of the waning crescent moon hanging just over the rocks below the summit. And I also got some pictures along the trail. I’ve decided that there are parts of the Devil’s Backbone trail that really give me the willies. But that’s all right. We made it down just fine. At the ski area, they were getting ready for ski season. There were some crews practicing rescuing people from the chair lift, and there were CPR dummies spread out on a blanket nearby. We went in the restaurant so I could refill my water bottle. And we got a picture, looking back up at the summit. Then we started down the service road back to Manker Flat.

Like last year, the service road seemed to go on forever. It’s long. But I was expecting that this time, so it was all right. And we made it back to the car just fine. According to my little GPS thingy, it was 4 1/4 miles from the start to the top, and it was 10.9 miles for the whole loop. Good fun.


Still going…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:27 pm

It’s Wednesday, and time for three more climbs up the Wilshire-Figueroa building. I was kind of dragging tonight, but I still did all three climbs. And tonight on the train home, I got farther along in that damn game than ever before. It makes the train trip go faster.


A lot of Nowhere

Filed under: — stan @ 6:49 pm

Last year, I finally got to do the hike to “The Bridge to Nowhere”. And today I got to do it again. The main difference this time is that it was a Saturday, rather than a Friday, and there was no government shutdown in effect. Last year when we did this, the place was deserted. We saw just a handful of people on the trail. But today, when we got to the trailhead, we had to park about a quarter-mile back down the road, since the little parking lot was completely full.

I’d gone up there with my hiking friend Kathy, and we were going to meet up with my stair-climbing friend Crystal and her boyfriend Barry. When I saw all the cars there, I thought it was going to be hard to find them. But when we parked, it turned out they were in the car right in front of us. That was convenient.

We started out down the trail. The first time, I didn’t really know what to expect, so it was easier this time. I knew the basic pattern for following and finding the trail, and we made good time. It only took us a little over two hours to make it to the Bridge. When we got there, the bungee-jumping people were out in force. It was a far cry from the deserted bridge I remember from last year. We crossed, and then followed the trail down into the gorge below the bridge so we could watch the bungee jumpers. Here’s a sample:

We had lunch down there in the gorge, and then we headed back. The hike back went pretty fast. It was a perfect day, and all around, it was a fun time.


And again…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:43 pm

Once more, it’s time for two climbs up the 51 stories of the Wilshire-Figueroa building, aiming to do about 10 to 10 1/2 minutes each time, followed by a third time up, just because there’s enough time to do it. On the third time up, I was counting the steps, just to see where the 1,000th step was. As it turned out, I was off by a few, but when I checked my chart, I saw that the 1,000th step is the landing between 44 and 45. Not that that’s significant in any way, but it was something to think about on the way up the stairs.


Still going…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:25 pm

Another session on the Wilshire-Figueroa building stairs. Two times timed, and aiming for about 10:15 or so each time. I was a little behind that, but not too badly. On then one more time up just because.


CicLAvia 2014

Filed under: — stan @ 8:00 pm

Today was the latest CicLAvia, and we went to ride it. We haven’t been to one of these since April of last year, but I’d noticed that the route this time went through the 2nd St tunnel downtown, and I thought that riding through that would be a hoot.

We rode through Temple City and Rosemead before heading into East L.A. It was basically the same route we took to the first CicLAvia, back in 2010. Once we got past East L.A. College, we could see the CicLAvia route on our left. We turned and rode one short block to Cesar Chavez Ave and got on.

There was a guy riding an old-fashioned high-wheeler bike, which was kind of novel. I stopped to look at the mariachis at Mariachi Square. And then we turned south to 4th St, which took us over the L.A. River and into downtown. I stopped for a photo on the 4th St bridge, since it was a place where I could see every downtown skyscraper I’ve ever climbed all at once.

Passing through downtown, we arrived at the 2nd St tunnel. This tunnel is used in lots of car commercials and movies filmed in downtown. And while we were riding through it, I noticed that the street had been striped with a bike lane. It was done with a buffer zone and plastic pylons, so it might not be all that bad to ride through, even on a normal day.

When we came out of the tunnel, it was just a short ride up Glendale Blvd to the end of the CicLAvia route. At that point, we took off across Echo Park to our snack stop at Chango Coffee

I’ve recently gotten a new bike, the first since 2004. It’s a bit odd to by riding a bike that’s shiny and new and not covered with dirt. And I was even (accidentally) color-coordinated with it today. That was weird.

Anyway, it was a nice ride.

42 miles.

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