Stan’s Obligatory Blog

3/2/2014

The Metro Rail Tour

Filed under: — stan @ 3:28 pm

Some years ago, the Sunday bike club ride was rained out. This happens from time to time, but that time, it happened when we were in West Hollywood, which is about 20 miles from home. We managed to make it two miles or so back into Hollywood, and then take Metro Rail home to Pasadena. After that, I made up a route for us to ride on days when the weather is questionable. I called it the “Metro Rail Tour”, and it’s a route from Pasadena and through Los Angeles that manages to never be more than a mile or two from the nearest Metro Rail station. That way, we have an exit strategy in case it starts raining. We’ve done this route a number of times over the last few years, but today was the first time we had to actually use the exit strategy.

It was overcast, and the skies looked like rain. We headed south, down Sierra Madre Blvd to Huntington Drive (Near the Metro South Pasadena station). We took that into downtown Los Angeles (Chinatown Station and Union Station). In downtown, we took a short detour to see the site of the new Wilshire Grand Hotel (Next to the 7th St/Metro Center station). This was in the news last week, when they poured something like 2,000 truckloads of concrete in 20 hours to make the foundation for the new 70+ story building.

When we got down by USC (Expo Line 23rd St Station), we felt a few raindrops, but that stopped after a few minutes. So we continued on. We turned north up Harvard Blvd (and the Metro Wilshire/Normandy Station), and then west to Larchmont Village, which is between the Metro Wilshire/Western and Hollywood/Vine stations. We had some snacks and then headed for home. The route back was along 4th St and 7th St, which parallels Wilshire Blvd and the Purple Line subway. Then we turned north into Echo Park. At that point, we were about as far from a Metro station as we would get on this route. And, of course, that’s when it started to rain. We pulled over for a quick conference under an overhang. I had a look at the map, and I saw that we were only about 1 mile from the Metro Chinatown station. So we worked out how to go, and we rode there through the rain. It was miserable riding in the rain, but knowing it was just a short distance helped a lot. Once we got there, we got on the train and headed for home.

Even though I hate getting rained on when I’m riding, I was glad that my route with the built-in escape worked well. And once the Metro Gold Line Extension is finished, we’ll be able to make a Metro Rail tour heading east for days when it might rain.

32 miles. Would have been 44, but that’s how it goes.

2/27/2014

Stairs – 2/27

Filed under: — stan @ 9:14 pm

It’s Thursday, and time for another shortened stair practice. I only went up the building twice. I could have done a third time, but I didn’t feel like it. Just two times, at a moderate pace. For some reason, the building management moved us to a different stairwell for practice now. One of the guards told me it was because some people were getting out of the stairs before the finish at 55 and disturbing the office tenants. That seems plausible, since this stairway should prevent that. The doors let out into a utility hallway, so there’s no direct path from the stairs to the office space. It’s still 11/11, but with right turns, and still the same 1,126 steps from 4 to 55.

2/25/2014

Stairs

Filed under: — stan @ 9:23 pm

Yet another session on the stairs. I went up four times, but I only timed the first two. After that, I just walked up slowly in a small group, and we just talked and took it easy all the way to the 55th floor.

2/23/2014

The Metro Gold Line Extension

Filed under: — stan @ 3:00 pm

Route Map

Today’s bike club ride was yet another sightseeing ride. This time, we toured the San Gabriel Valley to visit the construction sites where Metro is building the Gold Line light rail extension from Pasadena to Azusa.

The first stop was the Arcadia station being built at 1st Ave and Santa Clara St. On the way there, we saw the new bridges they built for the tracks to go over Colorado Blvd and Santa Anita Blvd. The station is coming along pretty well.

Continuing on to Monrovia, we saw the beginnings of the Metro station there. It’s right by the old Santa Fe depot, but there’s not very much built yet. We also saw the beginnings of the maintenance yard for the light rail line that they’re building in Monrovia.

The station for Duarte is right across the street from City of Hope, and it’s looking pretty close to being finished. This is just before the tracks cross over the San Gabriel River, so we turned north to get to the bike path bridge by Encanto Park. We took that across the river and into Azusa.

The big Santa Fe railroad bridge over Foothill Blvd is being rebuilt. The old bridge is a single track, so they are building essentially two more bridges on either side of it. This is because the part of the Santa Fe line from Irwindale and east is still an active freight line. The freight track is being relocated to the side a bit to make room for the double-track light rail line.

I stopped for a photo-op at the little Stonehenge-like thing on the corner behind the CVS store. Then we went up a block to where they are building the first of two stations for Azusa. This one is being built next to the old Santa Fe depot. The second Azusa station is the last one being built for this phase of the light rail line. It’s right on the border with Glendora, and it’s right in between Azusa Pacific University and Citrus College. I guess that was the idea. There’s a big sign there, but not a lot of activity yet.

Our snack stop was at the Corner Bakery in San Dimas. We’ve been by there a hundred times and never even noticed that it was there before. But it was right by the road we ride on a lot, so we’ll probably be stopping there again in the future.

We rode Gladstone St all the way back to Irwindale, where we took one little side trip to see the site of the Irwindale Metro station. There wasn’t much there, but the big stacks of concrete railroad ties indicate that they’re going to be laying track there soon.

That was the whole of our Metro light-rail adventure tour. We’re going to go on this ride again in a few months to have a look and see how much progress they’re making.

44 miles.

2/20/2014

A quick stair-climbing session

Filed under: — stan @ 10:18 pm

On Thursdays, I have to take Lucinda to art class at 5:00, so I can’t get downtown for the beginning of stair practice. It runs from 5:00 to 7:00, and on these nights, I don’t get there until about 6:00. So I was only able to do two times up the building. At least, this time I was able to do my ‘brisk but modest’ pace, and get to the top a few seconds ahead of my 11:15 target. And the second time, I managed to put on a little bit of speed at the end, just to make it up in less than 12 minutes. So given that I’m still borderline-crippled by my ongoing back problems, I really can’t complain too much.

2/19/2014

Cephalopd fancy

Filed under: — stan @ 9:54 pm

Last fall, when we went to the Los Angeles County Fair, we stopped in a booth selling metal artwork. That’s where we picked up the little steel squid that hangs on our front door.

Around Christmas time, I noticed a little Santa hat hairclip that was just clipped on the edge of a lampshade. Since it wasn’t doing anything, I took the clip and put it on the squid. And like all manner of silly ideas, this took on a life of its own. We started planning for Valentine’s Day. I made a little heart-magnet, and we decorated the squid again. So now, moving on, we’re ready for St. Patrick’s Day. And we’re on the lookout for some bunny ears.

2/18/2014

Still going at it…

Filed under: — stan @ 10:09 pm

So today was yet another evening on the stairs. Three times up 51 floors. Great fun, isn’t it? Today was special, since Kathleen had to go to a training class for work that was near downtown, so we met up at the building to do the stair practice.

The first time up, I was just trying for my ‘brisk, but modest’ pace. That would have gotten me to the top in 11:15, so I was pretty close. I went up again, just to do it, and then a third time that I didn’t time.

It’s kind of nice, in that climbing major stairs does something so my back doesn’t seem to hurt for an hour or two afterward. I have no idea why that would be, but I’m not complaining.

2/15/2014

More things that are not what they seem

Filed under: — stan @ 3:54 pm

When Kathleen got home Friday night, she said we needed to take a walk up the street. There was a movie crew working there, and they’d turned the old St. Luke’s Hospital into a mental institution. So we walked up the street and saw the big fake concrete wall and gate. It was pretty realistic-looking. I went back to see it the next morning, and I was able to see the 2×4s and sandbags behind it.

I always like seeing the old place dressed up as different things. It usually plays a hospital, but it’s also been used as a generic crime scene, as well as a courthouse.

It’s always fun to see how they make the illusions look real.

2/13/2014

The Vertical Kilometer

Filed under: — stan @ 9:14 pm

Tonight’s staircase adventure was going to be my friend Morgan’s second attempt at the Vertical Kilometer. Last week she got to the building a little late, and ran out of time. This week, she was going to be downtown a little early, so she could start climbing right when practice opened at 5:00. I was going to get there late, since I had to take Lucinda to art class after work. So while Morgan was heading up the stairs at 5:00, I was just getting on the train for downtown. The plan was to meet up at the building so I could pace her up the fourth and fifth times.

She texted me each time she started a lap, and she was starting up the third time when I was about to get on the subway for the final three-stop ride to the 7th St Metro station. I got to the building at 6:03, and she had just finished the third lap. So after some Gatorade, we headed up for her fourth lap. I’d brought my camera along, since I figured this would be a good chance to get some more good action shots in the stairwell.

When we were at about the 50th floor, we heard some people coming up behind us. And then Veronica and Madeleine went flying past us. Veronica went so fast the camera’s autofocus gave up. I went up to the next landing to have a little more room, and I was able to get a good action shot of Madeleine.

The final climb was a grind. Morgan was tired, but she knew she had it in the bag. We started up the final climb at 6:30, and we had until 7:00 to finish, so she had it made. Still, it was hard. Just look at the fourth picture. But she made it, and she even perked up a bit for the last few floors. At the top, we got a souvenir photo, and then we headed for home. It was a good stair outing.

2/11/2014

Four-peat

Filed under: — stan @ 9:54 pm

It’s Tuesday, and time to go downtown and do battle with the Aon bulding staircase again. I’m trying to take it easy, but still get in some climbing without messing up my back. The practice climb course is 1,126 steps from the 4th floor up to 55. That’s 690 feet, or 210 meters vertical. My goal for this evening was just to be able to do it four times. I’ve not done that much in one session yet this year, and not since my back went to hell last fall.

The plan was to try for my vertical mile pace from last year. I was able to maintain that on my first climb last Tuesday, but not tonight. I started to fall behind by the 35th floor or so. And instead of getting to 55 in 11:15, it took 11:41. Oh well. I can’t be too disappointed, since as recently as four weeks ago I couldn’t even walk around the block. So I’ll take progress where I can.

The second time up, I went a little slower. I walked up alone, just doing an easy, steady pace. After that, when I got back to the bottom, I saw Jeannie, so we walked up together for my third climb. We just walked and talked all the way to 55. And the last time, I saw Nathan at the bottom. He was heading up for his fourth climb out of a planned five. He was going to do the Vertical Kilometer. So I walked up with him for the fourth time. When I got back to the bottom, I had enough time that I could have done it again, but I figured I didn’t want to push my luck. Four climbs still adds up to a half-mile vertical, and I’m trying to build back up slowly.

Maybe by April I’ll be able to go fast again, but for now, I’m just glad I’m physically able to do it at all.

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