Stan’s Obligatory Blog

2/20/2011

Always good to have an exit strategy…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:20 pm

Today’s bike ride was one that didn’t go anywhere in particular. The weather forecast was a bit uncertain, and there was a chance we might get rained out again. So I devised a route that went 40 miles through Los Angeles, but was never more than about a mile from the nearest Metro Rail station.

It’s good to have a way available to bail out if the weather goes bad.

It rained hard on Saturday night, and it was cold in the morning. The snow was down quite low on the mountains. I guess this scared a lot of people off. So it was just me and Silvio who were hard-core enough to go riding. We headed out, into downtown Los Angeles. I got a nice view of my nemesis: the U.S. Bank Tower. Then we headed out through West Adams and then up into Larchmont.

We stopped for a bagel at Noah’s in Larchmont before heading east into Silver Lake for the ride home. The route back went up Figueroa St, which basically parallels the Metro Gold Line. By this time, it was fairly clear, and we were pretty sure it wasn’t going to rain. But it was still cold.

All in all, it was a nice ride. The route wasn’t bad, so I’ll probably keep it for other times when there is a chance of rain.

41 miles.
cycling

2/15/2011

Here we go again…

Filed under: — stan @ 6:08 pm

Today was the first practice climb for the American Lung Association stair climb up the Aon tower in downtown Los Angeles. I did this race last year, and also the year before. The 2009 event was my first stair climbing race ever. So, like last year, I’m making a point to do the practice climbs. There’s nothing quite like the real thing.

Erik and I went downtown at lunchtime to do this. The practice climb is from the 4th floor to the 60th. This is just about 90% of the full climb. This was my first big stair climb since last December’s race at the Wilshire-Figueroa building. At that climb, I set my metronome at 80 and that pace worked well, so I used the same setting today.

It’s amazing how the memory of how much it hurts fades. But after climbing 25-30 floors, the memory came back. Yow. This is still the single most painful athletic thing I’ve ever done. By the halfway point, I was having trouble keeping up with the metronome. But my new method for doing the turns was working well. I managed to avoid a lot of wasted steps on the landings between flights. I’ve also taken to wearing my bike riding gloves and using the handrails more. And in the end, I made it to the top in 10:26, which is two seconds faster than my best practice run from last year. So I have hope of being able to improve on that in the next two months.

There is another practice climb next week on Thursday. Then the following weekend is the ALA stair climb in San Diego. That one’s short – only 31 stories. Lucinda and Kathleen are going to try it, so it should be a fun little outing. Then in March, I’ve got a trip to Las Vegas for the Stratosphere Tower climb. Then more practice before the Los Angeles event on April 30th. So it’s going to be a busy springtime of endless stair climbing.

As always, there’s a LOLcat for every occasion:

2/13/2011

Car culture

Filed under: — stan @ 9:19 pm

Southern California is widely regarded as the center of car culture in the U.S. And while it may seem a bit strange, that was our theme for today’s bike club ride. Normally, we regard cars as a nuisance at best, but today we were out to sightsee some car culture.

It all began with an article in the L.A. Times on Friday:

Molly and Stan Hyman are hitting the road and they’ve put their garage up for sale.

And by the way, their six-car garage comes with a house.

The Burbank couple are automobile enthusiasts and restorers who in 1995 custom-built their garage/house to give themselves room to rebuild and showcase vehicles.

So I just knew we had to go see this garage. The article also mentioned:

It’s in a residential section adjacent to Burbank’s Media District, close to Warner Bros. Studios. Cross noted it’s also near Bob’s Big Boy, where hot-rodders and car cruisers congregate weekly. Nearby are George Barris’ Kustom Industries, which builds movie cars and hot rods, and entertainer Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage.

So we had a tour. We’d been by the Barris showroom before, so I looked up the addresses for the Hymans’ house and also the Big Dog Garage, and we were off.

Along the way, we also saw a car-themed decoration on a dental office. That was kind of weird, but it fit the theme of the day.

Our snack stop was at Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake, right near Bob’s Big Boy and the Barris showroom. Jay Leno’s place was up next to the runway at Burbank Airport.

The ride turned out to be a bit longer than I’d thought, but it was a perfect day for riding, so it was all right.

55 miles.
cycling

2/8/2011

Urban hiking

Filed under: — stan @ 10:26 pm

A while back, Kathleen said she wanted to try doing one stair climb, just for the experience. To see what it’s like. That day is fast approaching, so we went hiking in Griffith Park tonight, since that’s at least good practice for that sort of thing.

Hiking at night, it’s hard to get good pictures. But I did find one really good spot to balance the camera to get a good steady shot with the city lights behind us. And it’s still remarkable that we can hike up mountains in the middle of the city.

2/6/2011

Cultural history

Filed under: — stan @ 10:34 pm

This past Thursday was the anniversary of The Day the Music Died. I’m not quite old enough to remember that, since I wasn’t born until later that year, but I remember people talking about it when I was young. It seemed to be something of a cultural touchstone for a generation. So when I found out that Ritchie Valens is buried in the cemetery behind the San Fernando Mission, I knew we had to take a ride up there.

It was a very nice day for riding. It got quite warm, and the only bad part was that the wind picked up when we got near San Fernando. We fought a headwind most of the last few miles to the cemetery. When we got there, we saw that someone had already put some fresh flowers there, probably on Thursday. It’s also interesting to see the things people leave behind. In this case, coins and guitar picks.

On the way back, the wind held steady, which was all right, since we were riding with it now. That lasted all the way to La Tuna Canyon. Then we got the joy of riding four miles uphill and into the wind. After we crested the hill, it was downhill into Montrose. Our snack stop was at Goldstein’s Bagels. Then we headed home. It was a very nice ride.

55 miles.
cycling

Macho Like Me

Filed under: — stan @ 8:29 pm

macho like me
This afternoon, Kathleen and I went over to West Hollywood to see Helie Lee’s solo show, “Macho LIke Me.” This is her story of frustration at how she was treated as a woman, and her decision to try living for six months as a man to see if it was better.

She started out the experiment with the idea that being a man had to be better, but she found that it came with a whole different set of limitations. And of course, there were a lot of funny stories along the way.

This was a tremendously entertaining show.

2/5/2011

Water tower

Filed under: — stan @ 10:27 pm

I had a couple of free hours today. It was a nice day. So I went riding.

I did my usual I-have-a-couple-of-free-hours route. Down to South Pasadena, up the hill to the water tower. Then back up to the Rose Bowl to noodle around a few times before going home. It was a perfect day for riding.

The only minor annoyance was on the way home, when I got a flat. This was the same tire that I had a flat on last week. I think that tire’s about had it.

It was a nice ride.

27 miles.
cycling

1/30/2011

Rained out again

Filed under: — stan @ 2:25 pm

Today’s ride was to be a visit to Michael Jackson’s house in Holmby Hills, with a ride up and over Mulholland and home via the Valley. But it didn’t quite work out that way.

We left Pasadena under overcast skies, but the forecast was for a chance of light rain later in the day. We rode down through Eagle Rock and across the river into Silver Lake. Then I got a flat.

After fixing the flat, we continued on. When we stopped for a photo-op with one of the big guitars on the Sunset Strip, we felt a few raindrops. We continued on, and it began to rain more. We stopped for a conference at the border of Beverly Hills. And then it started to rain in earnest. So we turned tail and rode back to Hollywood and Highland and the Metro Red Line subway station.

We rode the subway into downtown L.A. and then took the Gold Line train home to Pasadena. This marks the first time we’ve had to bail due to rain in the middle of a ride. But we were fortunate that this happened on a ride where we were close to a subway stop.

26 miles and some wet riding.
cycling

1/25/2011

Sort-of-famous

Filed under: — stan @ 9:12 am

Over the weekend, I was looking at one of my old tattoo convention photo albums, and I realized that I’d met Michelle “Bombshell” McGee some years ago at the Inkslinger’s Ball. I spoke with her briefly and took her picture. She was quite pleasant. No hint of the notoriety she’d have 10 years later.

1/23/2011

Big Things

Filed under: — stan @ 12:50 pm

Today’s bike club ride was the “Big Donut” route to La Puente to see the Donut Hole. This is a drive-through donut shop with a giant donut on each end of the building. It was a nice day, and we had a good group for the ride.

On the way down there, we passed a chicken restaurant and a man in a chicken suit getting ready for work. We also passed the headquarters of In-N-Out Burger, complete with In-N-Out University and the In-N-Out Company Store.

At the giant donut, we paused for a photo. Then we rode on, heading back north, with the snow on the San Gabriel mountains as a backdrop. Our snack stop was at Merengue in Monrovia. Then we headed home across Sierra Madre.

When we passed the Albertson’s, I veered off, because I saw the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Like the big donut, the Wienermobile is a prime example of marketing with things shaped like the product being sold. And so I had to stop and see it close-up.

44 miles and one Wienermobile.
cycling

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