Friday, October 31, 2014

Cycling Claremont: Have a Haunting Halloween

y día de los muertos.

If you are riding in, or through, the Claremont Village this weekend, check out the Day of the Dead window displays (if you can still find one, there is a map of all of them) - they range from simple paintings to full on haunted dioramas. Unfortunately the window of Jacqueline's Home Decor  was too clean, and the reflection too vivid, to be captured on the spur of a moment, but their spooky interior may be the best.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Captain Mellow Checks In: Publicly Private, or Privately Public, or… hmmm

I contacted the Captain recently about some little political dilemma that was keeping me up at night. Though we didn't make much headway with that discussion, he did bring up some curious incidents from his daily comings and goings.

The first incident, however, began with a simple debate about the meaning of privacy. It seems the Captain has become confused as of late over the definitions of public and private. Many people seem to be mixing the two these days, or getting the respective meanings of the words turned completely around. In particular he couldn't understand why people would store nude photos of themselves, on their phone-like things, their computer-type devices, and other what nots. He was especially surprised by the reactions of these very same people who proceeded to feign shock and outrage when said "nudies" made sudden coming out appearances across the interwebs. The Captain does not believe he is the least bit prudish, and pointed out that he rides around in public wearing nothing but a thin sheen of lycra most days of the week as evidence, but was quick to point out that unless someone is seeking attention, "nudies" are best kept privately out of sight.

From there we moved on to incident number one: It seems the Captain had to pick up his progeny from a night time event at the local school recently. This necessitated driving, something which (and I did not know this) the Captain does from time to time. As he turned onto a long straight-away of a street, another driver came rushing up behind him and proceeded to drive on the Captain's bumper for the length of the street (about a mile). For clarification, the Captain noted that this is a collector street, lined with houses on both sides, on which the speed limit is twenty-five miles per hour. Just as the Captain was about to reach the end of this street where he would turn to reach his destination, the driver of the following car abruptly turned into a driveway and gave a nasty honk of the horn. As much as he hated to admit it, this perturbed the Captain to no end, and so he stopped and slammed the transmission into reverse.

When he yelled out the window what the problem was, the Captain was berated for driving on that particular street rather than going out of the way to take a parallel major street, which would have added extra distance and time to his journey. The Captain was understandably taken aback, as this was a street that he frequently rides on, and was unaware that, at least in the eyes of this one local resident, had at some point in time become a private thoroughfare upon which no one else was welcome. Initially the Captain believed that this person was angry about being forced to drive the speed limit, but after some back and forth yelling and accusations he realized that this person was just as perturbed by his mere use of the street. The old "this is my street, MY STREET, I tells ya." Quite typical, actually, people feeling more entitled to a public space they have come to view as their own.

The Captain, who has always been too Mellow to have ever been a member of a debate team, and therefore lacks the training to come up with quick retorts, failed to recognize the hypocrisy of it all until later. Yes, the local resident, who lived at the very end of the street, drove the entire length of it rather than taking some other nearby, though still out of the way, major street just as the Captain did. No different. Clearly this person believed that they had more right to the public street, simply because their private front door opened onto it.

Anywho, the back and fourth degenerated into mostly incomprehensible yells and invectives, until the Captain decided enough was enough, that the debate was going now where, and anyway he had people waiting for him.

It was about this point in the conversation that I informed the Captain that the incident and reaction was especially un-mellow-like. He shrugged his shoulders, and offered no defense.

From there we moved on to the second incident. While admitting that the first was an anomaly, the second he believes is more general and insidious - the use of public roadways as private racecourses with no concern for the well-being of any other users. The Captain was out for a ride one day on a street with a slight downslope. He was feeling good and let the wheels freely spin, picking up speed incrementally with each rotation. As he approached an intersection where he was going to make a right turn at speed (the light being green), he positioned himself to take full use of a right turn only lane. A hundred feet from the turn an SUV came around and in front of him. The Captain (by now, formerly known as Mellow) gave the driver 'the glare' for making him slow down before the turn, and was about to mutter some invectives under his breath when a second car gunned its little engine, passing both the Captain and the SUV, which was by then a mere ten feet from the turn, and slammed into the same turn cutting across the line of the SUV and missing its front bumper by inches. The momentum carried the car across three lanes of roadway; how the driver avoided running up onto the grassy median, and in fact across it into oncoming traffic, let alone flipping all together, the Captain does not know. 

Though the Captain could only see the back of the SUV in front of him, he easily imagined a multitude of incredulous countenances, wide eyes, gaping mouths, perhaps even some racing hearts belonging to those within view of the foolishness. He muttered "geez, what an idiot" at the same time ten others nearby did, and shook his head from side to side in disbelief. Clearly some people don't realize that the street is a public space, and that certain norms, rules and personal behaviors are required to limit chaotic use. What is it that makes some people ignore those at the risk of, not only their own well being, but of others around them as well?

Before I knew it an hour had passed and it was time to say adios. It was past time to get on with some kind of ride of discovery of my own, for I had new thoughts to ponder, observations to make, and theories to explore.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Midweek C&V: Lotus Super Pro Aero

This Lotus dates to the same time as the SR Bicycle that was equipped with Shimano 600 AX components of which I posted at the old blog. The frame is formed with Tange CroMo tubes and have that distinct airfoil shape. As you will note, the tubes were joined with filet brazing. The Super Pro Aero model was the peak of the Lotus line and would have come equipped with Shimano's top offering - the Dura Ace AX groupset. As their top offering, this Lotus would have come complete with tubular rims, thus the clincher rims on the bike shown here, are clear replacements. The sparkle gold paint was the only color offered at first, but in 1983 Lotus offered the bike in Raspberry Pink as well. If you are interested in what the complete build would have been, check this link at; there is more information, plus and handy chart of the components.

I intended to have this post done a couple months ago. In a way, though, the delay worked out even better as I can now use it as a segue - I saw this one at the Bicycle Aficionado Bike Swap in August; there will be two more swaps this year, the next on November 16th ... like it on Facebook to keep up on any relevant news.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Blues: More, More Gios

Gios Gress via Interbike

Blue: A color, a mood or emotion, a genre of music. Tune in each Monday for another installment of the Blues, with a cycling twist.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

2014 SpookyCross: Ghoulishly Challenging

scared the bejesus out of me, but the racers seemed unconcerned

The annual Spookycross race has, over the years, become the most popular CX race in Southern California. Maybe it has always been that way. The theme, the ever-popular costumed race, the twilight and night-time events, combine to give it an extra dose of festivity. Add to that this year was a course that I had never been to - a hillside above Irvine Lake. The hillside included some plateau areas for those familiarly torturous turns. The run-up was there, the barriers also, and sand. A lot of sand. Seas of sand. And pea gravel - which is almost as bad as sand. Tight turns quickly became chewed up and had riders sliding out each lap. A long (well long in cyclocross terms) and slow climb, was naturally paired with an equally long, and fast descent. Spooks and apparitions materialized out of the dark, floated close to the passing riders. The setting sun case ever lengthening shadows across skulls and gravestones. Children waved flags and cheered on their mothers, fathers, and hoped that they would finish before the night, the creeping darkness closed in.

mind the gap

men's 'C' racers snake their way downhill



Amanda Nauman races along the top of the course

a spook drifting across her path, Nauman races to another victory on the bell lap

the guys from Fullerton Bikes certainly like to hop the barriers

a Spy rider drifts along the edge of this sea of sand


If you have tuned in here for this Spookycross post, you have probably looked at race posts here before. You may have noticed that I favor photos with deep shadowing. I like the contrast between light and dark, the drama, and the mood that contrast evokes. As you can guess, Spookycross bridging the hours between afternoon and night, presents an especially good opportunity to capture moments with that effect. If you jump to the Flickr album of 151 select photos from this years race, you will notice plenty of photos similar to that of the fourth photo above - the Tru Cycling racer eyeing his way through a turn. I know the deep shadows are not to everyone's taste; if you like your photos all lit-up there are plenty of those around, and I am sure you know were to find them. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Speedplay or Mutant Turtles?

When this photo / blog post first popped up on the reading list, my immediate thought in that initial flash of time and image, had absolutely nothing to do with Speedplay pedals or even cycling. Instead it was, oh Donatello, the purple-wearing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Full photo at Ventouza Cycling Club.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dead Calm Headwind

It is a rare day indeed when I make it out to the San Gabriel River Trail and discover a reflection of earth and sky due to the placid flow of water. But this is the view I was greeted with this morning. I could probably look back through the blog to uncover when the river last had water in its channel, but I won't. I will simply revel in the fact that at this moment it does yet again.

- < > -

It was right about mile fourteen that I started to feel the, seemingly, non-existent headwind. A couple miles earlier, a change in direction had brought that old nemesis and I face to face. Why must it always challenge me in this way? Tri-Tom flew by me in his best tuck, heading the opposite direction; Tri-Tom moving that quickly must mean he has a nice tailwind and, I thought terrific, the battle commences. My speed slowed considerably - two, three miles per hour - though the effort I was putting into moving forward had increased. I didn't really want to at this point, but I shifted into an easier gear and rose up onto the pedals to reclaim some momentum. It worked for a bit, but only that much and certainly no more. Solo riding - all work, all the time. Anyway, a couple miles of that and I began the inevitable side to side look at the trees and shrubs. Nothing. No movement at all. With evidence like that the air should have been dead calm. It was a rookie mistake, and one I fall for every time - using the trees to discern the strength of the wind. Deceptive SOBs and their dirty tricks.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Upcoming: Breaking Away in SLO

photo from the SLO IFF website

If you happen to be up in the San Luis Obispo area, or find yourself up there this weekend, first of all consider yourself lucky, because that is not a bad place to wake up in the morning and find yourself. Second, consider checking out Saturday's feature of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival - yes, it is Breaking Away. 2014 marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the films' release (1979) and in celebration the showing will be marked with a special guest appearance by Dennis Christopher.

It may be too late to see the first film in this particular 'coming of age' themed series (the Goonies is almost as good as Breaking Away), but the third film of the trio will show in November - the silent film Daddy Long Legs featuring live accompaniment by Maria Newman and the Malibu Silent Film Orchestra. 

Some good stuff taking place not too far away. Thanks Wendy, for the heads up on this one.
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