Sunday, February 19, 2017

As the Sun Sets on Coates Cyclery

The value of a business far exceeds however much money it makes per annum, or however many people it employs, or whatever economic impact it may bring to the community. There are often intangible connections, unseen and immeasurable, things we call loyalty and friendship. Some of that you can see in the newspapers and social media outlets who have run stories about the closing for the past couple weeks. There is nothing like walking through the doors, though, to bring those connections to life. The past few weeks have kind of been like a farewell tour, the long goodbye of a band saying thanks to their fans, and the fans getting one last live performance. Though it is not quite time to lock the doors for good, Saturday's potluck was indication that the end time is closing in. 

A week ago I said how sad it was looking inside the old shop, once full of the goods and merchandise we would drool over, scheme of ways to save up enough money to purchase, but now a quickly emptying shell. For a couple hours, maybe three, all the gloom of closing was replaced. People came from all around to fill the space once again; some were there the entire time, others came and went as their evening plans allowed, food and drink were shared, talk exchanged, laughs and music flowed through the open doors. Almost as if in answer to that, Mother Nature showed up, creating an amazing sunset, drawing the curtain down on the evening, as well as an era.

well now, this was a twist. somewhere along the line the evening turned into a lingerie party

the lyrics "green eyed lady, lovely lady, strolling slowly toward the sun" came to mind...

but then it was funny face time; lovely ladies.

Larry tried to quickly exit stage left

some Irish sounding tunes when I arrived turned to steel drums and reggae later

a line up of usual suspects

classic tilted bottle

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fast Digs: Emile Ulbrecht and the Los Angeles to Santa Monica Bicycle Race of 1894

When I first wrote the Fast Digs post its focus was on the track, the velodrome, whether indoor or out, but since then I have continued to find all kind of references to road races, in the greater Los Angeles region, going back to the 1800s. As time goes on, I think you will notice something of a balance in the Fast Digs Updates between the disciplines of road and track and, since it is ostensibly about the places that racing has taken place, don't be surprised to see some cx and mtb in there eventually as well. For now, though, Emile Ulbrecht and a very early road race:

Emile Ulbrecht, wearing the kit of the Los Angeles Wheelmen, in 1893 (I believe that is a flag wrapped around his waist, rather than part of the LAW kit). The photo was contributed to the Calisphere by the Los Angeles Public Library, where it is located in the Herald Examiner Collection, box #1988

The story of the 1894 race between Los Angeles and Santa Monica was run in the Los Angeles Herald, volume 42, number 85, 5 July 1894:

The great 17 mile bicycle road race to Santa Monica yesterday gave Emile Ulbrecht a good opportunity to redeem himself since leaving Chicago [where, if you read other accounts, he was quite successful -ed.] He broke a record by winning first time, covering the course in 57 minutes and 1 second. This is Ulbrecht's most remarkable performance since coming to this city, luck having been against him in all previous events in which he was entered. First place was won by John Gardiner of Duarte. D. E. Whitman of University, who won second place, was disqualified, owing to his having given inaccurate history of his riding to the handicap committee before the race. His disqualification moves each of the riders up one number higher in the distribution of prizes.

A great crowd was present to see the start from Second and Hill streets At 8 o'clock the youths whose idea of fame is confined to such events were present in great numbers. They were busily engaged in betting with each other as to the merits and demerits of the various riders and prophesying who would win. By 8:30 the fairer sex was sprinkled throughout the crowd, which thronged Hill street all the way from Second to Third. By the time the first man left the tape over 2000 people were present.

Exactly 86 riders appeared for a start in the first event. There were big wheelmen, small wheelmen, fast and slow wheelmen - dressed in gay colors of such a flimsy character that it caused more than one not used to such events to intimate that some of the riders had on little more than a smile.

All the men - and boys - seemed to be in excellent condition. There had been some kick regarding the handicaps, but that is usual in bicycle racing. Everything progressed finely from the time the limit men started until Kitchen, McAleer, Jenkins and Castleman were sent away after them. There was a noticeable absence of the old-time wheelmen, the great majority of them being new riders. Fox, McCrea, Shoemaker, James Cowan and Maxson Smith, all of the Riverside team, were missing, and there was little to fear from the men from the orange center. Castleman and other lesser swifts endeavored to sustain the reputation of the yellow ribbon team who have made so many brilliant successes on the Los Angeles track.

There were riders from all over Southern California. Pasadena, Rivera, South Pasadena, Duarte, Santa Paula, South Riverside, Pomona, Ontario, Riverside, Redlands, Alhambra, University, and other places were represented, and every one of the riders showed up well.

It was exactly 8:48 o'clock when the limit men, with 12 minutes handicap, were shoved from the tape. It was 9 o'clock when the four scratch men started out to overtake 82 riders who had started before them. Some of the handicap men were two or three miles on their journey when the last riders started. The long procession of swiftly flying wheels made a pretty spectacle as they sped down Hill street to the city by the sea, 17 miles distant. So far as the eye could reach down the long, narrow street no great change was noticed in the position of the men after they left the starting point. After the two mile post was reached there came a scattering.

When the three minute men were shoved from the tape, the chain on F. W. Robbins' wheel snapped in twain. He got another wheel and tried it over again. This cycle he could not ride, so he got another. Just as he reached Fourth street the forks of the wheel gave way and he went to earth. He went back to the tape, secured another wheel, but when he reached Fourth street the second time a pedal broke. Disgusted with road racing in particular and bicycling in general, he quietly wended his way to a cool spot, where he sat thinking of the prize goat which he expected to win, but which went to another man. His friends who waited for him at the finish went away fumming, "She longed for the fellow that never came."

Robbins is considered Santa Paula's best rider, and his ill luck was bemoaned by all.

There were no serious accidents until Pico street was reached, when F. R. Martinez fell and it was thought his collar bone was fractured. The accident was caused by a rider falling in front of him.

From Pico street and Western avenue for three miles toward the sea there was a perfect line of swift pedaling cyclists. Now and then a rider would go down, covered with dust, only to arise, swear a little at fate, and endeavor to make up lost time.

From the slaughterhouse, eight miles out, the riders had to take the side ditch, the road being in a state of repair. There was little opportunity for the men to pass each other, and they took a slow pace. Two miles below the Palms the dust was so thick at times that the riders could not see the man on the wheel in front of them.

Fay Stephenson and John Edwards did some good riding. They paced each other alternately from start to finish. When the scratch men left the tape Kitchen took the lead. Jenkins next made the pace, followed by Mr. McAleer. They changed pace positions along the entire route, but Castleman did little or no pace making. He trailed the three other riders until Jenkins' tire was flattened for want of air. Fortunately he was near Billy Juenger who changed wheels with him. Kitchen and McAleer finally fell behind, and Castleman crossed the tape line at the finish just a short distance ahead of Jenkins. Kitchen then beat McAleer in.

The story continues with a list of finishing riders, their handicaps, and finish times. I am only going to list the four "time men" who, anyway, had the fastest times:
Emile Ulbrecht, 57:01, C. Washburn, 57:42, Ed. Williams, 58:03, Harry Bundy, 58:28. Finishing up the story is a list of the prizes - I am not going to list them all, it is an extensive list. Some of the prizes were pretty standard, things like bicycles, trophy cups, and gold medals, while others, especially when considered from today's perspective, sound quite unique - things like a Colt repeating rifle, a banquet lamp, a revolver, a banjo, a carving set, a meerschaum pipe, a pocket knife and, yes as Mr. F. W. Robbins was hoping to win, a goat. If you are interested in reading the entire list of placings and prizes, here is the link.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Cycling Claremont: Ye Olde Claremont Cyclery

I can't shake the feeling that I have seen this one before, somewhere, but am not sure where.

The Claremont Cyclery was located as 223 W. First Street, which seems to place it, approximately, at what is now a parking lot next to Jax Cyclery. This particular photo was taken in 1903 (photographer unknown) and shows the shop patriotically decorated for the visit of President Theodore Roosevelt. I don't know what Claremont's population was in 1903, but in 1930 it was only 2700. That a town of that size could boast a shop dedicated exclusively to the bicycle suggests that a vibrant cycling community has existed here for quite some time.

The image is another in the University of California's Calisphere system. The original, a 5 x 7 glass plate negative, is from the Boynton Collection of Early Claremont at the Honnold Library, Claremont Colleges. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The CHWP is Closed

So, yeah, in anticipation of the coming rainstorm the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park is closed beginning Friday 17 February, and will remain so until further notice from the city.

Armstrong and I

First though - "hey" back at you, Trish. No I didn't do the Crazy Legs Ride, but I did watch them go by, which really is not the next best thing. Maybe soon.

It has been pretty infrequent this year, but we - Armstrong and I - used to get together quite frequently during .winter evening rides. Nothing spectacular, just some loops close to home in the dark after work. With, what I heard on the radio this evening, called the biggest storm to hit southern California in years (pretty sure they said that about the storm that hit a couple weeks ago too) breathing down our necks, I figured I should get out while I could. As usual, I didn't want to dedicate the time required for the Crazy Legs ride, which is extremely lame I know, but anyway... Instead, I rode over to Armstrong's. Stopped at a corner, we were sharing a joke when I realized that no one would believe me if I didn't snap a shot as proof. So I did:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fast Digs Update: 1937 Los Angeles Six Day Practice

This group of racers are getting in some practice on an outdoor dirt track, somewhere in or near the City of Angels, in preparation for the 1937 Los Angeles Six Day Race, which was held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium. It is the first good photo, I have found, which shows what an outdoor cycling track of the time looked like. Some time ago, I posted up about a dirt track at Pomona College, which also had banked turns, and imagine it looked something like this.

The specific location of this particular oval racing track is not identified in the records. There are a couple thousand cycling-related photographic images in the University of California's Calishere system, this one having been contributed by the Charles E. Young Research Library, Special Collections, UCLA. I recently took a quick survey of some of those photos, and spotted a few that were especially relevant to Fast Digs and / or Claremont cycling and, over time, will share them here.

Citation: Title: Cyclists practice on a dirt track for a six-day bicycle race at Pan-Pacific Auditorium, Los Angeles, 1937
Collection: Los Angeles Daily News Negatives
Owning Institution: UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library
Source: Calisphere
Date of access: February 16 2017 03:42

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Gerben Karstens

With confidence.

You may not recognize Karstens from the front, since some of the best known photos of him were taken from behind as he stood his ground, in the road, with the peloton riding down upon him. A bit of a comedian, sure, but Karstens was also a formidable sprinter with six stages of the Tour de France, fourteen of the Vuelta a Espana, and one of the Giro d'Italia to his credit. He was also a member of the Gold Medal time trial team from the Netherlands at the 1964 Olympics, winner of Paris-Tours (1965), Dutch National Road Race Champion (1966), Grand Prix de Fourmies (1968), Six Days of London (1973), Tour du Haut Var (1974), Six Days of Rotterdam (1975), and some forty-five significant additional races between 1962 and 1978.


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