Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Thursday Night Ride: This Spot Will Do

What was I going to do? Biologists tell us that bees are under pressure all around the world. I don't know what convinced the little bugger that my handlebars, and that spot on them in particular, would serve as a good landing platform. I let it take a moment of rest; why not? After all the Thursday night ride was at its first regroup, and there was no rush. It had been a long day - for me, nine hours at the computer, the whole time looking forward to this ride. The bee had probably been even more busy, flowers are in bloom all over the place after all. The overcast sky made the hour seem later than it was, and the wind. The wind was blowing making it oh so difficult to get back to the warmth of the hive. There was some need to get moving before darkness fell completely but, can you realize how difficult it is to make any headway with those little transparent wings?

The bunch was stopped for just a few minutes, just long enough for everyone off the back to regroup. I let the bee sit there for that brief period of time; maybe that was all it needed to get back home. When it came time to kick off with the group, a little puff of breath encouraged the little crooner in velvet jacket to hurry on its way. We both had some hurrying to do, it was something we had in common. The reasons may have been different - necessity for the bee, desire for myself - but the action was the same. The little rise up to Gladstone was next, and always prompts someone to attack. A slower mile and a half through old town San Dimas, but then the speedway of Covina Avenue and Badillo Street. Yes, we both had some hurrying in our immediate futures.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bonelli Spring: Cistus, Eschscholzia, and Pepsis, Oh My

Everything that could possibly bloom right now is in full-flower, or leafing out bare branches. Rock Rose, Elderberry, California Poppy, Mustard, California Black Walnut. Tarantula Hawks are on the hunt, poking into holes in the ground in search of prey. Downey feathers of young birds of prey can be spied with an eagle eye. Grass is narrowing the, normally wide, fire roads into single and double tracks. Waist-high mustard covers certain hillsides. It is a beautiful Spring at Bonelli, but as you know they don't last long; before much time has passed the heat will clamp down, drying everything out, returning the palette to Summer browns.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hakkalugi Rebuild I: Headset and Fork

Here you see the first two components to be added to the Ibis. From an earlier post, you already know I was unable to keep the original fork; I think the Surly substitution will fill in well. The new fork was been topped off with an orange Chris King headset giving you all the indication you need as to the new color scheme - think Irish tricolor - green, white, orange. I can't regret the black too much, it exists in the decal already and sets the other colors off. If you are going to build up a frame from scratch, have a vision and stick to it. If you have any advice on orange components (or have any lying around) send them my way.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Blues: Connecting Dots...

That is the new connector from the southbound 605 to the eastbound 10, as seen from the San Gabriel River Trail several weeks ago. Looking at it as I rode along at an easy pace, started me thinking about expense. How much do you think that bridge cost? When you consider everything from the engineering, to the labor, and the materials it would not surprise me if this one bridge cost more than the entire thirty-seven miles of the SGRT which, after all, is mostly a three inch thick layer of asphalt laid atop the levee. Is it worth the expense? If cars, as we know them today, are nearing the end of their reign, when do we begin to view constructs like this as wasteful and unnecessary, and begin to invest in what comes next?

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, April 13, 2014

2014 LA-Roubaix with Jon Riddle, LACBC and Crew

 Paris-Roubaix may have its cobbles, but LA-Roubaix has its beat up, potholed, unevenly patched, washed out, and just plain deteriorated roads. I have never ridden the cobbles of the Arenberg, so all my experience of them is hearsay. Comparing sand-filled depressions to muddy verges, the sharp edges of potholes and crumbling tarmac to the sharp edges of cobble pavers, might be like apples to oranges, but I imagined (and felt) more similarity than difference today.

this, like most such rides, began with a gathering - this one outside Trails Cafe at Fern Dell

taking a turn onto the closed Mt. Hollywood Drive

Once again Jon Riddle, author of Where to Bike LA, led this months LACBC ride which traversed hill and dale and city street. It was a twisting, turning route very similar to the annual Feel My Legs, I'm A Racer, many of the same areas of the city, but without the extreme challenge. (By the way, word from the organizer of that ride is, it will be held during the summer this year; watch for the announcement.) It took in Los Angeles's two largest parks - Griffith and Elysian - as well as the congested neighborhoods of Echo Park, Silverlake, and Chinatown. There were familiar sights, such as the Observatory, the Cornfields, the Olympic bench, various views, but there were also many new ones such as Angels Point, the Shakespeare Bridge, Fern Dell, the gold-suited Elvis riding by in the other direction along the shore of Echo Park Lake, the Haunted Picnic Table, and various views. Alright, we didn't quite get to the Haunted Picnic Table, but it was just around a bend we didn't take on Mt. Hollywood Drive.

Many of the people who came out today were veterans of Jon's monthly rides - I suspect that, like me, they appreciate the opportunity to explore areas of the metro area they would not otherwise get to experience. It is a big ol' city and these rides are one of the best ways to discover its hidden treasures. 

Considering the condition of some of the back roads we followed, I was pleasantly surprised that we, as a group, experienced not a single flat. After traversing some of the worst of Griffith and Elysian Parks, we were riding along the gravel maintenance road at LASHP when I suddenly realized I was pressing my luck, and hopped up onto the much smoother decomposed granite path. No harm done. Although, since many of the worst roads descended from summits, a lot of bikes are going to need new brake pads - not many were willing to run those curves at speed.

Watch the LACBC website for next month's ride. I am going to jump the gun a bit and announce that ride is scheduled to tackle GMR and GRR, and will be co-hosted by the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition.
Vista del Valle Drive - this centerline, like the pavement upon which it was painted, has not been maintained in decades, nor open to motor vehicles

one of many viewpoints of Los Angeles during today's ride

back into the city

was actually taking a photo of the old brick building, but Frieda got in the way

regroup in Elysian Park with Dodger Stadium in the background

concrete and open hills - the city, Los Angeles River, and Elysian Park

one of my new favorite view points of downtown

conference at the Cornfields, aka Los Angeles State Historic Park, closed as of today to begin construction of its new landscape design

riding by the lake at Echo Park

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Thursday Night Ride: Lies, All Lies

I'm not sure what to call this ride any more - in my local ride list I call it Erik's Night Ride, but I have also heard/seen it referred to as the Claremont Night Ride, the Psycho-lists Night Ride and the most recent moniker, courtesy of Jason, the Crazy Legs Ride. Take your pick, they all refer to the same thing.

a "rider high" view

Since the time change a month ago, the ride has branched into two groups - one a little bit slower and more relaxed, the other a little bit faster. The social group pulling out at 6:30, the harried group leaving fifteen minutes later on their slightly longer, one-less-regroup route. I guess it kind of depends on how many people show since last nights group of sixteen formed up into a single unit. Fair enough, that is a good size for a group. The question was, would it be the relaxed group, or the fast group? If it was the relaxed group then the projected average speed of fourteen to sixteen mph, was an outright fib. The twenty mph fell right on the median for the faster group.

With a good night's sleep between me and the reality, I can say with confidence, that I had a great time. It has been at least two to three months since last I did this one, and in that time, it seems the ride had added some new adherents. Or maybe, since I am such an infrequent participant, it is myself who is perceived as a new adherent. Whatever, there is no discrimination here. 

With the little battle between Richard and the latest phenom in the SoCal women's peloton, Riley, there was guaranteed to be some speed work. Throwing in everyone else who wanted in on that action, and you have the makings of a pretty quick night. Honestly, I didn't have to do a darned thing, just sit in and go along for the ride. To get something out of it, though, they did grant me leave to lead up Mountain near the end of the ride. If you want to control the tempo, just sit at the front and don't let anyone move around you. My guess is, we were supposed to ride at a more relaxed pace there, and my 90% max, was 50% for everyone else. Damn, my self-perception just took another hit with that realization. Oh well.

I always end this ride saying that I am going to make it a weekly habit. No different this time. I shall return. Hopefully next week.

my lead out train got a little bit ragged at this point

Upcoming: L.A.-Roubaix

Was a time I loved riding the hills in and around Griffith Park. Living in Burbank, they were especially convenient. I could ride there in five minutes for a fast circuit of hill climbs and fast descents, and still be home well before the sun set. Perhaps just as good, many of the roads in the park were, and still are, closed to motor vehicles - it was freedom, man. 

Anyway, if you can break away from watching Paris-Roubaix on the computer Sunday morning (13 April) Jon Riddle, co-author of Where To Bike LA, is hosting another of his monthly rides, this one in and around those very same hills I used to frequent. The hillsides should be decked out in their Spring finest, and the temps are looking like they will be perfect. I'm expecting another good day in the saddle. Check out all the relevant information by clicking here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bud's Ride: Hello! Horray!

if you squint really hard, you may just be able to make out the peloton in the far distance

The Bud's Ride leaves Claremont at about 5:20 Wednesday evenings. I head out the office back door at 5:30 sharp. Clearly there is a bit of a disconnect there. For a month now I have left by the back door with the full intent of rushing over to Bonelli Park for the lap portion of the ride but, until this night, have always decided it a lost cause.

Hello! Horray! Let the show begin
I've been ready.
Hello! Horray! Let the lights grow dim,
I've been ready.

For good or bad I have been ready for this thing, the weekly pounding. I figure I can get home, quickly kit up, take a running start out the door, furiously pedal along Bonita, and get there before it all wraps up for the night. I should be ready, as ready as possible, after the six mile warm up.

Ready as this audience that's coming here to dream.
Loving every second, every moment, every scream,
I've been waiting so long to sing my song
And I've been waiting so long for this thing to come.
Yeah - I've been thing so long I was the only one.

The best scenario: I could get to the finish straight along Puddingstone, as the bunch comes flying along, wind at their backs, with a lap still to go. They will be a tiny bit worn, and I will be relatively fresh. When tonight I turned onto P'stone and saw riders lounging on the grassy median, I was a little worried that maybe I had misjudged the time, and missed the finale.

Roll out! Roll out with your American dream and it's recruits,
I've been ready.
Roll out! Roll out with your circus freaks and hula hoops,
I've been ready.

Ready for this audience that's coming here to dream.
Loving every second, every moment, every scream,
I've been waiting so long to sing my song
And I've been waiting so long for this thing to come.
Yeah - I've been thinking so long I was the only one.

I sedately rolled westward, a scattering of riders would roll past in the other direction. As I neared the airfield control tower the bunch, such as it was tonight, hove into view. A median stood between me and a change in direction. Could I make it to the left turn lane before the group got there, make my turn, prepare for warp speed? Heck no! The bunch flashed past, before I could shoot through a gap to the back markers, and accelerate. By then the bunch was pulling away by the second and there was no chance of catching up. Alice Cooper's Hello Horray played on in my head as I watched them disappear into the distance.

I can stand here strong and thin.
I can laugh when this thing begins.
God, I feel so strong.
I feel so strong.
I'm so strong.
So strong.
God, I feel so strong,
 I am so strong.

Two minutes more, that is all I need. Next week, I don't say hello to the wife, nor the son. Not even the dog. That should give me the time I need to make that u-turn before the peloton arrives.
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