Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tracking the Wild Mountainbiker

If you needed to, if your well-being depended on it, could you identify your local trail rider by the tracks they leave? Would you be able to identify which are harmless, and which are unpredictable, or even outright dangerous, with the potential to turn on you at any moment? Or maybe this does not concern you, perhaps you simple enjoy the thrill of spotting the different breeds of mountainbikers who roam our local neighborhoods and nearby woods.


Now, and for the first time ever, Wronco, publishers of such well-known field guides as "Pellets of Discovery: What's In That Owl Pellet", "Chewing: What Gum is That?", and "Piles: Whose Poop Is That?", bring you "Tracking the Wild Mountainbiker", a simple visual guide allowing even the most novice mountainbiker-watcher to locate and identify species and subspecies based on the tracks they leave behind. Not only is this the only guide, it is the most up-to-date one as well; Wronco has worked closely and extensively with each and every maker of mountain bike tire to bring you the most complete guide for identifying marks. In this guide you will find detailed descriptions including tread patterns, overall dimensions based upon differing psi and different rider weight, as well as dimensions and shapes of individual knobs and the gaps between them. This book will help you determine when a track was left, whether there is potential to see the wild mountainbiker, or whether you are wasting your time with a lead that was deposited days in the past. Also included are pages of advice from noted experts in the field, who offer tips on reading tracks, where you can expect to see certain species, how to differentiate between subspecies and, perhaps most important of all, how to watch without spooking the local mountainbiker in your region.

Yes, coming soon, and just in time for that post-holiday rush of new riders, and novices on new bikes to trails and fire roads everywhere, this must-have guide will be available both online, and prodigiously stocked in the worst sellers' section of your nearby bookseller. Act soon, and you will receive the special supplement, "Skinny Too, A Field Guide to Cyclocrossers and Gravelers", two relatively new, though rapidly reproducing, discoveries on the evolutionary tree.

Included with each book is a handy chart and checklist allowing you to keep track of your sightings, where the mountainbiker was spotted, what time of day, whether they were in their natural habitat range, or somewhere in the urban jungle beyond. Each easy to use chart folds to pocket size for simple carryablitiy. All you need is a pencil or pen (not supplied) and a spirit of adventure. But wait, there's more. Each book also comes with a special code allowing you access to an international database, where the information you upload can be compiled and compared with the information uploaded from tens of others, allowing for scientific analysis of data into patterns of mountainbiker distribution, seasonal migration, and who knows what else.



Eva Goodmaker, "those of us who like to spend a few hours outside on a nice weekend day with hopes of spotting some of the rarest of mountainbikers have waited a long time for this book. Some people say what we do is a foolish waste of time. To them I say foo. Now we will have the tool allowing us to search through page after page for hours at a time until finally we can say, 'ha, that is it, the Rocket Ron. I finally have you."

Thomas Tumwedder, noted authority and tracker: "I predict this will become the most important research tool available to both amateur and professional mountainbiker watchers since the self-activating plaster mold. Now, even the most ignorant hobbiest will be able to tell a Schwalbe from a Maxxis from a Continental from a Panaracer from a WTB from a duck-footed platypus. It may very well negate my expertness in the field of mountainbiker watching." Duly quoted, we say!

*The publisher makes no guarantee that this guide will serve any useful purpose whatsoever, other than to provide them with a little more income, nor do they guarantee that the information contained within will become obsolete within a season or two of publication. We therefore recommend you purchase your copy at the most immediate time possible so that you can get the most use and enjoyment from it.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Trashed

yes, it sometimes turns my smile upside down too

Is it my imagination or have we finally give up on the San Gabriel River, allowing it to become the open sewer it was meant to be, the fate that most urban rivers seem to share. I know it was right after a rain, and that is always the worst time to view them, but I also know that is really no excuse. It just should not be that way. Any time of the year.

How many others who regularly ride along the SGRT have taken note of the gradual decline which, in my view, has become ever more precipitous lately? I am not just talking about the trash in the river bed either. The air reeks of foulness in places. Riding slows to one or two miles per hour at some of the under crossings - you know the ones where water collects, covering the path. Who knows what toxic bacterial brew populates those puddles, so you try not to create a wake, let alone a splash. Entire sections of fence have been cut out, the steel posts cut off at ground level, so that someone can make a few bucks at the materials recycler (is that industry regulated at all?) The homeless camps have expanded - there are more of them (or maybe they are simply more visible this time of year), and they are larger - clusters of tents and thrown-together hovels surrounded by great piles of meager, soggy belongings, some of them in the channel itself, a disaster in the making.

Something is not right, too many people just don't care, agencies lacking funds. Today's generation (and no, I am not placing the blame on their shoulders alone) does not have a Woodsy Owl to give a hoot, nor an American Indian of Italian descent to shed a tear over the waste and destruction he sees - stronger consciences than those possessed by too many people, to serve as reminders of what is right, and what is wrong. Those reminders, and others like this post, should not be necessary, yet the waste piles up.

The San Gabriel is as much a river of contrasts as you will ever see - from its wild upper reaches to the confined and regulated middle, relative wealth at either end and abject destitution at the center, detritus mixed with majesty. Unfortunately a scattering of gems does not make an Emerald Necklace. We have a long way to go.






our northern visitors, the Canadian Geese, seem to pick the least trash infected areas to take their annual rest

motionless and patient, an egret [?] waits

Baldy view

Baldy reflection

Friday, December 19, 2014

From the Library: Collecting and Restoring Antique Bicycles

Not that I ever envision a scenario in which one of the many hundreds of bicycles covered in this book would ever find its way to my work stand but...



This book was such a find that there was never the least bit of hesitation to purchase it. With chapters coving the Hobby Horse (1817-1821), the Boneshaker (1865-1871), the Ordinary (1871-1892), the High Wheel Safety (1876-1891), the Solid Tire Safety (1885-1894), the Pneumatic Tire Safety (1892-1900), and the Post 1900 Safeties, very few of us will ever own (let alone witness one being ridden), collect or restore one of these bicycles. So, while there may not be a more practical application, there is so much information enclosed within the front and back covers, to make this book an invaluable historical research tool. 

Nearly every page set includes a photograph, engraving, or sketch of the bicycles themselves, one of their many component parts, or accoutrements, such as olde time cycling clothes. As you might expect some of the illustrations depict two-wheelers that are truly weird by today's standards, yet with design elements that are clear precursors to many of today's standard features - suspension (the Columbia Spring Fork from 1889), the use of bamboo (1897), removable chain ring (Columbia 1895). And then there are others that make you wonder how their idea ever sold.

The book ends with an appendix - nearly fifty pages - listing 2100 American brands, the company that manufactured or distributed them, their location, and date of first notice, before 1918. Who knew there were so many dating to those earliest years? This book may have been geared toward the collector, but I see it as an invaluable resource for anyone interested in bicycle history and mechanics.

Adams, G. Donald   Collecting and Restoring Antique Bicycles   Orchard Park, NY: Pedaling History, the Burgwardt Bicycle Museum, 1996

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Alfons de Wolf

Over long hair. Hey, if you were of a certain age in the 1970s you probably had long hair. What are you going to do?


Like many riders whose career followed in the wake of a highly decorated countryman, Fons de Wolf was pegged to be a "next." In his case the next Eddy Merckx. That is one tough role to fill. After some forty years no one has yet managed it. His Belgian support base must have had high hopes following his win at the Espoirs Paris-Roubaix in 1978, the second year of his professional career. He followed that win with stage victories at the Vuelta a Espana and Tour de France, as well as wins in one-day races including the Giro di Lombardia, Trofeo Baracchi, Milan-San Remo, Omloop Het Volk, and Giro di Toscana.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Blues: A Place to Hang a Cap


Not sure how cost effective it would be to move this room-sized boulder to your house site in order to build around it, but if you are camping out in the desert that little wind and water-worn niche is just the right size for storing your Handlebar Mustache 'Belgian the f**k Up' cycling cap.

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, December 14, 2014

2014 Santa Cross

The 2014 Santa Cross nestled into a little bowl between hills at Pierce College in the west San Fernando Valley, although the trickiest parts of the course were up in those surrounding hills. The race marked the finale of the SoCal Cross Prestige Series for this year, so those Series Leader jerseys presented on the podium today were effectively Series Champion jerseys.

For some racers today, the Holiday's came early, though in no case were the gifts easily received, and in most cases involved a hotly contested duel before any unwrapping could take place. Indicative, was the Women's Elite race, where the top three on the day shadowed one another continually until the end of the race. For the first half, Summer Moak seemed to have the upper hand, leading each time she came past; Christina Probert however, was always right there marking her, with Christine Pai not far behind. The final time across the line saw Probert take the win, ahead of Pai and Moak. However, the win was not enough for Probert to overcome Moak in the final series standings:

1. Summer Moak (Felt / K-Edge)
2. Christina Probert-Turner (The TEAM / Turner Bikes)
3. Amanda Nauman (SDG - Bellweather - Krema)
4. Nicole Brandt (VC LaGrange / Michelob Ultra)
5. McKenzie Melcher (Jenson USA / The TEAM)

Hmmm, actually, now that I think about it, Christina is wearing the Leaders' Jersey, so how could she have lost it after winning the race? Something doesn't add up.

It became a habit, a bad, bad habit this year, for me to leave before the finish of the Elite Men's races and, unfortunately, it was a habit not to be broken on this day. Too bad, judging by the opening laps, the finish was shaping up to be the competitive race of the day. Though I missed it, the day's win went to Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific / Focus), ahead of Alfred Pacheco (Buena Park Bicycles), Rex Roberts (Velo Allegro), Spencer Rathkamp (H&S Bicycles), and Michael Barker (Team Velocity). The top three on the day also comprised the series top three (though in a slightly different order:

1. Alfredo Pacheco
2. Rex Roberts
3. Brent Prenzlow
4. John Behrens (Velo Hanger)
5. Brandon Gritters (Rock N' Road / Big Red Coaching)

Congratulations to the Series Champions, in all the categories, for results and final standings be sure to check the Prestige Series website, or Facebook page. Here is the link to the Flickr album, and a few teasers:
nice day for a race

one racer described the mud as like "peanut butter", sticky in one corner, slick in the next

Summer Moak leads Christina Probert and Christine Pai up the second of two 'out of the saddle hills'  in the Women's 'A' race

the lead five of the Men's 'A' race, with series leader, Alfredo Pacheco (Buena Park Bicycles) at point

like this group of riders, another year of SoCal Cross Prestige Series races heads into the sunset

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Music for a Saturday Morning


I rode along Powerline this morning, stopping briefly to watch the clouds as they sailed along the front of the mountains, giving way to that brilliant blue that only comes along in the wake of a rain. It was a quiet morning, the clouds were hasty in their departure but there was no sound of discord to mark their passing. I shared the little bit of trail with a couple runners, guessing they were from the group formerly known as the CCCP (Claremont Cross County People), one of those rare instances when I see anyone else along Powerline.


Further along the route I rode into the Village where a youth cello group played on one side of Yale, and a few moments later a choral group sang on the other. Still later riding some CX-style laps around the Pomona College Farm, Greek Theatre, and athletic fields, I heard yet more music. A hidden hollow in the middle of that expanse of woodland served as a impromptu sound studio for a small orchestral group, one of those unexpected and surprising moments that tend to occur when out on a bike. 




You don't often see green bikes, the color isn't used all that much really, but back in the Village for lunch, and before the family arrived my own green machine shared rack space with another. Just the two, just for a moment, on a musical morning.
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