Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This Bud's For You, 16 July: What Happened?

When Curly Howard would unknowingly swing a plank around and flatten Moe, or send a sledge hammer flying through the air only to come down and knock himself out, you came to expect him to say something like - "what happened?" On an evening that saw the best sprint of the year played out along Puddingstone Drive, in front of a, small but select, group of spectators i failed miserably to get a single shot. What happened? 


When i turned on the camera there was a dread message - in bold white lettering on a foreboding black background - "card write protected." How the heck did that happen? Better yet, can i un-write protect the card, and if so, how? I quickly fumbled through the settings menu until finding the one that says "write protect". Clicking that tells me that indeed the card is "write protected". But then i already knew that. I toggle back and forth, but that just sends me up or down the menu. Damn it, here comes the bunch. I turn it on and off, since it seems to work on the computer. Nothing, but i try it again anyway. Maybe it only works the second time around.

They are really winding it up now, and it looks like everyone is in on the sprint tonight. Three in particular though have a clear advantage and are duking it out in the last hundred meters and all the way to the line. Finally, coming from behind, it is the rider from Stage 2 Cyclery taking the win. No documentation of the win, but the week's Bud's crown is for you Stage 2 Cyclery racer.

Back to the card. No, wait, never mind. A card problem, not a camera problem. I just now noticed the little toggle switch on the side of it. Odd how i never took notice of that before. I mean i was not completely oblivious, the cut out in which the switch is recessed has always been obvious, i just never considered for a moment what it was there for. Doh! 

Now that everything is back in order, replay tonight, anyone?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Know Your Face


It is only mid-July, six-thirty in the evening and the shadows are already long. Now that i think about it, the shadows always seem to be long up here at Coyote Howl Point. The horizon is elevated thanks to the surrounding hills, and so the sun sets earlier than it does down in the flat city. Funny thing is, while the horizon line may be higher, that does not affect the suns position in the sky. So why do the shadows seem longer?

Anyway, now that the CHWP Loop has made its way back into my repertoire of weekly rides (Tuesdays, just in case you want to avoid the place) i have begun to rediscover some familiarity up there in the canyons and on the hillsides. Some of these are physical to the landscape  - the same rutted sections, loose patches, hop rocks. Others have more to do with me - the steeper pitches where i want to push more, for instance, are the same ones they were four and more years ago; i take this as a good sign - at least my fitness has not declined during the intervening years.

The other evening (three weeks ago, to be exact) i was nearing the high point, just before the run down Cobal Canyon begins, when i spotted another rider up ahead. At first i redoubled my efforts to catch him, but as i closed in i began to rethink that strategy. We were too close to summiting for me to be able to open a gap. "That'd be embarrassing if i go around him at the top only to be re-passed on the descent," i thought. Clearly there is an under-abundance of confidence in my ability to descend that needs to be resolved. So instead, i began to soft pedal, trying to hang back. It was the old wait and see strategy - wait and see if he could descend better than he could climb than i could. I might have succeeded too, had it not been for the helmet strapped to his handlebar stem. Stopping at the top to put it on, left me with no choice but to pass him up. It was at that exact moment that i glanced over and realized it was Steven F.; who else would be riding a vintage old school steel, no suspension, Fat Chance up there anyway?

Each Tuesday evening dredges forth another familiar path from the shoals of memory - where to take the inside line, where to shift outside, where i am comfortable letting the bike run at speed, where i am wary and hold it back. In the Lord of the Rings there is a line spoken by King Theoden upon waking from a trance he has been ensnared by - "I know your face" he says. My prolonged absence from the Wilderness Park has me thinking the same, reawakened by old memories - I know your face, these curves, edges, the hollows, changes in texture. They are all there, as they ever were.

The question you are wondering is, did Steven pass me up? Oh yes. Within a couple turns of the top. [Sigh].

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Blues: Up A Dry River

Up a dry river and a long way from the coast. 

A few weeks ago, maybe more, i spotted this dolphin or porpoise landlocked up the San Gabriel River Trail (SGRT). The channel was still showing some seasonal green, but a bit of a heat wave was turning the grass and much of the shrubbery a summer brown, with a dust-filled sky to match. Under those conditions that blue dolphin really stuck out - for multiple reasons.


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, July 20, 2014

Velo course: The Santa Barbara Coast

I have enthused about the Santa Barbara area enough times over the years, for you to figure out it is one of my favorite places to ride. It is only natural then, that at least one route up there should make its way into the Velo course. The word 'coast' in the title of this one is key; while there is a hillier, roughly parallel route along the foothills, this one is all about the coast and the views out across the Pacific. That does not mean that those blue waters are always in view, the route does wind inland at times. But make no mistake, it always comes back to the water's edge, and its border of white sand or sheer cliff face.


Start this ride at the Jr. High School in Carpinteria at the corner of Carpinteria and Palm Avenues. The parking lot is on Palm, where the tennis and basketball courts are located, as well as the swimming pool. There are plenty of spots whenever school is not in session. Incidentally, if you continue down Palm you will come to the State Beach and campground. You might want to end the ride there, but to start head back to Carpinteria Ave and turn left (not an easy thing to do during the summer). Follow this street through the town center. At Santa Ynez Avenue turn right and cross over the freeway, then turn left at the first intersection, Via Real. You will take Via Real out of Carp and into the next town along the coast, Summerland. Along the way you will pass numerous wholesale growers (nurseries), as well as the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club. Founded in 1911, the Club is the third oldest polo facility in the United States. I have never been to a match there, but assuming they would let cycling riffraff in, i think it would be pretty interesting to watch a tourney.

Past the Polo Club you jog through a small residential area and begin to climb a low hill. As you do so, wonder at how much the large estate along the right of the road must be worth and at how many lifetimes you would need to live to accumulate that much wealth. When you crest the hill a nice view of the ocean will open up. Remember this point for the return trip, as you will make a turn here. A quick run down hill will take you into Summerland, long known for its antique shops and Big Yellow House. Somewhere along that downhill run, and for what ever reason, the street name changes from Via Real to Lillie Avenue and then, in the town center area, changes again to Ortega Hill Avenue. It used to be that Ortega Hill was the only obstacle along this route, and that is not saying much since it is not a particularly long, or steep, hill. Now a-days we don't even have to tackle Ortega; at the base of the hill look to the left just past the freeway entrance for the separated bike path which follows the route of speeding (or slowly moving, depending upon the time of day) traffic around the hill, rather than over it.

Once around Ortega Hill you will find yourself in the monied enclave of Montecito and on Jameson Lane. Follow Jameson alongside the freeway all the way to the edge of Montecito's commercial core at Olive Mill Road. Turn left there and take this road down to the beach at the Four Seasons Biltmore; the road will bend to the right and become Channel Drive between the beach wall and the hotel. You may be tempted to stop for a while here for a look around; there is still a ways to go, so it might be better to do so on the way back. 

As you leave the hotel and head up the next small rise watch for the beginning of the cliff -top bike path and merge on to it. This may very well be the most beautiful quarter mile of bike path in Southern California - flowers are always in bloom and, as long as the sky is clear, the Pacific is always sparkling. In too short a distance, the Channel Drive Bikepath will bend to the right and become a full street again. The big open space on your left is the Santa Barbara Cemetery. Channel Drive comes out at Cabrillo Boulevard, the main waterfront drag through Santa Barbara. At the intersection you have a choice - you can turn left and take to the street (my preferred route), or you can cross and enter another off-street, but parallel bike path, with its view of the lagoon and Andree Clark Bird Refuge.

Either way you choose I would next suggest making a left into the beach-side parking lot at the East Beach Bath House. There is a cafe there with outside seating, and often a beach volleyball tournament taking place. Warily make your way through the parking lot on the far side of the bathhouse and once again enter the bike (multi-use) path along the ocean front. If you are doing this ride on a Sunday, the linear park along here hosts an arts and crafts show every weekend and on holidays. Check it out, it is a major event and there is always something of interest. You can also expect to see jugglers, tight rope walkers, hear drumming circles, solo guitarists, and others in this park. At Stearn's Wharf leave the bike path and turn onto State Street. State is Santa Barbara's main commercial drag and well worth a little exploring time, if you have never been. As you cross under the 101 freeway the street will narrow to a single lane and bike path in each direction, mobs of pedestrians line the sidewalk. Riders not used to being in close proximity to motor vehicles might be apprehensive, but honestly, cars move so slowly through here and bikes are so prevalent, that there is actually very little to worry about.

You can make a left off of State at any time (be wary of the no left turn signs if you do) but i would suggest going up the street to Micheltorena Street where there is a left turn lane. Follow Micheltorena up and over the 101 freeway before making a right onto San Andres Street. At Mission Street make another right, and then an immediate left onto Modoc Road. You will follow Modoc for a handful of miles. About a half mile past the Las Palmas overhead look for the Obern Trail starting on the left; it is rather nondescript, though there is a sign (which may say Coast Route at this point, rather than Obern Trail), and a striped crosswalk. From this point the route switches between bike path and residential street, so you will need to watch for signs.

The first change up will be at Nogal Drive - you will want to cross and merge onto Nueces Drive. This first section of Nueces will end shortly for autos but you can ride across the little wooden bridge and continue on a second section of Nueces. When you come to a T-intersection at Arroyo Road, make a left. At the end of this street is another small bridge, cross and continue on the bike path alongside More Mesa Drive. From this point you are on separated bike path all the way up to Goleta Beach and UCSB. The route weaves between residential, agricultural, and wooded open space along the course of Goleta Slough. Local racers often take an easy spin along this section of the route, my last time up there for instance, it was former National Elite Road Race Champion, Chris Walker who passed by in the opposite direction. Be wary at the two intersections you come to - one is controlled and offers little problem, the other is not and autos fly past without stopping or slowing. Anyway, you eventually reach a point where the wooded landscape along the slough comes to an abrupt end. It is right were the slough opens up and widens out, and you get an unobstructed view to the campus in the distance. The bike path momentarily ends at Goleta Beach where the access road enters the park. Turn left there and then at the stop sign notice the path almost doubling back on the right - follow it up to the campus. Explore the myriad of pathways up there, check out all the new construction, take in the lagoon overlooks, slurp up a Jamba Juice or get a bite to eat at the UCen (opposite Storke Tower and Plaza), and then return, essentially the way you came.

But wait, i mentioned you should remember a point atop a small hill between Carpinteria and Summerland. When you get back there, Padaro Lane, go right across the freeway. This is a nice, mostly peaceful road, in contrast to Via Real on the other side of the freeway, where the speed limit varies between forty and fifty miles per hour. Instead, the ocean side of the freeway has a speed limit of twenty-five miles per hour. It is true, money will not buy you happiness, but apparently it will keep the speed limit on your street down. When you get back to Carpinteria there are plenty of places to eat, drink and refresh. For burgers might i suggest the Spot, down at the bottom of Linden near the beach, or for Mexican try Cabo's on Carpinteria Ave, just east of Linden. Other good places have come and gone, but those two have been there for a good long time. Still have some time to burn, check out Carpinteria State Beach, the worlds safest.

Direct mileage for this Velo course route is going to be just under fifty miles, but depending on how much extra exploring you do, it would be very easy to end up with more. Likewise you can expect that whatever time you normally give to a fifty mile ride will likely extend to twice that after all the stops and sightseeing you will do along the way.

the hill at Padaro Lane, SB coast in the distance

the most beautiful stretch of bike path in SoCal, Montecito

the lagoon at UCSB

Storke Tower

major construction at the Davidson Library - i seem to recall spending a few hours in there

the lagoon and a marine sciences facility

beach access at UCSB

Obern Trail and equestrian center

East Beach view - boats and Santa Cruz Island

East Beach view - bikini and Santa Cruz Island

East Beach view

Friday, July 18, 2014

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Charly Mottet

Sometimes i wonder if, in the future, we will be able to find photos like this of the current crop of riders, or will they all be from the generation of Mottet and earlier?


Thursday, July 17, 2014

From the Library: Pro Cycling on $10 A Day


This is a story filled with cheap food and even more cheap motel rooms, of contract negotiations, of feeling good (relatively speaking) about a $15,000 per year salary, and this from someone with one of the most recognizable names in the current roster of American cycling who, even in my heyday, would have dropped me in the first mile, no better make that five miles (i can't believe i would have ever been that bad) of a training ride. It makes you wonder what less well known pros have to put up with.

Gone are the days when we would have to wait until a person would reach their death bed before publishing an autobiographical accounting of themselves, or at least until they had reached retirement age. Has Phil even reached the mid-point of his cycling career? Has he even had enough race experience to fill a book? Or will the content all be so much drivel? These are some of the questions i asked myself while waiting in the slowly shuffling line to purchase my copy. After reading the first number of pages i was a little apprehensive that the story would be little more than a collection of incidents on the bumpy road to Continental Pro-dom and, while there is certainly a lot of that, i found myself getting more involved the further into the story that i read. It is intriguing the ways that riders of Gaimon's calibre and credentials must forge a balance between their lives within racing and outside of it. They ride that fine line of moderate success, with failure on one side, and glory on the other; any number of obstacles capable of sending them one way or the other. 

There is also some terrific insight in the pages, things that i had not considered, never been in a position to do so, such as: "A lot of guys end their careers that way. They ask for more money than they're worth, and act surprised when they don't get it. It's a way of quitting while leaving the final decision to someone else. Maybe he wasn't emotionally ready to make it himself, or admit it to others."

Gaimon, Phil   Pro Cycling on $10 A Day: From Fat Kid to Euro Pro   Boulder, CO: Velo Press, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Must See: Kualis Bicycles


You know how Homer Simpson salivates and he enters a single-minded trance whenever talk turns to donuts, beer, or anything he has a particular uncontrollable passion for? Yup, it is running from the corners of my mouth right now. I have posted a photo from the Kualis blog before, and honestly, his product is so nice looking I could probably post one per week. Go to the Kualis blog for more pics of Akabane's steel, disc brake road bike.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Blues: Where Have You Been All These Years?

Los Angeles Times, where have you been all these years. Long ago i gave up on the possibility of ever seeing any coverage of local races within the pages of the Times. Back in the 1980s or 1990s there might on rare occasion be a sentence or two about the Manhattan Beach GP, or Beverly Hills, but little more and certainly no weekly coverage of the weekends racing.



Anyway, Sunday morning the photo and caption shown above (from Saturday's Wolfpack Hustle Civic Center Criterium) made it onto the back page of the California, not the sports, section. (I would provide a link, but can't seem to find it on their online version.) I suppose that i should be happy to see any coverage at all, considering the newspapers past record of reportage. Truth be known i kind of am. It also got me thinking though. This is not the first time that the Times has covered a Wolfpack Hustle event; kudos to the Hustle, they are clearly doing something right. More significantly, they are doing so without a marketing department. This, i have to believe, is in contrast to "mainstream" cycling's governing bodies, which must have at least some money dedicated to marketing and promotion, yet can not seem to convince a major newspaper to provide even a modicum of coverage to their own sanctioned events.

Is there something to be learned from this? I think so, and i think it has much to do with the health and growth of the sport of cycling. Has USA Cycling become staid and ineffective? Is the future of the sport to be found in the "grassroots?" I don't believe USA Cycling is obsolete, not in the least, but i do have to wonder about their effectiveness at the local level of the sport. Perhaps the real question would be, what is Cycling USA not doing, that Wolfpack Hustle seems to do quite well?

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.
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