Tuesday, September 2, 2014

From the Archives: My First Biker Gang

My brother and I, and our two cousins who lived a few minutes away. That's me, center, white shirt on a bike that predates the green Huffy, which I always thought was my first bike. Now there is a new first. Though you maybe couldn't predict it from that big ol' trike he is sitting on, I understand the brother has become considerably more than an occasional rider in recent years. When he isn't catching waves, that is. Actually, now that I look closer, I'm not sure the kid on the far right is my older cousin after all. Hmmm? Who is it then? Some neighborhood kid photo bombing in the late '60s. Perhaps. Who ever it is, he's got one cool bike.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Showdown at Corriganville

What is going on here? A Duel in the Dust? High Noon at Vendetta Village? The Corriganville Incident? No, but the MTB CX Eliminator - Dual in the Dirt Duathlon Series combined the best showdown action from any of the old westerns filmed at the rocky site of Corriganville in Simi Valley.

Corriganville's rocky hillsides and shaded draws played host to a series of duels between morning and high noon on the hot Sunday. If left out in the sun too long I am certain some of those saddles were indeed blazing. (Like it or not, and i am sure there have been enough by now, this post is going to be one long series of puns).

Eyes narrowed in the brightness of the morning sun, sweat rose on brows, ran like rivulets of blood down arms, caking legs and faces of those who had already eaten dust during earlier hours. The air was still and tight with tension. Not without precedent, but still rarely seen anymore, the showdown got underway with a hot-footed LeMans start. There was a twist to it though - after the protagonists laid their steads in orderly rows, ready for a quick getaway, the kindly folks watching from the shadows snuck out for a little rearranging. Some mounts were moved, while others were turned in the opposite direction.

Let me explain a little - this was the dual duel part of the morning - teams of two fighting it out in tag-team format. Each rider raced a single lap before strapping a cx ankle timing chip to the leg of their racemate, who went full-bore for the next lap. So riders were switching every pass; this kept the folk at the start/finish well entertained throughout the proceedings. Most pairs raced on mountain bikes though two, or was it three, chose to mount up on their cyclocross bikes.

Much like a cx course, this one was laid out in a similar spectator friendly style. Not quite as tight perhaps, it did wander out to circle around a rocky promontory, but much of the action played out within easy hoofing distance of the stone-walled remains of the old town. The trail taken by the lead outlaw and those who chased in pursuit moved between slick rock and sand-filled depressions. It was a good day for chaps as riders bushwhacked through expanses of buckwheat which clawed at their legs, the hoofs of their mounts seeking traction, while overhead hung the branches of large, majestic oaks, any one likely to host a rope swinging party.

It was while out in those back of course, desolate areas that i would occasionally catch sentences echoing off the rocks. Whether they were spoken today or came from long ago, I couldn't tell. Things like "little sister, I was born game and I intend to go out that way" drifted through the leaves. "To hell with them fellas. Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms" coursed along the dry stream. Those words could have come from the mouths of riders competing today, or they could just as easily have been dredged up by churning wheels, set free from the dirt and dust packed down by the weight of years.

something just short of a chaotic start

Quick draw, hole shot, same thing - only one comes out first

making your way, warily, through a narrow defile. i believe this is where the ambush is supposed to take place

emerging from the sandstone like a hazy mirage came a rider on a pale horse. and hell followed with him

Fast Friday's father / son duo

the tag team part of the game - handing off the timing chip at end of lap

the end came with arms raised in victory, rather than surrender...

and though others made their own hard charges to the line, words rebounding from the rocks mocked those efforts - "you see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend, those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig."

If you are unfamiliar with Corriganville Park, it resides at the eastern end of Simi Valley, below Rocky Peak, an area I have always called Tomac Country. It was long used by Hollywood studios for filming, and was especially favored for westerns. It also catered to tourists and weekend visitors; you could ride horses there, indeed my mum was thrown from the back of one in her younger years, at the very spot. Eventually the sets were dismantled, the film fans left; some foundations and stone/concrete walls remain, but mostly it is a quiet and bucolic spot between cities. There is a terrific interpretive-signed trail with markers pointing out natural points of interest, and others related to the Hollywood era. I am hoping they will do some more races there; when I asked her, Dorothy (whose SoCalCross organization was one of the primary organizers) suggested they might be able to squeeze one in during November. I hope so, it seemed super fun, and if anything could tempt me to break my pledge not to race mountain bikes, it would be this race.

Anyway, I have made you wait this long, but no longer - here is the Flickr link to a select one hundred eleven photos. There are another three hundred fifty or so tucked away on the computer. If you don't quite see what you are looking for at the Flickr album, let me know, and I will see what I can find.

By the by, thanks go out to the Triple Threat / Newbury Park Bicycles folks for letting the wife share your shade tent. Our little dachshund must have picked up a thorn which either worked itself out, or she managed to get out herself. She is back to normal - wanting to go, go, go.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday Options: Riding with the Old Farts

But Mike, "wait" you say right off the bat. "What's up with the 'old farts' crack. Age is a matter of perspective; you ought to know that by now." Correct you are and, kind of, the point. I suspect that none of the members of the Claremont Senior Bicycle Group (CSBG) who did their weekly Saturday morning ride to the Corner Bakery consider themselves to be really "old". Not even the ninety-three year old, recumbent riding doctor who, by the way, can make that low-to-the-ground bike move. Many things we choose to do in life can help to keep us mentally and physically young. Bicycling is certainly near the top of the list.

bike and dog parking at the Corner Bakery

heading up Deer Creek Blvd in Rancho Cucamonga

I have known many of these folks though their active involvement in bicycle (and pedestrian) advocacy within the city, through their endeavors with Cycle Claremont, and because my wife likes riding with them. But I have never actually done one of their regularly scheduled rides. So, with the son away for the weekend, i thought a more relaxed Saturday morning would be a nice change. I was right, it worked out as planned - just under thirty miles with a nice breakfast at the halfway point. The ride follows a route through residential neighborhoods north of Baseline, and then the Pacific Electric Trail (PET) back to home. I have long listed the CSBG in the "local ride list" with only second-hand knowledge of what their rides are like. Not that today's was necessarily indicative of them all. For instance I know the "power group" does some faster paced ones. At least I can now say that I have done one.

along the PET for the ride home


a pathside serenade 

Upcoming: Tour de Foothills 2014

This has already been widely noted, but is there anything wrong with a little reinforcement? The Tour de Foothills is moving to Claremont for the 2014 edition. This year, the annual ride and party will start and conclude in the Village on Saturday 8 November. Four ride distances to choose from, catered lunch from Wolfe's Market, Tour de Brews beerfest, live music, all await riders on that November day. Keep up with all the latest info at the Tour de Foothills Facebook page. As they have done in past years there will be at least one group training ride preceding the main event. Saturday 27 September the TdF teamed with the Bahati Foundation will hold a free training ride beginning and ending at the Dale Bros Brewery - check for info here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Jelle Nijdam

A Buckler cap classically perched. Nijdam rode with the Buckler squad for the 1990, 91 and 92 seasons. During those three years he bagged himself two Tour de France stage wins, one at the Vuelta a Espana, won the Three Days of De Panne, won the Tour of the Netherlands twice, and finished third at Amstel Gold, and second at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Other career wins, with other teams, include two-time victor of Binche-Tournai-Binche (1990, 1995), four additional stages of the TdF, making six total, the Amstel Gold Race (1988), and Dwars door Vlaanderen (1987, 1995). In 1993 he captured a podium spot (3rd) at the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, and in 1996 a final podium with a 2nd at Nokere Koerse.

Interestingly, former American pro, Joe Parkin considered Nijdam to be the meanest rider in the peloton: "Definitely Jelle Nijdam. I hated the guy. I got punched by him in races a few times! He didn't care for me much and made it known…" You can read more of that in this 2009 interview at Cyclingnews.com

Was it personal, or was there some kind of bad blood between Dutch and American riders? Can't say i was familiar with the Parkin/Nijdam incident, but the punch to the face of Davis Phinney by Dutchman Michel Zanoli during the 1992 Tour du Pont, was talked up in local pelotons all around the country at the time. I don't recall any particular Dutch / American rivalry going on, so we are probably just talking coincidence, nor was the Davis punch Zanoli's only bout of fisticuffs in that race.

Back to Nijdam, mean or otherwise he is, and has long been, a dedicated cyclist. These days he can be found organizing and leading bicycle tours, both mountain and road, around the Netherlands countryside for Jelle Nijdam Events.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

This Bud's for You, 27 August

Three riders entered the homestretch but somewhere along that road, as they raced from shadow to sun and back to shadow, one faded and only two pushed to the line. If there is such a thing as home course advantage, Incycle riders made the most of it last night. Time clocked past, and It wasn't until after the victory boundary was crossed, when three pair of wheels began the inevitable slow, that the bunch finally came into view. They may have missed out on the podium last evening, but there is still glory to be found in sprinting out of the larger fray. Or, better yet, striking out on your own, leaving the pack to fight over whatever scraps you may have left for them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cycling Claremont: The Only Good...

Death Valley 2009

A few years ago, while traipsing around Death Valley, we came upon the ruined hulks of old automobiles and trucks. They had this amazing patina of decomposition about them. I snapped some photos and thought they would make for an interesting photo exhibition. I recalled the old racist slogan, "the only good Indian is a dead Indian*" and reinvented it as "the only good car is a dead car." I pictured images of rusted autos out in the middle of nowhere, stacked up in junk yards, torn apart by the jaws of life, or like the one below, repurposed.

The installation "Sam Falls, Untitled (Life in California) 2014" (the Ford Ranger made over as a planter) is a part of the exhibit "Project Series 49: Sam Falls" at the Pomona College Museum of Art. The Sam Falls exhibit is only one on display at the Museum; another of interest is "Petrochemical America", a collaborative effort between photographer Richard Misrach and landscape architect Kate Orff, which examines the industrial landscape of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, so-called "Cancer Alley".

The Museum reopens on September 2nd following the Summer break, but Thursday, September 4th from 5:00 to 11:00 will mark the beginning of a new season of Art After Hours, and is a great opportunity to see the exhibits and visit the museum. Music, ice cream sunday bar, raffles and prizes round out the evening. Get your lights charged up and ride on over. There is no admission fee to the Museum.

*the pop version of what General Phillip H. Sheridan is reported to have actually said: "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead." He denied making the statement.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Blues: Dumping

It is bad enough when some small-brained person dumps their stuff beside the road in the mountains, but then to have the cliff do the same directly onto the roadway is just salt to the wound. I came across two consecutive dumpings at two consecutive bends on San Dimas Canyon Road over the weekend. If there is any justice, maybe the second dumping was karmic, the mountainside getting even with dumper number one.

Watch your heads out there - the walls may be tumbling down.

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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