Monday, July 28, 2014

The Monday Night Crazy Legs Ride

Starting off. Heading out. 

I like to get my riding done early, so i haven't been out in a while. I can only stay away for so long though, so in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, "i'll be back."

Monday Blues: Diary of a Workingman

Monday. First day of the work week. Curse of the workingman who would rather be out riding.

That's all the bike twist i can put to this one. I will leave it at this ditty from the Southern rock band, Blackfoot, formed up in 1970 (or 1972, depending on which website you choose to believe). I was a bit of a Southern Rock fan back in the day - some Allman Brothers, Skynard, Molly Hatchet, Outlaws, and Blackfoot too. Let it drive you through the day, until you can get home to pound out some evening miles where ever you like best to do so.

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 27, 2014

Bonelli Green

If you have a favorite color and if, like me, that favorite color happens to be green then you have got to love riding at Bonelli Park this time of year. Some slow moving water, nitrates from the the upstream nursery, and rays from that ever-present Summer sun make the stream through the Jungle a green delight. Oh, and if you are there at the right time, right place, it is an actual stream; when i was there this past Friday water was flowing at the crossing. No pool of stinky swamp juice you hope won't touch your skin.

Further along, though, and in the Jungle proper, there is no movement to the water (as usual) which has allowed algae to prosper. From a distance it looks like a lawn over which someone has thrown far too much fertilizer, or maybe a neon green carpet ripped from the floor of a 1960s psychedelic dance club. The uniformity and sunlight give a smooth, flat appearance. Up close, though, texture becomes evident and the surface looks like a million tiny round seeds have been scattered from bank to bank. Would they hold weight? Was there even water beneath them? I almost thought that is what they were, a tight scatter, but as i dipped my wheels in to cool them off after a hot, dusty ride, and then rolled them back out, the thin tendrils connecting the pods on the surface became evident. They clung to the tread and wrapped around the spokes. If i were to walk out to the sauna disguised as a garage i am sure i would find some clinging there still.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Query: Lil' Herbert and Other Talismans

How many people have talismans, in one form or another, attached to their bikes? My road bikes have never been so graced, though i did ride for a number of years with a tattered Irish flag dangling from the back of my saddle. The bridge between the seat stays of this particular mountain bike have served as a perch for Herbert for as much as, though probably not quite, ten years now. He fell out of one of those gum ball type vending machines one night at the local Round Table Pizza joint. He and a couple cousins, siblings, or whatever relations aliens have, found a home at our house. I would find them on dressers, or shelves, in bath tubs, or just the middle of the floor.

I have mentioned previously that Herbert takes his name from Kirk, of Star Trek fame, whom a group of space hippies took to calling, that apparently derogatory name. I can't remember the reason anymore, but one day i decided that stay-bridge would make a good spot for Herb. A couple drops of super glue later and there he was, stuck fast, and there he has been ever since.

Anyway, after a quick and very dusty mountain bike ride this morning, i settled down to a little chain maintenance only to discover that lil' Herbert had become so dust covered that you couldn't make out any of his features. He to got a little cleaning up too.

Local cycling aficionado, Erik recently posted about the Jack (Mr. in the Box) head which has become wedged in between the stays of his road bike, and has apparently been there for many years. I have also read some threads on various forums about talismans, and other just plain goofy accoutrements that have made their way onto peoples bikes. 

So, fess up - do you have one? And if so, what and where? 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

This Bud's For You, 23 July

The heat haze is on the rise, temperatures in the mid 90s to up near 100 Fahrenheit. It rises off the blacktop like some cloak, or forcefield, distorting everything behind it. It is nothing to those of us sitting on the turf in the median, in the shade of the trees, the breeze. For those out racing tonight, though, it is a different story. Though their eyes don't perceive it, they are enveloped in the haze all evening. They may feel it, but they don't see the barrier like we do at a distance. When they come around the far turn and hit the finishing straight the riders are fully enveloped. As they begin to break through their forms shimmer and waver like the picture on an old black and white television screen. There is little focus control when the heat rises, only proximity will help. As they get closer, though, the haze diminishes, or at least its effect does. The picture begins to clear, reveals the end of another weekly chapter in the Bud's Ride saga.

There is a new king of Bud's this week. After last Wednesday's nail-biter of a finish sprint, last night's was more like a dud in that the decision was fore-gone well before the line. Now, that could be a good thing, especially from the perspective of the champion. Heck i would take a win with a decisive gap if only i could buy one. Or earn one.

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.
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