Friday, November 21, 2014

No Dogs on Bicycles

So I was doing a little research at work yesterday; a project I am working on includes a dog park and I needed to find some signs for it.

As I searched through some images on the internet I noticed this one. Only it wasn't quite this one - it was a sign, about the size of a "No Parking" sign, on a steel post. The type of sign you would expect to see at a park. Only it wasn't quite what you would expect to see. I mean, dogs on bicycles? 

My first thought was, "who would put a sign like that in a park?" My second thought was, "where is this place that has a problem with dogs riding bikes?" My third thought concerned the problem of dogs riding bikes. "What is the problem, exactly. Are they careless? Do they bolt off on a tangent unexpectedly in pursuit of squirrels and cats? Is the problem only with the long, floppy ears of basset hounds getting caught in spinning wheels?" "Do the greyhounds go too fast around the younglings and old folks out for a Sunday stroll?" It is a curious thing, and my fourth thought was, "this is a place I want to see." Next I thought, "Curious that there is a similar sign stating 'No Dogs, No Bicycles' - that is just boring." After that, I ran out of thoughts, but recovered a few moments later, just long enough to wonder if I could sneak such a sign past the city planners of Chino Hills.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Medusa Approved

Holy Zeus, it is almost here - CXLA, the only local UCI-caliber cyclocross race on the calendar this year is returning to the Greek Theater. This weekend.

There is a full slate of activities scheduled between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening. Golden Saddle Cyclery will be hosting a 'Ride with the Pros' clinic - happy hour at Mohawk Bend - racing - heckling - partying - dinner fandango at Golden Road Brewing - Expo - community cross - doggy cross - kiddie cross - bike swap - a course that will twist and turn more than the slithering locks of Medusa's hair. Check here for the full schedule.

With big points on the line, many of the top racers from the US and Canada will be here. Who will the gods favor? Who will give the finger to those gods, forsake them and risk their anger to go it on their own? Whether Aphrodite shows up or not, I am expecting good things. Show up and see for yourself.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

At Least There is This

What a week it was. Heady concepts were thought on, debated. My son, the philosophical high school student, informed me one evening after work that ours is the only country that does not regularly revise its Constitution. Truth be known, and perhaps due to my upbringing, but I have never questioned the inviolability of our Constitution and certainly cannot recall (though it has been many years in the past) ever debating the point in school. Yet I see the point - times change, and to succeed you must react to those changes. So what happens if change is limited due to outdated constraints?

Later in the week came word of a conference being held at UCLA concerned with the relevance of the teachings of John Muir. In many ways, from what I understand, the Muir debate is much the same - holding certain notions, of preservation, the meaning of wilderness, etc, as timeless standards to be emulated regardless of change in the wider society. 

Being someone of the liberal persuasion, who's biggest dream growing up was to live in the mountains, I can tell you I am more receptive to one, than I am to the other of those debates.

Yes, there has been much to think about lately. Enough to start my head spinning, if I had let it, if I had not been able to get out and ride, ride to this place, this place where only the moment matters:

The beat of a heart, loud in my ears. A crow's three-peate caw, followed by another series a few seconds later and further away. The melodic whistling of an unseen songbird. The tumble of granite pebbles as a lizard causes a small cascade down the nearby cliff face. The familiar side to side rocking of a climber out of the saddle, wheels making a shush - shush - shush in regular rhythmic pattern as he ascends the road. The wind, a hum, as it rushes along the canyon bottom then rises upslope sounding like the drone of a thousand busy bees. The sun, filtering through a canopy of leaves, drifting ever so slightly as I sway on my feet, a curtain of light drawing closure, even if for a few fleeting minutes, on all but this close up place.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Donuts on the Go

This little gem is another from that old "Cycle Log: Diary and Guide for the Cyclist" which includes photographs by Rich Cruse and Jim Safford. That little innovation around her neck would, without doubt, meet the Homer Seal of Approval. Heck yeah, no more problems trying to pull that energy bar hidden deep in the jersey pocket. No, instant energy is dangling right in front of you with "Donuts on the Go." Choose you flavor - chocolate, cinnamon crumb, powdered sugar and, yes, plain. Chocolate works best for distance rides, something about the cocoa coating helps keep the spongy rings intact when the miles begin to add up.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Blues: Name Dropping

Twenty years ago, this week, I got a new bike. It was the blue GT. I have mentioned it before. To this day I regard it as the best bike I ever owned. Frame geometry was perfect for me, and its thin-walled lightness made it uber-responsive to my every demand. My first real ride with it (notice the grammatical choice of preposition - with, rather than on - signifying a more symbiotic relationship) came on the 20th of November, a Sunday that year.

"Did the Park Ride again with an even bigger group this week. Second day with the new bike [look at that, even back then I used the word 'with'] was pretty much superb. After bridging a short gap to the lead group low down on LaTuna, a group that included Olin, Mitch, Darren, Alberto, Dave, and [2nd] Dave (aka, Abdujaparov), I was in damn good company. I finished up 5th behind Olin, Mitch, Darren and an unknown Azteca rider. When the ride was done and we were back at the park little did I know that the day was just half over. With Dave, Mitch and Olin I headed out along Ventura. Eventually out in Tarzana or Encino, or someplace nearby, we stopped at a donut haus for a bit, and a bite. From there we came back to Sepulveda Blvd, up that to Mulholland and then back via that road. I did quite well until Coldwater or Laurel, or some such canyon when Mitch and Olin picked up the pace and left me behind. I should known by now not to believe them when they say easy pace."

Since Olin Bakke, Mitch Boggs and Darren Rogers were an entirely different category of rider from myself it was no small thing to brag about finishing fifth to them. Still isn't, I suppose.

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.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Welcome Oppression

A mere forty miles away, The Valley stretched and yawned beneath a blue and sunny sky. Or so I was told yesterday. Here, morning fog and afternoon clouds crowded up against the mountains and pushed, but could move no further. And so they gathered, growing thicker, deeper, obscuring anything and everything above the city limit lines. It was a welcome oppression. No slathering of sunscreen, no squinting of eyes on this day. With no mountains to draw the eyes outward, the view becomes one of closeness and constriction. Some recent brush clearing, and late season die-back and hibernation, reveal sights closer to hand. Corrugated pipe, a slowly deteriorating maw, opening from the jungle's detritus. The collection of broken shards of sandstone littering the surface of the west hills, the Beeline trails, encourage me to stop every time - a quick searching glance for fossil imprints in the ancient stone.

Down at the shore, grown ever more receded, rings of fish surfacing and 'v' wakes of waterfowl hastening away from my intrusion, break the grey glass. But for the nearby roar of dragsters during their few second burn of competition, the occasional passing whir of props rising from the airfield, the disquieting rattle, knocking of a front stanchion in need of maintenance, quiet can still be found. There are no motors on the lake this day. Birds call, tires crunch and hum, the heart beats loudly in my ear, unseen things rustle the underbrush. The trail winds serenely around the cove, wrapped by leafy greens, yellows, cream and russet stalks of flowers are ribbon and bow. Uugh, a month and a half away, and the holiday season creeps into my thoughts.

The sun peeks through where the cloud cover is thin, but it is muted light. Just enough to provide barely perceptible shadow across the path. They are slow, more so than I am today. With no one to rush me, to push on to the next rise, hill top, I linger where I want, when I want, for however long I want. The clouds are my mentor, and I follow their example. There is no hurry today.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Trish

Now here is someone who knows where, as well as how, to wear a cycling cap. 

Trish knows how. While gracing the top step of a podium, of course.

Erik Pipins photo

If you are a local, I am sure you have been wondering how long it would take for this photo (or any of many similar ones) to pop up in a "How to Wear A Cycling Cap" post, since she often sports one cap or another. Well you can let go the horses now, the wait is over. Few wear a cycling cap as well as Trish does. The only question was which photo from the many in the archives of the Psycho-lists © to use. In the end, the one from the recent Tour de Foothills fit the purpose just fine.
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