2014 Seasons in the Sun

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

This Bud's For You, 25 March

Successful escapes are not uncommon at the weekly Bud's Ride, and tonight added another tally mark in that column. Three riders came into view well ahead of the bunch, the first two, both with Incycle / Cannondale, outdistanced the third just in the last couple hundred meters to double up for 1st and 2nd. When the big group came charging into view (was it even thirty seconds later?) they were led home for 4th by the race-faced rider from Surf City.

A lot of chatter about this weekend's San Dimas Stage Race among the gathered spectators, as well as in the group on the ride home. Race hard.

Hello, and Goodbye

Hello traffic, goodbye tranquility. It will be the only outcome, yet the City of Los Angeles Parks Department seems dead set on putting in motion a plan that will lead to just that - increased traffic, and a lot less serenity, in the city's largest public park, Griffith. 

Interestingly, or not, this is not the first time the same agency has sold out to the automobile. I made mention of this at the CLR Effect's predecessor blog, the Claremont Cyclist. I always had a fondness for the park, having lived outside its boundary in Burbank for a number of years, its twisty, quiet, and crumbly roads were long a retreat from more hectic streets. Then, when my son was younger, I took the family back there for a ride, but promised myself that we would never come back - Riverside Drive and other auto-permitted roads were just to unsettling, dominated by speed crazed and bike lane encroaching idiots. That is a promise I have kept, though I have been back myself, never with the family. Each of those times back have included a required ride up and along Mt. Hollywood Drive, and the iconic Trash Truck Hill, both long closed to motor vehicles. Now the park wants to open these and one of the few paved car-free areas will be lost. Lost to cyclists. Lost to runners. Lost to hikers and walkers. Lost to equestrians. 

There have been some rumors that homeowners fed up with tourist traffic destined for the Hollywood sign are behind this mistaken effort (quite frankly, why anyone would wish to see, close up, a bunch of tall letters on a hillside is beyond my comprehension anyway), but shuttling the problem off to another area is hardly the answer. 

Anyway, if you go to CiclaValley, there is an email you can copy, paste, and send to concerned parties and decision makers. Let them know how wrong-headed the idea is. Apparently there is also a ride tomorrow, and you can check out the information at the Facebook event page. The ride will end up at the meeting where the proposed change will be discussed. Lets get to it, time is running out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The CLR Effect Annual 2015: In Progress

Never too early to get this rolling.

You may notice, right off, the title. No more Seasons in the Sun. Short and to the point has normally been my way, so from here on out I simply call it what it is - the CLR Effect annual. 

There is still a week left to the month of March, and I have covered fifteen races already, with another three to go before the month passes away. That is already a lot of material to sort through, to narrow down, and select. There will be more writing tied to specific races for this year's edition, and maybe some random stuff too, to go along with the photos. Since it is intended as an review of races across the southland, I am going to attempt to work in results as well; that might be difficult, though, what with the 2014 edition at nearly one hundred pages, I am finding it hard to see how 2015 can do anything other than expand even more. That means a higher cost, so...

I am going to give this sponsorship thing a try again, it worked pretty well in 2013 to bring the price down, so why not. You can become a sponsor the the 2015 edition by purchasing an advertisement spot at the back of the book - $50 for a quarter page ad, or $100 for a full page ad. Those amounts are a pittance, right, and just think how many people will see them. If you are a business owner (does not even need to be a bicycle related business), or know someone who is, and might be willing to lighten their wallet, let me know via email so we can talk. The more contributions I receive, the lower the price will be, and in turn, the more people will get one and see those ads. Win - win. 

Don't forget, you can still purchase the 2014 edition online (see the yellow banner at the top of page), and the 2013 edition (at a reduced price) directly from myself.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Blues: Point of No Return

US Cup, Bonelli Park, Saturday 14 March

You know the saying, "it's not if, but when".

I had set up shop at this spot because I wanted to get the long line of the pro men's race flowing across the bridge and along this straight section, the lowest point on the back side of the course. It has potential for some interesting shots, potential that is enhanced (or perhaps exacerbated is a better word) due in part to the red-painted impact head on a riser sticking up right next to the trail. If you are anywhere back from the front of that long line of riders snaking through here, you may not see the thing until right on top of it; carrying a little too much speed may put you off the trail just enough. That is the main reason the 'bail-out' line, around the far side of the sprinkler, is nearly as distinct at the main line trail.

"It's not if, but when." Some riders will get up all furious, cursing and stomping about, maybe looking for a fight. Most though recognize the truth in the saying, accept it and move on. Any stomping, kicking, or rolling around on the ground is just wasted time, time better spent getting back to the chase. That is exactly what the two riders affected here did - quickly picking themselves and their bikes up, and setting off before the dust cloud even had time to settle.

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, March 21, 2015

2015 US Cup Round 2 / Kenda Cup West Round 3 / Fontana City Nationals

Man, I wish something could be done about the name of these races, I still never know what the heck to call them. But that is a story for another time.

What, a quarter mile into the race and the pro women's field is already stretched to a long thin line, and ready to snap. 

A familiar group of protagonists settled in, the tete de la course, and pounded out, sometimes finessed, a relentless pace for the duration of the race - Catharine Pendrel, Emily Batty, Georgia Gould, Chloe Woodruff, Katarina Nash, in that order here.

I have never been to Southridge USA for a race in which they were running what, some riders were affectionately calling "the waterfall", but between the Cat 1 XC races and the Pro Women XC race I got to watch a few racers taking practice runs for the Super D races starting later in the day. The drop and the low launch pads that follow at its base (apparently reserved for the pros only) are going to be entertaining, to say the least...

while warming up on the XC course, Katerina Nash (who would go on to win the XC race, by the way) took a turn onto the Super D course. Now, on any other day she may very well have given it a go but this time, when she got to the lip of the drop, she turned around. Having just witnessed another rider go over the bars during his attempt, I believe her choice was the wiser option.

Some Cat 1 action near the top of the mountain

Oh look, another dude with a camera taking our picture. Ha, ha, ha.
(Actually, I don't know what the joke between Erin Huck and Lea Davison was, but it looked like a good one).

The pro women's Cross Country (XC) race. The heat may not have been as oppressive, but the climbing was longer, steeper, rockier, as was the descent. It is the reason this weekends' US Cup / Kenda Cup West racing carries an hors categorie (above category) rating, a step above the rating of last weekends racing at Bonelli Park, and one reserved for the most difficult or challenging races. (Incidentally, when the US Cup returns to Bonelli in early April, it too will carry the hors categorie rating, the course being altered to add to its complexity.)

That is where the differences, mostly, ended. For the professional women, the primary protagonists remained, largely, the same - Katerina Nash, who would claim the victory today, Georgia Gould, Emily Batty, and Catherine Pendrel. Larissa Connors was a little further back a week on, while Erin Huck, Chloe Woodruff, Lea Davison, and Sandra Walter, a little further up.

For Emily Batty, who as you know won at Bonelli a week ago, it was an almost impossible task to repeat for a second weekend - she was odd woman out in the top four, each of the others racing for the Luna Pro Team. Three against one will not get you good odds anywhere. I wasn't in a place to witness where or when (although I can tell you it didn't occur until the final lap) Nash made her decisive move, I can tell you it was enough to finish ten seconds up, with Gould (2nd), Batty (3rd), Pendrel (4th), all finishing within a single second of one another. I doesn't get much better than that.

The Flickr album contains a selection of 126 photos from the Cat 1, Women Pro, with some Super D practice and random shots thrown in for good measure. The photos are not a complete catalog, but are representative of the nearly one thousand taken, so if you don't see what, or who, you were looking for in the album, let me know with a race number and I will see what I can find. If you see a photo you like, feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). You can also contact me via email and I will gladly send a full size jpeg file of the image.

Want more? Go ahead and order your own copy of the CLR Effect racing annual. There are two editions available right now (2013 and 2014), and you can preview them by clicking the 2014 Seasons in the Sun Book Preview button near the top of the right hand column, or under the title banner at the top of the page.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lunch by the River

The San Gabriel River Trail (SGRT) somewhere in El Monte, a little way upstream from Whittier Narrows. The river rarely runs this full, bank to bank, at this point along its course. More often than not if you look across its width here you would see little more than dirt, and rock, a concrete weir desolate in disuse. Not today, though, the cascade over hard lip into pool below creating a roar that drowns out the familiar drone from nearby freeway. The free flow of water carrying with it a flow of life renewed - song birds singing and flitting from branches dressed for a Spring Formal, waterfowl testing webbed feet against a current of new water.

A ride paused, or perhaps planned long ago, awaiting just the right moment. A lunch, the days' newspaper, a little shade, and a little time. Spring Equinox. Refresh. Reset. Renew.

We frequently speak of renewal this time of year. We see it all around - in the plants and animals, clouds of gnats unwelcome, but renewed all the same. But what of ourselves? Our own lives renewed, no rat race, no domineering motors. Just a moment, however long, a moment to relax, reflect, renew.

Whoa. What? Who? Whoa.

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