Saturday, August 31, 2013

Labor Day Weekend C & V: Monark Sportster...

Spotted in the Village yesterday, by the Laemmle theater and Le Pain Quotidien, was this well-ridden Monark Sportster.

Monark seems to be one of those kind of confusing brands for people, including myself, attempting to do any bit of research. It appears as though the earliest company to use the name Monark (Cykelfabriken Monard AB, or Monark AB) was a Swedish manufacturer who, beginning in 1908, produced bicycles, motorcycles and mopeds. There is also a Brazilian Monark bicycle company who, according to Wikipedia, is related to the original Swedish Monark AB. In no way should any of these be confused with the Chicago Monarch bicycle company. To make matters worse, a sticker on the down tube of this Sportster clearly states "Made in England". The steerer tube lacks a distinct headbadge of any kind, but the "crown" symbol largely matches the crown I have seen on other Monark bicycles. The shield with 8-pointed star and cross (three photos down) located on the down tube I am yet to see on any other Monark photos. Anyway, even though it seems likely to be some connection between this English Monark and the Swedish Monark, I am not sure what it is.

There are some stylings and components which suggest that this bike could be as old as the 1950s, which makes it a pretty grand old dame. That basket on the front suggests that, after all its years, this bike is still capable of getting the job done.

Other than the new shiny gold bell, this bike has seen some use. With its presumed English background I can imagine the many miles it has ground out along pot-holed, hedge-lined lanes. Or maybe it has spent most of its life in the city, collecting miles along pot-holed, car lined streets. Its rusty fenders and chain guard, the coils of its saddle, do not detract from its attractiveness; it wears that fine patina like a badge of honor. The slowly uncovering saddle remind onlookers of days spent in raging storms, and cracking heat as much as it does the, undoubtedly, far more numerous pleasant ones.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Upcoming: No-Car GMR...

It has now been reported in a couple places:

The Forest Service will be closing both Glendora Mountain Road and Glendora Ridge Road to motor vehicle traffic for the long Labor Day Weekend. Only human-powered transport, pedestrians, and equestrians will be permitted on the two mountain roadways. The closures will take effect beginning Friday afternoon 30 August, through Tuesday morning 3 September. It sounds like those few days will be hot and sweaty, but how can you pass up the opportunity. Bring your water, your friends, your families; definitely bring your bikes. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Silver Bicycle, and the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington...

Jay Mardo was 82 years old in 1963 and living in Dayton, Ohio. It was the summer of the big march to our nation's capital to demand civil rights for all and Mr. Mardo was determined to be a part of it, to add his voice, his being and presence to the cause. Rolling out his silver bicycle with an American flag attached to the handlebars, Mr. Mardo made his way for 471 miles, all the way to Philadelphia. It being August, I think we can imagine that it was hot, probably humid, maybe even downright wet; at 82 years of age, Mr. Mardo's pace was probably not too quick. At the City of Brotherly Love, the Walt Whitman bridge blocked Mardo's further progress. Connecting Philadelphia to New Jersey, the Whitman bridge was the only one going toward the capital, and bicycles were not permitted on the Walt Whitman bridge in 1963 (nor, apparently are they to this day). Undeterred in his determination to reach Washington D.C., Mardo did the only thing he could, he rode onto the bridge. The police picked him up, but then contacted the NAACP, Quaker city chapter, whose representatives, Cecil B. Moore and Phillip Savage met Mardo at the bridge. Describing the rider as "in excellent health", and "dressed casually for his bicycle adventure", the two put him up at a local hotel for the night, and then arranged a bus ride the next day, so that he could finish his journey. 

Jay Mardo's story ends at this point, or at least any documentation of it does. We are left to assume that he was able to complete his mission, even if not quite the way he intended, that his voice rose along with all the others and helped lead to, what turned into, a moment counted among the most fundamental in the history of human rights. But, I wonder what happened to that silver bicycle with the American flag?

This story of Jay Mardo originally appeared in the Dayton Daily News, August 27, 1963, and was reprinted this year, for the 50th Anniversary.

Smooth Move Exlax...

Smooth Move, Exlax! I wonder, do kids still use that phrase today? I am sure it has been around as long as Exlax has. As a kid I recall hearing, and likely directing it in a disparaging way at some soul unlucky enough as to flub a move, and worse yet, do so in front of whatever kid conclave was assembled. For some reason it sprang to mind this morning.

The thought was preceded by a slow moving suv coming towards me from the opposite direction, a super-tight, corner cutting left turn maneuver (right in front of me), taking the driver onto a side street. This caused me to brake, just enough, with the left hand while throwing up the right, all five fingers fully extended, hand bent back slightly at the wrist - the international symbol for "wth was that all about." Of course the drivers' response was to flip ME off, as if I were the one who had just put another's well-being on the line. Of course. Needless to say it also clearly negated the old "I didn't see you" excuse. I hope the thoughtless turd in the unnecessarily large vehicle (ulv) put that split second he saved to good use at some point during the day.

SoCalCross Season 2013-2014...

I know the preliminary schedule has been out for awhile now, but still, I would feel remiss if I didn't post it as well. Check, or the Southern California Prestige Series of Cyclocross on Facebook, for all the latest info.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

All Tux'ed Out...

Between one root canal / crown prep last week, a wedding in the family / rehearsal dinner over the weekend, and a second root canal / crown prep coming up this week, I just have not been into the riding lately. However, when I found out the tuxedo guy (Carducci's Tuxedo, in Claremont) was an Italian cycling aficionado from years past, I figured I would strike up a pose with the old yellow Basso. Will it be added to the wall of fame at the tux shop? For those of you who already saw this on Facebook, sorry. For those who did not, now you get to share in this disgraceful display of exhibitionism. 

Keep riding, and I will be back in more familiar kit soon enough.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Blues: Separation...

... Anxiety? Photographs can be great for storytelling. Sometimes that story is a real event. Other times it can be an imaginary one. The latter was the case here. As I walked along at the recent Summer End Grand Prix, I saw this image and immediately thought "Monday Blues". Later, I thought there might be a little more to it - the racer, relaxing in the shade, mentally preparing for his upcoming race. Meanwhile, his steed anxiously awaits at the curbside. There is a tension between the two, the contrasting repose of each. To me the one seems calm and subdued; the other tense, electrical, awaiting the jump to speed, the spring into action.

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.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fast Digs: The Other Bike Racing Venues of Los Angeles...

From the first invention of the bicycle, opportunities for races have been limited only by the imaginations of the competitors. Roads have long offered nearly unlimited possibilities to challenge other riders, not to mention ourselves. For this story, though, I want to leave the roads behind, in favor of more uniquely identifiable raceways - the tracks and velodromes around which many of the earliest competitions revolved. While today's velodromes, with their oval shape and steeply banked turns are the common image, this was not always the case. Many older race tracks were built around other athletic facilities and were virtually flat, with very shallow turns. Where cycle tracks did not exist, flat running tracks and even horse racing tracks might fill in.

Edward Hopper's famous 1937 "French Six-day Bicycle Rider"

Most people who follow the sport of cycling will know of the two existing velodromes in the Los Angeles region - the Encino Velodrome, which opened in 1961, and the Velo Sport Center in Carson which opened in 2004. All but the youngest are also likely to know of the Olympic Velodrome, constructed in 1981 and 1982 for the Los Angeles Olympic Games of 1984. This latter velodrome, previously located in Carson near the current world-class Velo Sport Center, was demolished in 2003. All three of these well-known venues have distinguished histories of hosting top-calibre competitions. But, what I want to consider, are some of the less well-known venues of the more distant past.

When one considers the popularity of track racing, especially the so-called Six-Day Races of the early decades of the 1900s, it is not so surprising that numerous venues in Los Angeles held specially constructed wooden ovals for racing. Among these were the Rose Bowl, the Pan Pacific Auditorium, Gilmore Stadium, the Los Angeles Sports Arena, the Olympic Auditorium, Hollywood's Winter Garden, and Montebello Stadium. Though it wasn't until nearly three decades into the 1900s until the first Six-Day Races were promoted on the West Coast, does not mean that the action elsewhere was not being closely followed. A brief story from May 13, 1899 in the Los Angeles Herald includes a recounting of a record breaking night (May 12) which took place during a New York Six-Day. Additionally, other types of bicycle races were widespread in California, and racing clubs were proliferating, as the sport grew in popularity from between the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. By the time the Sixes reached San Francisco first, and later Los Angeles, there was a ready and passionate following.

The races in Los Angeles, like those elsewhere in America and Europe, were great social events, attracting movie stars, socialites, power brokers, politicians. Often times these people were given prominent, if honorary, roles in the races; for instance at the October 1937 Six-Day in Los Angeles, Bing Crosby served as the honorary starter. Spectators would put up $10, $15 or even $25 primes over the course of the competition in order to keep the action fast. Canadian racer Torchy Peden who, during his lengthy career, rode in 148 Six-Day Races, winning 38 times, noted "Hey, 10 bucks was a lot of money for us back then." A bag of groceries might even be offered as a prime, "a handsome prize in the 1930s." 

In 1932 the Olympic Games came to Los Angeles, and in order to accommodate them organizers took advantage of many existing facilities by constructing new, temporary venues around (or within) them. Such was the case with cycling's track events, for which a wooden velodrome was constructed within the Rose Bowl. By doing so the Game's organizers were able to take advantage of existing seating, minimizing construction costs. At the back of their minds may also have been the hope of capitalizing on the popularity of the Six-Day Races. As it turned out, the 75,000 capacity Bowl was overkill; attendance at the track events was comparatively sparse. The velodrome held races the 1st to 4th of August; a story in the Winnipeg Free Press notes that 8,000 spectators witnessed Italy defeat Canada in final of the 4,000 meter pursuit race, during which the four-man team of Nino Orsari, Paulo Pedretti, Alberto Chilardi and Atillo Pavesi set a new Olympic record. 

the Olympic track inside the Rose Bowl

The Rose Bowl velodrome was maintained long enough for the Olympic Winners International Bicycle Races to be held there on the 28th of August. Forty-five athletes competed, most of them from Southern California, but others from as far away as Italy and Hungary. Among the better known racers was Henry 'Cocky' O'Brien, a successful Six-Day racer, Frank and Eddie Testa, and Italian Atillo Pavesi. Also in this competition were Pietro Pedretti, Ruggero 'Red' Berti, Marco Cimatti, Alberto Ghilardi, Nate Freeman, Giovanni Consonni, Neil Davidson, Cliff Cole, Russell Allen, Nino Borsari, Buck Ingham, Glen Slaten, Charlie Griffis who, it is noted, was the "holder of the speed record between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles", George Antrobus, Harry Murray, Glen Slaten, Alvin Rivera, Lawrence Nelson, Adolph Govers, Bennie Vezerian, Henry Paronelli, George 'Bus' Parker, Freddie Schultz, Cruz Diaz, Cecil Hardy, Bill Hill, Willy Rabel, Raul Larazolo, Carlo Ceseri, Sebastian Schmidt, Ted Hansen, Boyd Crabtree, Jabe Schwad, Charles Otto, Tony Lugo, and Albert Shusko. The victors at the end of six days of racing were the duo of O'Brien and Louis Berti. Following this, the track was disassembled, much of the wood being used in the construction of La casita del arroyo. It is interesting to note the interconnectedness of groups and events; for instance among the promoters of this race were the Bozzani's, Joseph, Amerigo, and Charlie, who were prominent members of the Italian Cycling Club of Los Angeles.

In 1933 an, as yet, unofficial Six-Day Race was held between the 8th and 14th of January, and won by the team of Henry O'Brien and Al Rivera. I have not seen any indication where this competition was held but fifteen pairs competed. Interestingly O'Brien began the competition partnered with Willie Rabel, but Rabel was forced to abandon with injury on the fourth day of the competition; for the final two days, O'Brien teamed with Rivera. The winning duo of Henry O'Brien and Willie Rabel / Al Rivera rode 1781.6 miles, while the second placed duo, forty-four year old Al Grenda and Eddie Testa, covered 1781.5 miles. Third placed Bobby Echeverra and Irvine Schuller rode for 1781.2 miles.

Two Six-Day events were held in Los Angeles during 1934. The first was run between June 21 and 27, and was held at Gilmore Stadium. The second was held from the 18th to 24th of July at Hollywood's Winter Garden.

The Gilmore Stadium races of June were won by the paired Canadian Lew Rush and Californian Eddie Testa. The official program for this race features the "Two Great Irish Boys, Henry 'Cocky' O'Brien, and Cecil 'Rabbit' Yates", both of whom, being born in the United States, were technically not Irish. It is all a matter of promotion, I suppose. The program also contains short biographies of each competing racer. The pairs for this race were: Reginald 'Iron Man' McNamara and Eddie Testa, Charles 'Moose' Winter and Cecil Yates, Harris 'Skippy' Horder and Lew Rush, Henry O'Brien and Tony Schaller, Irvine 'Mouse' Schueller and Otto Petri, Steve Wagner and Russell Allen, Eddie Triest and Jerrie Rodman, Frank Bartell and Jack McCoy, Bobbie Echeverria and Frank Turano, Bus Parker and Felix LaFenetre, Bruce Risley and Arno Kanitz, Ernie Basquez and Archie Rasmussen, and Neil Davidson with George Antrobus. Following behind Rush and Testa for second place was the pair of Yates and Winter. Yates, who was another prolific racer of the age, competed in fifty-six Six-Day Races between 1932 and 1949, winning sixteen times.

Gilmore Stadium, along with the adjacent Gilmore Field, was among the premier sporting facilities for the city of Los Angeles at the time. The stadium opened in 1934 (interestingly eleven years after the Memorial Coliseum opened) with a crowd capacity of 18,000 spectators. Home to the city's first professional football team, the Los Angeles Bulldogs, the stadium also hosted midget car races, donkey baseball (yes, you read that correctly), dog shows, rodeos, and cricket matches. While the Wikipedia entry for the stadium mentions all these, there is no mention of the Six-Day Races. Esther Williams performed diving and water ballet in a specially constructed pool at the stadium, and President Harry Truman gave his "stiff upper lip" speech there. The Three Stooges filmed their "Three Little Pigskins" at the Stadium. Gilmore Stadium, located between Curson Avenue, Beverly Blvd, Fairfax Ave, and Third Street, was demolished in 1952 to make way for CBS Studios.

Gilmore Stadium

The second of 1934s Six-Day Races in Los Angeles was held at the Winter Garden, in Hollywood. Located at 613 Van Ness Avenue, the facility was originally known as the Glacier Palace, and was built in 1928. At some point in 1934 the building was apparently renamed as the Polar Palace, so for only a brief period between those years was the name Winter Garden used. As its name suggests it was used as an ice skating rink, capable of holding 6500 spectators. A single photo shows the interior of the building with the temporary velodrome constructed for the 1934 races covering the space between the stands. On 16 May 1963 the old wooden building burned to the ground.

The Winter Garden Six-Day Races of 1934, were held between 18 and 24 July, and were contested by nine pairs of racers. The matchings were: Eddie Testa and Reginald McNamara, Freddy Schultz and Bobbie Echevarria, Felix LaFenetre and Geary May, Frank Turano and Jack McCoy, Sebastian Schmidt and Neil Davidson, Pete Hagapian and Charles Moe, 'Bus' Parker with George Antrobus, Cruz Diez was matched with Erne Basquez, but Basquez was replaced by Bruce Risley, and Eddie Lorraine with Dave Landry who replaced Frank Landry. At the end of the six days, Frenchman LaFenetre and May had won the event.

Before the Winter Garden track was dismantled, at the conclusion of the July Six-Day Races, filming began on a production titled "Six-Day Bike Rider". Ostensibly a story of romance, the plot revolves around the Six-Day Race scene, and was clearly intended to capitalize on the international popularity of the event. Numerous racers participated in the filming of the race scenes, including Neil Davidson, Eddie Testa, Pete Hagopian, George 'Bus' Parker, Steve O'Connor, Frank Turano, Freddie Schultz, and Canadian champion Lew Rush. At one point during the filming Rush's front wheel collapsed, sending the rider under the wheels of the camera motorcycle, which crashed as well. In all sixteen riders hit the deck. Rush suffered a possible fractured skull and required thirty stitches for lacerations to his face. Newspaper reports of the incident note that there was little hope held for the recovery of the cameraman. When finished, the film joined a number of similar productions from the era, including the French "Open All Night" and the German film "Um eine Nasenlange", each documenting the Six-Day Races.

Of course, Six-Day Races were not the only types of bicycle competitions taking place over these years and decades. Single day races were also being run, just as they are today, at a wide variety, and less well known venues. One such venue was Montebello Stadium where, on the 25th of November 1934, the Italian Cycling Club of Los Angeles organized the, National Cycling Association sanctioned, California Sprint and Motorpaced Championships. Forty-three athletes competed in the championships. I have not seen much information on Montebello Stadium - a few short mentions, and advertisements for events taking place there, as well as the lone photo below, showing Freddie Schultz and Russell Allen apparently posing during a promotional photos shoot at the venue. I have assumed, because of the lack of information, that the stadium was probably a flat running-style track, but it is difficult to tell by the photo whether it is flat or banked, or what the surface is. The program for this race refers to Montebello Stadium as "The Cradle of Olympic Champions", site of "Amateur & Professional Races", with a "Big Day Every Sunday."

Montebello Stadium, besides its more obvious sporting connection, was also frequently used by various organizations for social, cultural, and political functions. As I have dug deeper I have found that Italian-American groups and labor organizations, in particular, favored the facility. Eventually I made the connection - monte bello, beautiful hills, in Italian - though I find that Italian immigrants played no significant role in the city's founding (the name was in fact suggested by William Mulholland).

Anyway, and whatever the case, Italian-Americans gathered at the stadium regularly for picnics and athletic contests. During these, men would compete against one another at games such as "tiro del formaggio", where twenty-five pound rounds of aged cheese were tossed for distance. In July 1949, for instance, the twelve Los Angeles area Sons of Italy Lodges held a picnic with an all-day program of sporting events. There is no indication whether cycling was a part of the festivities. Similarly, in the biography of Nelson J. Baldo, it is noted that "Mr. Baldo was one of the sponsors of the Los Angeles Drive for Mutilated Children of Italy, which was held at the Montebello Stadium." No date is given, but I suggest it may have followed World War II.

Beside those events, a wide range of others took place at Montebello Stadium as well. In 1947 the New York Giants (baseball) held a young players' camp and try-outs. In September of 1949 the Los Angeles Lapidary Society hosted a two-day lapidary (gem) picnic and show. In June 1955 the Food Industry held its Sixth Annual Fiesta, BBQ & Dance, sponsored by the Illuminators, in the Stadium. In September of 1955 the Greater Los Angeles CIO Council held a picnic. In September 1956 fights broke out around Montebello Stadium where members of the Boilermakers' Union were holding their annual picnic. So, while I am still yet to find a good photo of the stadium it appears to have been quite significant, and capable of hosting large gatherings and a wide range of activities.

In March of 1935, Jimmy Walthour Jr. paired with Alfred Crossley to win a Six-Day Race in Los Angeles. This is probably the race I have seen referenced as having taken place at the Olympic Auditorium. The same reference notes that the Six-Day began on March 8, with nine international teams participating. Beside Walthour and Crossley, other "cycling stars" included Piet Van Kempen and 'Cocky' O'Brien. There is apparently a photograph at UCLA (from the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive)  showing the track set up inside the auditorium, but I have not seen it published anywhere.

Walthour with Crossley (not at Los Angeles)

If there is such a thing as an American cycling dynastic family, it would be the Walthour's. Twins Bobby Sr. and Jimmy Sr. both raced in the early 1900s. Their sons, Bobby Jr. and Jimmy Jr., were both prolific and successful racers during the 1920s and 1930s, and both have been inducted into the US Bicycling Hall of Fame. Bobby Walthour IV has continued the family's winning tradition up to the present time; his hundreds of victories over the course of a 25 year career has included multiple National Championships. Jimmy Jr's teammate at the 1935 Race, Alfred Crossley, was quite prolific and successful in his own right, crossing the US, Canada and Europe while competing in 85 Six-Day Races between 1929 and 1940. Ten of those races ended in victory.

There does not appear to have been an International calibre Six-Day event in Los Angeles during 1936, but the following year two Six-Day Races were held. The first of these, run between the 21st and 27th of April, was held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium, which had opened two years earlier. Eleven pairs of racers competed at this event - Willie Honeman teamed with Eddie Testa, Albert Marquet (Fra) with Joe Devito (Ita), Ewald Wissell (Ger) with Al Ballinger, Archie and George Bollaert, Italians Mike DeFilippo with Frank Turano, Bobby Walthour Jr. with Oscar Juner, Geary May with Harvey Black, Harris 'Skippy' Horder (Aus) with Frank Hays (Can), Alvin Rivera (Mex) with Joe Lett, Jack and Eddie Schroeder, and Pete Hagopian (Arm) with Julian Raoul (Fra). The competition was won by Walthour and Juner, but not before conflict erupted between competitors. Heading into the 54th hour of the race, the Italians DeFilippo and Turano held a two lap lead. A little more than 819 miles had been covered by this point. During a midnight hour sprint DeFilippo crashed along with Pete Hagopian, both of whom then engaged in a quick bout of fisticuffs. Apparently enraged by this, Hagopian's sister, Rose Koontz, managed to evade the track guards and, with her purse, walloped DeFelippo's teammate, Turano in the face (Prescott Evening Courier, 8 October 1937).

the specially constructed track inside the Pan Pacific Auditorium

The second of the Six-Day Races in 1937 took place between the tenth and sixteenth of October and, like the April races, were held at the Pan Pacific. The October Races were contested by eleven pairs of racers: Bill Honeman and Eddie Testa, Albert Marquet and Joe DeVito, Ewald Wessel and Al Sellinger, Archie and George Bollaert, Mike de Filippo and Frankie Turano, Bobby Walthour and Oscar Juner, Geary May and Harvey Black, Harris 'Skippy' Horder and Frank Hays, Alvin Riveria and Joe Lett, Jack and Eddie Schroeder, Pete Hagopian and Julian Raoul. The victors were the Bollaert pair, Archie and George.

Until it was destroyed by fire on the evening of March 24, 1989, the Pan Pacific Auditorium was among Los Angeles's most iconic buildings. Opened in 1935, the Streamline Moderne building was the premier venue for indoor events during its heyday, and could hold up to 6,000 spectators. Athletic contests, including ice hockey, basketball and tennis, political speeches, musical performances, circuses, and car shows, were among the many varied events held at the facility. 

Pan Pacific Auditorium

In 1938 an amateur Six-Day Race was held in Los Angeles, at the Pan Pacific Auditorium. A story from 5 March in the San Jose News notes that after the fourth night Stanley Gadrim and Albin Jerea held a 280 point lead over Charlie Morton and Jimmy Mathews. Two days later, a brief entry in the Binghampton Press notes that Gadrim and Jerea persevered to win, "far out-scoring their nearest rivals." This race marked the beginning of a nearly four-decade absence of Six-Day Races from the City of Angels. Two events of note took place during those intervening years, however. In 1952 Murphy Sabatino brought Six-Day racing back to San Francisco's Civic Auditorium between December 7th and 13th. According to a story in the Bend Bulletin of 1 December 1952, Sabatino had plans to continue a programme of Six-Day Races in Los Angeles the following year. This road show was to be made possible by a portable wooden track with 55º banked turns. I am yet to find any confirmation that these plans ever came to fruition. The second significant event took place in 1961 - the opening of the permanent outdoor concrete velodrome at Encino.

In May of 1973 an effort to bring back the glory of the Six-Day Races occurred when Charles Ruys and a group of partners organized the Los Angeles Pro Bike '73 International Six-Day Race. For this event a 160-meter cedar plywood track with 58 degree banked turns was constructed within the 13,000 seat Los Angeles Sports Arena. This track was completed just five minutes before start of competition. Riders from North American and Europe competed, but many of them had very little actual experience, and within the first fifteen minutes there were six crashes. Only 2,000 spectators attended the event over the six days, a financial disaster. A second Six-Day Race in this promotional series took place in Detroit in October. It was the last one.

An additional venue I have uncovered was the Douglas Plant in El Segundo. The Monday July 11, 1955 edition of the Long Beach Press Telegram notes that "Crebs Club of Long Beach dominated the annual open bike races staged by the Italian Cycling Club of Los Angeles Sunday at Douglas Aircraft plant, El Segundo. Riders from all parts of Southern California competed." Just for the heck of it, the results of that day: 

Class A (8 mile sprint) Jack Disney (CCC) 41 points, Bob Tetsloff (CCC) 29 pts, Bill Disney (CCC) 28 pts, Bob Olson (CCC) 15 pts, Ray Gandy (CCC) 7 pts.
Class B (6 mile sprint) Jerry Freck (NHW) 26 pts, Bill Lambert (USN) 19 pts, Lee Marshall (CCC) 16 pts, Duane Davenport (NHW) 15 pts, Steve Shearer (ICC) 10 pts.
Class C (4 mile sprint) Bill Keith (CCC) 17 pts, Bill Jennings (SDCC) 15 pts, Jim Montgomery (NHW) 14 pts, George Gainer (NHW) 10 pts, Don Tenney (SDCC) 9 pts.
Abbreviation Key: CCC = Crebs Cycling Club, NHW = North Hollywood Wheelmen, USN = United States Navy (I think), ICC = Italian Cycling Club of Los Angeles, SDCC = San Diego Cycling Club.

College and University Athlectics

Southern California colleges and universities have long served as incubators of athletic prowess. It remains to be seen whether the five lap bicycle racing track, with five foot high embankments, at Pomona College in Claremont was an anomaly, or one of many such facilities. The track at Pomona College was likely dedicated in 1899, at a time when the popularity of bicycle track racing was still a couple decades from its peak of popularity; it seems probable to assume that other colleges had similar facilities during the years of the early 1900s.

the Pomona College bicycle track team, 1899

If stuff like this interests you there are a couple terrific sites to look into: and Howie Cohen's Everything Bicycles {Collection}, this latter link is a reference I have used before, and is a great source of general cycling memorabilia; regrettably I read that Howard Cohen passed away in July this year. His family intends to maintain his site in memoriam. We can be thankful to them for that, as well as to Mr. Cohen for making his wealth of information available.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

From the Library: North State Singletrack...

If you overlook the fact that "north state" in the title, in referring the Redding, Shasta, Whiskeytown area, is actually a little more focused, a little less all-encompasing than the great expanse of northern California you might expect. That narrow focus is a good thing; even if you only infrequently visit the region you will be glad to have this book on your library's shelves. By my count there are thirty rides listed here, everything between flat and easy along the Sacramento River, to the technical descents of Whiskeytown. In other words there is a broad range of trails from which to choose.

Each trail, which range from 1 to 36 miles, contains the usual distance and elevation information. There are also maps and profiles for each, as well as directions, highlights, and a little insight paragraph called "about the ride". Since the routes frequently criss-cross with other trails, forest service roads, fire roads, etc, the author has included extensive turn by turn directions, with interesting and helpful informational tidbits thrown in. That is all well and fine, kind of what we should expect for any respectable guidebook; what sets this one apart are the many personal photos from the various routes. Certainly worth it if you plan on spending any time in the area.

Walter, Max   North State Singletrack   Redding, CA: Max Walter, 2006

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ras na mBan...

The Ras, in essence, translates as a women's Tour of Ireland. It is running from the 11th to 15th of September, and Los Angeles's own Ritte Women's Racing Team has received an invitation to race. To help them get there Chloe's at Golden Road Brewery is holding a party, raffle, and benefit this Sunday, August 25th. If you are in the area, it might be worth checking out. More information here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Night Riding Behind "the Motor"...

a nearly full moon lit up the night

We have all probably ridden with someone, at one time or another, who seems to possess a massive internal engine. The kind of engine that, once ignited, can power along for mile after mile daring anyone else to match his pace. Often times, though not always, that engine is encased in a big body. One or two of you readers may even be the motor on whatever group ride you do, where ever it is you do it. For those attempting to keep up with the motor, that size is a good thing - larger mass out front = greater wake behind. I figure there is some mathematical equation to explain the coefficient of draft; I will have to search for it some time. Right now, though, it is not really the point.

"the motor" eerily ghosts past my camera

The motor is expert at employing a strategy based on the concept of attrition - ride hard, ride fast, until one by one other riders fall off the pace. Erik's Night Ride yesterday evening came equipped with a guy I would toss into the motor category. After the opening stretch of road the motor did what motors everywhere do, he moved to the front and took charge of the pace. At one point, after sitting on his wheel for a while, I began to wonder just how long he could keep rolling along like he was; I was feeling somewhat guilty about benefiting from all the work he was doing. Though he did not move perceptibly to either his left or right, never flicked his elbow, nor made any other indication to solicit assistance, I moved up alongside the motor to let him know I was ready to take a pull for the common good. The motor never glanced my way, never slowed or fell behind. He seemed to eschew the very idea of the paceline, which put me in a kind of awkward position. I was nearly at maximum effort as it was, so I could either red-line to get past him and hope there would be someone to take over the pace-setting efforts, almost immediately, from me, or I could go ahead and fall back into line. The longer I rode beside the motor, the more frustrated I became:

"why the hell isn't this guy slackening his pace?"
"why isn't he participating in a proper pace line?"
just ...
"what the hell?"

Of course my mistake was assuming that the motor was operating under the group ride premise - share and share alike. Just maybe the motor was there to do as much work as possible. Nothing wrong with that; just because it's a group ride does not mean one must participate in a group ride kind of way. What ever that means. The motor may have his own agenda; kind of like me and any upward tilting road more substantial than a sprinters' hill - the pace will be pushed. In the end I said heck with it (using less kind words), thinking "if you want to do all the work, be my guest." And I slipped back onto his wheel. The motor does not ask for any quarter, and he is certainly not going to give any. Keep up, or die.

"The motor", one of the many characters of the peloton.

homeward bound

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Blues: Electra Street Cruiser...

Flip-flops while cruising the streets on a powder blue Electra with a teeshirt to match. Could be an any-day scene from a beach city, but no, it is Bonita Avenue, Claremont, California. I can't really identify Electra models, but this looks most like a Ticino. Maybe. By my observations, the helmet is a less than typical accoutrement given similar situations and circumstances around here. There's a rider looking out for himself. Ride on.

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, August 18, 2013

The 2013 Summer End Grand Prix...

At no point this morning did I check on the temperature in the broiler. Towards the end of the pre-noon hour, though, I am convinced the mercury in the thermometer was pretty well stretched upward, and rising all the time. It was hot. It was humid. There was not a hint of movement to the air. Nothing, in other words, to help that sweat slick coating arms, legs and face to cool a body. Those massive clouds, which rise over the mountains during the warmer days of August, were beginning to gather. Their show, both beautiful and threatening at the same time, was an unsubtle indication that we were heading for a hot and sticky afternoon.

the unmistakable look that says 'i'd rather be in the race, than on the sidelines'

Such was the setting for the final race of the season-long Ontario Series, the Summer End Grand Prix. When I pulled up at the end of turn one, down at the end of the opening straight, the second of the morning's Junior groupings were just getting underway - the Master's 55/60 races having just ended. A howdy to Michael Flemming as he rode past, a few test photos to check the camera settings, lighting, etc, and I strode on down to the start/finish to settle in. 

Junior's races can be a little problematic to spectate when you miss the start; three age groups on the course at a time, riders being dropped, lapped, breaks by the stronger riders, small bands continually disintegrating and reforming, forces everyone watching, officials included, to keep on their toes. A couple notes from the Juniors: In the Men's 17/18 race, Anthony Fitch (MRI Endurance Elite Juniors) and Duban Sanchez (Rokform/Rock N' Road) broke clear from the field with about four laps to go, worked well, continued to build a lead, until with one laps remaining, Fitch bolted away, powered through the final lap and took a nice solo win. In the Jr Women 15/18 race, Hannah Swan (Strive Racing) left her companions behind even earlier than did Fitch, and likewise, took a solo victory. One additional note, in the Jr Men 13/14 race, Massimo Lucidi (Rokform/Rock N' Road) who won yesterday's Hotter 'N Hell Hill Climb as the only competitor in his age group willing to attempt the climb, finished off the weekend with a nice 8th today.

On to the Master's 50+ race. With six races in the series, I find it hard to believe that I did not contest a single one this year. Just did not feel motivated to be out there. Where did that mojo go? Ah well, gives me an easy goal to aim for next year. Anyway, the bunch was lined up and were eager to get underway, but some of the just-finished Juniors were congregating just past the start line, holding things up. Ralph admonished their parents that "it's all fun and games until a herd of masters 50+ run into your kids." Laughter all around, and the course was quickly cleared. Five laps into the race a serious break developed consisting of ten riders, three of whom were from the Pinnaclife Racing Team. When the field rolled by prominent at the front, and controlling it quite effectively, were yet more Pinnaclife riders. A whiff of promise and potential was clear for everyone watching to smell. Or, maybe that was just the pungent scent from the porta-johns, a hundred feet away. One racer was soon dropped from the ten, but the break rolled along, and with five laps to go to was clear that the victory would go to one of the remaining nine. Scott Baker picked up a series points prime at the five to go mark, which might have helped him climb in the standings, but which would have no affect on the top spots three spots. The peloton including the series leader, Marvin Hall (UC Cyclery/JW Floors), had conceded by now and were simply racing amongst themselves. While Hall's nearest competitor, Craig Miller (BBI-SIC Cycling), had made the break, there was no chance for Hall's lead to be overtaken. There were not enough points on the line. At the finish, and as we have seen time and time again this year, Miller blasted clear and away from everyone else to claim the day's victory. Stephen Gregorios (Pinnaclife Racing) took second, and Steven Strickler (Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW) took third. On the Series overall podium later, Marvin Hall took the top step and the jersey, with Miller second, and Stephen Gregorios third.

While no one has been as disappointed in my lack of racing this year as I have, I know many of my fellow 50+ers have expressed their own disappointment in my no-shows. Ha, ha, right. Right? Not to worry, there are still a couple CBR races on the calendar, so I still have a little redemption time left.

The Cat 4's were up next, and did a respectable job of keeping true to the Cat 4 heritage. While there were a few break attempts, they were quickly either reabsorbed by the chasing bunch, or they were simply given-up by mutual consent. Or so it appeared. At the end of it all, Derrick Whitlatch (Ride Yourself Fit Performance Team) took top honors out in front of Tony Julian (Swami's Cycling Club), and Conrad Wang (Paramount Racing).

When it came to the Master's 45+ race, the field was far less generous with allowing any breaks room to roam. Finally, with about twenty minutes remaining, a few riders were given some lead at the end of a prime lap which saw Scott Raymond (BBI-SIC Cycling) take the prize. Kurt Bickel (UC Cyclery/JW Floors) joined Raymond and the two motored on for another lap with five to go. At four to go the duo off the front had grown to six, but the peloton was charging hard; woe to the lone rider stuck between. With three to go the break still had their gap but it was shrinking rapidly under pressure by the BBI-SIC riders. Two laps to go and it was all groupo compacto again, with BBI massed at the front to patrol any last minute moves. And that should be all the clue you need to predict the finish. That's right, BBI-SIC's very own Craig Miller cleared the deck with room to spare, taking a second win on the day. Bill Harris, also from BBI-SIC Cycling, claimed the second spot, with Armin Rahm (TIME - Velo Pasadena) taking third.

That was it for this day. With those clouds roiling in the distant sky, my jersey collar sticking to the back of my neck, the backs of my burning legs warned me it was time to go. Until the next race, ride hard and then, take it easy on me. 

I have narrowed the selection of photos even more than normal this time around - beside the few here, you can link to the select 41 photos by jumping to the Flickr set here.

reacting to a flyer along the right in the Junior 17/18 race

win number two today for mr. Miller came in the masters 45+ race

series champion's pose: John Roest (60+)

according to the racers code, official protocol, just how long are you required to hold a buddy's bike

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The 2013 Hotter 'N Hell Hill Climb @ Mt. Baldy...

"I didn't realize how steep it was until I came back down." That statement uttered by one of the racers at the post-race gathering, really is true about the Baldy climb. I mean sure, you huff and puff heading up, sweat does not so much drip off you as it does rush in a torrent, there is no question you are going up at a steep pitch. But it is not until you turn around, and then 20, 30, 40, even 50 miles per hour tick by in a matter of seconds.

morning registration

racing, with West Baldy in the distance

relaxed before the climb

go Gauchos!

climbing fixed

Jun Hoshino, Cat 4 victor

all effort - Herb Johnson

Greg Leibert, Masters 45+ victor

Seth Britton, Cat 3 victor

Anyway, more than a few people came out to give the mountain t.t. a try. Summer made a grand appearance, as it should; no point in making it any easier than necessary. I settled in with my camera on Shinn Road at the bridge, and just below that first steep ramp, and awaited the first rider. This is the one place along the course where the road doubles back on itself and you can shoot riders coming toward you with Baldy in the background. It is also still within the first two miles of road, so when the riders reached me, all but one were still mostly fresh, had not yet begun to suffer. I heard more than one racer say this was their first time on the road, so kudos to then for giving it a go. That's more dedication than I exhibited today.

Some quite respectable times were set, and some familiar names took home the honors: in the Pro/1/2 race, Alexander Kusztyk finished first with a time of 1:03:03. Seth Britton won from the Cat 3's in a time of 1:08:50. The Masters 35+ went to Peter Smith with a time of 1:03:05. Richard Mull took the Masters 60+ in 1:11:19. Hannah Swan finished ahead of the Junior Women in a time of 1:21:42. Pua Mata finished first of the Women 1/2 in 1:03:58, while Alison Jones with a time of 1:13:27 finished first of the Women 3/4. Greg Leibert won the Masters 45+ in a time of 1:08:08. The Cat 4 was won by Jun Hoshino, 1:06:05, while Anthony Tintelnot won the Cat 5's in 1:03:54. The Masters 55+ went to Jeff Moreton in a time of 1:15:14. Sean Bird finished first of the Junior Men 17/18 with a time of 1:06:52, Nicholas Castelano, in a time of 1:08:32, took the Juniors 15/16, and Massimo Lucidi in the Juniors 13/14 finished with a time of 1:18:26. Not bad at all. More photos are here on flickr, though not all - I pretty much got two or three of each racer.

ah, the post race chatter

back of Jax

grilling the dogs

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bikeshop Candids: Rincon Cycles...

Few actions say welcome as effectively as an open front door or, as in this case, a pair of open front doors. If your business is located where the weather is good almost year-round it makes perfect sense to keep them that way, like a pair of outstretched arms welcoming guests in. 

Though they have been around for a while now, I can't recall Rincon Cycles, when I lived in Carpinteria and attended UCSB. In fact, the lack of a respectable bike shop, was the one glaring omission from the town back then, and one that has been thankfully, and favorably, resolved. Visits to that part of the coast have been infrequent, and the timing just a little bit off, so that until this past weekend I was never able to step foot inside the shop to look around. The shop is a Specialized dealer, and there were a lot of quality bikes from that manufacturer on the showroom floor, of both road and mountain variety. There were also a lot of Santana tandems about, some of which, I assume, were rentals. They offer both components and accessories, clothing, helmets et al, whatever you may have forgotten at home. You can find maps of local routes and a staff who will answer your local riding questions. One curious aspect of the shop where the number of positively massive-sized frames; there were at least four that I noticed, built for 7-footers, including the two shown below.

a perfect match, for the visiting cyclist anyway, Rincon Cycles and the Laughing Llama Coffee House

Any town as eminently bikeable as is Carpinteria needs a shop easily accessible from all points. One providing sales of quality bikes, one providing dependable service and, considering the importance of tourism here, one that rents bikes for the day. While I can not attest to the service (and though we were greeted and inquired after right away), Rincon Cycles has the other two well in hand. Check them out when in town.


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