Saturday, November 30, 2013

2013 CXLA Cross After Dark: A Night for Nash

Katarina Nash crosses the line in victory

I always feel I should use the word indomitable when writing about someone like Katarina Nash, who is so capable of winning no matter cycling speciality she finds herself competing in - cross, mountain, road - does not matter. I have been fortunate to have seen her win across all three disciplines, and in dominating fashion. Whether she would agree with that assessment of not, I don't know, but tonight she did proved to be by far the strongest, winning both the evening race, as well as clinching the Cross After Dark series overall.

Considering some of the strength in the women's field, I was a little surprised that Nash was able to open as sizable a gap as she did. As they tend to do during a cyclocross race, the final outcome began to take shape during the very first lap. The unrelenting pace, undulations of the course, twists and turns, fierce accelerations all took their toll, until eventually Katarina emerged out of the darkness alone. Her gap over the chasers continued to during each succeeding lap. Crossing the line with one lap remaining the gap was impressive to say the least. Over the course of the final lap was closed out, the chasers had made up significant ground on the leader but, whether that was because Nash realized at some point on the backside of the course was comfortable and she could afford to let up, or whether the chasers made a massive concerted effort, only Katarina could say for sure. Rachel Lloyd and Nicole Duke finished best of the rest, crossing the line nearly together in 2nd and 3rd. Courtenay McFadden came 4th, and former French National Champion, Caroline Mani rounded out the podium in 5th.

Incidentally, during the women's race I witnessed why beer hand-ups are not always a good idea, when an overzealous fan stretched out a long arm, a can of Tecate grasped at the end of it. Regrettably, the action was so sudden one racer, deep in chase and emerging out of the dark, was unable to avoid smacking into that outstretched arm. The Tecate went swirling down the course like a live grenade, spewing foam out of its opened top. And the racer, well… lets just say she had a few choice words of her own to spew, berating that spectator all about the head. Yes, it truly is all fun and games, right up until the point when a beer gets hurt. Or something like that.

Before the women took to the course it was time for the UCI junior men to show what they are capable of. If nothing else, they are fast - at the end of their race it was announced that theirs had been the fastest of the day. The announcement only confirmed what everyone watching already surmised. They were simply moving. In a cx race, this of course, translates as, not just pure speed, but an uncanny ability to handle a bike, to guide it through the various obstacles thrown in its way. If these racers are what the future of American cyclocross looks like, than that future looks very promising. When all was said and done Max Chance (Clif Bar Development Team) stood atop the podium. Just below him were Ethan Reynolds (Hot Tubes Development Cycling Team), Garrett Gerchar (Clif Bar Development Team), Lance Haidet (Bear Development Team), and Nolan Brady (Rad Racing NW). Less than four seconds separated the first four - that is some close, hard fought racing.

UCI Junior Men's Podium

when the sun sets over Los Angeles, it does it with some style

Max Chance, victor in the UCI Junior Men's Race

It was Saturday afternoon, or nearly so, and I had arrived at the race venue near downtown Los Angeles early. I was so early, the Juniors were still thirty minutes from being called to staging. All was muted hustle and bustle; it was mostly quiet, but there was a lot of preparation taking place. Major teams were largely set up and ready to go, some of the vendors were in place arranging their goods and services. Waiting. Some racers were out warming up, checking out the new course layout, new twists, new turns, committing to memory the muddy spots, remnants of yesterday's rain. Riders to and from downtown stopped in for a look, rolled up and greeted announcer Mike Bowers with shakes of the hand as began his duties at the microphone. Kegs of beer from Golden Road Brewery filled the bed of a pickup truck, directed to their set-up location by Dorothy Wong.

The day progressed beneath a sun-filled, blue sky, all the while racers strove toward victory, others simply to finish, all to put in everything they had; leaving anything in the tank rather than in the dirt, or the mulch piled beside the course, would be anathema to the spirit of cross. 

Finally darkness fell; racers could be distinguished only as black masses in movement against a stationary dark background. Out of that darkness they emerged in lines, pairs or singly. Passing before light towers, illuminated by camera flash they gained perspective and character. A flash of passing color before darkness again clamped down. SquareOne's reindeer mocked passers-by, fast or slow, with verbal taunts; out of nowhere vuvuzela's materialized, and all along the course, from one end to the other their blur could be heard, marking the progression of the race as it wound through turn after turn and along straights.

Beside the few photos here, a select 138 can be seen in this Flickr set. There are plenty more as well; if you don't see what you are looking for, let me know - I may have it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Red Dots and Checkered Caps

If you know me at all, you know that I am a big fan of the iconic cycling cap. It is a rare moment when I don't have one perched atop by noggin - on, or off, the bike. You might also know that I am a fan of the unique caps (and other merchandise) produced by Red Dots Cycling. The cold weather caps, in particular, never fail to pique my interest this time of year. When I saw the most recent post by Red Dot's very own Richard, featuring a red checked "hunting" cap, and that all Red Dot's products were free of shipping fees through the end of Saturday, 30 November, I knew it was time to spread the word. You know, just in case, someone I know needs a gift idea. Hint, hint,  wink, wink.

Chapeau! Richard. Keep of the good work.

Cyclocross: The Contrary Dismount

Lets say you are approaching a set of barriers, or a run up, you don't want to bunny hop them for fear of embarrassing failure, so what do you do? You do a running dismount, of course. It is standard practice anytime you swing leg over your cross bike. The real question is, to which side of the bike do you dismount?

Surfers, skateboarders, even mountain bikers, refer to the practice of riding right foot forward as goofy footing. Even someone like me who has never surfed, and was never anything more than class 'A' laughing material on a skateboard, is familiar with these terms. Baseball players who throw left-handed are 'southpaws'. My point is that these activities have specific terms (slang) relating to specific means or actions. If you have raced cyclocross, studied it, hung out at races, or at least looked at photos, you may have noticed that most racers, something like 99% of them dismount as they approach obstacles from the left side of their bikes. As rare as that other 1% are, I don't think they have ever been graced with a disparaging uh, distinguishing name. Correct me if I am wrong.

The common left-side dismount is not unique to cyclocross, it is the most common side to dismount in what ever form of cycling. Most people also mount up from the left side; more than that, even if they are on the right side of their bikes, they will walk all the way around to the left side in order to mount up. The argument for this has always been that doing so (mounting/dismounting) on the left side allows the rider to avoid contact with the chain. True enough, and in cyclocross where dismounting also is typically followed by picking up the bike and running, the point is an even more valid one.

Now lets go back to that first set of questions. You're in a fair sized group of racers approaching the barriers. You are almost shoulder to shoulder with one racer on the left, another on the right. You unclip the right shoe, swing that leg over the saddle, quick kick out of the left pedal and ... land flat on your face. What just happened? Well, maybe you got your own feet tangled up, ya klutz. But no, turns out the actions of the guy on your left mirrored your own resulting in two pairs of tangled legs attempting to occupy the same space at the same time. I believe there is a law of science, or physics, relating to this - specifically how it is a spatial impossibility. I don't really know how often this scenario has played out, nor how likely it really is. It does seem a possibility though, and one that would lead to a few choice names being cast about. Anyway, those are not the kind of names I am looking for in this case. 

Now keep in mind, there is nothing inherently wrong with the contrary, or right-side dismount. In fact riders who can effectively dismount from either side of the bike may have a distinct advantage. Biology, anthropology, and various other natural sciences tell us that in evolutionary time, such riders will be favored over those who can dismount from only one side. But then that is an entirely different argument. 

The question now, for all you more knowledgeable cx'ers, is there a name for a rider who dismounts on the right? Is there a name for the act of dismounting on the right?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Here is one way to get your Thanksgiving Day miles in:

I just found this image on Bikehugger from way back in 2007, but it is the first I have seen it. Anyone else cooking up the big bird this way

Just a quick note of gratitude to everyone who stops by here, whether regularly or occasionally. We live in a great world for cycling, and I am thankful there are such terrific people to share it with. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Swooping Butterflies and Majestic Views: New SGRT Entry Node

The new San Gabriel River Trail (SGRT) entry node/parklet, off Todd Avenue appears to be finished, and it is a pretty nice little rest spot. If you go that way, you have seen the progress for the past few months. Maybe, like me, you had to take a detour once or twice to accommodate the construction. If you only ride by on the path, you might not have known what was going on, or even been aware a little parklet was being created.

There are at least a couple design themes going on - butterflies and the nearby mountains are obvious. One butterfly has been created on the ground plane out of stark white stone. It trails behind the more interesting of the two, which has seemingly taken flight out in front. The functional design of the steel awning butterfly will be welcome on hot days, but the shadow created by the mesh "wings", contrasting with the solid "body" and wing "ribs" is what caught my eye. There is an ephemeral quality very much like the more colorful wings of an actual butterfly.

From a design standpoint, and other than the butterflies, the remainder of the parklets features seem disparate, with little to tie them together. Individual objects set down in the space. I am not sure what the intent of the concrete conduit was. I guess small kids will climb atop it, and run through it; older kids on bmx bikes will take to the ramp (not that they got the idea from me). Its elevated vantage provides another perspective of the otherwise flat space. Three bike racks have been formed to resemble the mountainous background. Planting is minimal, but when the sycamores mature they will provide additional welcome shade and interest. I have to think that the rounded boulders relate to the nearby river, while the cut stone benches are a nod to the quarry and mining operations always in view along this portion of the river trail. The stacked stones seem to me an odd feature, regrettably asking to be knocked down by local vandals. The large circular plaza, and particularly its score lines remind me of a bicycle wheel. But maybe that is just my biased view.

I didn't notice any drinking water source, but with other parks nearby, perhaps the designers figured that was an unnecessary expense. Nor were there any trash receptacles. Anyway, even with whatever design deficiencies it may have, the node is a welcome addition to this part of the trail.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

This Weekend: CXLA and Cross After Dark

This is going to be big. Two days of Cross, including the finale of the Cross After Dark series,  the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition's Tour de Taste, Sierra Nevada Brewfest and, to kick things off, a whole slew of Black Friday events including rides, bike swap, and partying.

If you are unfamiliar, Cross After Dark is a four race series which began with CrossVegas in, Las Vegas of all places, during Interbike on September 18. That first race was won by World Champion Sven Nys, and multi-talented (road, mountain, and cx) Czech racer, Katerina Nash. The second race of the series came at the St. Louis's Gateway Cross Cup where former Belgian racer, Ben Berden won the men's race, taking over as series leader in the process. Amanda Miller won the women's race, making for a tie atop the overall standings. Cincinnati hosted the third round, the Lionhearts International Cross. There, Katie Compton (who has been racing like mad over in Europe lately) and Tim Johnson took respective wins. Katerina Nash finished second and solidified her series lead; meanwhile Berden finished fourth, enough to maintain his overall lead, heading into the finale at Los Angeles. Don't forget, that is just Cross After Dark; there is also the rest of the racing action - two full days - including UCI races for Juniors 17-18, Women, and Men. As I said, there is no way around it, it's going to be big. Get all the important information here.

The Velo Course: The USDAP [usedUp] Loop

You know, I have all these rides I want to add to the Velo Course, many of them from older days; between making the map, riding them again for the photos, and then doing the write-up they take longer than other posts. It's just going to have to be a slower growing list that I would like it to be.

 lower Mt. Baldy Road

San Dimas Canyon

"One by one, I had considered and discarded all my ideas for the day's ride; I just was not inspired by any of the usual routes." With that distinct lack of inspiration, the USDAP [usedUp] Loop was created. The route includes portions of four shorter loops which, grouped together, I call the Home Loops, or the Hour Loops because they are all relatively close to home, or take about an hour to ride. Taken in order those loops are the Upper, San Dimas, Amelia, and Puddingstone - USDAP.

The usedUp Loop is a mostly urban ride, with just one short foray into the local mountains, an up and back through the lower portion of San Dimas Canyon. The canyon may be the marquee of this ride, but it is not the only highlight - mountain views along the short stretch of Mt. Baldy Road, old town San Dimas, Bonelli Park, Claremont Village and the Claremont Colleges, are all additional points of attraction. Much of this route has been covered separately before, so I am going to jump right in to the turn-by-turn description:

Once again I will use the Vons/Euro Cafe parking lot for the starting/ending point for its obvious advantages (space, food, drink). From the parking lot head north on Mills Avenue (toward the mountains), at Mt. Baldy Road make a right passing by the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. At the next light, with views of Sunset Peak, Potato Mountain, Frankish Peak, Ontario Peak, and others, make a right and descend along Padua Avenue. You will follow Padua for about a mile, making another right at the first through street back to Mills - Pomello Drive. Go left on Mills, then right on Alamosa, the next street. Make a left on Monticello Road, which curves around Jaeger Park and a residential track. Follow this with a left on Fairfield Drive, then another left on Armstrong Drive; where Armstrong runs into the top of Indian Hill Blvd take the turn to the left and descend the gentle grade to Baseline. At Baseline go right, up and over the hill at the edge of town, passing the Webb School, Live Oak Canyon, and the Leroy Haynes School, in the process.

You are now in the city of La Verne and soon face the option of the day - should you take Esperanza, or should you take Emerald. Emerald (turn right) is the preferred option for this route, it is of a more rolling nature involving numerous street changes. Esperanza, which you arrive at first, is a sudden steep climb, before leveling off and making a wide, sweeping turning into Golden Hills Road. If you take Emerald it will pass through a couple stop signs then bend left and change to Orangewood Street. Pass the channel-side trail to Marshall Canyon, and punch it up the small bump to Via de Mansion, where you turn right. At Via Arroyo go right again, then left on Via Entrada where there is another short bump. Turn right again on Birdie Drive, then right on Country Club Drive which bends up and around to Golden Hills where you will turn left. Take Golden Hills until it seemingly ends at a locked gate with signs saying no cars, no bikes, no pedestrians. At this point I can't recommend you ignore all that and simply go around the gate like everyone does anyway. You can turn left on Wheeler, right on Baseline, then right on San Dimas Canyon Road, which is what the city would have you do. If you choose to ignore the signs and gate, do watch for the rockslides and other debris - the reason this road is closed is because it is a perpetual problem to maintain. Once you are on San Dimas Canyon Road head up this most scenic part of the ride. Enjoy the overhanging canopy of oaks and sycamores, the roadside stream and the green enclosing mountainsides. The dam will come into view, but top it and keep going. At roads end (pavement end, actually) there is a fire station, your turn around point. The dirt road continues into the San Dimas Experimental Forest - a closed area to all but scientists and government personnel. The descent back to the city is fun, but watch for traffic.

Once back into the urban area make a right on Baseline, and follow this to the hill at the edge of town (why is there always a hill at the edge of town?) Heading down the gentle slope you enter Glendora. Make a left at Amelia and follow that down to Gladstone where you make a left, then an almost immediate right where Amelia continues. This short gentle hill is a sprint point for many local rides that go this way. At Fifth Street go left and follow this residential street to South Monte Vista Avenue where you make a right. You are going to go through the intersection at Bonita; however, this is the quaintly Western old town area of San Dimas with some fun little independent shops and cafes if you want to spend a little time. Regardless of how much time you take here continue along Monte Vista to Commercial and turn left, then right on San Dimas Avenue. Take this to Puddingstone Drive where you make a left, being watchful of traffic at this fast, and uncontrolled, intersection. Follow Puddingstone around its many curves, beside Bonelli Park (of which I have written many times), to where it comes out at Brackett Airfield. Just beyond the control tower make a left on Wright Avenue which winds around through an industrial/commercial complex before ending at Fairplex Drive opposite the Auto Club Speedway. Gene's Grinder (on Wright Ave) is a popular grub and watering hole for some of the local group rides (although I can't say much in favor of their coffee). At Fairplex make a left; go right on 3rd, left on 'G', then right on Bonita Avenue. Bonita is the Citrus Regional Bikeway, or will be once you leave La Verne and ride through, first Pomona, and then Claremont.

When you get back to the Claremont Village you could simply take the most direct route - through the commercial core, left on College, right on Foothill, left on Mills, and back up to where you started. It is more fun though, to spend at least a little time weaving through the Claremont Colleges, or checking out the shops in the Village. The choice is yours - if you simply head in a general direction uphill and toward the mountains, no matter which campus roads and paths you follow through the Colleges, you will reach Foothill and Mills. The stats for this one come out at thirty-one (31) miles and 1800 feet of elevation gain.

waterfowl at Bonelli Park

bikes lined up...

and riders gathered at Gene's Grinders

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Blues: Black and Blue

I caught these two cozying up to one another a number of weeks ago outside the gym at Pomona College. There may be something to the adage of opposites attracting, but clearly birds of a feather flocking together is equally valid. Color coordination at the bike rack.

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, November 24, 2013

2013 Turkey Trot Cross: Like a Circus

 If not for the bigtop of Circus Vargas a quarter mile down the road, I don't think I would have made the analogy but, the best cyclocross races do resemble circuses, or at least sideshows. Every which way you turn your face there is something to see; much of it is irreverent, plain silly, and downright rude. A lot of this has to do with the venue, and Glendale's Verdugo Park is among the best. The park is pretty small, so the action literally swirls around you at all times. It is nearly impossible to not become fully immersed in the atmosphere. The sights, the sounds, the action all get tossed together - three rings that don't stop spinning until the day is done.

Anyway, what made today special? How about racers in crazy pants, reindeer heads on pikes (or something like that), beating Barry Wicks, bassets stuck behind barriers, wine swilling, beer swigging, dollar, quarter, and even dime grabbing, racers paying back, slippery leaves, hecklers galore, and of course, plenty of fierce competition. Oh, and the SquareOne Lounge, complete with lounge chairs, lounge sofas, ottomans, and automated heckling machine.

While the heckling machine was fun at first and let fly with a steady stream of trash talk - "those shorts make your ass look huge", "that mustache is creepy", "ladies, looking for fun? Come to our tent, ask for Barry", " when I was your age my parents let me do fun things", etc - and did allow the SquareOne folk to heckle in comfort, the lack of personal interaction is, I think, a drawback. The crowds who line the yellow tape and do their heckling face to face are much more engaging. As twitter demeans the act of writing, so the machine ultimately detracts from the art of the heckle.

I must confess I did not pay too much attention to the results today. I do know that the Women's 'A' race was won by Amanda Nauman, followed by Hannah Rae Finchamp and series leader, Nicole Brandt. I also know that the Men's 'A' race was won by Spencer Paxon, ahead of Tim Allen and Barry Wicks, and know that Alan Zinniker decimated the Men's Single Speed 'A' field with a large enough gap that he could stop for one of those swigs, or swills (I didn't see which), at the barriers before finishing up.

Well, between uploading, sorting, deleting adjusting, it took far longer to get the photos ready than I ever want it to again. I don't think I have ever taken so many photos at one race before. Of the over one thousand images, I narrowed the Flickr selection down to one hundred seventy-three. You can access that set with a click. If you don't see what you are looking for, let me know, as I probably got at least one photo of everyone.

high fiveing

no worries kids, it's not really Rudolph

crazy pants at the barriers

there is one kid who is going to have a great story to tell his friends at
school tomorrow - how I beat Barry Wicks in a sprint to the finish line

hecklers heckling their own

focus on the task at hand, then wonder what the heck

Doggie Cross - what's a basset to do?

the SquareOne Lounge

super happy fun times - beer before the barriers, wine after - super happy fun times

and yes, there was some serious competition as well

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fast Digs Update

So, a few months ago you may remember a post here about some of the lesser-known and disappeared bike racing venues of the Los Angeles region. It is one of those topics combining history and cycling, something I can't get enough of. Rather than add this update material into the post and have it become lost to those of you who already read that original post, I am also giving it a separate update here. If you want to read, or review, the entire post including the update, click here.

Jackie Cooper - official starter of a 10-mile women's bike race in Los Angeles, 1933

One of the venues I was most interested in was/is Montebello Stadium simply because I had never heard of it. 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.

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 (Crebs Cycling Club - 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 (North Hollywood Wheelmen - NHW) 26 pts, Bill Lambert (US Navy [?] - 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 (San Diego Cycling Club - SDCC) 15 pts, Jim Montgomery (NHW) 14 pts, George Gainer (NHW) 10 pts, Don Tenney (SDCC) 9 pts.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Write It Down

"In the southbound lane of the SGRT, near the Nature Center, a little bird lay in perfect, peaceful repose. No larger than half my closed fist, I am guessing it was a tit-mouse. Fluffy gray feathers ruffled in the breeze. What brought it to this end?"

"I was all set to note something about the long, shapely legs powering a woman up Mt. Baldy Road this morning as the days incident. Then I decided that the sight of commuters all bundled up - wool jackets, scarves, gloves - on this first truly cold day of the season would be more fitting."

"A minefield of slick, hard acorns I weave my way through without slowing. Leaves plastered to the pavement in their red, orange, and yellow glory. The sight of silver spray cast forward from rapidly spinning front wheel, and the feel of spray on my legs from the rear. Finally. Real. Rain."

For too long now my race/train log entries have been mostly devoid of any character, they have become cut and (all too) dry. Simple, basic facts -stats of the day, where I rode, how I felt, how I rode. It is a drawback when most of the miles come during solo spins. There are just no opportunities to make cracks about Joe, rag on the riding ability of Jim, or compliment the fluidity of Jane. If I could do a group ride everyday it might be different, but that is wishful thinking, not reality.

So I decided to shake things about, spice up the bland. Taking a cue from those pic-a-day type blogs, with a focus on writing rather than photographing, I decided to incorporate one incident from each ride to distinguish the day, just like those three up above, records of the last three rides. As short as a single sentence, as long as a short paragraph, is all that is necessary. The sentence-a-day, the pic-a-day means of recording incidents are nothing new, and trace their descent to the ancient Winter Counts of the Lakota, Kiowa and other cultures of the Great Plains. Those Winter Counts would record one memorable event for an entire year in Counts that could go back for generations. Their historic record is invaluable. Is my riding record as significant? Heck no, but it doesn't matter.

Give it a try, right along with the daily stats. It might be a year from now, two years, maybe more, but you will eventually thank me.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cycling Claremont: The Petterson Museum

The full name of this cultural institution located at Claremont's Pilgrim Place is the Petterson Museum of Intercultural Art, and as such their collections and exhibits highlight cultural objects such as basketry, ceramics, clothing, textiles, decorative arts, prints, and ethnic and tribal arts. Like other cultural museums, exhibits at the Petterson allow visitors to not only enjoy the rich artistic heritage and legacy of a variety of cultures, but to also consider differences and similarities amongst them, and our own. The museum provides an opportunity to explore why cultural differences exist, and helps to foster awareness and understanding of the diversity of the worlds cultures and their belief systems.

The museum is open free to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 2:00 to 4:00. Docents are available for special group tours on those days, or during other days through special arrangement with the museum. For more information on the museum and current exhibitions, check the website here.

The Cycling Claremont series of posts highlight some of the local businesses I have been known to frequent because I like what they offer, because they are bicycle friendly, or because they provide something unique or interesting, and which visitors to Claremont may also like.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This Weekend: The Los Angeles Grand Prix

Bloody hell, I wish I had some free time this weekend, because this is going to be really good. Alas, at least for me, it is just not to be. The Los Angeles Grand Prix at the Velo Sports Center, will host some amazing fast racers, not just from the United States, but from the world as well. Among those scheduled to compete are Sarah Hammer, Njisane Philip, and Bobby Lea. With qualification points on the line for upcoming UCI races, expect the competition to be intense. Paracycling events will also be taking place - when the World Championships took place at the venue a couple years ago, I was fortunate to be in attendance (day 1 and day 4) - anytime you have athletes the calibre of Greta Neimanas, Allison Jones, Jennifer Schuble, among others, you can expect a great show.

Check the website for seating/pricing, schedule, a short preview video and other relevant information.

For Sale: Giant Yukon FX

Maybe three years ago we bought this Giant FX for the son who then turned around and had himself a major growth sprout. It seemed that within a matter of months it had become obsolete. If he put 300 miles into it I would be surprised, and for the past two-plus years it has simply been a space-saver and dust-collector in the garage. It is like new, no blemishes, never crashed, but it is past time to get rid of it. This is a good kids bike for someone looking to step up to their first 26"er, or a lower in stature adult. If you read reviews of this bike, you will see that Giant built these things solid, to take the abuse that kids tend to dish out to their rides. All the specs are below.

Giant says this is the xs size, for riders 5'-2" to 5'-4" in height. The frame is aluminum ALUXX 6000 series butted tubing. Comes equipped with:
 SRAM X-4 8-speed rear der,
Shimano Alivio front der,
WTB Double Duty wheel set w/ Kenda Nevegal 26/2.10 tires,
TruVativ cranks,
Hayes MX4 mechanical disc brakes with Tektro levers,
Rock Shox Dart 2 shock w/ lockout dial,
Giant proprietary rear suspension,
WTB PureV saddle,
Lizard Skins locking grips,
Azonic flat pedals.

Rarely will you see a used bike in such blemish-free condition, and certainly not one at an amazing, "get out of here" low price. If interested it can be yours, as is, for a mere $300.00 - just send me an email. Cash (firm) and local buyer (within reason) only.

SOLD today. Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Heartening Sights

As someone who believes that more people should incorporate the bicycle into their daily routine, there are few sights as welcoming as a bike rack filled to capacity. Take this scene from the Sunday just past; consider all the implications of this small vignette. 

There are seven bikes at the three ovals here (other nearby racks were equally filled).

That is seven people enjoying a sunny mid-November morning.
Seven people shopping locally, supporting local small businesses.
Seven people not in the seemingly endless line of cars and drivers circling the block for that perfect parking spot,
and, incidentally, seven people who already found the perfect parking spot.
Seven people validating the wishes of local business (and the city) to install bike racks at this, and other spots.
Seven people who received their daily dose of exercise… free of charge.
Three family members spending time together… by bike.
Two friends meeting up from divergent points… via bike.
Seven bikes taking up one-fourteenth the space of seven motor vehicles.
Seven people who heard birds singing in the trees while they made their way to town.
Seven people who watched leaves fall from the trees.
Seven people traveling pollution free.

Get the idea?

Is there a more heartening sight than racks full of bikes?

I just read an answer to that question - if you haven't read Redemption yet, I suggest you do.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Blues: Ritchey # 1...

A couple years ago, at Interbike, you might remember that Joe Breeze was there and had brought the first bike built by him (1977), Breezer #1. At this years show it was Tom Ritchey's turn to show his Ritchey #1, dating to 1979. According to the informational plaque that accompanied the bike it was the "first 26" wheel mountain bike made by Tom Ritchey, fillet brazed in his Menlo Park, California garage using oversized steel tubing. This bike features a period-correct build including an original BullMoose handlebar, custom-made seated bearing bottom bracket, original two-plate fork similar to ones used on Ritchey road frames, and a 12-inch long seat post mounted to a very early example of Tom's single-rail saddle concept, which 40 years later evolved into the Vector Evo saddle rail design."

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, November 17, 2013

Cyclists Helping Others at Thanksgiving

Did you know that between now and the end of Sunday, November 24 SC Velo and Incycle Bike Shops are holding their annual Thanksgiving Food Drive? Well, now you do. Non-perishable items, such as canned meats, canned veggies, instant mashed potatoes, boxes of stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, bags of rice, dried beans, etc, can be dropped into collection bins at any of the four Incycle shops (San Dimas, Pasadena, Rancho Cucamonga, Chino). The food items will then be taken to the Salvation Army Regional Food Distribution Center, from where it will be distributed to families in need. If you are able, your efforts can help make Thanksgiving a happy one for another family, or families.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

2013 El Dorado Park Cyclocross: DNS

I have been involved in racing long enough to understand the mentality. Not that the knowledge has translated into an understanding of how to win mind you. I have been around cyclocross (CX) enough to recognize subtleties and nuances, but that recognition has been gained solely from the perspective of an armchair anthropologist, knowledgeable sure, but lacking in the experience of the field. It is one thing to write about the suffering of the CX racer, how gopher-infested grasslands will rattle the brain in your skull, how run-ups and other obstacles will gradually leave you drained of energy to the point of tripping over the barriers on your last lap, based on what you see. It is another to write about all that based on what you feel.

If I may borrow from the great Monty Python, "and now for something completely different". I am ready to leave the predictability of the road, and the comfort of full suspension on trail, for the wild and wooly world of racing on grass, sand, wood chips, jumping off bikes and over barriers, running up steps, heckling the hecklers, while trying to not be passed by the front runners while I am still on my first lap.

I have made mention a couple times now of, what I call, my pseudo-cross bike. Essentially it is the single-speed Origin8 Uno to which I added a Schwalbe CX Pro rear tire, and an old pair of Shimano SPD's that came off one mountain bike or another, at some point in time. I would hardly call it perfect for all situations, for instance I would not take it to Cross at the Beach (too much sand), but it may be just right for the Long Beach course this weekend. El Dorado Park, where the race is held, is mostly grass, some pavement, and a little sand (which I can always run, if need be).

What I really needed to do today was get out and practice that running dismount, so off to the little park around the corner I went. This is the only kind of dismount my son seems to know how to do, and he makes it look easy. Needless to say, I have watched him do it, I have watched racers at the local cross races I have covered for the blog over the past few years, I have watched some of those "how to" videos on YouTube. As a result I was pretty sure I wouldn't embarrass myself in front of the neighbors. Well, you know what? I didn't. It was easy; no tripping over my own feet, no awkward clipped in flops. The motion seemed pretty darned fluid and, other than the painter working on a house across the street, no one around with a critical eye to say otherwise.

I did notice a problem that just was not going to work - my gearing. That grass might as well have been six inches of wet concrete for all it slowed my momentum and prevented me from picking up speed. Off to the bike shop I went. Picked up a new 39 chainring to replace the 46, shortened up the chain appropriately, and now feel I am about as ready as I will ever be for my first cx race. All you single speed back markers beware, I may be confident about my dismount, but actually getting both body and bike over barriers, then hitting the saddle again may be a challenge. Or high comedy.

So, all that up there was written on Friday. I was going to post it Friday as well - you know, good incentive and all that - I would have had to race, no way around it. But then I decided to save it as a kind of introduction for the actual race post. It would also give me a way out in case I didn't race - I just wouldn't post it. Well, as it turns out, sometimes the best laid plans just don't work. I didn't realize it at the time, but the evidence of failure is in the photo above - it just barely made the picture frame. There I was, doing some warm-up laps in between races; I had gone through the barriers, ridden beneath the pines, sailed through the double run up, remounted and was picking up speed again when a loud metallic BANG brings me to a stop. No power. I thought the chain had broken. No, it was still a complete loop but it was off the chainring and freewheel. What the heck, how does that even happen on a single speed? I thought it strange, but after getting everything back in order I continued on my way and circled the rest of the course with no problems. 

I photographed a couple more races (including the shot above) and then took another warm-up lap. Once again, BANG. Now this is just too weird, so I studied the chain and found the broken link. End of day. No race. It always seemed like a kind of cheap chain to begin with, it was red after all. I had no idea how old it was, having bought the bike used. I guess I should be surprised it lasted as long as it did.

I was yet to pay my entry fee, but was still surprisingly bummed about how things turned out. Of all the races on the calendar, I always figured this one was the best option for my slick-fronted bike - mostly gopher infested grass with some sections of concrete pathway, one sand pit which virtually everyone runs anyway. Considering the strength of the field I, no doubt, would have finished dead last but then you never know until you try. My try will have to wait. In the meantime here is the link to a Flickr set of seventy-seven photos.

Garnet Vertican leaps the barriers at, what appears to be, supersonic speed

But, you say, stop all this gibberish about yourself; how about some of the actual racing?

The Men's 35+ A (CX 1-5) probably ended up the most closely contested race of the day. Garnet Vertican (SPY/Giant) established the initial fast pace by leading the charge away from the start. Vertican, and eventual victor, Rob McGee (Blackstar) then swapped the lead spot throughout the rest of the race. With those two leaders pushing one another, the remainder of the field battled to limit the deficit. With all the back and forth there was really only one appropriate way for the race to finish - in a sprint. McGee crossed the line with an edge of 0.169 seconds over Vertican. Matt Freeman (Cyclery USA) crossed third at 1:23, Brett Cleaver (Ritte) at 1:50 was 4th, and Carlos Matias Mendigoche (Velo Club LaGrange) 5th at 2:37.

For a while it looked as though the Women's A (CX 1-4) race might play out the same as the Men's 35+ A race. Nicole Brandt (Velo Club LaGrange) and Hannah Rae Finchamp (Team LUNA Chix) had a close battle going for the first laps. Somewhere along the way to the finish, though, Brandt was able to gap Finchamp who, I did notice slide out on some of those slick pine needles at one point. By then Brandt had already pulled away, and would finish with a comfortable fifty-four second advantage. Finchamp held on for 2nd, while Christine Probert-Turner (Turner Bikes) came across the line 1:33 behind, having pulled away from the remainder of the field.

In the Women's B (CX 3-4) race AJ Sura (G2 Bikes) took top honors, ahead of Michelle VanGilder (Troupe Racing). Chirstine Pai (G2 Bikes) edged our Courtney Comer (The TEAM SoCal Cross) by a mere second for 3rd.

Julie Swafford (Team Break Wind) won the Women's C (CX4) race ahead of Martha Mauricio (The TEAM), with Isabelle Thompson (Montrose Bike Shop) finishing in 3rd.

Many of the usual protagonists were MIA from the single speed races, but that does not mean there was any lack of competition. The Men's A (CX1-5) race shaped up early as a three way contest between Joseph Warner (Happy Houseboating), David Turner (Turner Bikes) and Ty Hathaway (Mudfoot). Eventually Hathaway slipped backwards, and it was up to Turner to keep Warner within striking distance. That was all though, as Warner crossed the line 1st, with an 18 second advantage over Turner. Hathaway hung on for 3rd, 1:07 behind Warner, and ten seconds ahead of a hard charging Mike McMahon (Team Velocity).

In the race I would have done, the Men's B (CX4-5) Jay Kwan (The TEAM So Cal Cross) took the win ahead of Hernan Montenegro (Anytime Crew), with Paul Hernandez (The TEAM SoCal Cross) in 3rd.

In what was at least her second race of the day, Christine Probert-Turner won the Women's single speed race, finishing ahead of Dorothy Wong (The TEAM), and Olivia Harkness.

The Men's A race saw the brothers Gritters (Blackstar/Rock n' Road) take top honors once again, Brandon with a twenty-six second advantage over Kyle. Brent Prezlow (Celo Pacific/Focus) came in 3rd at thirty-three seconds. Jason Siegle (SDG/Felt) took 4th another half minute back, while SDG teammate, Anton Petrov, rounded out the podium finishing a mere three seconds behind Siegle. The 1st and 2nd placings allowed Brandon and Kyle Gritters to solidify their lead in the overall standings. 

For complete results (of all the day's races) and overall series standings be sure to check the SoCal Cross Prestige Series website.


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