Thursday, July 31, 2014

This Bud's For You, 30 July

When the Bud's Ride finishes it is still hot enough for most people to wish it wasn't. Riders sprint across the line, or soft pedal across, depending on their mood, then make a u-turn at the end of the street and take a cool-down lap before another turn takes everyone homeward. Tonight most of them were held up right after the u-turn, a crowd gathering around a lone pickup truck which had become an impromptu mobile watering hole. The couple at the truck handed out bottles of cold water from an ice chest, and i must say it was with welcome relief that the refreshment was quaffed and guzzled more quickly than mouths could handle. Propriety, though not manners, were abandoned, as streams ran out from the corners of mouths, down chins. Thank you's and other appreciative comments were sputtered between gulps. I can't say for certain who these supporters were, parents of a racer perhaps, but the gesture was very cool indeed.

true curb-side seating

the sprint to the line - the lead group shattered behind

this Bud's for you: a bike-length + win for the Predator Cycling rider

as i was packing up to leave the "main" bunch hove into view at the far end of the straight. the sprint out of that group looked like this

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Real Racer

After making a u-turn i caught up to Michael, not myself, a different Michael (just to clarify, i was not in the midst of one of those self-conversations i have talked about before; all you psycho-analysts out there with dollars in your eyes, those conversations never extend to a second me). As i pulled even, he had to do a double-take and said "for a second there, you looked like a real racer." Hmmm, "real racer". Did he mean someone actually racing the Bud's Ride, rather than someone trailed off the back, or never in it to begin with? 

The idea that the statement might have been a simple greeting between two racer-types never crossed my mind. A moment of joking banter between comrades of the spoked wheel.

Instead, what i heard was the double-entendre version - "for a second there, you looked like a real racer." Rather than the wannabe i seem to have become, in other words. I must have been smooth pedaling, the power rippling from my legs. There must have been a certain air of confidence demonstrated by my position on the bike - elbows bent to 90º, in battle with the surging headwind, back flat, head cocked ever so slightly up, and tilted a degree to the side in order to see beyond the brim of the cap, just enough to see the road ahead, horizon line hidden. Focused on being up the road, and off the front.

If only reality had matched that image. I certainly did not feel i was riding much like a racer at the time. Running on fumes, legs on the verge of surrender. Form, a hazy memory from a week earlier, not quite sloppy, but certainly at that end of the spectrum. The smoke and mirror, was good enough, though. If you can't play the part, you can at least look it. Decades of riding can teach you to disguise temporary shortfalls, hide behind your poker face, trick others into thinking it is all easy. Like smiling while you climb. Masters of the peloton are not always the strongest, they know when to use other methods of achieving a goal.

It was a statement that could have been mis-construed as a slight by someone less easy going than myself, and for the fact that it was mostly true. There are no races under my wheels this year, i keep waiting for those guys (meaning my competition) to get old and slow. That does not seem to be happening, and so those days of looking like a racer have shrunk to mere moments, or seconds, if Michael is to be believed.

But really, does one ever stop being a racer? Does anyone not consider Eddy Merckx to be anything other than a racer? I doubt it; he will be one until the day he passes on. Once you are in, is there ever any getting out? Well, yes i suppose there is. But that involves complete abandonment, no bike and no riding. Taking up golf instead. It is the reason Super Dave used to be a racer, but is no longer. It is the reason the old guy (wish i could call him by name, but i seem to have forgotten it) from the Montrose Ride, wearing thirty year old shorts which fit like baggies, remained a racer up until his last ride.

There is a quote in Slaying the Badger that struck a nerve when i read it and resonates on-topic here: "I stopped my career very quickly, which gave me the opportunity to not go too far ... to not get into something from which there is no return ... no return."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hakkalugi Rebuild III: Seatpost and Saddle

Sometimes that flexibility you build into your plans comes into play. A few weeks ago i set out to acquire a Ritchey WCS seat post, wet white colored, size 27.1mm. That size, common to older steel tubing, is becoming more difficult to locate. Adding others specifics, such as brand/model, makes it even more so.

I let my LBS have a crack at tracking one down, but after those few weeks passed without a word, i gave up on the idea of a successful hunt. I will leave that one for the future, and then saved a few bucks at the same time by delving into the parts bin. There i found a two bolt seat post that is very similar in appearance and set up to the Thompson i have on my mountain bike. Except it does not have the Thompson name on the side. Some cheap knock-off? I don't know, but it will do the trick for now.

Though i couldn't find the white post, i didn't have any problem getting the Ritchey WCS saddle with the carbon rails. I walked into yet another LBS and there it was. I would have been fine with the CroMo or Al rails, but am satisfied with the splurge. It has been twenty years since i last had a white saddle, back to the days of the Concor. That one wasn't difficult to keep clean; we will need to see what happens when the CX course turns muddy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Monday Night Crazy Legs Ride

Starting off. Heading out. 

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

Monday Blues: Diary of a Workingman

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

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

Blue: A color, a mood or emotion, a genre of music. Tune in each Monday for another installment of the Blues, with a cycling twist.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bonelli Green

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

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Query: Lil' Herbert and Other Talismans

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

This Bud's For You, 23 July

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

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This Bud's For You, 16 July: What Happened?

When Curly Howard would unknowingly swing a plank around and flatten Moe, or send a sledge hammer flying through the air only to come down and knock himself out, you came to expect him to say something like - "what happened?" On an evening that saw the best sprint of the year played out along Puddingstone Drive, in front of a, small but select, group of spectators i failed miserably to get a single shot. What happened? 

When i turned on the camera there was a dread message - in bold white lettering on a foreboding black background - "card write protected." How the heck did that happen? Better yet, can i un-write protect the card, and if so, how? I quickly fumbled through the settings menu until finding the one that says "write protect". Clicking that tells me that indeed the card is "write protected". But then i already knew that. I toggle back and forth, but that just sends me up or down the menu. Damn it, here comes the bunch. I turn it on and off, since it seems to work on the computer. Nothing, but i try it again anyway. Maybe it only works the second time around.

They are really winding it up now, and it looks like everyone is in on the sprint tonight. Three in particular though have a clear advantage and are duking it out in the last hundred meters and all the way to the line. Finally, coming from behind, it is the rider from Stage 2 Cyclery taking the win. No documentation of the win, but the week's Bud's crown is for you Stage 2 Cyclery racer.

Back to the card. No, wait, never mind. A card problem, not a camera problem. I just now noticed the little toggle switch on the side of it. Odd how i never took notice of that before. I mean i was not completely oblivious, the cut out in which the switch is recessed has always been obvious, i just never considered for a moment what it was there for. Doh! 

Now that everything is back in order, replay tonight, anyone?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Know Your Face

It is only mid-July, six-thirty in the evening and the shadows are already long. Now that i think about it, the shadows always seem to be long up here at Coyote Howl Point. The horizon is elevated thanks to the surrounding hills, and so the sun sets earlier than it does down in the flat city. Funny thing is, while the horizon line may be higher, that does not affect the suns position in the sky. So why do the shadows seem longer?

Anyway, now that the CHWP Loop has made its way back into my repertoire of weekly rides (Tuesdays, just in case you want to avoid the place) i have begun to rediscover some familiarity up there in the canyons and on the hillsides. Some of these are physical to the landscape  - the same rutted sections, loose patches, hop rocks. Others have more to do with me - the steeper pitches where i want to push more, for instance, are the same ones they were four and more years ago; i take this as a good sign - at least my fitness has not declined during the intervening years.

The other evening (three weeks ago, to be exact) i was nearing the high point, just before the run down Cobal Canyon begins, when i spotted another rider up ahead. At first i redoubled my efforts to catch him, but as i closed in i began to rethink that strategy. We were too close to summiting for me to be able to open a gap. "That'd be embarrassing if i go around him at the top only to be re-passed on the descent," i thought. Clearly there is an under-abundance of confidence in my ability to descend that needs to be resolved. So instead, i began to soft pedal, trying to hang back. It was the old wait and see strategy - wait and see if he could descend better than he could climb than i could. I might have succeeded too, had it not been for the helmet strapped to his handlebar stem. Stopping at the top to put it on, left me with no choice but to pass him up. It was at that exact moment that i glanced over and realized it was Steven F.; who else would be riding a vintage old school steel, no suspension, Fat Chance up there anyway?

Each Tuesday evening dredges forth another familiar path from the shoals of memory - where to take the inside line, where to shift outside, where i am comfortable letting the bike run at speed, where i am wary and hold it back. In the Lord of the Rings there is a line spoken by King Theoden upon waking from a trance in which he has been ensnared - "I know your face" he says. My prolonged absence from the Wilderness Park has me thinking the same, reawakened by old memories - I know your face, these curves, edges, the hollows, changes in texture. They are all there, as they ever were.

The question you are wondering is, did Steven pass me up? Oh yes. Within a couple turns of the top. [Sigh].

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Blues: Up A Dry River

Up a dry river and a long way from the coast. 

A few weeks ago, maybe more, i spotted this dolphin or porpoise landlocked up the San Gabriel River Trail (SGRT). The channel was still showing some seasonal green, but a bit of a heat wave was turning the grass and much of the shrubbery a summer brown, with a dust-filled sky to match. Under those conditions that blue dolphin really stuck out - for multiple reasons.

Blue: A color, a mood or emotion, a genre of music. Tune in each Monday for another installment of the Blues, with a cycling twist.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Velo course: The Santa Barbara Coast

I have enthused about the Santa Barbara area enough times over the years, for you to figure out it is one of my favorite places to ride. It is only natural then, that at least one route up there should make its way into the Velo course. The word 'coast' in the title of this one is key; while there is a hillier, roughly parallel route along the foothills, this one is all about the coast and the views out across the Pacific. That does not mean that those blue waters are always in view, the route does wind inland at times. But make no mistake, it always comes back to the water's edge, and its border of white sand or sheer cliff face.

Start this ride at the Jr. High School in Carpinteria at the corner of Carpinteria and Palm Avenues. The parking lot is on Palm, where the tennis and basketball courts are located, as well as the swimming pool. There are plenty of spots whenever school is not in session. Incidentally, if you continue down Palm you will come to the State Beach and campground. You might want to end the ride there, but to start head back to Carpinteria Ave and turn left (not an easy thing to do during the summer). Follow this street through the town center. At Santa Ynez Avenue turn right and cross over the freeway, then turn left at the first intersection, Via Real. You will take Via Real out of Carp and into the next town along the coast, Summerland. Along the way you will pass numerous wholesale growers (nurseries), as well as the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club. Founded in 1911, the Club is the third oldest polo facility in the United States. I have never been to a match there, but assuming they would let cycling riffraff in, i think it would be pretty interesting to watch a tourney.

Past the Polo Club you jog through a small residential area and begin to climb a low hill. As you do so, wonder at how much the large estate along the right of the road must be worth and at how many lifetimes you would need to live to accumulate that much wealth. When you crest the hill a nice view of the ocean will open up. Remember this point for the return trip, as you will make a turn here. A quick run down hill will take you into Summerland, long known for its antique shops and Big Yellow House. Somewhere along that downhill run, and for what ever reason, the street name changes from Via Real to Lillie Avenue and then, in the town center area, changes again to Ortega Hill Avenue. It used to be that Ortega Hill was the only obstacle along this route, and that is not saying much since it is not a particularly long, or steep, hill. Now a-days we don't even have to tackle Ortega; at the base of the hill look to the left just past the freeway entrance for the separated bike path which follows the route of speeding (or slowly moving, depending upon the time of day) traffic around the hill, rather than over it.

Once around Ortega Hill you will find yourself in the monied enclave of Montecito and on Jameson Lane. Follow Jameson alongside the freeway all the way to the edge of Montecito's commercial core at Olive Mill Road. Turn left there and take this road down to the beach at the Four Seasons Biltmore; the road will bend to the right and become Channel Drive between the beach wall and the hotel. You may be tempted to stop for a while here for a look around; there is still a ways to go, so it might be better to do so on the way back. 

As you leave the hotel and head up the next small rise watch for the beginning of the cliff -top bike path and merge on to it. This may very well be the most beautiful quarter mile of bike path in Southern California - flowers are always in bloom and, as long as the sky is clear, the Pacific is always sparkling. In too short a distance, the Channel Drive Bikepath will bend to the right and become a full street again. The big open space on your left is the Santa Barbara Cemetery. Channel Drive comes out at Cabrillo Boulevard, the main waterfront drag through Santa Barbara. At the intersection you have a choice - you can turn left and take to the street (my preferred route), or you can cross and enter another off-street, but parallel bike path, with its view of the lagoon and Andree Clark Bird Refuge.

Either way you choose I would next suggest making a left into the beach-side parking lot at the East Beach Bath House. There is a cafe there with outside seating, and often a beach volleyball tournament taking place. Warily make your way through the parking lot on the far side of the bathhouse and once again enter the bike (multi-use) path along the ocean front. If you are doing this ride on a Sunday, the linear park along here hosts an arts and crafts show every weekend and on holidays. Check it out, it is a major event and there is always something of interest. You can also expect to see jugglers, tight rope walkers, hear drumming circles, solo guitarists, and others in this park. At Stearn's Wharf leave the bike path and turn onto State Street. State is Santa Barbara's main commercial drag and well worth a little exploring time, if you have never been. As you cross under the 101 freeway the street will narrow to a single lane and bike path in each direction, mobs of pedestrians line the sidewalk. Riders not used to being in close proximity to motor vehicles might be apprehensive, but honestly, cars move so slowly through here and bikes are so prevalent, that there is actually very little to worry about.

You can make a left off of State at any time (be wary of the no left turn signs if you do) but i would suggest going up the street to Micheltorena Street where there is a left turn lane. Follow Micheltorena up and over the 101 freeway before making a right onto San Andres Street. At Mission Street make another right, and then an immediate left onto Modoc Road. You will follow Modoc for a handful of miles. About a half mile past the Las Palmas overhead look for the Obern Trail starting on the left; it is rather nondescript, though there is a sign (which may say Coast Route at this point, rather than Obern Trail), and a striped crosswalk. From this point the route switches between bike path and residential street, so you will need to watch for signs.

The first change up will be at Nogal Drive - you will want to cross and merge onto Nueces Drive. This first section of Nueces will end shortly for autos but you can ride across the little wooden bridge and continue on a second section of Nueces. When you come to a T-intersection at Arroyo Road, make a left. At the end of this street is another small bridge, cross and continue on the bike path alongside More Mesa Drive. From this point you are on separated bike path all the way up to Goleta Beach and UCSB. The route weaves between residential, agricultural, and wooded open space along the course of Goleta Slough. Local racers often take an easy spin along this section of the route, my last time up there for instance, it was former National Elite Road Race Champion, Chris Walker who passed by in the opposite direction. Be wary at the two intersections you come to - one is controlled and offers little problem, the other is not and autos fly past without stopping or slowing. Anyway, you eventually reach a point where the wooded landscape along the slough comes to an abrupt end. It is right were the slough opens up and widens out, and you get an unobstructed view to the campus in the distance. The bike path momentarily ends at Goleta Beach where the access road enters the park. Turn left there and then at the stop sign notice the path almost doubling back on the right - follow it up to the campus. Explore the myriad of pathways up there, check out all the new construction, take in the lagoon overlooks, slurp up a Jamba Juice or get a bite to eat at the UCen (opposite Storke Tower and Plaza), take in the latest exhibition at the Museum of Art right next door, and then return, essentially the way you came.

But wait, i mentioned you should remember a point atop a small hill between Carpinteria and Summerland. When you get back there, Padaro Lane, go right across the freeway. This is a nice, mostly peaceful road, in contrast to Via Real on the other side of the freeway, where the speed limit varies between forty and fifty miles per hour. Instead, the ocean side of the freeway has a speed limit of twenty-five miles per hour. It is true, money will not buy you happiness, but apparently it will keep the speed limit on your street down. When you get back to Carpinteria there are plenty of places to eat, drink and refresh. For burgers might i suggest the Spot, down at the bottom of Linden near the beach, or for Mexican try Cabo's on Carpinteria Ave, just east of Linden. Other good places have come and gone, but those two have been there for a good long time. Still have some time to burn, check out Carpinteria State Beach, the worlds safest.

Direct mileage for this Velo course route is going to be just under fifty miles, but depending on how much extra exploring you do, it would be very easy to end up with more. Likewise you can expect that whatever time you normally give to a fifty mile ride will likely extend to twice that after all the stops and sightseeing you will do along the way.

the hill at Padaro Lane, SB coast in the distance

the most beautiful stretch of bike path in SoCal, Montecito

the lagoon at UCSB

Storke Tower

major construction at the Davidson Library - i seem to recall spending a few hours in there

the lagoon and a marine sciences facility

beach access at UCSB

Obern Trail and equestrian center

East Beach view - boats and Santa Cruz Island

East Beach view - bikini and Santa Cruz Island

East Beach view

Friday, July 18, 2014

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Charly Mottet

Sometimes i wonder if, in the future, we will be able to find photos like this of the current crop of riders, or will they all be from the generation of Mottet and earlier?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

From the Library: Pro Cycling on $10 A Day

This is a story filled with cheap food and even more cheap motel rooms, of contract negotiations, of feeling good (relatively speaking) about a $15,000 per year salary, and this from someone with one of the most recognizable names in the current roster of American cycling who, even in my heyday, would have dropped me in the first mile, no better make that five miles (i can't believe i would have ever been that bad) of a training ride. It makes you wonder what less well known pros have to put up with.

Gone are the days when we would have to wait until a person would reach their death bed before publishing an autobiographical accounting of themselves, or at least until they had reached retirement age. Has Phil even reached the mid-point of his cycling career? Has he even had enough race experience to fill a book? Or will the content all be so much drivel? These are some of the questions i asked myself while waiting in the slowly shuffling line to purchase my copy. After reading the first number of pages i was a little apprehensive that the story would be little more than a collection of incidents on the bumpy road to Continental Pro-dom and, while there is certainly a lot of that, i found myself getting more involved the further into the story that i read. It is intriguing the ways that riders of Gaimon's calibre and credentials must forge a balance between their lives within racing and outside of it. They ride that fine line of moderate success, with failure on one side, and glory on the other; any number of obstacles capable of sending them one way or the other. 

There is also some terrific insight in the pages, things that i had not considered, never been in a position to do so, such as: "A lot of guys end their careers that way. They ask for more money than they're worth, and act surprised when they don't get it. It's a way of quitting while leaving the final decision to someone else. Maybe he wasn't emotionally ready to make it himself, or admit it to others."

Gaimon, Phil   Pro Cycling on $10 A Day: From Fat Kid to Euro Pro   Boulder, CO: Velo Press, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Must See: Kualis Bicycles

You know how Homer Simpson salivates and he enters a single-minded trance whenever talk turns to donuts, beer, or anything he has a particular uncontrollable passion for? Yup, it is running from the corners of my mouth right now. I have posted a photo from the Kualis blog before, and honestly, his product is so nice looking I could probably post one per week. Go to the Kualis blog for more pics of Akabane's steel, disc brake road bike.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Blues: Where Have You Been All These Years?

Los Angeles Times, where have you been all these years. Long ago i gave up on the possibility of ever seeing any coverage of local races within the pages of the Times. Back in the 1980s or 1990s there might on rare occasion be a sentence or two about the Manhattan Beach GP, or Beverly Hills, but little more and certainly no weekly coverage of the weekends racing.

Anyway, Sunday morning the photo and caption shown above (from Saturday's Wolfpack Hustle Civic Center Criterium) made it onto the back page of the California, not the sports, section. (I would provide a link, but can't seem to find it on their online version.) I suppose that i should be happy to see any coverage at all, considering the newspapers past record of reportage. Truth be known i kind of am. It also got me thinking though. This is not the first time that the Times has covered a Wolfpack Hustle event; kudos to the Hustle, they are clearly doing something right. More significantly, they are doing so without a marketing department. This, i have to believe, is in contrast to "mainstream" cycling's governing bodies, which must have at least some money dedicated to marketing and promotion, yet can not seem to convince a major newspaper to provide even a modicum of coverage to their own sanctioned events.

Is there something to be learned from this? I think so, and i think it has much to do with the health and growth of the sport of cycling. Has USA Cycling become staid and ineffective? Is the future of the sport to be found in the "grassroots?" I don't believe USA Cycling is obsolete, not in the least, but i do have to wonder about their effectiveness at the local level of the sport. Perhaps the real question would be, what is Cycling USA not doing, that Wolfpack Hustle seems to do quite well?

Blue: A color, a mood or emotion, a genre of music. Tune in each Monday for another installment of the Blues, with a cycling twist.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Remembering Carlos

You know those images of funeral processions from New Orleans, moving slowly through the streets, methodical, stately, solemn, everyone wearing black and/or white, and that familiar dirge to tie it all together? Got the image, okay. Now shut it completely from your mind; excepting the slowness of the pace, this morning's tribute ride in memory of Carlos Vazquez was nothing like one of those. No, instead there was color, and there was music. Though i never did pinpoint who's bike had the hidden mini speaker i did recognize the pop, pop, Pop Music. The music was low though, and if you were just a few bikes away, you probably wouldn't have heard it. Another difference that was clearly noticeable - the conversation and the laughter. A lot of laughter.

Carlos's son was riding around the bunch, a freshly cropped mustache in honor of his father. Other family members (i believe) drove along with the procession, taking photos, encouraging and thanking the riders. I am also fairly certain they were responsible for the spread of treats and water laid out for everyone's enjoyment before and after the ride. The owner of the Claremont Jax bikeshop provided sag support. I saw John, Robert, Lark, the Bergs, and a whole lot of BoBie's (my has that club grown over the years). In fact, it was a very diverse group, as you would expect, representative of the cycling community, all coming together in remembrance of one of our own. There are some additional photos in the Flickr album Tribute Ride for Carlos Vazquez.

Just Put Me To Pasture

Back when i was in my early thirties, or maybe i had not finished off the third decade to reach even that point yet, i was climbing over Santa Susana Pass out of western San Fernando Valley. I had just started up the SSP Road when i passed a gent who was probably about the same age i find myself at now. You know, the "not as fast as i once was but not ready to admit it" age. I was in my element, the climb, and wouldn't slow down for anything. His words were to the effect of "damn, thanks for making me feel old!"

Today i found the tables turned. I was headed up San Dimas Canyon Road when a rider all decked out in BMC Hincapie Development Team kit (a past years' kit by the looks of it - i know it is not this years kit since BMC and Hincapie Sportswear aren't collaborating now) flew past me. I was climbing respectably, but might as well have been standing still. He was charging hard up that grade, clearly putting a lot of effort into it, and that was reflected in his rapid and deep breathing. It was like a locomotive bearing down on me. You don't go that fast without a little talent and an engine to put it to good effect. I watched him pull away, but made it up to the high point before he came back up after the little descent to the turn around at roads end. As he approached, and maybe thinking this middle aged fool was having a heart attack as i crouched down next to my bike, he asked if everything was okay. Sure, all is good. It was just to snap this shot - the day i admitted to myself "i am not the rider i think i once was".

I will be damned if i am going out to that pasture yet though. There is still just too much riding for that.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bike: The Fashion Accessory...

You know, i wrote this way back in February. February of 2013 that is. I didn't consider it worth posting at the time, and so it has languished near the bottom of a list of some forty to fifty similarly imprisoned posts yearning to be free. This morning i noticed that BikingInLA linked to a similarly themed story and thought, "ah damn, why didn't i bring this out a year and a half ago? Now it is just going to look like i picked up the idea from somewhere else." He who hesitates has lost. So be it, you will believe it or you won't; regardless, here is my take:

It has been a while since I last stirred the cycle chic pot, rocked that boat. I might take a little heat for this but, one of the things that bugs me about the whole cycle chic thing is that, often times the role of the bike is incidental, it becomes relegated to the role of accessory. Now before anyone gets all flustered, this is not always the case, I will freely admit. Many sites and blogs which I would categorize in the "cycle chic" realm do a very good job of combining bicycling and fashion, positively portraying smartly dressed riders. When I say "smartly" dressed I am referring to both good looking and functional. These help to normalize the image, the activity. On others, however, you can scan through page after page and never see anyone actually riding. Instead they stand next to a bike in a field of wildflowers, they sit on the lawn in a park with a bike sprawled next to them, they push a bike beside them while walking down an otherwise empty street (and thus perfect for riding), or they lounge at the seashore with, you guessed it, a bike somewhere nearby.

photo seen at C.

If you noticed in those last few lines above, I did not write "their bike", instead preferring to use "a bike", this is because I am never convinced these bikes actually belong to the people nearby. In fact I can never be sure that the models even ride a bike, let alone own one. The bikes are merely props. In these cases I come away with nothing more than bike as selling point, no different than the slender, beautiful model, the stunning landscape, the languid pose, the luxury - nor, for that matter, the long flowing shawl, draped over the handlebars and billowing in the breeze, which would surely get caught in wheel or chain. "Not", as Jerry Seinfeld would say, "that there is anything wrong with that." But still, if the objective is to normalize the activity of bicycle riding in "everyday clothes" (whatever that is), should there not be some riding taking place? Somewhere? Sometime?

You know, now that I think about, I really should not let this bug me. I just need to remember that there are two entirely different things going on. On the one hand there is the cycle chic that effectively combines the two - cycle and chic, and then there is the other hand, disconnected, ambiguous, no clear connection between the two - fashion, with a bike thrown into the mix because it sells. Not that there is anything wrong with that?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Funky Water

I rode right past this on the way down river on the SGRT without noticing it. I suppose coming back up was slower going. Anyway, i am not sure what is in there, what percentage of liquid is actually H2O, but it is some funkadelic cocktail brewing in the sun. It would be one thing if it were just the dark green, but then you've got that neon stuff swirling around. I would like to have been there in the evening when the lighting was better, since this shot really does not do the hues justice. Remember Slimy in Ghostbusters? I would half expect him to rise out of that stuff.

Didi 'the Devil' Senft

Come on, admit it. When ever you watch an old VHS tape or DVD of some race you have already seen multiple times, when you watch the Tour live in the morning, or a recap later in the day, you keep one eye on the look for Didi, don't you? I have seen him once at this year's Tour, and yes, he made his characteristic leap. Who knows how many roadside characters he has spawned, or otherwise inspired, over the years. There will only ever be one Didi the Devil though. The original. 

Have some spare English Pounds laying around? You can pick up one of these prints for a meagre ten, or the same image on a teeshirt for fifteen, from Foot Down.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

This Bud's For You, 9 July

It ain't no Tour dee Frantz, it ain't no Parie-Roobay neither (Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix), but you don't get to either of those races without doing a whole lot of Bud's Rides, or something very similar. SC Velo seemed to be out in some force yesterday, and with so many riders, it is a good thing one of them ran away from all the other contenders at the front end of the bunch to take the weekly Bud's crown.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Stone Cold Multiplication

So, i posted about this multiplicity of hoodoos at Bonelli Park back in May. Until last week, i had not visited that trail to see how the encampment was faring. It did not seem as though any new converts had sprouted around the mountainside but there are so many it is rather hard to tell. I leaned my bike against one of the big-bottomed ones right alongside the trail and turned my back for just a minute to take a photo of some of the downslope population. Just a minute, and when i turned back around there was a new one right atop my saddle; a stubby little one with a pointy conical top.

I am not sure what prompted the sudden birthing which was okay up to the point i decided it was time to start pedaling again. Problem. New mother bears, new mother dogs and, i suppose, new mothers in general don't take kindly to strangers messing with their young. Fortunately new mother hoodoos don't seem to bothered in the slightest. Even so, i tried to gently settle the young 'un on the ground. It went well until the pointy top which i just could not get to balance. It must have had something to do with the tilt of the saddle, or the lean of the bike; no matter what i tried it kept flopping to the ground. The seconds began to add up, and i could sense eyes watching with concern and anxiety. Perhaps some hostility was beginning to surface as well and so, frustrated at being put in such an awkward spot, i shouted some curses at the watchers first, but mostly at my own inability to reach a quick and easy solution.

If you happen to be riding by help out this brother, see if you can't set things straight again. Just watch your back. And your bike.


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