Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cycling Claremont: On Any Given Saturday

A ride through Bonelli Park on quiet trails made more so by towering clouds stacked up against mountain peaks. My wheels are not the only ones spinning silently over damp earth, no dry crunch today, only an occasional slurmp where deeper mud tries to slow speed, hold fast. Brethren of the road pass by, their group strung out between two driveways into the park, so I get twice the opportunity to impress with my curb-hopping exploits. I ace both and run on, glad for the witnesses this day.

Crows and ravens in the trees, in the trash cans take flight as I approach. Though I would have them stay, I am unconvinced on how best to express the wish to them. Ducks and geese in the water, are undisturbed by boats and wakes - the lake belongs to them today, uncontested. Red-shouldered blackbirds in the mustard, perch high on stalks and sing a familiar tune of Spring arrival. I would have them ingest more of the gnats that pepper my face as I unwittingly disturb clouds of their congregation.

More than ever, right now, the trails wend and weave their tapestry of contrast. Edges are distinct, they widen and narrow, they are sometimes even lost, disappear as they bend. Soon enough, green will be brown, edges will be blurred, horizon will merge with sky as if we could easily ride between one and the other. The transition will dissolve, but not today, there is no passage from earthbound to wild yonder.

i watched as the German spotter plane from a bygone era made two passes of Brackett Field, dogged the entire time by the French [?] pilot wary of the others' intentions

the lady ruggers of Claremont-McKenna - Scripps hosted their counterparts of UC Irvine. big plays, big hits to rival anything from the gridiron warriors with all their padding and helmets

a free quanco with women converging for control

the scrum

it is all steel bones, scaffolding and safety fencing right not, but the new arena rising from dust on the Claremont-McKenna campus already looks like an impressive facility

contrasting patterns, contrasting forms

Friday, February 27, 2015

When Decreasing Means Increasing

Typically I don't put much stock in weather forecasts - if a scorecard had been kept over the years it would probably be something along the lines of a tie game. When it matters, they are as often wrong as they are right.

That said, I was intrigued by this morning when I noticed the line item calling for decreasing clouds for Friday ahead of a few days of showers beginning Saturday. Looking outside, the sky was already pretty well covered  in grey matter - not fog, not those high, light, fluffy kind of clouds that tend to blow away with the first morning breeze. This was clearly heavy stuff - laden, slow moving and sinking. It looked to me as though a storm was coming in, building, not breaking up. And so the day progressed. Increasing clouds.

If someone had hooked up the doppler to predict how I would ride today, it might have come out with a more predictable forecast - weak with a strong probability of slop. Right on.

Four photos, forty miles:

brewing. if you could see far enough along that distant bend, you might notice Tinker Juarez. we rode past one another, yet again, one of many times on the SGRT / Hwy 39. and he still doesn't know who i am

running bank to bank

someone is missing their red sunglasses

"Green eyes and red sunglasses
Green eyes and red sunglasses
Breakin' the heart of every man that passes
Green eyes and red sunglasses"
- J.T. Hodges

brewing over the mountains. so much yellow down below

Ride Long and Prosper

as seen on Pinterest. Ride in Peace Leonard Nimoy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Velo course: A Cross-Town Loop

After I got my cyclocross Ibis Hakkalugi all fixed up last year, I figured creating some kind of loop on which to ride it was called for. The Cross-Town Loop is my current best solution. By incorporating various city parks, dirt paths, bonus challenge features at the Colleges, and linking them with sections of roadway, the loop provides a pretty well rounded fourteen or so miles, including many features typically bundled into your average cyclocross race. Included are grass, dirt, wood chips, gravel, sand, and sinuous turns on loose surfaces. You can practice mounting and dismounting at any time.  An added bonus (I guess) are rocks, as both Powerline and the dirt Thompson Creek Trail (TCT) will throw those at you in abundance. As for those sections of smooth roadway, just use them for speed - there is no slowing down in cyclocross after all.

Thompson Creek Trail

a beach volleyball court = sand pit

gateway to the Sontag Greek Theater

entrance to the Farm at Pomona College

typical walking / jogging path around the Farm / athletic field perimeter

typical walking / jogging path around the Farm / athletic field perimeter

Use your best judgement when you ride portions of this loop. If some group of students is in the middle of a volleyball match, avoid churning through the sand for that day. If there is a youth baseball or softball game in progress at the city park, avoid cutting across the outfield for that day. Be aware that the perimeter path around the Farm at Pomona College is often used by student joggers. Stay off the upper athletic field, which includes Pomona College's competition track. The last time I rode the loop, a track and field event was taking place, there were people warming up, and competing everywhere. Things like those. So what are the route specifics:

Start from the usual corner at Baseline and Mills, heading north on Mills. Just past Mt. Baldy Road make a left at the gate and enter the Thompson Creek Trail (TCT). Merge left onto the dirt of Powerline, and follow it until it rejoins the TCT. When you have navigated both yellow gates on either side of the intersecting roadway, you can either continue on the paved path, or drop down to the dirt. The section from this point all the way to Mountain Ave has great potential to challenge your handling, your bobbing and weaving. There are sand pits and rocks galore. Some of the rocks are quite large and will do some damage if you let them. The TCT is also extremely popular with pedestrians and joggers, so listen to Prudence, and let her be your guide.

Once you have crossed Mountain the consistency of the dirt TCT changes, largely because it is now elevated above the paved path, rather than below. Because of that it does not serve as a storm channel or drainage ditch. But for the many people and dogs about, you could really rip this section of hard pack. After you cross one more street / driveway, the dirt path changes to the other side of the paved one. That is okay but, after a short distance a slope will begin to show to your left, and the bottom of that slope is populated by some very nasty and pointedly sharp maguey. As I get close, and having no desire to become a pincushion nor to find out how well those serrated edges would work against my skin, I always hop back onto the paved path. And anyway, Towne Avenue, and the end of the TCT is just ahead. When you reach that intersection go left, cross Baseline and the I-210, then bear right at either the bike path or the first street past the 210 exit ramp.

Your are going to cruise around some residential streets now in the following order. Sumner Avenue south, left on Briarcroft Road, right on Lynoak Drive to Foothill. The intersection at Foothill is an uncontrolled one, but keep your wits about you and you can get across without too much delay. You are right at Coates Cyclery now, and if bouncing over and off all those rocks on the dirt TCT have given you a flat, stop on in to pick up a fresh tube. Continuing on, make a right on Towne, then a left at the next traffic signal, Amador Street. Take Amador until it bends right and becomes Northwestern, which you follow to Butte and a left hand turn. At Mountain Ave make a right. Larkin Park will immediately be seen down the street; when you get there ride up the corner ramp and onto the grass and in a diagonal direction across the park. Beside the grass, there is a playground with sand which you might be able to ride through. Eventually though, make your way to the parking lot along the east side of the park, and to the entrance. Cross the street onto Cambridge and continue onto Bonita where you make a left.

When you make it into the Village cut down (right) to Second Street  and turn left, eventually crossing College Ave and entering the campus. Just after, look to the right, across the lawn, to the sand volleyball court - there is some good sand pit practice there. If you have successfully limboed under the net and spun the length of the court a few times, make your way to the Sontag Greek Theater. Right after passing beneath the gateway to the amphitheater make a right on the dirt path. You will ride through a little oak woodland, then make a right at the first dirt road. This will take you on a loop around the perimeter of the Farm and lower athletic field. Get your fill of these gravel, dirt, and mulch paths through this part of the Colleges then make your way north through the campuses, up Mills and back to the ride start. The total mileage, without any extras, might be thirteen miles; I will usually end up with a little more. Now it is time for a second lap.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Host of Help

It takes a whole lot of assistance to put on a three day event like the San Dimas Stage Race. Volunteers are needed for all kinds of course related tasks, before, during and after each days' stage. Riders come from across the country, and sometimes even outside of it, and need places to stay. If you have a spare room with a bed, a couch, or such you can provide host housing to one, or more, racer coming into town for the March 27th, 28th and 29th races. To host, there are only a few minimum requirements: 1. be within thirty minutes of San Dimas, 2. bed space for each rider (couch or air mattress are okay), 3. kitchen privileges, 4. a safe place to store bikes. Hosts need not provide food or transportation. 

If you are interested check out the SDSR website and click on Volunteers. Hosts I have talked to have related coming away enriched by the experience.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Blues: Finished Before the Finish

Out before you're in.
Done before you're ready.
Picked before you're ripe.
Half way to nowhere.

You get the idea.
A broken saddle will make it happen.

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, February 22, 2015

2015 Dare to Race Grand Prix

what race?

This group of five in the Masters 55+ race grew to nine when the count reached four laps to go and, as expected, only one would cross the line first...

though it was quite close. 1st James Edwards (Sun Coast Velo), 2nd David Prechtl (Radsport Cycling Team), 3rd Thurlow Rogers (Breakaway from Cancer) 

Summer Moak was outnumbered simply standing on the line, waiting for the start whistle. With six SkyFlash Racing competitors in opposition, as well as everyone else, she rode a smart race and finished with a strong sprint to take the win in the Women's 1-4 race. 1st Summer Moak (Twenty 16 Pro Cycling), 2nd Colleen Gulick (Riptide Cycling), 3rd Cynthia Carson (RIDE Cyclery)

I was expecting another showdown between Lux and Rokform (Team Velosport). That failed to materialize with the absence of Lux from the Junior Men 17-18 race, and that left the team in orange and black in near complete control of the race. Kendal James (in foreground, I believe) rode away from two break away compadres somewhere on the penultimate lap, and soloed in for the win. 1st Kendal James (Team Velosport), 2nd Matthew Park (Team Velosport), 3rd Emmanuel Perez (Team Velocity)

That would be the Master Men's 50+ race flashing by. Kind of makes me glad I am still out of season… or out of shape… or, something like that.

After winning the field sprint for 4th in the Junior Men 17-18 race, Kenji Yoshimoto put that kick to even better use, bolting clear just before the line in the Cat 4 race.

I had to feature this Cat 4 rider because he captured the first prime of the race - a copy of the CLR Effect Annual, Seasons in the Sun from 2013 + $10 cash. Sorry I didn't get your name, but good work.

Seventy-five photos have been selected for the Flickr album, which you can access by clicking Flickr albumAs usual, if you see a photo you like feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). Want more? Go ahead and order your own copy of the CLR Effect racing annual. There are two editions available right now (2013 and 2014), and you can preview them by clicking the 2014 Seasons in the Sun Book Preview button near the top of the right hand column, or under the title banner at the top of the page.

And that is it. The end. Until the next race.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

2015 KMC Chain Winter Series, Race Weekend #4

In my opinion just about the only thing that should be allowed to interrupt the playing of Peter Frampton's Do You Feel, would be the playing of the National Anthem. The refrain of "waking up with a wine glass in my hand" was belting out over the speakers as I trod around the start finish looking for pics. That was the perfect start to race day and, as it turned out, there was no need to cut into the song, it was allowed to play out - all fifteen minutes of guitar, rythym, keyboard, audience cheers and whistles. While Peter did some finger picking, the XC riders rode some short warm ups laps around the start area, or gathered in little clusters, discussing strategy and other secret stuff. When it was time for the day's action to get underway the National Anthem cut through the air, as it does every race day here at Southridge USA. It is an interesting moment, not everyone is aware at first, but gradually the realization spreads, riders come to a halt, hats are removed from heads and, whether it is in view or not, people turn in the general direction of where the flag is flying. 

A few minutes later the announcer calls everyone to the line, all nervous energy waiting to be released. The DH and Super D guys and gals are already lining up, they want to be first into the shuttle, but the call "Good Morning Southridge! Are You Ready For Some Downhill?" is yet to break whatever calm may exist. The XCers will be finishing up before that happens. Have two weeks worth of preparation since the last race here been enough? Only time will tell.

Three times this morning the lead trio of racers in the pro men's race flew past me, and in each of those instances Alfred Pacheco was riding point with his two breakout comrades following close on this rear wheel. At some point between the third passing and the finish, twenty to twenty-five minutes later, Jean-Louis Bourdevaire and Eric Boston overtook Pacheco and said goodbye, finish first and second and almost thirty seconds ahead.

Moving right onto the photos (for now) there are eighty-one in the Flickr album (all from the XC race). As usual, if you see a photo you like feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). Want more? Go ahead and order your own copy of the CLR Effect racing annual. There are two editions available right now (2013 and 2014), and you can preview them by clicking the 2014 Seasons in the Sun Book Preview button near the top of the right hand column, or under the title banner at the top of the page.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Surfing the Wild Mustard

It appears as a rising swell in the near distance, rushing towards me, though I have already been enveloped by the last passing surge. A frothy foam of yellow, charged with the busy hunger of bees, blurs as I pass. It flows from crest to valley, and would quietly overwhelm me  as it has overwhelmed this passage, turning it into a narrow ribbon, a parting through which I skim. But I won't let it and race down the slope, picking up speed as the path narrows to shut me in, entrapped. At the last second, just as the tide would crash down around me, I burst clear of the funnel. Flecks of the foam fly free in the passing wake, ripped from the crushing wave by hand, wheels, pedals; others drip from my bike and will continue to fall away for the remainder of the ride. One small drop lodged near Herbert, a comfort of color will remain to the end, a reminder of a brief adventure surfing the wild mustard of the inland sea.

Like all of Southern California's Springtime displays of color, the mustard is dependent on winter rains. Some years are good, others less so. I would say this years crop is somewhere in the middle - the rains of early January began the propagation, so there are some great swaths of yellow across entire hillsides. At the same time, the extended dry period since then, seems to have limited the robustness of growth - not as thick, not as high, and maybe as good as the display will get. Ride over to Bonelli and check it out.

Top of the Heap - Go Gauchos!

Two races into the 2015 Western Collegiate Cycling Conference (WCCC) season, the Gauchos of UCSB have ridden well enough to position themselves at the top of the team standings. The WCCC is composed of both Division 1 and 2 teams, and ranks them both Conference-wide and within Divisions.

Leading the Gauchos this year is Cat A rider, Cody O'Reilly, who also leads the men's individual Conference standings. With seven more race weekends before Conference championships, you could get tired of me saying "Go Gauchos" before the season comes to a close.

By the way, though my flag waving will always be for the Gauchos, it is good to see the local Claremont University Consortium back in the mix - it has been at least a couple years since I last saw a rider in CUC kit around town, and hope their program is on the rebound.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

No Mr. Know-It-All

Back during those years at the research library, I worked with a guy who was the classic know-it-all, the proverbial walking encyclopedia. If someone came into the library and enquired about some random bit of knowledge they needed to finish off their PhD, or corroborate a fact for a television documentary that would be seen by millions of people, I might disappear into the stacks (library lingo for the area where the books were kept) for some twenty minutes, before coming back out and saying something like "well, I'm not sure, but maybe if you look up atlatl in the card catalog..." On the other hand, and if I recall, during the fifteen or so years we were coworkers, Mr. B was stumped for an answer twice - the first time was when he failed to supply a ready fact to the question of "how many people inhabited the Narragansett village at Salt Pond in the year 1414?" The second question to slip him up was even more problematic - "how many state capitals are there?" Other than those two instances, there was not a topic that could be brought before him that he could not go on and on at length about.

I don't know if you have ever known anyone like this, but if you have you will agree that it is truly something to witness.

Anyway, one day a researcher, realizing (as I had earlier) that the font of knowledge seemed to possess no limits, asked if there was any topic Mr. B could not speak fluently on. My coworker downplayed  the compliment admitting only that he knew enough to bluff his way through many topics.

Thank goodness the internet has taken all the pressure off. These days anyone, and I am a long standing member of the anyone category, with the ability to string a few words together can bluff his, or her, way along as some sort of expert. In less than a minute I can gather information about Felice Gimondi or Regis Delepine, and in a couple more type those out and ready to post up on this here blog. Thanks to the internet, I don't need to fill valuable mind-space with mounds of trivia and important data. True, I was familiar with Gimondi, at least in name if not in career specifics. But Delepine? If someone had asked me who Regis Delepine was I might have responded, "wasn't he the guy who discovered the source of the Mississippi River?" Nevermind that hundreds, maybe thousands of people had discovered it before he did. Then I would think about it a little before deciding he must have been the guy who came to fix the kitchen plumbing. Either way I would have been wrong. Good thing I don't need worry about making mistakes like that. Throw me a bone, and I will make a meal; throw me a name, and I will make a story.

If anyone needs me I will be on the computer. I need to look up some guy named Lemond.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Felice Gimondi

With a champions' bouquet (is there any better way to wear one?)

Fifty years ago Felice Gimondi won the Tour de France. He was twenty-two years old, and the overall win was his first Grand Tour crown. He would go on to win the Giro d'Italia three times (1967, 1969, 1976), and the Vuelta a Espana once (1968), making him the second racer, after Jacques Anquetil, to win all three tours in his career. 

Gimondi remains one of the most successful Italians all-rounders, having also claimed titles at Paris-Roubiax (1966), Milan-San Remo (1974), Giro di Lombardia (1966, 1973), Paris-Brussels (1966, 1976), Tour de Romanie (1969), the World Championships (1973), and was twice Italian National Road Race Champion (1968, 1972). He was also one of those rare breed of road racer who had some success on the track, having won the Milan Six Day in both 1972 and 1977.

Nicknamed the "Phoenix", Gimondi rode with two teams during his professional years - Salvarani, between 1965 and 1972, and Bianchi, from 1973 to 1979.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

2015 UCLA Road Race: A Wheelie Fine Race

Maybe that first photo up there has given it away, but I am going to go ahead and dedicate this race report to the hams of the peloton, the riders who keep it interesting. In a race like this you find out right away whether you stand a chance or not, there is probably no recovery, and certainly no hiding. So for all those who showed some appreciation for my sunburned neck, or put up with my crazy wife asking if you could pop a wheelie, this one is for you.

the day might not have gone your way, but you can still have a good time

the women don't normally go in for hamming it up like the men do, maybe it's a greater sense of decorum.
i don't know, but i did get a thumbs up

the wheelies and all were good, no doubt about it but, considering the day these guys win the 'Ham It Up' Award. the gesture wasn't lost on me, no sir, Happy Valentine's Day. lets say it all together, "ah, what a cute couple."

So, I got up to the top of the climb and the first thing I noticed was that unlike last year, the wind is pretty laid back. Even more than that however, what breeze there is, is coming up from down the road, meaning the racers are getting the benefit of a tailwind. To be brutally honest, that assistance was not enough. It was only the first lap, maybe half way around the loop, top of the climb and already the groups are shredded. If you are off the back now, there will be no hope of making contact again. If not whisked away by the breeze, which comes and goes, the tattered remnants of mornings hope and promise will have to carry on alone or in small groups of other cast-offs. This course is unforgiving, you either have it or you don't. There is no maybe, no in between.

A few minutes after 12:00 noon, the hour at which the final races of the day were scheduled to get underway, a few miles of a long climb away, and there were still stragglers on the road below, grinding their way up. But for their passing, the road was quiet - the drone of insects, a far away plane, the breeze across my years, the flapping of the UCSB flag, birds chirping in the sun are the only sounds to break the stillness and solitude of this lonely road.

Alright, two-hundred twenty-six photos selected for the Flickr album, much larger than normal, but only about a quarter of the photos I took during the race. As usual you can always contact me if you are looking for other photos.

As usual, if you see a photo you like feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). Want more? Go ahead and order your own copy of the CLR Effect racing annual. There are two editions available right now (2013 and 2014), and you can preview them by clicking the 2014 Seasons in the Sun Book Preview button near the top of the right hand column, or under the title banner at the top of the page.


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