Saturday, May 30, 2015

2015 Long Beach Bike Fest

You know, there was a whole lot of different activities taking place in Long Beach today - cyclocross re-dubed as city cross, the Shortline Crit and its various qualifying races, vintage bike show, beer, track stand competition, music, vendors, and all kinds of people watching. Maybe all that variety is the cause of my not having a single theme to write about. Consider this post as more of a photo essay of the day - I will add to  piece by piece, and end with the usual Flickr album.

you all remember Luis Garcia. check the website. sign the petition.

Now, Nebraska here had a choice to make at this point. He had picked up that can of Pabst at a hand-up. After jumping through the van (yes, the van) he could have dropped the can, aced a running remount, and beat the guy behind him for, I believe, 2nd place. Instead he chose the beer and ran his bike across the line for 3rd. Did he choose correctly? I guess that is a decision everyone has to make for themselves.

Dumpster dodging through the alley.

Dorothy, as well as everyone else, can truthfully say they crushed the competition today.

Tactically speaking, flubbing the bike hand-off so that it drops in front of your nearest chasing competitor might be pretty clever, even if that chaser is the organizer.

Wards Hawthorne

Crowds to wade through…

Bikes to park…

Qualifiers to race…

Qualifiers to watch…

Podiums (City Cross in this case) to fill.

I want to recognize the course crew of this little pocket park through which the City Cross raced. They shared a can of their finest Pabst Blue Ribbon with me, for which I was grateful. They also did an outstanding job taking care of the course.

The link to the Flickr album - kind of heavy with photos from City Cross, but there are others there too.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Abominable Flatlander

There was a time when the idea of a climb being too steep on any given day was a foreign concept, an idea beyond comprehension, when shrugging off a ride because he thought it might be too much, that he wouldn't be able to keep up with the others, was a void, unfathomably deep and dark.

Time passed, the kind measured in years. The twenties, when belief in his ability exceeded the very concepts his mind sought to measure; the thirties, the peak years; Zeus, even the forties, almost unbelievably came to an end, and abruptly becoming the fifties. Through those first two decades gaps between climbing weeks simply did not exist, every week included multiple days of multiple climbs. Some were solo, others in the group. Each was reveled in, equally. There were always older guys on those rides, on those days. They were the guys who reached the summit well after his breathing returned to normal, after the sweat on his arm had begun to dry. If he had looked, he might have seen the bell-curve in that; but he was at the top and the downward slope was beyond his field of vision.

It wasn't until the forties that he noticed a slowing of the legs, the more frequent spinning rather than pushing of the big gears. Those bottom two gears on the cassette took on an oily grime like all the others, where once they had been spotless and dis-used. He might not have admitted the reason, but more often rides became solo ones, without pressure to keep up or, for that matter, ride at the front. Mountain biking became the perfect escape.

He convinced himself that the climbing he did on the mountain bike was enough to maintain his status, if not the fitness and ability level required of the roadie mountain goat caste. The comparison between the two - climbing on dirt, and climbing on pavement - was equal to comparing apples and oranges, dachshunds and wolfhounds. Sure, some similarities existed - fruits, dogs, ascension (yes, ascension. Lets face it there is no greater claim than King of the Mountain, the pinnacle to which all climbers surely aspire, and thus, ascendance to that elevated state of being is surely the correct word in this instance). The short punchy climbs that punctuated most of his regular road routes were a mockery of the word 'climb', but they did traverse in the correct vertical direction. 

It was a sham, and he knew it.

back in the mountains, almost a grin

Not that he would have considered the climbing he did in the dirt to be in some way deficient. On the contrary, if asked to decide which he liked better - road or dirt, he would have been hard-pressed to choose. But they were different, and riding more of one, meant riding less of the other.

The smile spread across the lower half of his face belied the pleasure and satisfaction he took from the road whenever it turned toward the sun, the cloud-filled sky, or the forested slopes leading to the rocky heights of distant summits. That grin appeared less frequently, simply because he less frequently did the kinds of rides that brought it on. He might as well call himself a roadie flatlander. It was an abominable thing to imagine. He thought back to those older guys, how they began to show up less often. Had he become them? Had he reached that point in the cycle? If not, how could he avoid it, and if so, was it too late to alter the course, to get back on track for, at least, another few years?

Time, as ever, will tell. Get out and ride.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cycling Claremont: The Pomerantz Mural at Pitzer College

Pitzer College allows graduating seniors to paint murals, and smaller works, around the campus. A kind of goodbye present. Both the artists and the College benefit, so it is a very cool idea, and I have posted a few previously. This mural, painted on the doors of an outdoor gear storage building (formerly the Green Bike Program building) is the only one I have, so far, seen with a 2015 date. Leah Pomerantz is the artist; hoping to find a title of the painting I googled the artists name. Though I was unsuccessful with that search, I did find a quote from  this years' Senior Art Show which goes a long way toward explaining this wonderful gift she has given the community: 

"Connecting my artistic practice to my career goals as a veterinarian I bring my love of animals and biology into my drawings and paintings. My current work depicts animals typically perceived as inferior beings.  Through illustrating 'undesirable' animals at human scale and in vibrant color, I am trying to dismantle the anthropocentrism of the average viewer and have them understand these animals in a new way."

You won't see this painting through the windshield of your car, so get on your bike and ride over to Pitzer where you can check this one, as well as all the other works of art around campus.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cycling Claremont: State Farm is There

Did you know that Aflac first used a duck in their advertisements? The darned thing got too cocky, all full if itself, being a big television star and all, that they cut the contract in two, and gave him a swift kick out the door. The rest, they say, is history. The goose took over, and now, when ever anyone says Aflac, either to themselves or out loud, they say it with a croaky voice.

Anywho, this evening, when I came around the corner at the end of this street, that duck there, was standing in the middle of the street staring intently at (or staring down) the State Farm vehicle. It was an almost perfect Aflac moment which needed to be photo-recorded. Unfortunately, in the process, I scared the duck out of his trance, and he waddled out of the way.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Monday Blues at the Green Bike Program

Disgraceful. As a local blogger I, from time to time, receive chatter about things in the community. Sometimes I retell the information through the blog, others I keep to myself. For instance, over the years I have heard disparaging things about the Green Bike Program at Pitzer College. In each of those instances I have kept mum for a couple reasons: First, I have always, and still do, consider the program to be a worthwhile endeavor on the part of the students, and second, I have had no first-hand experience in the matters being discussed.  

But, Sunday morning I came upon such a scene of disregard that it made me shiver at the callousness. Bikes in various states of disrepair were strewn about the gravel and piled up in ignominious abandonment outside the GBP's brand new facility. I mean, if this is how you treat the bikes that next year's students will be riding…

I will be diplomatic and let you form your own conclusion. And who knows, maybe there is even a perfectly good explanation. If so, lets hear it. I am guessing that the students who make up the Green Bike Program are now gone for the summer, so maybe these were collected by college maintenance crews who, not knowing quite what else to do with them, simply piled them up here? Maybe they are unredeemable junk beyond hope. There are many possible reasons, but I can't thing of a single good one.

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, May 24, 2015

Up the Road: Plain Wrap Ride 2015

Sign up online, or in person at the shop. A good ride to benefit worthy organizations; best of all you can choose where your donation goes. Don't forget to check out the Plain Wrap Bike at Coates - it is a sweet machine.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


My line of descent is tentative and wary. The damage to thumb and wrist from a crash, now a month and a half in the past, has been slow to heal and the steepness of the grade, the looseness of the trail surface exerts extra and unwanted strain. It is a pain that could be avoided if I simply kept to the road; it is not the pavement itself that seems to cause a problem, but rather the way the bars are gripped. The extra wrist twist of the flat bars on the mountain bike seem to be the source of the aggravation. Not that the trail surface helps matters, mind you. Recent rains seems to have washed some of the soil away, exposing more rocks than ever. Normal, relatively, bump-free lines are anything but now.

Then there are the clouds. They are just a complete distraction this morning, swaying my eyes to wander away from the task in front of my wheel. Unlike the white rabbit (seriously) that darted out of the way as I careened down-trail into the Jungle, the movement of the clouds proved to be other than fleeting. Their masses seemed to slowly rearrange, and each time I chanced a glance their way revealed altered forms, shifting shapes.

Yes, the clouds were the main attraction this day. Bonus points to whoever can tell me this authors' name: "Another midday cloudland, displaying power and beauty that one never wearies in beholding, but hopelessly unsketchable and untellable. What can poor mortals say about clouds? While a description of their huge glowing domes and ridges, shady gulfs and canons, and featheredged ravines is being tried, they vanish, leaving no visible ruins…"

Friday, May 22, 2015

Crazy Legs: I'll Be Around, Yeah

I fed the Hakkalugi a little dirt yesterday, in the evening. Once a week on the green machine, that is my goal. That little bit seems to keep it… well I was going to say happy, but that is not right. It keeps it satisfi… no, that is not it either. Once a week keeps it from rebelling. That comes closest, I suppose.

As the thought settled in, it brought a song to mind, one I had heard earlier in the day and, though it is ostensibly a love song (or failed love song), I realized it is actually about bicycles - a special kind of bike, the kind that has not been ridden for far too long. The kind waiting patiently in dusty corner of garage, or dark basement. The kind of bike that will always be there, when you are ready to give it a spin. The Spinners (I'll Be Around): 

But I know there's always a chance
A tiny spark will remain, yeah
And sparks turn into flames
And love can burn once again
But I know you know

Whenever you call me, I'll be there
Whenever you want me, I'll be there
Whenever you need me, I'll be there
I'll be around, yeah

Anyway, I don't think any of the bikes belonging to the Crazy Legs riders have that problem; they get plenty of use.

Mine on the other hand, came dangerously close to being turned into those bikes. In fact until two weeks ago, I came close to devolving into one of those riders, the kind who shows up to rides but somehow, and mysteriously, never actually manages to ride. That is how mileage-deficient I had become. Thank goodness Bike Week helped to set me straight, and things are looking up once again.

the Euro

lets go already

Coates. Riders.

pewter sky

Thursday, May 21, 2015

2015 Ride of Silence

One was a young child riding home from school. One was a middle aged man riding his bike home from work in the evening. One was an older woman crossing the street on one of her daily errands, walking because she no longer drove due to age. None of the three knew either of the others, they lived in different parts of the city, came from different socio-economic backgrounds, yet all shared one overriding commonality. Each was struck and killed, or critically injured, by the driver of a motor vehicle. One driver was allowed to drive even after receiving multiple citations for speeding and reckless driving. Another drove negligently, by paying more attention to her phone than to the road. One was so morally deprived that they did not bother to stop and render aid, did not wait for the arrival of either law enforcement or emergency medical personnel, but chose the cowardly way and ran after striking his victim. 

Hundreds, thousands of similar stories play out around the world every year. Each of these violent ends leave multiple times those numbers, family and friends, with sudden and gaping holes in their lives.

see the duck. not sure if there was some hidden meaning that escaped me, but she was not afraid, and was welcomed into the group

Cecil reminding everyone why we were gathered

This is the reason the annual Ride of Silence has evolved into the worldwide day of remembrance that it has become. I hope you made it out to one of the many that took place across the Southern California region, or beyond, where-ever you live. It was worth shrugging off any other ride you may normally do on this one Wednesday night in May.

We were fortunate to have two local Rides of Silence this year - the long standing one organized by the Cycling Connection in Rancho Cucamonga, and a new one right here in Claremont. A third, in Pasadena, was far from distant as well.

Big thanks to Ben (I believe it is Ben), who suggested the Ride in Claremont, to Cecil for leading, and to the Claremont Cycling Club (CCC), with whom both Ben and Cecil ride, for hosting. Once we had all gathered Cecil reminded everyone why we were there, why we were riding. It was good to see so many clustered around, listening intently, then setting off and, true to the intent of the Ride, pedaling the fifteen miles in thoughtful silence.

heading west along Baseline

gathering at San Dimas Canyon Park

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cycling Claremont: The Pitzer Multi-Species Commons

I was originally just going to post a photo and call this one done. Maybe make some reference to Pitzer putting the "liberal" in liberal education. But I was curious about what a multi-species common is. So I looked it up. What I found was certainly more complex than what I imagined. I am not going to go into detail, but will provide a link, so you can explore at your leisure. Of course if you live nearby, or plan to be nearby at some point, you can conduct your exploration in person. 

While reading through all that information on the Pitzer website, a couple things struck me - first was the whole idea of foraging on campus, and I am not talking just plant materials , I read about trapping rabbits and squirrels to take back to the dorm room for the evening meal. Curious idea but, I wonder, how many students would it take before the campus commons became denuded of anything edible?

The second interesting tidbit I noticed relates to everyone's favorite weapon of choice, in this instance turned into a tool of the hunt, the humble automobile: " One of the major predators in our modern entangled ecosystems is the automobile. Their hunting practices provide an easy way to track what other species are living with us… Cars are certainly one of the most pervasive of modern predators in our urban ecosystems…" Do you see where this is going yet? Continuing, "walk or bike these edges of your area [roadsides] every month or so and make notes. Come fall when the weather cools and hovers just above freezing it is time to get some roadkill." I guess that last part there suggests they are not really talking specifically about Pitzer students at this point, but rather the more general populace. I mean freezing in the Fall? Not around here.

Not the first thing I thought of when furthering my own educational goals, in fact I doubt the idea has ever really crossed my mind, but times do change. Mmmm, roadkill for breakfast, I can smell a scent wafting up through the open window, hear the sizzle and pop from the barbeque. What is that famous line, altered time and again, "I love the smell of old dead 'possum grilling in the morning."

Anyway, read as much as you want at that link, there is a lot in there that is both informative and entertaining. That is some liberal education, and practical at the same time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


A waaay back in high school the coach of the tennis team (there was just one for both JV and Varsity) would chide me for wearing a headband. It was the era of Borg and Gerulaitis, Vilas and Nastasi; and though drawing to a close, it was also an era of long hair, making the headband required kit for many including yours truly. It wasn't the headband itself that Coach McKenna found interesting, they were common - it was the fact that mine was, apparently, perfectly straight and level at all times. It was an earthquake predictor, he said. I never would have known, and certainly didn't put any effort into aligning it perfectly with the court but, if I had thought of it I would like to have worn it all a-kilter one day just to see what happened. Would the shift have been earth shaking? Would it have even been noticeable.

I know, you were hoping for a photo of my own head and band. There are some, but I can't seem to dig them up right now. The yearbook from varsity year also seems to have gone missing. Vilas (after whom I modeled my own backhand) was more photogenic anyway, and his headband was nearly as level across.

Anyway, and maybe it goes back that far, but it seems I have long had a certain penchant for predicting. That is a tricky word - predicting - move too far to one side and it becomes assuming, and assuming is one thing you don't want to do when you ride a bike. For instance, just because a driver is looking right at you does not mean that driver sees you. Seems strange to say, but history is rife with similar assumptions and their catastrophic results.

What you do want to do on a bike is learn to predict or, better yet maybe, read. People who have ridden the road for some time have probably become good, maybe even expert, at reading - they read the pavement like a surfer reads a wave, they read the flow of traffic, all the myriad comings and goings in and out of their field of vision, they read environmental factors, such as sun and wind, and incorporate all these various factors into helping them safely navigate from one point to another. They continuously make snap judgements, incremental adjustments, as they react to all they see and hear. Of course they do this, not with the aid of a headband, but by paying attention, by listening, by looking ahead and side to side. Practice makes perfect, and the more you do it (ride), the more you learn, the better you read and, ultimately, the better you ride.

I don't know how well Guillermo could / can read the road, but at the level he played I am sure he could read a ball coming off his opponents racquet better than most. He certainly did not gain that ability through the mysterious powers of a headband, but by practice. Want to ride with confidence, get on the bike as often as you can.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday Blues: Where's the Bike?

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

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Up the Road: Ride of Silence (Claremont)

Often times too many cooks in the kitchen creates confusion, too many groups doing the same thing dilutes the message. While the primary purpose of the Ride of Silence is one of remembrance, it is also intended as a message, that death and injury on our public streets is unacceptable can be avoided. And thus the larger the group, the more effective the communication of that message. Cycling Connection's Ride of Silence in Rancho Cucamonga has, for years, been the only local one to participate in. On the other hand, a greater number of rides can spread the message across a wider region. So. This year there is another local option for people who, for what ever reason, can't make it to Rancho.

The Claremont Cycling Club will be hosting a Ride of Silence on Wednesday 20 May at 6:30 in the evening. If you are on MeetUp, you can get more information and RSVP by joining the CCC group. I suspect the ride will hold some special significance for the CCC since one of their members lost his life just last year. Riders will gather at Euro Cafe, corner of Mills and Baseline, in Claremont before heading out on a short 15 mile, easy paced ride. I think I will take advantage of having a start so close to home and have RSVP'd. Hope to see some of you out there as well.

Friday, May 15, 2015

2015 Bike Week, Day Five: Reflections

[Perhaps if I had used the manual setting] My eye saw the Bert and Rocky's sign across the street perfectly reflected in that little puddle of rain water, but I just could not get the camera lens and angle to replicate it.

How to determine success? Is making a determination of success even a goal? I am not sure that bike week is supposed to be anything more than a celebration. In that sense, the more people who join in, the more who are encouraged to participate, maybe even make a fresh start, the better it is, but I don't think sheer numbers have ever been requisite. Personally, each and any day I ride can be a celebration of the bicycle. If riding leaves me with a sense of satisfaction, of accomplishment, if it leaves me feeling refreshed, or the realization that I had a great time then the time spent was a clear success.

Yet at the same time, if you look up the word celebration in the thesaurus, you may notice the word gathering, suggesting that maybe numbers are a part. It has been a long time since I have ridden five consecutive days, so finally doing so this week has been a huge personal celebration, even if the rides I took were mostly shorter ones. Two of the largest "gatherings" this week involved the recreational, sport, fitness aspect of cycling. Nothing wrong with that, they (we) are the backbone. Ever since the motor vehicle replaced the bicycle as primary mode of transportation in this country, the recreational component has been the largest group keeping the bike relevant. 

Times change, however, and the bike as transportation aspect (or so we hear) has taken on added importance and significance. Bike to Work day may have been hampered somewhat by a surprise visit by inclement weather, but even taking that into consideration, the numbers of bike commuters I noticed were anything but a celebration. If I only based this week, this Bike Week, on that I would be disappointed. Instead two things happened, or actually the same thing on two different days, that turned Bike Week into a successful celebration. On both Monday and Wednesday I saw the neighbor two doors down riding his bike. He doesn't normally, but as I later found out, this week he has been riding to the depot then taking the train into work. When I saw him Wednesday he was walking, bike on one side, young son on the other. They were almost home. I smiled. That is success. Setting an example, doing what we can to leave the world a better place for the next generation. 

I smiled the rest of the short distance home. I told my wife the simple story.

It was a celebration.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

2015 Bike Week, Day Four: Bike to Work Day

If you missed the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition Pit Stop (with work stand maned by Jax Bikeshop right across the street) don't forget you can still join them at the Press, on Harvard in Claremont Village this evening, for Handlebar Happy Hour. You did ride to work today, right? So you deserve it, after all.

And how about that ride to work? Since the rain held off until late in the am, it turned out to be a heck of a nice morning for it. The dramatic sky, the cool air, the smooth-rolling Ibis, the goat head thorns… oh wait, that was a not so good part of the morning. The Pacific Electric Trail (PET) may not be a favorite route, but it does possess some advantages, none of which involve thorns or expanses of glass fragments. It is more relaxed, and there are other riders about, as opposed to the streets (enroute) which, mostly, seem to be devoid of other riders. Speaking of that, I completely forgot how utterly insane the streets around Cucamonga Middle School are during the morning commute. I will never understand why people put up with that mess when there are such obvious, and accessible, alternatives. Maybe someone should send them a memo.


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